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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 as I possessed... 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 can help... read more

Speaking a foreign language is most frustrating when you know exactly what you want to say in your first language, but you either don't know how to say anything similar in the foreign language or anything that captures the exact nuance.   The process if less frustrating if you accept that you should not think in your first language and that you may never be able to capture the exact subtlety. It's absolutely okay that you cannot express yourself as eloquently and exactly at times. There are certain times when you need the exact word or exact phrase because of a nuance, but there are other situations where a generic phrase will do.   This post is focusing on idioms and phrases that are useful to know and that can be used in many situations: they will be adequate, even if you could have picked a more colorful phrase in your native language.   Think of learning Spanish phrases this way: every time you learn a phrase, you add it to your bank of knowledge... read more

Jokes are a fun way to learn vocabulary, practice phrases in context, and review grammar. Some of the information I provide below just skims the surface, so please stay tuned for more details on topics (such as verbs like gustar, possessive pronouns, and reflexive pronouns) or use other references for more information.   1.¿Por qué está triste el cuaderno de matemáticas?   Porque tiene muchos problemas.   Why is the math book sad?   Because it has a lot of problems. Por qué means why and porque means because. All words that are at least 3 syllables and end in ico/s or ica/s have an accent mark on the vowel that is 3 syllables back. The rule wouldn't apply to the words chico/s and chica/s because they only have two syllables. Problema ends in a, but it is masculine. A trick: many common words that end in ‘ma’ are masculine (el sistema,el tema, el programa, el idioma, el clima) and all words that end in ‘dad’ are feminine... read more

It could be anything: paint, draw, even a new language. The idea that you are done learning once you reach a certain age in your life is as ridiculous as the notion that all women should be homemakers. In fact, it is never too late to learn anything! Take me, for example. I am a magazine editor who found a new life teaching about the very subjects that I learned in college and applied throughout my professional life.   My goal is to ensure that you will learn as quickly as possible any or all of the four subjects that I'm approved for in WyzAnt. Whether you want to understand the finer points of proofreading, or need to learn how to speak or write in English or in Spanish, I'll give you the tools that you'll need to become an expert in your selection from lesson one!

Meeting with internationals has been one of the great pleasures of pursuing International Relations and Spanish studies.  When I chat with people from other counties, the topics of culture and traditions inevitably come up.  One of the most interesting topics I share is Thanksgiving. Since it is a uniquely American holiday, internationals love to hear about the food, family, and fun that surround the holiday.  It is worth the effort to learn the Spanish vocabulary for Thanksgiving so that you can easily share your festive experiences with other people.  It may open the door to a fascinating discussion of interesting holiday traditions in other cultures. Here are a few key phrases to help describe the day:                 Día de Acción de Gracias               Thanksgiving Day                ...

Ms. Betty Lynn Snyder, a sixth-grade teacher at Forrest Park Elementary, in Pine Bluff, Arkansas is my most memorable teacher. She was a great teacher because she made us think, write, and create. In Ms. Snyder's class I learned about Shakespeare's sonnets, The Belgian Congo, Nigeria and conserving natural resources. She was ahead of her time: she was a Project-Based Learning (PBL) Queen! The independent project learning broadened my knowledge of the world and of myself. It was through Ms. Snyder's class that I became enamored of the story of diplomat and Ambassador Ralph Bunche. This was particularly important, because I was the only person of color in my class--before our schools were officially integrated--and she found a way to create diversity in our learning. Thus, I always felt comfortable in her classroom and, in fact, I was elected secretary general of the mock United Nations. As I recall, Ms. Snyder had two sons--one of whom was named Edward, after... read more

This post is about television...the boob-tube....the object of the couch potato....the nemesis of many students.  We all know that television (including netflix, hulu +, roku, and even DVDs) can be real time-wasters.   When we need a brain-break, or just need to chill out, the TV can be so attractive!  Yeah, I know what I'm talking about because I've been there too.   Here's a quick tip for advancing your Spanish language learning:  the next time you are in the mood for an old favorite movie, try switching the sound track to your foreign language, but leave the subtitles in English.  As you listen to the dialogue, your brain 'receives' the meaning via subtitles.  What you are listening to, then, is "comprehensible input" which is absolutely key to effective language learning.  In addition, you hear and internalize the sounds of the language, which will benefit your pronunciation and your comprehension as well.   If... read more

