MicaellaD

christmas

Trouble finding the perfect Christmas gift for your tango friends? Check these ideas!

You and your fellow tangueros share one truly special interest: tango. You may know their other likes and interests, but you’re certain they enjoy tango music and Argentine culture.

During the month of December there are tons of end-of-the-year celebrations, and surely, your tango school is having one. Some groups even play Secret Santa and you may need to buy a present for someone you don’t know well…but you do know their taste for tango!

Take a look at these recommendations to buy the perfect gift!

 

History of Tango – CD of tango music

Getting a cd with the greatest tango music in history is a nice and warm-hearted gift for a tanguero. This cd includes 102 tracks that trace the history of tango. The first cds include music from Astor Piazzola and the other two present the best of the Golden Age of Tango. You can buy it through Amazon. Check here.

 

Yerba mate and mate cup 

If you’ve met Argentine tango masters you’ve surely tried or been offered “mate”. If you haven’t, you can read more in this post (with a video explaining how to prepare it). It’s a typical Argentine gift, and your tango friends will love it! If they were hesitant last time they were offered, now with their own mate they will definitely try it! You can find many options on Amazon (like this one), but make sure it includes the herbs (yerba mate), the cup (mate) and the straw (bombilla) so that your friend has all he/she needs to prepare a true Argentine mate!

 

3. Martín Fierro – The most traditional Argentine book

This is the most well-known Argentine book, written by Argentine author José Hernández.

It’s a unique story about the life of gauchos in the Argentine pampas.

This is the review you can find on Amazon:

“The two poems which, together, are popularly known as the Martín Fierro form what is often regarded as the greatest single Spanish American work in creative literature. Appropriately, it draws from Spain the language and verse forms which have long been the vehicle of improvisation, the didactic folk wisdom of old Spanish proverbs, the Spanish interest in law whether formally codified in the fueros and the Siete Partidas or informally mocked by the pícaros in its practical application, and the Spanish emphasis upon individual worth and independence. Even more directly, the Martín Fierro is national in feeling, portraying the Argentine rural scene and the social aspirations, institutions and events of a great transition period of Argentine history. … Rooted in Spain, Argentine in content, universal in interest, the Martín Fierro is one of the world’s great books and should be more widely known abroad. … This edition is improved by the availability of original and translation on facing pages.” ― Madaline W. Nichols in Inter-American Review of Bibliography

We recommend this version as it includes the English translation, so you can give it to friends who speak Spanish, are learning or don’t speak Spanish at all!

 

Tango Spanish Books

These three Tango Spanish books, written by Jeanie Tsui, a tanguera, and her Spanish teacher Micaella Digenio cover tips and phrases for different situations a tanguero/a may need to face when taking tango classes, going to milongas or travelling to Buenos Aires. These are the best language guide books for tangueros, as they cover all the necessary tools to not only survive, but take full advantage, of a tango trip to Buenos Aires. Even if your friend is not traveling any sooner, he/she will be benefited from learning the essential Spanish phrases for tango classes and for appreciating the music at home.

  • Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips
  • Tango Spanish: Essential phrase book for tango class (and language guide for tango shoe shopping) Coming Soon (on Amazon)
  • Tango Spanish: Essential phrase book for understanding tango music and lyrics Coming Soon (on Amazon)

Tango Spanish Skype Lessons

If you’re thinking of getting a really original and valuable gift for your tanguero friends you can consider buying a package of Tango Spanish lessons via Skype with a native Argentine tutor who is also a tanguera. Master Spanish Now is specialized in providing these lessons to tangueros around the world who want to enhance their knowledge of tango culture and get ready for a tango trip to Argentina.

 

gendernumber

Gender and Number in Spanish Grammar

Gender

Being an English speaker you’re probably not familiar with this classification of nouns into masculine and feminine forms.

When nouns refer to living creatures, it’s pretty easy to choose the correct masculine or feminine form of the noun, based on the gender of the creature. Usually, nouns ending in “o” are masculine and nouns ending in “a” are feminine. See below:

English word Spanish word (Masculine) Spanish word (Feminine)
The dog El perro (The male dog) La perra (The female dog)
The cousin El primo (The male cousin) La prima (The female cousin)
The teacher El maestro (The male teacher) La maestra (The female teacher)

However, other nouns referring to places, things, etc. are also feminine or masculine.

Below are some common Spanish nouns and their gender:

English word Spanish word (M=masculine / F=Feminine)
The shoe El zapato (M)
The guitar La guitarra (F)
The accordion El bandoneón (M)
The woman La mujer (F)
The man El hombre (M)
The CD El disco compacto (M)
The coffee El café (M)
The pizza La pizza (F)
The meal La comida (F)

As you can see, as a general rule words that end in “o” are masculine and words that end in “a” are feminine. There are many exceptions to this rule, but, to get started, taking this into account might help you a lot! Words ending in a consonant or in other vowels may be feminine or masculine (you’ll have to memorize them at first!)

