Help! Get me out of my Spanish learning plateau!!!

Hola chicos,

We have been talking a lot over the last few weeks about how to get unstuck in language learning.  There are many Spanish learning plateaus along the way, and some are more challenging to get through than others.

If you are feeling stuck, I would recommend taking our 90 Day Challenge!

Here is the info:




We know that the language learning process can feel painfully slow sometimes, which is why we created our annual 90-day Spanish Bootcamp! Sometimes you just need to ramp it up for a while so that you can feel the progress.  It’s amazing how much you can accomplish in 3 – 6 months when you make Spanish a part of your daily routine.  If you want to make a significant dent in your Spanish, participate in our challenge!   

What it involves:

1 – Coming to class every week.  You must make class a priority during these 90 days by working everything else into your schedule around your Spanish classes.  In case it is absolutely necessary to miss a class, it must be made up the week before or the week after you miss it.  No exceptions.

2 – Participating in la conversación del día on Facebook – OR –  Journaling about a random topic every day.  This must be done every, single day for 90 days (with the exception of the day that you come to class).

3 – Doing the “optional” homework every week.  If you take the challenge, the homework is no longer optional.  This includes the “extra optional homework” in the Complete Spanish Grammar workbook.

4 – Reading the weekly tip in the blog every week and commenting on it on Facebook (if you do not have Facebook, let me know).

5 – Attending 2 of the 3 social club events in July, August, September and/or October.

6 – Speaking and/or listening to Spanish for 20 minutes every day.  You can watch a telenovela, a movie, listen to a podcast, talk to a friend or classmate, talk to people in restaurants or at work who speak Spanish, talk to yourself, whatever…but you must practice speaking and/or listening for 20 minutes every day.  We recommend that you work on your weakness rather than your strength.

The challenge starts on Monday 7/24/17 and ends on Saturday 10/21/17.

That’s it chicos.  If you want to sign up, this is all you need to do:

1 – Register here:

2 – Pay for your classes through 10/21/17 (there is no additional charge for the Bootcamp).

3 – I will send you a welcome email with all the details.

And “what’s the prize?” someone always asks…completing it!  What else?  It’s like running a Spanish marathon!  The satisfaction, the progress, that’s your prize :)  Are YOU up for the challenge?


PS If you are a private lesson student and would like to sign up, please email Caro @ [email protected] for details.


La tarea opcional de esta semana es ver el video Spanish Lesson: Past Perfect de Señor Belles ( y escribir 3 cosas que habías hecho o que alguien que conoces había hecho.  La próxima semana las pueden compartir en clase.

La tarea extra de la semana * para los que quieran más tarea * es seguir con el capítulo 10, Compound Tenses: the present perfect and the past perfect, en “Complete Spanish Grammar” de McGraw Hill, de la serie Practice Makes Perfect.  Les recomendamos leer las páginas 112 a 115  y hacer los ejercicios 10.9 a 10.15.


Hola chicos,

“Say this, not that” is back again!


Here are a few:


Don’t say: Está acerca de aquí.

Say: Está cerca de aquí.

Acerca = about & cerca = close


Don’t say: Me aparezco a mi papá  for “I look like my Dad.”

Say: Me parezco a mi papá.

Aparecer = to appear/materialize/show up (come from nothing) & parecer = to look like; to be like


Don’t say: Mi amiga’s casa

Say: La casa de mi amiga

In Spanish it is always “the house of my friend” or “the brother of my dad” or “the dog of my boyfriend.”


Don’t say: Voy a tener una fiesta en mi casa.

Say: Voy a hacer una fiesta en mi casa.

When referring to parties, in Spanish we use hacer when we are having the party and tener when we have a party to go to.  You can say “tengo una fiesta el viernes,” meaning that you have a party to go to.  If it’s your party you would say “voy a hacer una fiesta.”


Don’t say: Comí desayuno.

Say: Desayuné (or tomé desayuno)

In Spanish we don’t “eat” meals because there is a verb for all meals (desayunar/almorzar/cenar).  You can say “comí” (I ate) or use one of the verbs to be specific about the meal you ate.


