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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, chicos y chicas!

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

Length of stay

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

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

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

Location

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

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

Language

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

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

¡Hasta la próxima semana!

Octavi

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

Por favor, háblame en español

¿Cómo están, estimados alumnos y alumnas?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Octavi