Some exceptions to this rule:

English word Spanish word
The problem El problema
The language El idioma
The hand La mano
The libido La libido

Other exceptions are words that end in “a” and whose ending cannot be changed. As the noun does not change according to gender it is very important to pay attention to the preceding article to see if the noun is masculine or feminine.

English word Spanish form (masculine) Spanish form (feminine)
The gymnast El gimnasta La gimnasta
The journalist El periodista La periodista
The artist El artista La artista

 

Number

In our previous section we described how words change depending on their gender. In this section we will explain how to change a noun depending on whether the word is singular or plural.

As a general rule, when a word ends in a vowel, its plural form will have an “s” by the end.

English word Singular form Plural form
(Male) The dog(s) El perro Los perros
The artist(s) El artista Los artistas
The house(s) La casa Las casas
The coffee(s) El café Los cafés
The mum(s) La mamá Las mamás

There are exceptions to this rule. Nouns ending in “í” or “ú” usually have two accepted plural forms. One in which only the “s” is added, and another one that ends in “es”.

English word Singular form Plural forms
The scalpel(s) El bisturí Los bisturís / Los bisturíes
The hummingbird(s) El colibrí Los colibrís / Los colibríes
The hindu(s) El hindú Los hindús / Los hindúes
The rhea(s) El ñandú Los ñandús / Los ñandúes

When a word ends in a consonant, we need to add “es” to the noun to make it plural.

See the examples below:

English word Singular form Plural form
The city(s) La ciudad Las ciudades
The accordion(s) El bandoneón* Los bandoneones
The Paper(s) El papel Los papeles
The sun(s) El sol Los soles
The lemon(s) El limón* Los limones

As you can see in “bandoneón” and “limón”, the written accent marks are lost in the plural form. The reason is that by adding these letters and forming a new syllable, the stress of the word changes place.

If a word ends in “z”, the “z” is replaced by a “c” and then the ending “es” is added.

The pencil(s) → El lápiz → Los lápices

The partridge(s) → La perdiz → Las perdices

There are words that remain the same in the singular and plural form. The only way of knowing whether it’s singular or plural is by paying attention to the article that precedes it:

 

Nouns ending in “s” in the singular form

The analysis → El análisis → Los análisis

The ecstasy → El éxtasis → Los éxtasis

 

Compound nouns

The can-opener → El abrelatas → Los abrelatas

“Abre” comes from “abrir” (to open) and “latas” means cans.

The lavatory → El lavamanos → Los lavamanos

“Lava” comes from “lavar” (to wash) and “manos” means hands.

 

Foreign nouns

For many foreign nouns,  only an “s” is added after the last consonant in the plural forms.

English word Singular Spanish word Plural Spanish word
The ticket(s) El ticket Los tickets
The film(s) El film Los films
The surplus El superávit Los superávits

We hope this lesson has helped you to understand more about gender and number in Spanish. For more help, book a class with one of our private tutors

 

More Slangs to understand Argentines!

As you have probably realized from our recent posts Argentine Slangs you’ll never guess their real meaning and 6 phrases to communicate with locals in Argentina understanding Argentines is not an easy thing, if you consider the long list of lunfardo (slang from Argentina) words that people use everyday for conversation.

 

We have covered many so far, and in this new post we have compiled 6 more Argentine slang words or phrases for you to continue learning and becoming more familiar with the way true Argentines speak.

1. CHICANA

This word is used to refer to a trap, scheme or trick. It has nothing to do with the Mexican word “chicano”, as it comes from the French “chiqué”, which means trap.

In politics, it is used to refer to a speech that lacks content and whose goal is to attack the adversary.

No hay texto alternativo automático disponible.

2. CANA

Although one meaning is “grey hair”, it is used to refer to the police. Nobody’s sure of the origin but it might be connected to the Italian word “incatenare” which means to imprison someone, or to the police from Verona called “canna” (referring to the color of their uniform). There’s another Italian expression called “mettere in canna” which means to put someone in prison.

Another lunfardo to refer to the police is “yuta” (sounding like “shoota”) that comes from a Spanish adaptation of the word “giusta”, which is an Italian word to refer to who applies justice.

Expressions with the word “cana”:

– ¡Ahí viene la cana! = There comes the police!
– Te van a meter en cana = They’re going to put you in jail
– Batir la cana / Mandar en cana = give away someone
– Araca la cana = Expression used to alert when the police is coming.

3. FLASHERO

This word “flashero/a” was at first used to describe people having hallucinations under the effect of drugs. Later, it started to refer to someone says something crazy, weird or that has nothing to do with what’s being said.