Don’t say: El carácter que más me gustó fue…

Say: El personaje que más me gustó fue…

Carácter = character (a person’s moral makeup) & personaje = character (in a play, a movie, etc.)


Don’t say: Es mucho caro/divertido/viejo…

Say: Es muy caro/divertido/viejo…

Mucho = a lot & muy = very.  Mucho cannot be used before an adjective.


Don’t say: El auto y el camión nuevo

Say: El auto y el camión nuevos

When one adjective describes 2 nouns, the adjective is plural.


Do you make any of these common mistakes?  Which ones were new to you?





La tarea opcional de esta semana es escribir 3 cosas que nunca has hecho en un formulario que hemos creado.  Lo puedes encontrar en

(La tarea extra de la semana * para los que quieran más tarea * es seguir con el capítulo 10, Compound Tenses: the present perfect and the past perfect, en “Complete Spanish Grammar” de McGraw Hill, de la serie Practice Makes Perfect.  Les recomendamos leer las páginas 109 a 111  y hacer los ejercicios 10.4 a 10.8)



Hola chicos y feliz viernes :)

This week I spoke with 2 students about their frustration of being stuck  in a mid intermediate level and not seeming to be able to get into a high intermediate level.  This is incredibly common, so I would like to give you insight into this phenomenon.

From the time that you start to learn a language as a beginner, to the time you get into a mid intermediate level, you are pretty much a student of the language.  When you’re looking to move into a high intermediate or advanced level, although you remain a student by definition, your focus needs to be more on learning on a deeper level.  Many students get stuck in their routine and don’t venture out of their cave.  For example, if you’re doing DuoLingo at a B2-B2.5 level, it is not going to help you get into B3.  It will help you improve your grammar & vocabulary a bit, as well as to help you maintain what you have learned, but it will not catapult you into the next level.  To advance into a B3 or C1 level Spanish class, you will need to dig deeper.

Here are a 3 things that you can do:

1 – Journal.  As often as you can, sit down and write about your day.  Don’t write about basic things that happened, write about things that impacted you.  Part of being ready for a high intermediate level Spanish class is being able to communicate your feelings, something that is a challenge in a foreign language.  This would be the time to start practicing.  It is especially helpful when your have a strong feeling such as anger, confusion, surprise, concern, happiness, joy, excitement, sadness, anxiety, courage, empathy, passion, etc.  Mad at your boss?  Write about it!  Falling in love?  Write about it!  Pissed off at #45?  Write about it!

2 – Listen to native speakers on the radio, television, through podcasts, whatever you prefer, but absolutely make sure that you are taking time to listen to native speakers talking at a “normal” pace.  It may feel uncomfortable at first, and you may not understand every word, but this is the only way to improve this skill.

3 – Listen to or read the news in Spanish.  If you find it too depressing, read articles in the Lifestyle or Fashion sections.  The news will help you expand your vocabulary tremendously and this is the level in which to do it.  Up to a B2 level a lot of what you should be able to do well is chit chat.  Now to get into a B3 level, you should be able to talk about other things going on in the world.

So which one will you be adding to your routine?



THIS IS THE HOMEWORK FOR 6/19 – 6/24/17 – NOT FOR THIS WEEK!!!!!  See previous post for this week’s homework.

La tarea opcional de esta semana es escribir 3 cosas que nunca has hecho en un formulario que hemos creado. Lo puedes encontrar en (también puedes encontrar el enlace en el blog que está ubicado en el sitio web de PBO).

