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Hola alumnos y alumnas:

In today’s blog, I’ll share three things with you to help you become an advanced level Spanish speaker. Level C1 is a fairly advanced level, so remember that it takes time and a lot of effort to get there.

 

1 – Use all the tenses fairly well.

How do you achieve this?

Read literature. You’ll see all the tenses being used in novels, plus a lot of vocabulary.

Talk about things in the past, in the future, and use the commands. Do not avoid certain phrasing because you don’t want to use a certain mood or tense.

Choose to use complex sentences instead of easy ones.

 

2 – Be able to talk about complex topics.

How do you achieve this?

Don’t stick to just the topics you like to talk about. Share your opinions on politics, feelings, emotional personal experiences, current issues, etc. You will never achieve an advanced level of Spanish by only talking about the day to day.

Read and listen to all kinds of material, especially biographies, magazines about current issues, news, debates, and TV series.

Talk about things that are hard to talk about, even in English. For example: a very sad memory, a painful experience, a moment when you were extremely nervous.

 

3 – Switch from being a Spanish Student to a Spanish speaker.

How do you achieve this?

This is the time to stop studying so much Spanish, and to start living in Spanish. Let go of the textbook, and pick up a book for native speakers. Stop reading the news in English, and read it in Spanish. Let go of a magazine written in English, and find one that you enjoy in Spanish…etc.

Use your Spanish every day of the week. When you can’t talk with somebody, talk to yourself, read or watch something in Spanish. Or keep a journal and write about EVERYTHING, specially

Go to events in Spanish, meet Spanish speaking friends, use Spanish at your workplace (if possible). Be active and look for all the possible chances to use the language.

 

As I said in the beginning, getting to C1 is not an easy matter. Many people need years to reach an advanced level, and many students don’t ever get there (which is ok).

The only way to do it is being super active in Spanish, every day, and making it a very big part of your life.

 

I hope you find this information useful. Remember: keep calm and speak Spanish :)

 

Have a fabulous weekend!

Octavi

Hola a todos:

This week, we’re taking a look at moving past a mid-intermediate level of Spanish.

Advancing out of a mid-intermediate level of Spanish and into a high-intermediate level is a pretty big deal, as B3 is a pretty advanced level! Be aware that it is not easy to move up to B3. A lot of people stay in B2 for a long time, most, forever. The reason why is mainly one: you have to incorporate Spanish into your daily life to move past a mid intermediate level of Spanish. Otherwise it’s going to be very hard to reach B3. Your mentality needs to change from that of Spanish student, to Spanish speaker.

 

Now, if you know that you want to be one of those students that doesn’t get stuck in B2 forever, here are a few tips to make that happen:

1 – Focus on improving your grammar and all the verb tenses.

How do you achieve this?

  • Put yourself out there, and use more complex sentences. Just try, even if it’s wrong. Your teacher will help you. Don’t shy away from it.

  • Read all kinds of books and magazines in Spanish. Watch all kinds of TV shows and movies in Spanish, all the while, being aware (not analyzing everything, just paying attention) of the grammatical structure of the sentences, the choice of vocabulary, etc.

  • Don’t study the language, live in the language. Practice all the verb tenses by living in the language instead of studying them out of a book.

 

2 – Start speaking about more complex subjects, more often.

How do you achieve this?

  • When at PBO, pick subjects that are more complicated. Talk about current issues, politics, controversial topics, the news, etc. It’s great to talk about your day to day, but if you’re pretty comfortable talking about that stuff, it’s time to dedicate more time to complex subjects.

  • Read newspapers in Spanish and watch the news in Spanish. You can also watch documentaries and debates.

  • Be curious about the world around you. If you don’t like the news, you can read science related articles, for example.

 

3 – Talk, talk, talk, and talk some more.

How do you achieve this?

  • Talk to as many native speakers as you can. Try to have deeper and more meaningful conversations with them. It will not only help you with moving out of a mid-intermediate level of Spanish, but will also allow you connect with other human beings on a deeper level :)

  • Participate actively in class. That doesn’t just mean talking. Ask questions to other students too. Just think of it as a conversation with your friends, not like a class.