La imagen puede contener: una o varias personas y texto

4. LA PREVIA

When friends get together, usually at a house, to share some drinks before going clubbing, it is called “la previa”. So if a group of friends have arranged to go out together they may ask: “¿Dónde hacemos la previa?” (Where are we doing the “previa”? The teens may do it to save money on liquor as buying drinks at the supermarket and sharing them in a house is cheaper than buying all the drinks at the club, or they may do it because they are still minors and they wouldn’t be allowed to buy drinks inside the club. Others just do it to share more time with their friends, as clubs in Latin America usually start very late (some people may get inside after 2am)

La imagen puede contener: una o varias personas, bebida y texto

5. POSTA

The expression “¿Posta?” is used to mean “Really?” when you’re surprised about something you’ve heard, and you want to confirm if that’s true. You can reply to this question by saying: “¡Posta!” which means Really! To confirm that what you’re saying is indeed true.

La imagen puede contener: 1 persona, texto

6. CUALQUIERA

When you want to reject what someone’s saying because it’s stupid or doesn’t make sense, or just because you want to dismissively tell someone is wrong, you can tell them that what they’re saying is “Cualquiera” (it literally means “anyone” but in this expression it is more similar to “nonsense” or “whatever”)

La imagen puede contener: 1 persona, sonriendo, texto

We hope you’ve enjoyed this post! 

Want to learn more Argentine Spanish? Book a class with a professional Argentine tutor from our school. 

 

communicate with locals

6 phrases to communicate with locals in Argentina

Want to learn how to communicate with the locals on your next trip to Argentina?

If you’ve read our previous posts about Argentine Spanish and Tango Spanish you’re definitely aware of the importance of knowing some differences between Spanish from Spain and Spanish spoken in Argentina and South America. If you haven’t, this post will surely encourage you to learn how to sound like a true Argentine and to communicate with them!

I’ve compiled some easy-to-use expressions you can use on a daily basis while you’re travelling through Argentina.

Take a look:

 

1) ¿Cómo va?

This means “how’s everything going?” and it can be used any time you meet someone you already know, or you pass by an acquaintance, for example, a classmate at your tango school, your Spanish teacher or a friend from your hostel. Other phrases you can use are: “¿Todo bien?” (All good?); ¿Cómo andás*? (How are you?)

 

2) ¿Tenés* idea ….?

This is a very common informal phrase to introduce a question. Let’s say you need to find the nearest subway station. You can ask: “¿Tenés idea dónde está la estación de la línea C?” (Do you have a clue where the C Subway Station is?). After the beginning “¿Tenés idea…” you just add your question. It will make you sound more like a local. Other ways to say this could be: “¿Sabés*….?” (Do you know…?), “¿No me decís*…?” (Would you tell me…?).

 

3) Disculpá*…

The word “disculpá” means “I’m sorry” and we usually use it in these situations: before asking a question to someone, especially when you’re asking for a favor to a stranger, or to apologize for something (for example if you accidentally crash into a stranger, or if you’re a tango dancer, when you accidentally crash into another couple or when you step on your partner!).

 

4) ¿No me das…?

We use this when we need to ask for something, for example at a store. It means “Would you give me…?” and although it starts with “no”, it isn’t negative, it’s just a common way of asking that may sound a bit more polite than saying “¿Me das…?” but both would work, so don’ t worry if you forget the “no” at the beginning. An example of this could be: “¿No me das un paquete de galletitas Oreo?” (Would you give me a packet of Oreo cookies?). If you change the verb “das” for another, you can use this same expression when asking for different things: “¿No me ayudás?” (Would you help me?), “¿No me servís una copa de vino?” (Would you serve a glass of wine to me?)

 

5) Dale

The word “dale” in Argentina is used to say “ok”. So if someone asks you something and you want to say yes, just say “dale”. Especially if you’re being offered something or being invited to do something. Other options could be: “Bueno”, “Sí”. Sometimes after saying “dale” you may add another word to emphasize you’re happy with accepting. For example: “Dale, genial”, “Dale, bárbaro”, “Dale, buenísimo” (Ok, great). It’s the equivalent of the Spanish expression “Vale”.

 

6) Ni idea

What if someone asks you something and you don’t know? You can just tell them “Ni idea” (No idea). You can also say: “No sé” (I don’t know), or “No tengo idea” (I have no idea), and you start by saying: “Disculpá, pero…” (Sorry, but…).

Example:

A – ¿Sabés dónde está Café Martínez? (Do you know where Café Martínez is?)

B – Disculpá pero ni idea… (I’m sorry but no idea)

* All words marked with * are in the “voseo” form. Don’t know what “voseo” is? Check our previous post on the subject.

 

Traveling to Buenos Aires soon? Book a class with our Argentine Spanish teachers who are tangueras to help you to learn more Spanish and get more insider tips for the Buenos Aires tango scene!

 

Also read our book “Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires tips”!

Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips

taking a taxi in buenos aires

5 Tips for taking a taxi in Buenos Aires Safely!

One of the things we all worry about when arriving to a foreign country, and especially when we don’t speak the local language, is how to move around the city without being an easy prey for scammers. Today we’re focusing on moving around by taxi. When getting to Buenos Aires, you’ll see taxis everywhere. We recommend you read this post first, and learn some tips on how to take taxis safely and to beware of possible threats.

 

  1. Radio taxi companies

There are some taxi companies and drivers that are not the official ones, but look like them and might offer to take you from the bus station to the hotel or so. When trying to take a taxi, always look for the ones that say “Radio Taxi” on the side doors or on the top. Preferrably, try to call a taxi instead of taking them in the streets, so that you can make sure you’re taking a real one

2. Check the price beforehand

Before you take a taxi, for example when leaving a milonga, check with someone you know (your teacher, a friend, etc.) how much they think a trip like the one you’re taking may cost. This way, if when arriving to destination you see that the driver wants to charge much more than that, you can realize if you’re being scammed. What to do in this situation? Never argue with a taxi driver. You may tell him that you don’t have enough, and offer what you have (a similar amount to what your friend suggested) or if you feel threatened, you may ask the driver to wait for you to get some more money inside. If you’re staying at a hotel, you may ask the receptionist or a hotel employee to help you handle the situation.

3. Try to have change on you to avoid giving 200 or 500 notes.

When we are abroad, many times we get confused by the different currency. As you won’t be familiar with Argentine peso notes, try to keep your wallet organized and try to get change of 20, 50 and 100 notes. If possible, try to avoid 200 and 500 notes when taking a taxi. Why? Taxi drivers many times complain of not having change, and this is a way for them not to give your change back (or not to give it all back).

4. Check your change before descending.

Many times, as we want to get off the taxi, we just accept the change given and get out. Be careful, many times they may give the change quickly, and may be giving a lower value note without you realizing. If you can’t see properly as the light is sometimes dim, ask the driver to turn on the light (Say: ¿Puede prender la luz, por favor? = Can you turn on the light, please?). This way you can check your money before getting out of the taxi.

It’s very important for you to remember that $5 an $500 notes are very similar (they are both green). There are many stories of people that got confused, and gave a $500 note instead of a $5. There might be honest people that will let you know, but others may take advantage.

5. Be confident

If you show the driver you’re not sure of where you’re going and you hesitate on the destination or how to get there, they will take advantage of that and tour around the city before taking you to your place. A good idea is to ask a friend the names of the streets you will be crossing, or the way to go to your destination, so that you can tell the driver, for example, “Agarre Avenida 9 de julio” (Take 9 de Julio Avenue) and show them you know where you’re going.

If you’re still hesitant about taking taxis in Buenos Aires, remember Uber is available, and you may feel more familiar with their system. But it’s important to know how to take a taxi, especially as you might not always have internet access to call Uber.

 

Check out our video on how to take a taxi in Buenos Aires, and practice how to say the most useful expressions:

 

If you want to know more, book a a class with one of our Argentine tutors.
vocabulary

How to make Spanish vocabulary lists that actually work

Since we were kids, teachers have always instructed us to make vocabulary lists for better remembering words being learned. However, many students claim to find them useless or not to know the best way to record that many words.

In this post we’ve gathered some of the best tips that will help you collect Spanish words in a practical and useful way, for you to better remember and review them.

These lists are durable as you can continue adding more and more words after every lesson or when self-studying, to enrich your vocabulary.

 

1) Prepare your categories of words in advance:

Have you ever made a list after a class, to later realize you don’t know how to classify or record those words for later study as they’re only related to that lesson? When recording words, think of them as words you’re planning to recall and use later in time. One good way to do this is to have special categories of vocabulary set prior to any study. Then you can keep adding new categories and subcategories if needed!

Think of inclusive categories (go from the more general words to the more specific ones).

Example:

Category: Relationships

Subcategories:

1) Family –> Family members

2) Friendship –> Types of friends

3) Love –> Types of love relationships

4) Conflict –> Words for people you don’t like

5) Work –> Names of people at work, names for people you do business with

6) Expressions for conversation –> Expressing feelings / Expressing agreement/disagreement / Expressing interest

7) Adjectives to describe people

8) Idiomatic expressions related to relationships

9) Etc

 

In Spanish, it would look like this:

Categoría: Relaciones humanas

Subcategorías:

1) Familia –> Miembros de la familia

2) Amistad –> Tipos de amigos

3) Amor –> Tipos de relaciones amorosas

4) Conflicto –> Palabras para personas que no te gustan

5) Trabajo –> Nombres de personas en el trabajo / Nombres de personas con las que haces negocios

6) Expresiones para relacionarse con personas –> Expresar sentimientos / Expresar acuerdo/desacuerdo / Expresar interés

7) Adjetivos para describir personas

8) Expresiones idiomáticas relacionadas a relaciones humanas.

9) Etc

 

2) Organize your lists carefully!

