Tag Archive for: Spanish for adults

My name is:

My new level is:
Approximately how much time do you dedicate to working on your Spanish outside of class?
30 minutes to one hour daily
On average, how many times per week do you take classes @ Pura Buena Onda?
What role has Pura Buena Onda played in helping you improve your Spanish & advance to the next level?
PBO has helped me immensely! The classes have given me the confidence to speak more and to practice with my Spanish-speaking friends. All the teachers are so helpful and supportive.
What are some of your favorite resources?
Quizlet, CoffeeBreak Spanish, Duolingo Podcasts, and I also use the verb workbooks
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Classes are so much fun and I have really enjoyed getting to know my classmates.

Thank you Jenna!

¡Felicidades a Jenna por avanzar al nivel B1! ¡Bien hecho! We are so happy to have you in our online Spanish classes!

My name is:


My new level is:


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:


My new level is:


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!

¡Bienvenidos a todos!

I hope you’ve had a good week so far :).

Today, we are going to look at 5 reasons why you should read in Spanish; why you should be reading books, articles, poetry, and whatever crosses your way, in Spanish.

1 – You will learn a lot of vocabulary, because many English and Spanish words are very similar. Many expressions are very similar too. This means that you’ll be able to guess their meaning without having to use a dictionary.

2 – You’ll become familiar with verb tenses and conjugations. This doesn’t mean you will be conjugating correctly when you speak. Despite that, when you see verbs conjugated over and over, you develop an intuition that tells you when a tense or conjugation is right or wrong. As I said, this will not enable you to speak without mistakes, but it will help.

3 – At some point, you realize you can’t expect to understand everything that is being said in Spanish. The same applies to reading in Spanish. You will learn that you can’t and shouldn’t look up every single word you don’t understand. That is certainly time consuming, frustrating and not effective.

Furthermore, you will gradually become used to ignoring words that don’t seem important in order to understand a text. You will guess the meaning of others by the context, and you will look for the meaning of only some words that are crucial to understanding the gist of what you read. This is an excellent skill to develop!

4 – Another of the 5 reasons why you should read in Spanish is that there’s so much you can read, and in so many registers. Reading is not limited to books. You can read articles, the newspaper, texts you find on the Internet, etc.

Languages have many registers, or ways in which they are used. To be competent in a language, you can’t limit yourself to one or two registers. You have to be familiar with formal and informal speeches. The register used for the news is not the same as the one used for literature. Reading all kinds of texts will allow you to learn all the different ways Spanish is used in all of its registers.

5 – When you read a lot, you have more knowledge of the world. It becomes an excellent source of conversation topics, in any language.

If you start reading more in Spanish, you’ll be able to bring more topics to the conversation in class, or to participate in conversations taking place in or out of class. Besides, since you will have been reading in Spanish, you will already know the vocabulary pertinent to the topics you share with your classmates.

If you think reading in Spanish is a little overwhelming, don’t worry! Start from the bottom: books for children. I’m not joking!

If you are a beginner to Spanish, your level is probably that of a 2 year old. Thus, you need to read what a 2 year old would read. As you progress and learn more, you will be able to switch to fairy tales and such, and later to novels for adolescents.

Take your time and make sure you find something that fits your level. You will know it is your level when you understand 70 or 75% of what you read, but it still represents a bit of a challenge :)

There you go! 5 reasons why you should read in Spanish!

Have a great weekend!


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!


¡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 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.”


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!


¡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.


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.


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!


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!


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!


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!



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