  • Meet Spanish speaking friends regularly, participate in PBO events. Don’t miss a chance to speak in Spanish.

 

In conclusion, you need to turn Spanish into a big part of your life, if moving out of a mid-intermediate level of Spanish is important to you. This is the point where you start to study less, and live in it more. Stop practicing with books all the time, and start using Spanish resources for learners. Start to use the media that native speakers would use.

Let us know what you think about this blog in the comment section of Facebook.

Have an amazing week!

Octavi


PS A note from Caro:

I feel that it’s important to say that for most language learners, moving past a mid-intermediate level is not necessary. Once you reach B2, you can pretty much talk to anyone, about anything. It may not be perfect, but you are able to communicate VERY well by level B2. So please remember that if level B2 suits your needs, you absolutely do not need to make advancing into a higher level a priority. Maintaining your Spanish might be just what you need!

Hola amigos y amigas:

Today we will continue our journey through the PBO levels. This time, we’ll look at how to advance to an intermediate level of Spanish!

 

1 – Increase the complexity of your speech.

How do you achieve this?

  • Start telling stories to a friend, to yourself or in class. You need to talk less about short daily experiences, and tell more stories.
  • Read the news. It might be a bit challenging, but it’s an excellent way to broaden your vocabulary. The podcast News in slow Spanish is also amazing!
  • In addition, start talking about complex subjects. They can be about things you’re struggling with at the moment, controversial subjects, current events, etc.

 

2 – Diversify your knowledge of tenses.

How do you achieve this?

  • To advance to an intermediate level of Spanish, talk about the past more often (to use the preterit and the imperfect). Telling stories, which we advised before, is a perfect way to practice the past tenses, as you will have to use several of the past tenses in each story.
  • Dabble in the future tense. Get used to it, as native speakers use it a lot alongside the construction “ir + a + verb” (voy a beber or beberé).
  • Also, dabble in the conditional tense. It will allow you to put together more complex sentences, and to express things you “would” do.

 

3 – Increase you comprehension.

How do you achieve this?

  • Watch shows in Spanish. You will not understand everything, but you’ll get used to the speed of natives. (Tip: It’s best to start watching series/telenovelas, since the stories develop over time, unlike in a movie, where everything happens so quickly – there are TONS of Spanish language shows on Netflix).
  • Read more in Spanish. It is a great way to get acquainted with verb tenses, learn vocabulary and discover new expressions. Caro is a huge fan of audiobooks, which also allows you to learn to understand native speakers with more ease. She uses Audible, but you can also listen to books for free on some websites and on YouTube.
  • Another way to advance to an intermediate level of Spanish is to talk to Spanish speakers. Go beyond greetings. Try to have longer and more complex conversations. (You could ask them: Why did you move to San Diego? What do you like and dislike about San Diego? What do you miss about your country?)

 

We hope that our How to advance to an Intermediate level of Spanish blog was useful! Let us know what you think in the comment section on Facebook.

For everyone who is in B1: next week we’ll find out ways to move up to B2.

 

¡Les deseo una buena semana!

Octavi

¡Hola a todos los alumnos de PBO!

Today, the journey continues! This time, I’ll give you some tips on how to advance to Spanish level A3. Let’s see what will help you getting there:

You need to increase your fluidity to be in A3.

How do you achieve this?

1 – Speak, speak, speak and speak some more Spanish.

You can start talking to yourself in Spanish. It might be weird at first, but you’ll get used to being a weirdo, for the benefit of your language skills :)

Put yourself out there and have short conversations with Spanish speakers. This will get you used to the way native speakers talk.

Listen to podcasts or audiobooks. Once you are done, give a summary of what you’ve heard out loud. (News in slow Spanish for example, is a fantastic podcast)

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Avoiding using English 99.99% of the time

Not using English is a key ingredient in the how to advance to Spanish level A3 journey. How do you accomplish this?

1 – Make sure you are constantly learning vocabulary. There’s plenty of apps, youtube videos and web sites for that. Also, take hand-written notes in class (there are many studies that say it is more effective for learning than typing notes).