If you’re more into handwriting, buy a nice folder that allows you to add pages in between sections. This way you won’t worry about not having left enough room for a category. You keep adding pages while you complete your lists. It’s recommended to use separators for better accessing each category. If you prefer to store things in your laptop or online, a good way is to create an online document you can access from your mobile so you can record words at anytime, like a Google Drive document.

 

3) What not to miss when adding a new word:

Every time you add a new word, think about what would be the most helpful way to understand and recall its meaning. For example, if the word is “abuela” (grandmother) you can write this simple definition: “la madre de mi madre/padre” (the mother of my mother/father). Then add a sample sentence. “Mi abuela cumple 80 años mañana”. This example sentence could also be related to your own life, for example if your grandma is called Margarita you can say “La abuela Margarita es muy simpática” (Grandma Margarita is very nice), to make it more meaningful to you. Also, if the pronunciation of the word is difficult for you, you might want to write the the way it sounds in your own language. Something like “a-boo-ella”. Ideally, if your vocabulary list is saved in your laptop or online, you could link the word to the pronunciation of it, for instance, at wordreference.org  

You could also add a picture of the word, if you’re visual and it helps you. And last but not least, don’t forget what part of speech the words is; in this case it’s a noun (or “sustantivo” in Spanish). Knowing the part of speech the word is will help you to use it accurately in a sentence later.

 

4) What to avoid:

If you follow the tips in #3 you can now realize why there’s no need to write the translation of the word. Translation is an obstacle (generally speaking) to your thinking in Spanish. You should leave this for those cases in which the word is abstract,  complex or in cases when you can’ find a way to explain it in Spanish, or you don’t have enough vocabulary to write a definition of the word in Spanish to help you later remember the meaning. For example, the word “brújula” (compass). To explain what it is might take lots of words and you may not know how to define it. Probably a translation is more practical in this case (But remember, finding a picture is even better!)

Another thing to avoid is to fill in the list with tons of words you already know. When you get to review it, it won’t be meaningful to you. Try saving the lists for new words you may have trouble remembering.

 

Ok, so, what do we do after writing down our new vocabulary lists? You might be thinking what the most suitable way to practice them might be. There are plenty of ways to review vocabulary. These are some you may like (and remember, I’m trying to provide tips that are actually easy to put into practice!):

 

1) Make flashcards.

I’m actually starting with the most difficult!

If you have written your lists manually, it might take more time to prepare them but if you have at least 15 minutes a week to do so, you can prepare 1 set of flashcards for a specific subcategory. For example, buy some nice, colored cardboard and write down the words for the subcategory “friendship”. One one side of the card you should write the word, and on the back you should include an example sentence or a picture. Save them in an envelope and put them inside your Vocabulary List folder for future practice.

If, on the other hand, you’ve written them in your computer, you can just print the words on the cardboard, and cut them out.

 

How to practice with flashcards? Take one, practice its pronunciation, try to remember its meaning and think of a sentence that includes the word. Then turn over the card and check if you were right.

After you have covered several subcategories among the same category of words, you can also work on classification. Put all the flashcards from different subcategories on top of a table, mingle them and then try to classify them by putting each word in the right envelope. When you’re not sure, turn over the card, check the example sentence or picture and decide which envelope it belongs to.

 

2) Play vocabulary games online:

 

There are several websites that provide interesting and fun games to practice your vocabulary. These are some of them:

1) Quizlet is a platform where you can create your own flashcards, but also, you can practice with the flashcards already created by others.

2) Red de Letras provides a free online Scrabble platform to play the game while practicing (and probably learning!) new words. You can check the word in a built-in dictionary the game provides.

3) Caja de Palabras is the boggle game. It’s very easy to use. You just need to type the words you can find and press enter. The program will tell you if the word is valid or not.

4) Memrise is a website that provides many game-like activities to help you practice and memorize words.

 

3) Use sticky notes:

Every time you find a new word that seems difficult to remember, write it down on a sticky note and stick it somewhere you’re definitely going to be. For example, on the side of your laptop screen. This way, every time you sit at your laptop, you can check this word. If possible, don’t write an isolated word (e.g. encourage) , but a chunk of words (e.g. encourage someone to do sth) or a sample sentence (e.g. I encouraged my friend to take his exam).

 

EXTRA TIP:

You can also classify the words in two columns: Words you’ll probably use / Words you’re uncertain you’ll use. This way, you can have the most useful lists handy, but still record the uncommon ones to enrich your vocabulary.

weekly planner for Spanish learning

Spanish-learning weekly planner!

Make a Spanish-learning weekly planner and maximize your language learning

Speaking to several language learning friends I’ve come to the conclusion that nowadays most of us are self-learners and are learning languages on our own through different means. Some of the various activities self-learners do to achieve their language learning goals are:

 

  • Purchase self-learning language books
  • Install a language learning app on their mobile
  • Download podcasts
  • Listen to music on the target language
  • Exchange conversation with native speakers
  • Follow Facebook pages with language resources

And many more…

 

But how can we make the most out of this experience? Some people end up abandoning because they don’t know how to organize their learning and make progress, instead of getting stuck in basic vocabulary and grammar.

