Posts

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:

Missy 

My new level is:

C1

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

10-15 hours per week

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

Recently 2

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

PBO has played the most important role in my journey. From the beginning, they made it more comfortable to start speaking which was the hardest part and from then on, everyone has been patient and encouraging along the way and has offered multiple different types of opportunities to improve. The teachers are incredible and the community that Caro has built is the best part. I have an amazing group of friends to learn and practice with because of PBO. 

What are some of your favorite resources?

I’ve been into listening to a lot of podcasts lately, I started with News In Slow Spanish a few years ago but now try to listen to Buenos Días America most weekdays. I also love No Hay Tos, Platicando, and Hoy Hablamos and have made it a recent goal to listen to all available episodes of Radioambulante. Netflix has so many good shows in Spanish (my favorites include La Casa de Papel, Gran Hotel, Las Chicas del Cable, El Internado, there are many more). The McGraw Hill books are great if you are a nerd like me. 

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

PBO has changed my life and I can’t thank them enough. I would never have imagined 4-5 years ago that I could now have a coherent conversation with someone in Spanish and love the process so much! 

Thank you Missy!

¡Felicidades a Missy por avanzar al nivel B2! ¡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, 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.

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

 

Check out our idioms and sayings on Twitter!

5 more common errors made by Spanish learners

 

Hola a todos :)

A couple of weeks ago I received some positive feedback about the blog regarding some of the common mistakes students make when they speak Spanish. By popular demand, this week we’ll look at more common mistakes that people who learn Spanish make:

1 – “Me gustaría preguntar una pregunta.” – I’d like to ask a question.

If we literally translate “to ask” and “question” in Spanish, it is “preguntar” and “pregunta”. However, we never say “preguntar una pregunta” because this expression is incorrect. We have a couple of options to express this in Spanish:

“Me gustaría hacer una pregunta.”
“Me gustaría preguntar algo.”

2 – “Mi hermana puede hablar español.” – My sister can speak Spanish.

In this example, the problem is “can”. When someone has learned something and has acquired a skill, like being able to play the piano, to speak another language or to surf, we should use the verb “saber” instead of “poder”. Thus, the sentence should be:

“Mi hermana sabe hablar español.”

3 – “Busco por mis llaves.” – I’m looking for my keys.

In this case, the mistake is attaching “por” to the verb. Many students translate “to look for” as “buscar por” (or “buscar para”), when “buscar” actually has the “for” built in. Buscar = To look for. The right way to say this is:

“Busco mis llaves.”

4 – “Mi madre es corta.” – My mother is short.

In Spanish, people are not short, people are “low” :). The correct way to express this is:

“Mi madre es baja.”

5 – “Creo que tengo pan en casa. O quizás no…Actualmente, no estoy seguro.” – I think I have bread in the house. Or maybe not…actually, I’m not sure.

The sentence above has a classic mistake. The word actually doesn’t translate as “actualmente”. It’s very misleading because it looks like a correct translation, but it’s not; it is a false cognate. “Actualmente” in Spanish means currently or nowadays. You have several options if you want to use the word actually when speaking Spanish, like “en realidad”, “en verdad” or “de hecho”:

“Creo que tengo pan en casa. O quizás no…En realidad, no estoy seguro.”

 

This is it for this week, everyone. I hope this blog entry helps you, and if you are still interested in a third installment of the mini series “common mistakes” (or another topic), let me know in the comments section for the blog on Facebook.

Besos y abrazos!

Octavi

 

If you missed last week’s post: 5 common errors Spanish learners make

Common errors made by Spanish learners

Hola, estimados [email protected] :)

This week I’d like to talk about some errors that most students make. These erros are very common, because they are caused by the fact that English is the mother tongue of most of the Spanish learners that come to PBO. The problem is that students might not know that some structures that are correct in English, can’t be used exactly in the same way in Spanish. Let’s look at some of those mistakes:

,

1 – “La semana que viene estoy yendo a casa de mis padres.”

