Posts

My name is:

Penny
My new level is:
C1
Approximately how much time do you dedicate to working on your Spanish outside of class?
I try to practice or listen to some Spanish every day, but the bulk of it is on Sundays when I lead our Spanish-language worship service and preach every other week.
On average, how many times per week do you take classes @ Pura Buena Onda?
Once
What role has Pura Buena Onda played in helping you improve your Spanish & advance to the next level?
PBO has been everything! Having the weekly class and the homework keeps me moving forward.
What are some of your favorite resources?
I enjoy the daily Facebook question, even if I don’t always write a response. Adri is an incredibly gifted and creative teacher, and the conversations in her class are very enriching. I listen to the Hoy Hablamos podcast regularly and watch occasional TV shows and TED talks.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I remember my first classes very clearly from 4 1/2 years ago: I was almost a total beginner and I was really scared to actually speak Spanish. Susana was my first teacher and she was very kind and patient. I am thrilled to have reached the advanced level. PBO offers exactly the kind of encouragement that adult learners need.

Thank you Penny!

¡Felicidades a Penny por avanzar al nivel C1! ¡Bien hecho! We are so happy to have you in our online Spanish classes!

My name is:

Paula 

My new level is:

A2

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

I work about 30 minutes per day on homework and I try to think in Spanish as much as possible throughout the day.

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

I take classes once a week but more often would be better.

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

I’ve spent many years learning grammar in a classroom setting and i knew that i needed more practice speaking. The teachers at PBO are amazing, they work together so well and provide feedback, and have helped me with my confidence to speak. So happy that my Spanish speaking ability is improving.

What are some of your favorite resources?

For fun I follow PBO on Instagram and now the blog, but mostly the teachers and fellow students are my favorite resources.

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

Congrats on 13 years!! So glad i found you when I did!

 

Thank you Paula!

¡Felicidades a Paula por avanzar al nivel A2! ¡Bien hecho! We are so happy to have you in our online Spanish classes!

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 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

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

Common errors made by Spanish language learners

¿Cómo están hoy? Espero que bien :)

During the past two weeks you have actively and positively responded to the blogs about common errors made by Spanish language learners. You have expressed how much you like to see this kind of topic, and I can’t deny the students what they want, so this week I’ll write about five more mistakes that students make when they are learning/speaking Spanish, this time related to prepositions. I hope you like it!

 

1 – “Salí la casa.” – I left the house.

This is incorrect because in Spanish, when we are leaving a place or exiting a place, if we want to use the verb “salir”, we need to say “salir de”:

“Salí de casa”

 

2 – “Pienso mucho sobre tu tía.” – I think a lot about your aunt.

The problem in the sentence above is, once more, the preposition. In Spanish, when we think about someone or something, we should say “pensar en”. You can also say “pensar sobre”, but that means something like to reflect on or to ponder. For example, “pienso sobre el sentido de la vida”, I think about the meaning of life. However, the example sentence should be:

“Pienso mucho en tu tía.”

 

3 – “Mi plan para el fin de semana depende en el tiempo que haga.” – My plan for the weekend depends on how the weather will be.

In this case, the preposition “en” is incorrect. We should always say “depende de”, and not “depende en”:

“Mi plan para el fin de semana depende del tiempo que haga.”

 

4 – “Tu computadora es similar de la mía.” – Your computer is similar to mine.

Again, the problem with the sentence is the preposition. In Spanish, we don’t say “similar de”, instead of “de” we should say “a”. Therefore, we would say this:

“Tu computadora es similar/parecida a la mía.”

 

5 – “Dependentemente de tu respuesta, haré una cosa u otra.” – Depending on your answer, I’ll do one thing or another.

Many students assume that since “depende” means depends, then depending will probably be “dependentemente”. I don’t really know where this comes from, but either way the correct translation for depending is “dependiendo”, and it is also used with the preposition “de”, like in “depende de”:

“Dependiendo de tu respuesta, haré una cosa u la otra.”

 

I hope this new entry has helped you find some mistakes you didn’t know you were making. Next week I’ll do something unrelated to common mistakes for a change, but in case you still want me to write more about this topic, let me know and I’ll continue doing this kind of blog in the future :)

¡Les deseo una buena semana!

Octavi

 

Check out our idioms and sayings on Twitter!

5 more common errors made by Spanish learners

 

Hola a todos :)

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Mi hermana sabe hablar español.”

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

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

“Busco mis llaves.”

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

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

“Mi madre es baja.”

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

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

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

 

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

Besos y abrazos!

Octavi

 

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

Our in-house polyglot shares his language learning routine!

¿Cómo están hoy, queridos alumnos?

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

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

 

1 – Speak at least one hour a week

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

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

 

2 – Read books

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

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

 

3 – Watch TV

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

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

 

4 – Listen to podcasts or Youtube videos

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

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

 

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

 

Besos y abrazos

Octavi

 

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

 

Bienvenidos al blog una vez más :)

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

How did it Start

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

Four Years in College

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hasta pronto!

Octavi