 

These are some ideas for you to organize your week and maximize your Spanish learning in a methodical way. It’s recommended that you plan several study weeks in advance so that your can set a clear order of topics and you will later able to see your progress.

 

This is an example of someone devoting 4 hours a week for Spanish learning, you can later adapt it to your own schedule:

 

1) Grammar Day! Devote one hour a week to study Spanish grammar. Spanish grammar is complex and needs time to learn and get it right. Take at least 30 minutes to study a grammar topic, and another 30 minutes to practice it with some exercises. Here you can find some coursebooks we recommend as well as websites:

Complete Spanish Grammar (Book in digital and paperwork format with all explanations in English)

Basic Spanish  (Grammar book in a contextualized format, including vocabulary)

SpanishDict (Website with free grammar explanations and a final quiz to test your comprehension)

 

2) Reading and listening comprehension: One of the great parts of learning a language is to be able to truly understand the meaning of what you read and listen and start to feel connected to the story or article, etc. Take one hour a week to read a text in Spanish (you can alternate between reading a text or listening to a podcast or audiobook), underline all unknown words (for listening practice you can get the transcripts), look them up in the dictionary, take notes, and answer questions to check your understanding. It’s great if you can get texts or listening activities that provide both comprehension questions and the answers so you can later check. Through reading and listening you can also learn vocabulary and record them in lists for further study. Here we share two ideas!:

Spanish reading and comprehension (book that provides plenty of texts in different styles for reading comprehension practice)

Veintemundos (Online Spanish magazine with both text and audio + follow-up activities to check understanding)

 

3) Develop your writing skills: One thing you can do to work on your writing skills is to write your opinion about the texts or audios you’ve been working on during the week. Also, you can set some writing tasks for yourself, and complete them. Some examples are:

1) Write a letter to a friend telling them about your last holidays and inviting him/her to come to visit you next summer.

2) Write a film review on the last movie you’ve seen, and whether you would recommend your readers to see it.

3) Write a formal email to request information on a holiday package.

Another great idea is to have a language buddy with whom you can exchange emails or whatsapp messages in Spanish, and ask him/her for their feedback.

Once you’ve become more proficient you could have your own Spanish blog!

A book we can recommend to help you get started is this one: Spanish Sentence Builder  (A Book that helps you to write correct sentences in Spanish)

 

4) Boost your fluency: Once a week you can take a private tailored lesson with a native tutor. This hour of conversational practice will help you become more fluent; be corrected on the spot which will allow you to speak more accurately; learn first-hand views on current affairs in your tutor’s country; learn about your tutor’s lifestyle and traditions in his/her country of origin, and so on. Having a tailored class is a great way to learn what you’re interested in and what you really need. You can take the class as an opportunity to share what you’ve been learning on your own during the week and to get feedback on your self-learning.

Meet our tutors Clara from Spain and Monica and Marcela from Argentina and book a trial class for only 7USD.

 

You can download our Spanish-learning Weekly Planner from here.

Make your commute time a Spanish learning session with these 5 tips

Most of us spend on average 7-14 hours in public transportation a week. For instance, statistics show that an average of 1 hour a day is spent in public transport in most European countries. How many Spanish classes would you be able to take if you had that commute time available for class?

The good news is you can actually use that apparently wasted time and transform it into a tailored Spanish session. Want to know how?

These are the tips I have personally gathered through experience, and what I’ve learned from my own students. Check it out!

 

#1: Use downloadable podcasts in your mobile: There are many sites that offer free access to very interesting podcasts in which you can learn Spanish pronunciation and train your listening comprehension while learning new grammar and vocabulary. We recommend you start by trying one of these: Audiria (it offers great material for all levels with free worksheets and online activities to check your understanding) and Podcasts in Spanish. This last one offers all podcasts for free and only charges for the accompanying material like worksheets, etc.

Whenever possible try to download the recordings in advance into your mobile, and even the worksheets if they are available for download. This will allow you to have them despite of any internet connection problem while you commute.

 

#2: Get a Spanish learning app: You’re probably familiar with Duolingo, which is a great language learning app also available for Spanish learning. It provides tons of activities to work on your grammar, vocabulary, listening, writing, etc. It is mainly chunk-based so you’ll be learning small chunks of language, but it is good for learning and reviewing specific topics. Another one is Memrise, which is mainly focused on learning through flashcards and  it’s great for beginners and also for more advanced learners in need of reviewing and memorizing words.

 

#3: Listen to the radio: A fantastic way to be exposed to authentic Spanish is by listening to the radio in Spanish. We recommend this practice for intermediate students and above, as it might be pretty difficult for a beginner to grasp the meaning of what’s being said, especially because the radio presenters might speak fast. In this link you can find lots of Spanish radios with internet streaming, and in this one there are tons of Latin American radios: (both for listening to music and for news updates).

