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¡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

¡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.

PBO teachers to share their favorite resources to learn Spanish!

Bienvenidos al blog una semana más,

Have you learned a lot of Spanish during the last week? I hope you did. As you know, coming to one or more of our conversational classes @ PBO is probably the best way to learn the language. However, there’s plenty of things you can do when you’re not in class to keep learning and improving your skills, even when you are not at PBO.

Out there, the amount of resources to learn Spanish is so big that it can be hard to find the best ones. In fact, it’s hard to determine what are the best resources, because every student is different and something that works for someone might not be ideal for someone else.

This week, we asked the PBO teachers to share their favorite resources to learn or to practice Spanish with us. Today we’re going to see half of them, and next week the other half. Here we go!

 

National Geographic – Adri

This is the official magazine of the National Geographic Society. It primarily contains articles about science, geography, history, and world culture. It has excellent and very assorted articles.

https://www.ngenespanol.com

 

Muy interesante – Gracia

“Muy interesante” is a monthly popular science magazine which deals with fun facts and current events, such as the development of nanotechnology, physics, biology, astronomy, genetics, neurosciences, new investigations and inventions, and world affairs. As the name says in Spanish, its articles are very interesting.

https://www.muyinteresante.es

 

XHUAN-FM (Fusión 102.5) – Susanna

A public radio station licensed to Tijuana, Baja California, owned by IMER (Instituto Mexicano de la Radio), Mexicos public radio network. Like the Public Radio stations in the United States, IMER presents a variety of discussion and music programs. It’s a good choice to listen to while driving.

https://www.imer.mx/fusion/

 

BBC Mundo – Susanna

BBC Mundo is the BBC’s service for the Spanish-speaking world. It is part of BBC World Service. The website offers news, information and analysis in text, audio and video.

https://www.bbc.com/mundo

 

Why Not Spanish – Vanessa

Cody and María want to help you improve your Spanish and get over the fear of actually using it in real life. They bring you tips, fun facts,  listening activities, and lessons.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIdFcLCIJQ_YMrormG_nU8w/featured

 

Easy Spanish – Vanessa

Their videos are subtitled in both Spanish and English, show local language and culture in natural, everyday situations, and mostly consist of street conversations with native speakers from Spanish speaking countries.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAL4AMMMXKxHDu3FqZV6CbQ/featured

 

Tapas de español – Vanessa

Short and entertaining videos about grammar explanations for Spanish learners of all levels.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLUKlJas17MPjEkmt-94rSsap3Ntedy3sc

 

These are all the resources for this week. Perhaps you know some of them, but don’t worry if you didn’t find anything new, next week we’ll introduce more resources. Oh! And thank you PBO teachers for sharing them with us :).

 

¡Nos vemos la próxima semana!

 

Octavi

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