Posts

My name is:
Sean

My new level is:
B3

Approximately how much time do you dedicate to working on your Spanish outside of class?
3-5 horas

On average, how many times per week do you take classes @ Pura Buena Onda?
1 – 2 classes a la semana

What role has Pura Buena Onda played in helping you improve your Spanish & advance to the next level?
“PBO ha sido absolutamente fundamental  para mejorar mi español. Me da la oportunidad practicar hablando con otros hispanohablantes y la motivación continuar aprendiendo para que yo pueda expresarme mejor cada clase. No podría haberlo hecho sin la ayuda de PBO.
PBO has been absolutely fundamental en improving my spanish. It gives me the opportunity to practice speaking with other spanish speakers and the motivation to keep learning so that I can express myself better every class. I could not have done it with PBO’s help. ”

What are some of your favorite resources?
“Me encanta Twitter porque puedo encontrar un montón de hispanohablantes y leer muchos hilos en español. También sigo a noticieros en Twitter para mantenerme al día de las noticias en español. Llevo escuchando el podcast Conclusiones (de CNN) recietemente. Aún quiero mirar mas programas y leer más libros en español.
I love Twitter because i can find a bunch of spanish speakers and read many threads in spanish. I also follow the news on twitter to help keep myself up to date on spanish news. I’ve been listening to the podcast Conclusiones (by CNN). I still want to watch more shows and read more books in spanish.”

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
“Todo el mundo debería aprender otros idiomas, especialmente la gente en los estados unidos, en que mucha gente sólo habla su lengua nativa.
Everybody should learn other languages, especially people in the United States, where many people only speak their first language.”

¡Gracias Sean!

¡Felicidades a Sean por avanzar al nivel B3! ¡Bien hecho! We are so happy to have you in our online Spanish classes!

My name is:

Penny
My new level is:
C1
Approximately how much time do you dedicate to working on your Spanish outside of class?
I try to practice or listen to some Spanish every day, but the bulk of it is on Sundays when I lead our Spanish-language worship service and preach every other week.
On average, how many times per week do you take classes @ Pura Buena Onda?
Once
What role has Pura Buena Onda played in helping you improve your Spanish & advance to the next level?
PBO has been everything! Having the weekly class and the homework keeps me moving forward.
What are some of your favorite resources?
I enjoy the daily Facebook question, even if I don’t always write a response. Adri is an incredibly gifted and creative teacher, and the conversations in her class are very enriching. I listen to the Hoy Hablamos podcast regularly and watch occasional TV shows and TED talks.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I remember my first classes very clearly from 4 1/2 years ago: I was almost a total beginner and I was really scared to actually speak Spanish. Susana was my first teacher and she was very kind and patient. I am thrilled to have reached the advanced level. PBO offers exactly the kind of encouragement that adult learners need.

Thank you Penny!

¡Felicidades a Penny por avanzar al nivel C1! ¡Bien hecho! We are so happy to have you in our online Spanish classes!

My name is:

Paula 

My new level is:

A2

Approximately how much time do you dedicate to working on your Spanish outside of class?

I work about 30 minutes per day on homework and I try to think in Spanish as much as possible throughout the day.

On average, how many times per week do you take classes @ Pura Buena Onda?

I take classes once a week but more often would be better.

What role has Pura Buena Onda played in helping you improve your Spanish & advance to the next level?

I’ve spent many years learning grammar in a classroom setting and i knew that i needed more practice speaking. The teachers at PBO are amazing, they work together so well and provide feedback, and have helped me with my confidence to speak. So happy that my Spanish speaking ability is improving.

What are some of your favorite resources?

For fun I follow PBO on Instagram and now the blog, but mostly the teachers and fellow students are my favorite resources.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

Congrats on 13 years!! So glad i found you when I did!

 

Thank you Paula!

¡Felicidades a Paula por avanzar al nivel A2! ¡Bien hecho! We are so happy to have you in our online Spanish classes!

My name is:

Cassandra

My new level is:

A3

Approximately how much time do you dedicate to working on your Spanish outside of class?

30 minutes every day

On average, how many times per week do you take classes @ Pura Buena Onda?

1-2 times

What role has Pura Buena Onda played in helping you improve your Spanish & advance to the next level?

It’s everything!! Nothing better than conversation. I love how interactive the teachers are.

What are some of your favorite resources?

Babbel, books

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

Thank you for everything!

¡Felicidades a Cassandra por avanzar al nivel A3! ¡Bien hecho! We are so happy to have you in our online Spanish classes!