(La tarea extra de la semana * para los que quieran más tarea * es seguir con el capítulo 10, Compound Tenses: the present perfect and the past perfect, en “Complete Spanish Grammar” de McGraw Hill, de la serie Practice Makes Perfect. Les recomendamos leer las páginas 109 a 111 y hacer los ejercicios 10.4 a 10.8)


La tarea opcional de esta semana es averiguar si unos 2 o 3 dichos (o jerga) que usas en inglés se usan también en español (o si existe algo parecido). Pueden “googlearlo” a ver que aparece :) Nos cuentan en clase la semana que viene…

(La tarea extra de la semana * para los que quieran más tarea * es empezar el capítulo 10, Compound Tenses: the present perfect and the past perfect, en “Complete Spanish Grammar” de McGraw Hill, de la serie Practice Makes Perfect. Les recomendamos leer las páginas 107 a 109 y hacer los ejercicios 10.1 a 10.3)

Que tengan un buen finde :)

Hola chicos,

What is learning a language without learning some slang & sayings?  This week we have a great list for you:


Un tipo o  un gallo – A guy – Ejemplo:  ¡Ese tipo (o ese gallo) es muy guapo!  Siempre me han gustado los hombres con pecas.

Dejar a alguien sin palabras – To leave someone at a loss for words; speechless – Ejemplo: Donald Trump me deja sin palabras con todas las estupideces que dice.

Dejar con el culo en el aire  – To leave high & dry; to screw over – Ejemplo: Cuando se fue con el auto y me dejó en el restaurante solo me dejó con el culo al aire.

¡Me vale madre!  (México) – To not give a crap – Ejemplo: Ya estoy harta de ella y me vale madre que no vaya.  

¿Qué onda güey?  (México) – What’s up dude? – Ejemplo:  ¿Qué onda güey?  ¿Cómo has estado?

Joder  – To annoy, bug, piss-off; To screw over; Also used as an expression like “shit” – ¡Joder! – Ejemplo 1: ¡Los boletos para el concierto ya se agotaron!  ¡Joder! – Ejemplo 2:  Basta con eso que me estás jodiendo.

Caer gordo (México) – To rub the wrong way – Me cae gordo ese gallo.  No sé por qué pero me cae mal.

Mala pata – Bad luck (when used with “que” it can also mean “how unfortunate”) – Ejemplo:  Que mala pata que haya llovido el día de la boda.  No tuvo mucha suerte.

Majo/a (España) – Nice or attractive – Ejemplo:  Conocí a una chica muy maja el otro día.  Es muy simpática.

No pegar ojo – To not be able to sleep – Ejemplo:  Anoche no pude pegar ojo.  El perro del vecino ladró toda la noche y no me dejó dormir.

¡Qué fuerte! – How shocking!; Wow! – Ejemplo: -Me despidieron de mi trabajo esta mañana.  -Lo siento mucho.  ¡Qué fuerte!

¡No manches!  (México) – No kidding!  No way! – Ejemplo: -Chile le ganó a México por 7 puntos.  No manches!

Cagarla – Holy crap!; Wow! – This can be good or bad  – Ejemplo 1:  Fue la mejor fiesta a la que he asistido en toda mi vida.  ¡La cagó! – Ejemplo 2 – No puedo creer que hayas chocado por segunda vez esta semana.  ¡La cagaste!

Creerse el hoyo del queque (Chile) – To think one is all that – Ejemplo: Esa mujer no es hermosa pero se cree el hoyo del queque.

La muerte (Chile) – Delicious – Ejemplo:  ¡El queque te quedó la muerte!  ¡Delicioso!

Costar una pasta gansa (España) – To be very expensive – Ejemplo:  Uy, ese coche me va a costar una pasta gansa, pero vale la pena.

Tío/a (España) – Man, guy, dude, mate (but can also be used for women) – Ejemplo: Hola tío (a tu amigo) ¿cómo estás?

O sea – I mean; like; in other words – Ejemplo 1:  Sí, soy Mexicana, o sea, nací y me crié en México. – Ejemplo 2: ¿O sea, qué te pasa?

Aquí hay gato encerrado – Something fishy is going on here – Ejemplo: Todo está muy tranquilo en el edificio, parece que hay gato encerrado.  ¡Qué raro!

Perro que ladra no muerde – All bark no bite – Ejemplo: Siempre grita así, pero no te preocupes.  Perro que ladra no muerde.

Estar hasta las narices de algo o de alguien – To be tired of something or someone – Ejemplo:  Ya estoy hasta las narices con todas las estupideces que ha hecho.  No puedo más.