 

#4: Buy an audiobook: There are many audiobooks at a very low cost available on Amazon that you can buy and have them handy for any long commute. These two have great Amazon reviews and are aimed at people that spend much time in public transport or driving to work, so that commutes are no longer boring and a waste of time.

This one, “Learn in your Car. Spanish: The complete language course” is a great option for beginners to work on vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation. For intermediate levels and above there are plenty of audiobooks with short stories and adapted novels, to enrich your knowledge of Hispanic literature while learning Spanish. These are some options to consider: Spanish short stories for intermediate level + and  all audiobooks from Editora Delearte, which publishes Spanish readers, like this one  El hombre muerto (Advanced C1) + Audiobook + Activities. If you’re using public transport you can complete the activities too, and if you’re driving you can get all the listening activities done and leave the other ones for later.

 

#5: Commit yourself to some writing!: Writing is the most difficult part cause it will require a bit more effort on your side. But there are plenty of ways you can get some writing practice at any free time you have. One idea is for you to get a writing buddie through one of the many apps that connect worldwide language learners, for example HelloTalk. Another idea is to write all your daily notes in Spanish. Many of us use our commute time to organize our schedule, make notes, plan activities, etc. Why not make your grocery list, daily planning and personal notes in Spanish? One more thing you can do is to start a Spanish diary. Who knows, it could even end up being a great blog! To write, you can use any note-taking app like Evernote or OneNote. Don’t worry about grammar and spelling for now. The best thing is to get your writing done, and then when you have time you can show it to your Spanish buddie or correct it in Grammarly.

 

If your internet connection is good and you’re commuting by public transport for at least 30 minutes, you could also consider taking a real Spanish class by Skype with a native teacher. You can use this class for speaking practice, pronunciation, and also for asking questions about all the things you’ve been learning on your own during the week by making great use of your commute time!

Argentine Slangs you’d never guess their real meaning!

Argentine slangs are used all the time in conversations throughout Argentina. It's not only among the youth, but at any age. If you don't know their meaning, it's impossible for you to understand what an Argentine is trying to say! Many phrases are so well-known by locals, that they would always prefer the slang intead of the more formal word that you'd actually learn at school or in books. Ready to learn about the weirdest phrases and its origins? Once you learn the origin of the phrase, it becomes a bit easier to retain the meaning!

De cayetano

If a person tells you to do something "de cayetano" (in Spanish: hacer algo de cayetano) they want you to do it in silence, with a low profile. Although the word is the same as the saint (San Cayetano), this expression has nothing to do with the saint. It actually comes from the word "callar" (to silence). In Lunfardo words were sometimes changed so that if somebody else heard what they were saying they wouldn't understand. So instead of telling someone to do something quietly (hacelo callado), they would say: "hacelo de cayetano".


¡Andá a cobrarle a Magoya!

This Argentine expression literally means "Go charge Magoya!" and it is used when you want to tell someone that he/she isn't getting paid. The surnames Magoya and Montoto are always used in these phrases, meaning they are people you will never find. They are ways of referring to an inexistent person.

Perdido como turco en la neblina

This slang phrase means "to be lost as a Turk in the fog" and it is used when a person is totally lost or clueless. But the origin of the phrase is more interesting. In the times when the Moors invaded the Spanish, the Spanish would call the wine that was pure (the one that wasn't diluted with water) "Moor wine" or also "Turk wine", cause it was not "sanctified" or "baptized" like the Moors. From then on, they would refer to drunkenness as a "Turk". So if you're lost as a Turk in the fog it means you're lost as a drunk person in the middle of the fog.So if you have a friend that is acting a bit clueless or lost tell him/her: "¡Estás perdido/a como turco en la neblina!"


Versero

When you call a person "versero" you're saying he/she's a liar.
It comes from the slang verb "versear" that means to lie. It's not only used when talking about a liar, but also when a person tends to tell unbelievable stories and you feel they might be untrue!

Gauchada

The word "gauchada" comes from the word "gaucho" (and a "gaucho" is a South American cowboy, we explained this earlier in another post). A "gauchada" is a favour.
Some examples on how to use it:
- ¿Me hacés una gauchada? (Would you do me a favour?)
- Mi amigo siempre me hace la gauchada cuando lo necesito (My friend always helps me when I need him).


No caza una

When you want to say that someone doesn't understand anything at all, you can say that person "¡No caza una!". The verb "cazar" (to hunt) has other meanings as well. One is "to understand something easily".


Sos Gardel

When a person tells you that you are Gardel (¡Sos Gardel!) they are trying to say you are at the top, you are the one in the best position, you're lucky, you're the envy of everyone, etc. For example, if you have air conditioning on a very hot day, you're Gardel. (We're sure you're aware of who Gardel is, but just in case, he's the most famous Argentine tango singer of all times).


