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Last week I went to see "Cantinflas," the new movie that is in theaters right now about the life of the famous Mexican comedian Mario Moreno, "Cantinflas", who lived from 1911 until 1993. It will give the Spanish students the opportunity to learn about this important character in the Hispanic culture and also to practice their listening skills. It is important to listen to native speakers from different countries, and with different accents. Even if you are in a beginning level of proficiency I recommend this movie because it has subtitles in English and some parts in English have subtitles in Spanish.

Hello everyone! Hola a todos!   Learning a second language like  Spanish or ESOL can be boring and frustrating sometimes. You just get sick of reading your textbook or completing worksheets that your teacher gives you. But believe it or not...there are several ways to make learning a second language fun no matter what age you are! You're probably thinking right now..."how?" I'll tell you how. First, think of something that you like to do in your free time like listening to music, watching a movie or reading. Say if you really enjoy listening to music...look up one of your favorite genres and see what pops up for Spanish or English music in that genre. For example, Spanish pop/rock - the Colombian artist Juanes will pop up. Check out some of his songs on youtube. Once you find a song that you like, look up the Spanish lyrics online, print them out and then try your best at translating them into English. See if you can figure out what the song means... read more

I recently have been fortunate in being able to tutor two young students.  Both of them are giving me the opportunity to reflect on best practices in teaching to help me help them with a specific issue.  The first, an eight year old whose ability to recall needs improvement.  In using different modalities, such as visual color coding, sound, recording the information for her to review later, I am now using cut-out letters out of sand paper to use touch to help retain the information.  It is a work in progress, which I hope helps improve memory.   The second student is four years old.  So reading and writing are not available to an extent that is useful at this time.  I am using music to help reinforce the topics that are introduced.  I am also careful to stop after 15 minutes and give her a few minutes to regroup since the lesson is an hour long.   Young students are a joy and an opportunity to improve as a tutor...

I'm sure everyone has seen a commercial or heard a discussion on raising kids from a very young age to be bilingual. While many of these DVD and CD sets are marketing and capitalizing on our desire for our kids to be the shining star of their school, they really do have validity. Our brains are wired to best absorb language before the age of 5 and still ready to take on language up until the age of 8. Yet of course we don't start learning a second language until our brains have closed the doors on language absorption! So it's not your fault that you have to hire tutors like me to help with your Spanish classes...it's really the school's fault for not introducing language sooner! More and more families and school systems are finally coming on board though and creating bilingual schools, or at least exposing youngsters to a second language, and I couldn't be happier! Until I end up jobless because all our children have become linguistic geniuses...uh oh.    I... read more

Reminders to improve your communication in the target language: - Pay attention to the facial expressions of the native speakers in order to understand the meaning of their talk. - Identify the key words in the sentences you hear. These are usually content words: verbs and nouns. - Determine by the intonation of the sentences if the speaker is asking or answering questions, describing, or telling a story. - Practice one or two new words, or small phrases regularly with native speakers. - Build the knowledge of the target language with small bricks: memorize nouns and verbs and use them in simple sentences (Noun + Verb + Complement). As you master the use of simple sentences in present tense you can continue progressing by learning more complex sentences and different verb tenses in order to communicate more accurately. - Practice each of the four skills of communication 10-15 minutes every day. These skills are: speaking,... read more

  When you learn Spanish there are a couple of recommendations:        1.- Know your English grammar.- Most students have no idea of grammatical functions. When they start studing Spanish and the teacher talks to them about pronouns, direct objects, adverbs and so on; they feel lost and confused. Its hard to understand  how a pronoun works in Spanish if you don't in English. If you know the diferences between adverbs, verbs, nouns, etc. learning Spanish will be easier.   2. Be Analitycal.- Spanish methods are always advertising to have you speaking in less time. Learning in less time has no meaning if you don't understand what you are doing.  Memorizing or associating words will get you by but will not give you a full command of language. Understand, analyze the language structures ; this will make it easier to find patterns and understand the rules.   Hasta la próxima y buena suerte!!!! Lou... read more