Estar como loca o loco – To be crazy about something  – Ejemplo:  Estoy como loca con la nueva canción de Rihanna.  La escucho todo el día.

¿Neta?  (México) – Really?? or Truth – Ejemplo 1 :  Te estoy diciendo la neta, no te miento. – Ejemplo 2: -¿Neta?  -Sí, te juro.

Tener verbo (México) – To have game (with words/conversation, not necessarily with a potential mate) – Ejemplo: No sé cómo le hizo para que lo dejaran salir temprano…de seguro tiene mucho verbo.

Me duele hasta el pelo – To be very sick or tired – Ejemplo:  No he dormido en 3 días con este resfriado.  Me duele hasta el pelo.

Que bacanería (Colombia) – Fantastic, really cool – Ejemplo:  ¿Vas a hacer un viaje de 6 semanas?  ¡Que bacanería!

Which is your favorite?



La tarea opcional de esta semana es grabarse hablando español.  Hace unos meses les pedimos que escogieran un tema y que hablaran acerca de ello mientras se grababan por unos 3 a 10 minutos.  Si no estaban aquí, lo van a hacer por primera vez.  Si ya lo hicieron hace unos meses, tendrán algo con que comparar la segunda grabación.

Entonces, escojan un tema y luego hablen por 3 a 10 minutos acerca del tema (les recomendamos unos 3 a 5 minutos en los niveles A1-A2, 5 a 7 minutos en los niveles B1-B2 y unos 7 a 10 minutos en los niveles B3-C1-C2) .  Traten de no usar nada de inglés y no usen un diccionario.  Si no saben cómo decir algo, descríbanlo.   

No van a compartir estas grabaciones, es para que tengan algo con que compararse en unos meses, pero sí les vamos a pedir que nos cuenten qué tema escogieron y cómo les fue.

(La tarea extra de la semana * para los que quieran más tarea * es terminar el capítulo 9, The Progressive Tenses, en “Complete Spanish Grammar” de McGraw Hill, de la serie Practice Makes Perfect.  Les recomendamos leer las páginas 105 y 106  y hacer los ejercicios 9.10 y 9.11.)


Learning a language takes hundreds of hours of practice.  Depending on who you ask it takes 600 to 1000 hours to reach fluency in Spanish.

So how in the world are you supposed to stay motivated for that long??  That takes years, right?

1 – It’s really important to be aware and to accept the fact that it is a lifelong commitment, pretty much like anything else that you do.  For example, if you play the piano, it’s not like one day you wake up and say “ok, I’m really good now so I don’t ever need to play the piano again.”  No, you keep playing and you keep getting better!  There’s always something new to learn :)

2 – Know why you’re doing it.  Your answer could be for a very specific purpose such as travel or work or it could simply be because you enjoy it.  
People ask me all the time why I’m studying Italian instead of French, considering that half my family speaks French and my Mom and other family members live in France.  Well, I’m not that into French.  Italy in general and anything Italian has always had my attention, since I was a little girl.  The language is beautiful and it draws me in.  This is a language that I feel I could study for the rest of my life and stay committed to.  That’s why I chose Italian!

3 – Enjoy it.  If studying Spanish feels like a chore to you, you’re not going to last long unless you’re forced to do it for work or something along those lines.  Finding ways to practice that are fun for you (maybe music or movies or learning grammar rules excite you) is key for the long term.

4 – Focus on the journey, not the destination.  Learning a language is a long journey and if you get too focused on being bilingual, all you’re going to think about is how you’re not there yet.  Treasure every new word you learn, every time you self-correct with a mistake you’ve been making for years, every time that something comes out of your mouth with little effort.  It’s so exciting when these things happen!!!  Treasure those little moments!!

5 – The last thing I will leave you with is the homework of the week.  This week we asked our students to pick a topic of conversation and to record themselves talking about it for 3 – 10 minutes (depending on the level).  We asked you to do this January and we will ask you again this fall.  I would recommend recording yourself once at least every 6 months, so that you can compare the recordings.  It’s very easy to forget how far you’ve come and this is proof baby!

Que tengan un buen fin de semana chicos :)