La verdad de la milanesa

When a person tells "la verdad de la milanesa" (the truth of the "milanesa"), it means this person is is telling the real deal, an irrefutable truth. "Milanesa" is one of the most typical dishes in Argentina. There has been a lof of debate on the origin of this dish (whether it comes from Vienna or Milan, or somewhere else), and so when a person has "la verdad de la milanesa" (the truth of the milanesa - referring to the fact that this person knows the true origin of the dish) it means this person is telling the truth, knows a lot about what he/she is saying, etc. Or, in other Argentine words, "la tiene clara" (knows the real deal).

Hacer gancho

This expression is used when someone is trying to play matchmaker. "Hacer gancho" is to help two people to meet and maybe start dating.
- No me hagas gancho con Juan, que no me interesa.
(Don't arrange me with Juan, as I'm not interested).

Cara rota

If a person is "cara rota" (literally "broken face") it means this person is shameless. Other words for this are "caradura" and "careta". There is a very famous tango song by Gardel called "cara rota" that describes this type of person very well, saying he tries to get things for free, take advantage of friends, etc. 

 Which one is your favourite? Comment below! Or check our blog posts below for related articles.

Present Simple Tense

The Spanish Present Tenses made easy! (I)

If you’re planning to start learning Spanish grammar, we recommend you start with the present tenses! There are several present tenses, and in this lesson we’ll start by explaining the Simple Present Tense (or in Spanish “el presente simple” or “el presente del indicativo”).

When do we use it?

In general we use it:

  • To talk about habits and routine.
  • To talk about universal truths and facts.
  • To talk about permanent things.

For example:

  • Los lunes voy a clases de piano. On Mondays I go to piano lessons.
  • El sol nace en el este. The sun rises in the East.
  • Yo soy uruguaya. I’m Uruguayan.

How do we form the verbs in the present simple tense?

Let’s start by taking a look at the regular ones. There are three types of regular verbs, according to their endings: ar, er and ir.

This chart will help you to form the AR verbs:

Subject Pronoun

Verb in the infinitive HABLAR – to speak (The stem is “habl” and the ending is “ar” – What we modify is the ending, but we keep the stem).

Yo (I)Hablo
Tú (you-singular, informal)Hablas
Él (he) , Ella (she), Usted (you-formal)Habla
Nosotros/as (we)Hablamos
Vosotros/as (you-plural, informal – Only used in Spain)Habláis
Ellos/as (They), Ustedes (You-plural, formal in Spain and both formal and informal in Latin America).Hablan

Now let’s see the “ER” verbs:

Subject Pronoun

Verb in the infinitive COMER – to eat (The stem is “com” and the ending is “er” – What we modify is the ending, but we keep the stem).

Yo (I)Como
Tú (you-singular, informal)Comes
Él (he) , Ella (she), Usted (you-formal)Come
Nosotros/as (we)Comemos
Vosotros/as (you-plural, informal – Only used in Spain)Coméis
Ellos/as (They), Ustedes (You-plural, formal in Spain and both formal and informal in Latin America).Comen

and finally, the “IR” verbs:

Subject Pronoun

Verb in the infinitive VIVIR – to live (The stem is “viv” and the ending is “ir” – What we modify is the ending, but we keep the stem).

Yo (I)Vivo
Tú (you-singular, informal)Vives
Él (he) , Ella (she), Usted (you-formal)Vive
Nosotros/as (we)Vivimos
Vosotros/as (you-plural, informal – Only used in Spain)Vivís
Ellos/as (They), Ustedes (You-plural, formal in Spain and both formal and informal in Latin America).Viven

Take a look at these examples:

AR verbs:

  • Juan llora cuando mira un drama. Juan cries when he watches a drama.
    • The infinitive form of “to cry” is “llorar”. The stem is “llor” and the ending “ar”. Can you see the rule being applied in this example? The same happens with “mirar” (to look/watch). The stem is “mir” and the ending “ar”. The right ending for “He” is “a” = llora, mira.

ER verbs:

  • Nosotras siempre entendemos la clase. We always understand the lesson. 
    • The infinitive form of “to understand” is “entender”. The stem is “entend” and the ending “er”. The right ending for “we” (nosotros) is “emos” = entendemos.

IR verbs:

  • Nosotros partimos al trabajo todas las mañanas a las ocho. We leave to work every morning at eight.
    • As you’ve noticed, most of the “er” forms are the same as the “ir” forms, except for “nosotros” and “vosotros”. The infinitive verb “to leave” in Spanish is “partir”. The stem is “part” and the ending “ir”. So the right ending for “we” (nosotros) is “imos” = partimos.

We hope this first introduction to the Present Simple Tense has been helpful for you, stay tuned for the next lesson, in which we’ll introduce the irregular “yo” forms of present simple verbs.