Hola de nuevo, chicos y chicas:

How are you doing today? Have you been studying Spanish? Good for you!  Or should you NOT be studying in order to improve your Spanish???

If you are a beginner or lower intermediate student, yes, keep studying! But maybe you need to stop if you are an intermediate student trying to reach an advanced level, or an advanced student trying to become fluent. Why do I say this? Let’s find out in today’s blog.

The language learning journey begins…

When we start learning a language, we use many resources. We usually have books, we use apps like Duolingo, we listen to podcasts like Coffee Break Spanish, and we watch Youtube videos for language learners.

All those things are very useful. However, once you get to an upper intermediate/advanced level, it will not help you to advance.

Think about it: most of those resources and tools are aimed at beginners and intermediate students. If you are not a beginner or a low level intermediate student anymore, it’s not suited for you. At that point, you need to do something else. Otherwise, you end up being stuck in the same level for YEARS, potentially forever.

What do you have to do once you get to an upper intermediate level?

Should you NOT be studying in order to improve your Spanish???  Well, you kind of have to forget about studying Spanish. Yes, that’s right! When you get to that point, you shouldn’t learn Spanish in the traditional way. What you need to do is to incorporate the language into your life.

Incorporating Spanish in your life doesn’t mean more studying. What you need to do is to start living your life in Spanish. How do you do that?

Instead of reading books on HOW to learn Spanish, you read books IN Spanish. Don’t to Podcasts that TEACH Spanish, listen to podcasts for Spanish speakers. Instead of watching Youtube videos about grammar, follow youtubers that do their videos in Spanish for a Spanish speaking audience.

So basically you have to ditch the student mentality and make Spanish a part of your everyday life. Read the news in Spanish, watch TV in Spanish, Listen to Spanish-language radio stations…live your life in Spanish everyday like a native speaker would. You should NOT be studying in order to improve your Spanish!

Have a good week and see you soon!

Octavi

¡Buenos días a todos!

Today we are going to take a look at something that we’re all familiar with: Code switching and Spanglish!

Code switching

In linguistics, codeswitching occurs when a speaker alternates between two or more languages in the context of a single conversation. Multilinguals sometimes use elements of multiple languages when conversing with each other.

Spanglish

Spanglish is more along the invention of words taken from English and made to sound like Spanish.  Some examples are “raite” for ride or “googlear” that comes from “to google.”

Opinion

Overall, Spanglish & code switching are the result of a very common phenomenon that appears in areas where the population speaks two languages. There are studies that show that bilinguals feel more comfortable when speaking to other bilinguals because they can mix the two languages.

Language specialists are divided on the topic. Some of them say that code-switching and Spanglish are an abomination, and some of them say it’s just another kind of Spanish spoken in the US.

In my opinion, it’s ok. I think people should strive to speak standard Spanish, but the existence of Spanglish and code-switching is undeniable. I don’t think it’s something negative, but you should be aware of a couple of things:

  • Remember that it is ok to code switch with your friends, but don’t mix the Spanish and English grammar many Spanglish speakers. Grammar is the backbone of any language, and sounds awful when it’s mixed.
  • Try not to code-switch or use Spanglish in class.  If you go abroad to Spanish-speaking countries, it will be of no use to you. You should be able to speak standard Spanish when needed.

Whenever someone code switches or uses Spanglish in class I usually don’t correct them. However, I will not personally use those words when I teach. At the end of the class, I sometimes tell my students about Spanglish words they have used. It’s important that they know those words are not standard.

That’s just my point of view. Depending on who you are talking to, they may have a completely different point of view.

To summarize:

Spanglish and code switching is ok with your friends, but try not to use it when you’re in class or when you’re abroad :)

What is your opinion? Let us know in Facebook!

¡Qué tengan una buena semana!

Octavi

¡Hola, chicos y chicas!

Have you learnt a lot of Spanish this week? Are you perhaps thinking that you would like to give a boost to your Spanish and take it to the next level? If that’s the case, I recommend you try out a Spanish immersion program abroad. In fact, today’s blog is going to help students interested in this kind of program pick a destination that suits their needs, and explain how to make the most of the trip. Let’s get started!

Length of stay

The first thing you want to consider if you want to study in a Spanish immersion program abroad, is how long would you would like the immersion to be. Most of us have busy lives and can’t afford to study abroad for six months, let alone a year. That’s why many people take part in immersion programs abroad for one or two weeks.

In my opinion, one week is great as an experience, specially if it is the first time you go abroad alone to study Spanish. You might end up with culture shock or find out that the place you chose doesn’t cater to your needs. Nevertheless, although one week is probably not enough to make a big difference in your Spanish, it can be a good first experience. I encourage everyone to try it at least once.