This is really exciting for me. I fell in love with Spanish in 9th grade, even went on to study Spanish at La Universidad Internacional de Guadalajara, studied business and literature in Spanish at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and continued my Spanish studies at Columbia International University. I pastored at a hispanic church in Columbia, SC. In fact, my first sermons were in Spanish. And now, I am SO excited to begin the journey of teaching and tutoring students in this incredible language!   My teaching style is unique, I am high energy with an emphasis on what I call connections, effective ways of remembering and connecting the dots.   At the end of the day Spanish is a big puzzle. It's fun to figure it out and put the pieces together!   Looking forward to hopefully tutoring you soon!     Daniel

So the warm months are here and I'm ready to meet students interested in bettering their Spanish.  Are you going to be studying abroad for the coming school year?  Do you want a head start on next year's Spanish courses?  Are you interested in giving the gift of bilingualism to your son or daughter?  Send me a message and let's talk!  No tienen nada que perder, y todo el mundo latino les espera!

I've always heard of people who are "naturally adept" at learning another language. You hear about someone who picked up German, Japanese or Spanish in a few months without really studying a language, individuals who just listened and learned without every struggling or working on their language skills. While this sounds good, I've never actually met anyone who learned a second language without working for it.   The best way to learn another language is of course to study abroad. However, many people do not have the time, money or resources to travel somewhere where the predominant language is not English. So, the next best thing to do is not wait around for some epiphany moment where the language suddenly sinks in. The next best thing is to work on the fundamentals of the language and develop your reading comprehension skills.   Spanish in many ways is like a form of math. You plug in a particular word, put it in a sentence and conjugate... read more

¡Hola!     Do you want to improve your Spanish skills? I've been teaching students just like you for 10 years! I have lots of tips & tricks to help you do your very best in speaking, reading, writing & listening in Spanish! How can I help you do your very best? By finding out about YOU!!       Did you know that people learn in different ways? We are all different and our differences make us who we are! ¡Qué chévere! How cool! Here are some questions to ask yourself: What do you feel you're pretty good at? What are your hobbies? What other subjects do you enjoy? How do you learn best? For example, do you learn better by watching someone do something new or by listening to someone explain what to do? Or do you learn best by doing something hands on?       By getting to know how you learn best, you'll have the tools to help you succeed in anything you do! I can offer you the most effective strategies to... read more

Today one of my Spanish students was learning vocabulary related to personal appearance (hair and eye color, height, etc) and had previously learned professions, so to practice all of this vocabulary, we played a couple rounds of 20 questions. We alternated who was thinking of the person and who was guessing so that she could practice both speaking and listening as well as practice her question words! She really enjoyed this, and I have used this method in the past with students which was very successful. It's a fun way to practice a variety of vocabulary and use imagination. 

One of my favorite tools to use when starting lessons with students is Facebook. It's great because most students have smart phones and can open the app right there. And, you get your students to talk about people they know, or people they would like to know more about (celebrities and such). For my Spanish students, we open up a friend's page and just like that we create sentences and ask questions about: -names -age -where people are from -where they live -what they like to do, read, listen to, watch etc. -what they did in the past -relationships (family, marriages, friends etc.) -how they are characteristic wise or condition wise For Spanish specifically, it is a great opportunity to use the verbs: -ser -tener -vivir -estar -hacer -gustar -llamarse -ir   Since English speaking students sometimes struggle with the different uses between ser and estar, and the use of tener with regard to age, it's... read more

As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, I work with students of a variety of levels to improve their Spanish speaking ability. Meeting with a student twice a week can make it quite difficult to keep sessions fresh and exciting and to come up with conversational topics that haven't previously been covered. Today one of my more advanced students wanted to practice using the correct imperfect and preterit conjugations and so he described to me, in great detail, his favorite movie. Since most people can talk for a long time about their favorite movie, and it is easy to prod more shy students into engaging on this topic, I thought it a great topic choice on his part and will steal this idea to use with other students.  

Pretend you are Christopher Columbus, writing to the King and Queen of Spain to beg them to finance your trip to the Americas. Explain to them what you need, why it is necessary, what you hope to gain. In Spanish this requires the use of the subjunctive! I have often struggled with finding a fun activity to get students to practice writing the subjunctive in context, and came across this idea the other day. I used it this past weekend with a student who found it a fun yet challenging task.   One piece of advice I would say is to have a mini word bank of phrases that might be useful for them, as this was the only real obstacle to my student's success!