Next week I’m going to my parent’s house.

The sentence above in Spanish is not correct. In Spanish we only use the Present Continuous/Progressive (for example; I’m talking, you are sleeping, she is going) when the action is taking place in the present time. Therefore, using it for future actions is a mistake and we should avoid it. To express future actions, we have two options in Spanish:

“La semana que viene voy a ir a casa de mis padres.”

“La semana que viene iré a casa de mis padres.”

,

2 – “Después de tomé café fui a trabajar.”

After I had coffee I went to work.

In the case above, the problem is the conjugation of the verb “to have” in the past tense. In Spanish, verbs are never conjugated when they come after the words before (antes de) or after (después de), or any preposition for that matter, regardless of the time in which the action takes place. Instead, we use the non conjugated form of the verb:

“Después de tomar café fui a trabajar.”

,

3 – “Mañana tendré el desayuno y pasearé.”

This time, the problem is the fact that we are using the verb “to have” with a meal. In Spanish we don’t “have meals,” we have verbs that express the action of having breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Thus, we can use just one verb to express that. This is what you should say:

“Mañana desayunaré y pasearé.”

,

4 – “Me levanté a las 7 en la mañana.”

The mistake we see here is a small one, but I realized it’s hard to fix the habit of using it. Try to remember that in Spanish we never say “en” after a certain hour and before a time of the day. We should always say “de”:

“Me levanté a las 7 de la mañana.”

,

5 – “Lo siento, estoy tarde.”

When students are late to class, they usually say this. However, that is not the correct way to express that we are late. In Spanish, we are not late, we “arrive” late. Besides, in most cases we shouldn’t use the present tense once we get to a place, and we say that we are sorry for being late. We already “arrived”, so we use the past tense:

“Lo siento, llegué tarde.”

,

You probably know some of these mistakes, and I know it’s hard not to make them when we are talking. Try to challenge yourself to get used to not making one or two of the things we’ve looked at here today, and slowly you will not make those mistakes. In my opinion, the point is to pick only one or two and work on fixing the habit of saying those wrong. Over time, you’ll get used to saying them correctly, and then you can work on one or two other common mistakes. One step at a time, my friends! :)

,

Un abrazo a todos!

Octavi

PS Join us on Twitter for sayings/expressions/idioms in Spanish!

Our in-house polyglot shares his language learning routine!

¿Cómo están hoy, queridos alumnos?

For several weeks, I have written about how I learned the languages that I speak. The time has come to share with you the different things I do to to keep my language skills fresh. I’ll be honest; once you decide to learn a language, it is pretty similar to going to the gym: you need to keep exercising, or else you get “out of shape”. Therefore, when you speak a language, you have to commit to it and practice regularly. In my opinion, you’re basically adopting a new lifestyle, as that practice becomes part of your life.

The next few things are strategies or techniques that I use that work for me. Some of them might not work for you, or you might not like them. Hopefully, you will like some of them and try them out, if you aren’t already doing so. Ok, here we go!

 

1 – Speak at least one hour a week

This is essential. I make sure I speak French, Italian, Japanese and Korean every week. I speak English at home all the time and Catalan and Spanish at PBO. If you are busy and can only do one thing, speak for one hour or even just 30 minutes every week. A little bit is better than nothing.

By the way, be sure to listen carefully to the native speaker you’re talking with. You learn by speaking, but also by listening. Pay attention to the expressions they use, the sentence order, the filler words, etc. You learn a lot by listening. Oh, and repeat corrections!

 

2 – Read books

I like reading, and I like reading in foreign languages even more because you also learn and practice at the same time. When I read, I look up one or two words that I don’t know and I write them in the last page of the book, which is usually blank. When I read the book the next time, I review the list of words in the last page before starting.