I discovered my passion for the Spanish language on a church trip to the Dominican Republic ten years ago while serving a group of amazing people there. At the time I was a junior at Western Michigan University and was majoring in Creative Writing. I had only taken a few years of Spanish in high school and was very shaky with speaking. However, something amazing happened while I was there! I found myself being able to communicate and slowly understand. A little boy named Jorge was sitting with my friend and I one night and slowly repeating  "estrella" when it suddenly clicked. I have little Jorge to thank for igniting that passion in me. I went on to double major in Spanish and Creative Writing, then continue to get my Master's degree in Spanish literature. Through the years I have lived in Santander, Spain; Queretaro, Mexico, and finally Barcelona, Spain for the past five years. My husband (who is Spanish) and I just moved back to Michigan and are starting a new... read more

Spanish is the second most spoken language in the United States and the fourth most commonly spoken language in the world! It is the official language of nearly twenty countries spoken by more than 500 million people. Spanish is the second language of international communication, and is increasingly used in economics, politics and cultural relations. The rapidly growing number of students studying Spanish throughout the world have reported these reasons and benefits: 1. Better job opportunities 2. Improved memory 3. Aging more slowly (it has been scientifically-proven that learning a new language can delay the age-related decline in mental function, particularly as experienced in patients suffering from Alzheimer’s!) 4. Conquering that special person's heart (why not learn to speak with your loved one in their own language?) 5. Sense of personal accomplishment 6. Career advancement 7. Making more money 8. Reaching new markets 9. Making new friends 10... read more

It can be tasking and tedious trying to learn a foreign language.   Students often ask the question, "Why do I need to learn a second language?"  "What purpose does this serve in my life in a primarily English speaking world?"  For those that are motivated to learn a second language, the answer to these questions seem obvious.  For those that are not, this is harder to grasp.   I believe that we need to stop focusing so much on what the PURPOSE of second language is, and what productive function it will have in our lives.  Rather, if we focus on what excites us about that culture, and seek information about the language for the sake of learning, the purpose and function of second language skills will become more apparent.   We live in a world with a wealth of information at our fingertips.  Even if you don't have the privilege of going to a country where the target language is spoken, I encourage you to use... read more

Many of my students dread conjugating verbs. They dread it even more when the verbs are irregular and have the same meaning!!  The verbs ser and estar both mean "to be", so what is the difference between the two?? Ser is used to describe things that are permanent or often unchangeable.  For example, Yo soy de Estados Unidos.(I am from the United States).  The form of ser used in the sentence is soy.  You can not change where you are from. Ser is also used to describe characteristics, professions, religions and nationalities.       Estar is used to describe things that are temporary. For example, Yo estoy en Florida para las vacaciones(I am in Florida for vacation). I am vacationing in Florida, but I am not from there.  There is a little rhyme that is printed in the textbook, Realidades, which helps you remember when to use the verb, estar.  The rhyme goes, For how you... read more

Many students have a fear of learning a foreign language.  Instead of approaching acquiring a new tongue as an exciting challenge, many approach it with the question "Why do we have to learn this?"  Learning a foreign language can be a wonderful experience.  Here a few of my "Dos and Don'ts" when approaching foreign language learning.   DO keep an open mind and be positive about learning something new. DO recognize the similarities of your native language and the new language that you are learning. DO review your notes from class everyday and practice at home. DO find a language/study buddy in your language class. DO think about your future and how a new language is going to benefit you with your future goals. DON'T be negative. DON'T be prejudice about a foreign language and its culture based on stereotypes. DON'T stop trying even when there are words that you do not understand or there is a chapter that is not... read more

Speaking only from a Spanish stand point, there is a fast and easy way to help students prepare to go to school if they only have a few minutes to spare each day. Flash cards always helped me with all my subjects throughout my undergraduate years but especially with Spanish. Buy some note cards and write down the tenses you are struggling with and some examples. You could even write some vocab words or create a table with each conjugation and tense. Punch a hole in the corner of each note card and place them on a ring. This is the longest part. Once you have this done, flip through the ring a couple minutes a day. With any language, repetition is key! Rebecca 

I recently got a tip about this language-learning app from Duolingo and have been test-driving it on my iPhone for a few days in Spanish, a language I've never formally studied. And I like it, quite a bit in fact. As an ESL and German teacher of many years, and someone who has dabbled in a variety of other languages, I put a lot of thought and study into the process of learning language. Duolingo covers many of the important bases by incorporating key principles into its design: Activities for all four facets of language study: writing, reading, listening, and even speaking (you speak into your device's microphone and it judges your pronunciation).  Moving gradually from passive recognition (What does "Adios" mean? - choose from word bank) to active use (What is "Goodbye" in Spanish? - no word bank). Overlapping reviews, incorporating grammar and vocabulary from previous lessons into new lessons. An emphasis on... read more

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