I have used this website for years.  It is a free source of tutoring for any student wishing to understand Spanish grammar.  You can read or print out the explanations.  There are several quizzes to help your comprehension. It is also very USER FRIENDLY.   www.studyspanish.com  

Spanish is becoming more and more important with regards to business. Learning Spanish will enable you to better communicate with Spanish speaking employees or co-workers. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to offer your product or service to the 350 million people whose mother tongue is Spanish? In North America, Hispanic consumers are the fastest-growing market segment. As for job opportunities, it certainly wouldn't hurt to have Spanish on your resume. In the United States, knowing Spanish can be particularly helpful if you work in healthcare or education. Increasingly, the building trades are employing more and more Spanish speaking workers. One thing is certain. If you are bilingual, you will be more marketable and have more career choices than your monolingual counterpart. Globalization, with it's accompanying free trade agreements is shrinking the business world, and those who know more than one language will definitely have the edge.

I feel lucky to have grown up bilingual. I have my mother to thank for that, who insisted I learned a foreign language. I also attribute my passion for travel to my maternal grandfather. He was a top executive at Braniff International Airlines in Argentina and we were fortunate enough to travel for free when we were kids thanks to him. I also look up to my grandmother. She was a world explorer and wanderer herself; she took me and my brother everywhere on her trips. What my mother didn’t know – and maybe regretted later – was that by insisting on a bilingual education, she was encouraging her daughter to leave her home country. And that’s exactly what I did. With mastery of the English language, which I learned early in preschool in Argentina, I left home as soon as I became of age. Driving by the domestic airport (“Aeroparque”) as a kid meant freedom. It was a gateway for exotic adventures across distant lands. I always knew I’d be a perfect adventure-goer... read more

Do you realise how important is to understand Spanish or to have a basic understanding of the Spanish language right now in the US? Ask ex-mayor Bloomberg from NY if it is important or not. Sadly the High School and College curriculums are not adapted to what really helps understand the language. They focus on grammar so much, that they forget how to teach to learn. If you can handle a conversation in Spanish after several years of High School and College lessons, even being a straight A student, please raise your hand. I haven´t met once yet. And trust me, it is the same the other way around. Spanish schools teaching English didn´t get me far either. Best way to learn the language: Traveling. It might get tricky and expensive, but it is the best way. Second? I believe is music. If you listen to spanish songs and try to understand what these guys guys are singing, you might be surprised on how much can you learn. (Do yourself a favor and skip the reggaeton, please). That´s... read more

You don't need to spend hours memorizing new words or making simple concepts more complicated than they need to be to learn Spanish. The best way to learn Spanish is to focus on the similarities between English and Spanish. The fact is that whether or not you realize it, you already know some Spanish.   One book that I highly recommend is Madrigal's Magic Key To Spanish. This book takes you step by step to make you highly proficient in the language. I am not saying that this is a substitute for any class, but it is an excellent complement for nearly any Spanish class. I used this book after not taking Spanish for a while to make me proficient again. I also continue to use it when I don't like the class textbook and need to show a more clear picture of the concept.   Here are some examples of how to make Spanish easy in which Madrigal's Magic Key To Spanish illustrates:   Do you recognize what any of this means?   Oceano Atlántico Oceano... read more

I frequently work with students who wish to improve their conversational Spanish skills. I strongly believe learning to actually speak the language is the hardest part for most students, because it is almost impossible to practice unless you have someone with whom to practice. I have certain students who I see on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, and only tutor them in conversational Spanish. For me, keeping these lessons interesting can be a challenge, especially with shy students.  To combat this, I recently purchased a conversation starter game called Rory's Story Cubes. These are ridiculously great and have been a huge success among my students. Not only do the cubes give students the opportunity to use their imagination, they are also a great way to practice Spanish! I have challenged students to tell stories using only the past tense, or only the future tense, or by incorporating a command into each sentence. By putting stipulations on what they can and cannot say, you... read more

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