2 – Very important! Be a master of description. This skill is super important, not only in class, but also out in the real world (a lot of Spanish speakers don’t speak English).

3 – Choose words that enable you to communicate. Don’t try to say in Spanish exactly what you would like to say in English. Use simple concepts and general words (for example, don’t say oak tree or pine, just say tree).

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Use the past tenses in your speech

How do you achieve this?

1 – You need to work on the preterit tense and the imperfect tense. These two past tenses are used constantly when talking in the past. Use them as much as you can. Also, pay attention to how they are used in class. Preterite vs Imperfect in Spanish

2 – Learn the easiest of the past tenses, and use it as often as possible: the present perfect. Spanish – Present Perfect of the Indicative

3 –  Work more on your comprehension by listening to anything you can get in Spanish. The radio, Netflix shows, podcasts, etc. Pay special attention to the use of the past tenses.

I hope these recommendations give you some ideas on how to advance to Spanish level A3. Next week we will continue the journey through levels!

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Que disfruten de su fin de semana :)

Octavi

Hola a todos mis queridos alumnos y alumnas:

Have you ever asked yourself why you continue to learn Spanish? I think everyone questions their motivation at some point; it’s pretty normal.

It’s personal

Today’s blog is about something special to me. When we learn a new language, and many times in life, we question why we are doing what we are doing. We falter, we lose direction, and we wonder if it’s worth it.

I’ve come across many students who tell me they feel discouraged in the process of learning Spanish. People who tell me that they feel as if they are not improving. Naturally, in those moments we might feel like giving up.

Don’t lose hope, my friends! Here are some reasons to remind you why you continue to learn Spanish:

Perspective

A new language is the door to a new world. You’re not only learning words. You learn a vision of the world. It gives you a new perspective. You learn terms that don’t exist in your own language, to describe things for which there might not be a word in English.

You get to understand the mentality of the native speakers of the language, that is reflected in and influenced by the language. By learning Spanish, you’re immersing yourself in multiple cultures across the world. Isn’t that fascinating?

Since we mentioned people and cultures, remember that Spanish allows you to communicate with around 500.000.000 people in the world. How awesome is that? Besides, don’t you love talking to people in their own language? I always thought it was very rewarding and consider it an excellent reason to continue to learn Spanish.

Encouragement

Spanish speakers tend to be encouraging by expressing how impressed they are when they hear you speak Spanish. Take it as a reason to keep learning.

Enjoy the journey

Remember it’s not about getting to the finish line. You will always learn Spanish, there’s no end to it. Even I keep learning new Spanish words every day! So, if a native speaker keeps learning Spanish, don’t feel like you need to know it all or that you’re lacking something.

The beauty of it is in the journey, the little victories and satisfactions. For example, when you learn a new word that becomes super useful, or when you realized that you have gone up a level or improved within your current level. That is a great reason to continue to learn Spanish!

Just enjoy being able to speak in another language every time you do it. Like the way people enjoy exercising because of how it makes them feel (and learning a language is very much like exercising; it’s something that will always be a part of your life).

Your brain

Another reason why to continue learning Spanish (any language really) is that it’s a fantastic method to keep your brain sharp and young. It helps prevent and delay Alzheimer’s and dementia. Spanish is good for your health too!

Your job

Apart from all of the reasons listed above, it’s being required more and more in the work place, especially in Southern California.

Impressive

Never forget how amazing it is that you can communicate in another language. I will share with you something that Carolina posted in PBO’s Instagram a few days ago. It is truly inspirational:

“Imagine if you decided you were going to pick up golf in your 30s, and you got to the point where you could keep up in a game with professional players. You’d think that’s actually really good. But for some reason, just being able to keep up in language feels not as impressive.”

It should be just as impressive to ourselves. We are learning an entire new language!!! That is impressive people!

 

Alright, everybody; this is it for today. I hope you found some motivation in the above lines to keep you excited about continuing to learn Spanish. Let us know what you think about it in the comments section, on Facebook’s PBO page.

 

¡Les deseo una buena semana!

Octavi

¡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!

Octavi

¡Hola a todo el mundo!