Now, if you want to see some progress, the minimum you should stay in an immersion program is two weeks. For students who want to go up a level, I recommend doing one month. However, students who are in the B2 level or a higher level would need more than a month to go up a level.

Location

Once the period of time you’d be staying has been decided, the next step is choosing the right place for your Spanish immersion program. When I say “the right place” I don’t mean to say that there are right or wrong places, but places in where you’ll learn better than others.

For example, I recommend going to a medium or small city instead of going to a big city. The reason for that is that in bigger and more cosmopolitan cities people usually speak English. Another factor to take into consideration is whether there’s a second official language where you want to go. This situation is not ideal because the environment where you would be wouldn’t be a 100% Spanish. I am from Barcelona, and I love my city, but Catalan is an official language there. It’s very present in the city and everyday’s life, so I always recommend that my students go to other cities in Spain where Spanish is the only official language.

Language

There’s a third and very important thing that you need to remember before you pick a destination for your study abroad program: the kind of Spanish you want to learn. Maybe you’d like to go to Spain because it’s in Europe, or maybe you want to go to Guatemala because it’s cheaper to study there.  Keep in mind that the kind of Spanish you will learn in every country has distinct characteristics, like the vocabulary and the pronunciation. In conclusion, if you want to learn, let’s say, Mexican Spanish; Mexico is the place to go, or perhaps you prefer a more neutral Spanish and may want to go to Bogota, Colombia.

I have more tips for you on what to do once you’ve made up your mind on a language school, but I will leave that for next week :). I hope you have a fabulous weekend!

¡Hasta la próxima semana!

Octavi

PS If you have attended a Spanish study abroad program, please fill out our form, which will help others find the right program for them. Thank you! Language Immersion Program Survey.

Por favor, háblame en español

¿Cómo están, estimados alumnos y alumnas?

This week we got the inspiration for the blog “Por favor, háblame en español” from one of our students. During class, this student was sharing with everyone how frustrating it is when all the people talk to him in English when he tries to speak Spanish in Mexico. I’ve heard similar stories from several students in some of my classes too. I completely understand the frustration students experience, and let me tell you, it happens to me too!

Sometimes I say something in Spanish to people who are speaking in Spanish, and they look at me as if they had seen an alien. Most of the time they look bewildered and hesitate before choosing a language in which to reply to me.  I would say that 80% of the time they choose English. Then they compliment me with this: your Spanish is really good! Usually I just say that I’m from Spain and then they switch back to Spanish before I have to say “Por favor, háblame en español.”

I had the same experience when I was living in South Korea, so I found a way to make Koreans talk to me in Korean.  I also came up with a trick or two in case my method didn’t work.

First, I made sure that the first sentences I would say before addressing someone were as grammatically correct as possible. Then I tried to pronounce them very well. I chose simple sentences, in that way I was able to say them pretty past, with confidence and with good pronunciation. I think it worked because Koreans couldn’t hear any English accent in my Korean, so they thought that I either spoke Korean so well that they could use Korean with me, or that I wasn’t an English speaker.

My method usually worked, but in some cases I got answers in English. What did I do then? I used one of my few tricks. Trick number 1 consisted of saying (in Korean): Sorry, I’m from Spain and I don’t speak English. ¿Do you speak Spanish? I used that trick for 5 years and nobody ever said they spoke Spanish, so they did not keep using English; except once or twice.

I remember a man who worked at the snack bar of a cinema I used to go to. He was very stubborn, and always talked to me in English, even though I kept speaking to him in Korean. That was the kind of situation where I used trick number 2. This trick consists of saying that you are a Spanish (it was Korean for me) student and that your assignment is to speak with a native speaker for 5 or 10 minutes. I love trick number two because people almost never refuse to help you. You can usually practice and ask questions freely, knowing they won’t switch to English.

I would also like to say that this is the perfect time to announce that the Pura Buena Onda pins are coming soon! Have you seen them on our Instagram or Facebook page? They say: “Por favor, háblame en español, soy estudiante de Pura Buena Onda”. What a great idea, right (thank you Jean E. for suggesting it!!)!? Now, when you wear the pin, people will see it and they will be more prone to talk to you in Spanish. They might even strike up a conversation in Spanish with you before you know it!

Muy bien, chicos y chicas. As always, I hope my little method and couple of tricks work for you. Give them a try, they always worked for me ;)

See you next week! ¡Nos vemos la próxima semana!

Octavi

Beating the presents out of the Shit Log. Yep. It’s a thing.