Make sure you pick “useful” words, meaning: words that you have seen several times while reading the book, words that seem important, etc. You shouldn’t try to understand every word, because you will end up forgetting all of them and not reading at all. Just getting the core of the story is enough. Now since understanding the story is vital, you should pick a book in which you understand 70% or 75% of what you read, at least.

 

3 – Watch TV

Nowadays we are lucky to have services like Netflix that provide countless shows and movies in several languages. I love watching Netflix. I watch shows in the languages I learn and also American shows dubbed in foreign languages. In case you like a show from the US, why not watching it dubbed? Obviously, the original version is always better, but you could enjoy a program that you love and want to see, and learn Spanish at the same time.

Also, put the subtitles in the matching foreign language. This enables you to learn new words and to get used to the pronunciation and even the normal speed at which natives speak while having the support of the written dialogue.

 

4 – Listen to podcasts or Youtube videos

When I go to sleep I put my earphones on and I choose a video on Youtube. It usually is a video in which someone speaks constantly, like an audiobook in Japanese, or a speech in Korean about China’s economy.

This is the best moment in the day to do it, because everything is quiet and I can focus in what I’m listening to. Since I’m not reading any subtitles, I also practice my listening comprehension. Always make sure to choose something you like, for it is hard to focus, at least for me :)

 

These four things are what I do on a weekly basis. Sometimes I don’t feel like reading and sometimes my teachers have to cancel our hourly conversation class. Reading and watching TV are not super important to me, but conversation is. That’s why when one of my teachers is unavailable one day, I try to find another day or time in the same week to talk with them. You know what I always say: consistency and speaking are the most important factors when learning a language.

 

Besos y abrazos

Octavi

 

For the last month, our in-house polyglot Octavi, has been sharing his language learning journey with us. He told us about the seven languages that he learned, but there was one he didn’t mention. Today he shares that experience with us:

 

Bienvenidos al blog una vez más :)

Today the blog is going to be about the language I studied for several years but I don’t speak.
That language is German. Let’s get started and see why I don’t speak it despite years of study.

How did it Start

Those of you who have been reading my blogs will probably remember how I got interested in the Japanese language. A similar thing happened with German. My Dad decided to go back to learning German, (he and my mum met in a German class!) so there were a bunch of notes and books in German in the house. My dad also spent some time watching German TV during the weekend, so I got curious and decided to add German to my list of languages.

Four Years in College

Some of you might also remember that I studied Translation and Interpretation in Barcelona. All the students were required to choose two foreign languages. Mine were French and German. The first one had to be a language that we already knew, and the second one could be any language we wanted, as we would learn it from scratch and throughout the fours years of college.

I studied German for a long time. What I was taught in the classroom wasn’t enough for me, though, so I tried to be active in the learning process, and looked for language exchange partners. I did all I’ve always done to learn a new language: be consistent, read books, watch TV, find language exchange partners, etc. But this time it didn’t work.

What went wrong? Why didn’t I learn how to speak German?

First of all, I realized that I wasn’t really interested in the countries where German is spoken, or its culture. I think it’s fundamental to be interested in something beyond the language itself, otherwise we don’t have the motivation to learn. Furthermore, I might have been unlucky, but the three German language exchange partners I had were boring and not very talkative. I wasn’t looking forward to meeting with any of them at all; ha, ha, ha!

The couple of things I’ve mentioned above were the biggest reasons why I gave up on German. To me, no matter how big a language is, how useful, how necessary it might be in the future, etc… If I’m not interested in something beyond the language, I know I’m not going to learn it. Why didn’t I learn Mandarin instead of Korean or Japanese? I’m just not as interested in Chinese culture, music, or its TV shows as I am with other cultures and their offerings.

So, you see, when you choose to learn a new language, you need something that keeps you motivated and excited about learning it throughout the years, otherwise you will probably give up.

All right, everyone; next week I’ll write again, and this time I’ll tell you how I practice the languages I speak and some of the techniques I use!

Hasta pronto!

Octavi