Did you know that every single day of the year Pura Buena Onda has an interactive question of the day? La conversación del día on Facebook is a fantastic way to practice your Spanish. Let’s look at five reasons why you may want to dedicate 5 minutes a day to this:

 

1 – Usually, students read and talk a lot in Spanish. Writing is another important skill, but we rarely practice it. With our question of the day, you can practice your Spanish writing skills.

FYI. There are 4 skills when it comes to learning a language: reading, speaking, writing and listening. Writing and speaking are what I call “active skills”. Those skills demand more from us. We need to use our brain and put sentences together. That’s why it’s good to write and speak in order to learn Spanish.

 

2 – You can do it every day or whenever you like. It’s not like a 60 or 90 minute class. You choose the time you want to spend with it. You can also choose the length of your text, or what you want to write.

 

3 – Writing is an active skill, but unlike speaking, you have more time; time to think how you put sentences together. You can look for words in the dictionary. You decide if you want an elaborated sentence or a simple one. It’s still an active skill, but not as demanding as speaking.

 

4 – A teacher will correct one or two mistakes on the following day. This will enable you to find mistakes that you often make. You’ll learn what you might need to work on in order to improve. Just make sure you answer la conversación del día on Facebook on the day it’s posted, if you want to be corrected.

 

5 – It’s a good way to make sure you’re practicing your Spanish even on the busiest day. You don’t need much time and you can do it on your phone. It’s easy and convenient, so you can turn it into a consistent habit.

 

Now that you know what you know, I hope that you will try to answer la conversación del día on our Facebook page. Let us know what you think about it :)

 

Have a good week and see you next time!

 

Octavi

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 queridos alumnos y alumnas:

Today I’d like to talk about a very important underestimated language learning skill.

Drum roll please…can you guess? It is L I S T E N I N G!

In my experience, people who like to talk a lot, but don’t listen, need to spend more time improving their listening skills when learning a language. When someone listens to other students, they learn new vocabulary and new expressions. If they don’t listen, they just hear words, but don’t stop for a second and think: “I didn’t know that word!” or “That expression is very useful!” You need to take that moment to input that new information in your brain. Also, write it down if possible. Learning to speak is incredibly important, but remember that conversations go two ways, not one.

There is another issue that comes up with students who don’t see the tremendous value in listening.  When corrected by the teacher, some students just nod and say: “Yes, right”, and then keep talking without focusing on the correction. What happens when we do that is that we keep making the same mistakes over and over again. If you want to sound better/more polished when speaking Spanish, remember to stop and take the time to repeat the correction; then you can move on with the conversation. You can study grammar until you’re blue in the face, but if you don’t learn to use it when you’re speaking, you will not improve. Listening, the most underestimated language learning skill, will help you improve your grammar more than you know.

Personal tips:

  • When someone says a word or uses a grammar structure that I don’t know, something I do is to try to use it immediately after. For example, if we are talking about things we did last night, and someone says: “justo después de llegar a casa me fui a dormir” (Just after getting home I went to sleep), and I didn’t know the expression “justo después de”, I would wait until the person has finished talking and then say: “Yo llamé a mi esposo justo después de salir del trabajo” (I called my husband just after leaving from work). It’s good to use the expression we learned at that moment, for practice. If you’re not listening to others, you may never learn these expressions.
  • We can also practice the underestimated language learning skill of listening, by watching TV shows in Spanish, by listening to a podcast, or listening to other students when we are in Spanish class. That is very helpful, but you have to remember one thing: don’t get frustrated and give up when you can’t understand everything. You will not understand everything, especially if you’re watching a TV show with fast dialogues full of slang, or listening to a podcast for native speakers about complicated subjects. Still now, after learning English since I was 8 years old, there are parts of TV shows and movies in English that I don’t understand, and it’s ok. If I hadn’t practiced listening for years, my comprehension skills would not be as developed as they are, and I would understand much less than I do.
  • If you have less opportunity to speak during class one day, maybe you’re learning a lot from others that day.
  • Don’t listen to things that are way beyond your level. That’s not going to help!

 

Alright, everyone; I hope this blog will help you. Have a great week, and maybe try listening extra hard this week!

Octavi