Hola, estimados alumnos :)

This week we’re going to take a break from common mistakes. Christmas is around the corner and I want to take this chance to let you know about a Catalan tradition that’s pretty weird and many of you might not know. This tradition is called “Caga tió”.

This tradition is only celebrated in Catalonia, and the name means “Shit log”, in Catalan. Yes, you have heard correctly. Why does it have this name? You might be wondering… What is this tradition about? You might be asking… Ok, let me explain it.

On the 8th of December, which is the Feast of Immaculate Conception, Catalan families put a “Caga tió” by the fireplace, or else they put in a corner of the living room with a blanket to keep it warm at night. Kids pamper the log and they “feed” it sweets and candy for two weeks. Then, on Christmas Eve, adults send the kids outside the room where “Caga tió” is, with sticks. The kids have to prepare the sticks for what’s going to happen next. In my case, we were sent out to the staircase and we had to rub the sticks on the steps of the stair to make them warmer. Afterwards, we were sent back in and then we started singing a song while we whipped the log with the sticks. This song is called “Caga tió”. When the song ends with a final cry of “Caga tió!”, kids check under the blanket, and they find the presents that the log has “shit”.

This operation is repeated several times, until the parents in the room say that the log has shit everything and there’s nothing else. The presents are usually candy, nothing big, and only kids are supposed to beat the log while singing the song “Caga tió”, which literally means “Shit, log!”.

I’ve always cherished this tradition and it was one of my favorite Christmas activities. However, when I started explaining it for the first time to my Korean students in Seoul, and while I saw how their faces muted into expressions of pure awe, I realized how scatological and kind of crazy this tradition is. I know that many of you will probably be shocked too after you read this, but… I love “Caga tió”! Ha, ha, ha!

Kate McKinnon, from Saturday Night Live, explains this tradition very well too. I will leave the link to the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=UjzkxcHPb9g

Also, for whoever might be interested in it, here are the lyrics to the “Caga tió” song (Remember this song is in Catalan, not Spanish):

 

Caga tió,

Tió de Nadal,

No caguis arengades,

Que són massa salades

Caga torrons

Que són més bons!”

 

Shit, log,

Log of Christmas,

Don’t shit herrings,

Which are too salty,

Shit nougats (turrón)

Which are much better!

 

Do you have a special Christmas tradition? Something that only you or your family does? Let us know in the comment section :)

 

Saludos a todos!

Octavi

Common errors made by Spanish language learners

¿Cómo están hoy? Espero que bien :)

During the past two weeks you have actively and positively responded to the blogs about common errors made by Spanish language learners. You have expressed how much you like to see this kind of topic, and I can’t deny the students what they want, so this week I’ll write about five more mistakes that students make when they are learning/speaking Spanish, this time related to prepositions. I hope you like it!

 

1 – “Salí la casa.” – I left the house.

This is incorrect because in Spanish, when we are leaving a place or exiting a place, if we want to use the verb “salir”, we need to say “salir de”:

“Salí de casa”

 

2 – “Pienso mucho sobre tu tía.” – I think a lot about your aunt.

The problem in the sentence above is, once more, the preposition. In Spanish, when we think about someone or something, we should say “pensar en”. You can also say “pensar sobre”, but that means something like to reflect on or to ponder. For example, “pienso sobre el sentido de la vida”, I think about the meaning of life. However, the example sentence should be:

“Pienso mucho en tu tía.”

 

3 – “Mi plan para el fin de semana depende en el tiempo que haga.” – My plan for the weekend depends on how the weather will be.

In this case, the preposition “en” is incorrect. We should always say “depende de”, and not “depende en”:

“Mi plan para el fin de semana depende del tiempo que haga.”

 

4 – “Tu computadora es similar de la mía.” – Your computer is similar to mine.

Again, the problem with the sentence is the preposition. In Spanish, we don’t say “similar de”, instead of “de” we should say “a”. Therefore, we would say this:

“Tu computadora es similar/parecida a la mía.”

 

5 – “Dependentemente de tu respuesta, haré una cosa u otra.” – Depending on your answer, I’ll do one thing or another.

Many students assume that since “depende” means depends, then depending will probably be “dependentemente”. I don’t really know where this comes from, but either way the correct translation for depending is “dependiendo”, and it is also used with the preposition “de”, like in “depende de”:

“Dependiendo de tu respuesta, haré una cosa u la otra.”

 

I hope this new entry has helped you find some mistakes you didn’t know you were making. Next week I’ll do something unrelated to common mistakes for a change, but in case you still want me to write more about this topic, let me know and I’ll continue doing this kind of blog in the future :)

¡Les deseo una buena semana!

Octavi

 

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