Sunday, November 20, 2011

Commands (tú, Ud., Uds, and nosotros) (Click to Enlarge)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Indefinite Article

Welcome! Sorry, it has been a while since I've left everyone a blog.  Here's a quick lesson on the indefinite article: 

In English, we have the following indefinite articles: a (as in a cat), an (as in an ostrich), and some (as in some lettuce). 

Spanish indefinite articles depend on whether or not the noun is masculine or feminine, and whether or not the noun is plural or singular.  Therefore, there are 4 forms of the indefinite article that are used in Spanish (since a noun is either singular masculine, singular feminine, plural masculine, or plural feminine. 

Tengo un carro.  I have a car.  

Ella tiene una idea.  She has an idea.  

Nosotros tenemos unos problemas.  We have some problems (remember that "problema" is a masculine word in Spanish) 

Vosotros tenéis unas dificultades.  You all are having some difficulties.  

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Grammatical Person Drawing

An artist's rendition!  It's a great tool though for visualizing the grammatical person. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Subjunctive Mood - Unraveling the Mystery

I was teaching a class on the subjunctive the other day, and my students were quite perplexed with how to implement the subjunctive mood.  The use of the subjunctive is a major hurdle in the life cycle of gaining Spanish fluency.  Using the subjunctive in English is quite different than in Spanish.  In English, the infinitive is generally used:

I want you to drive me to the airport.  

Notice the indicative clause is "I want you...." and the dependent subjunctive clause is " drive me to the airport."  The beginning of the subjunctive clause is actually the infinitive form of the verb.

In Spanish, on the other hand, we have to battle a whole new beast of verb conjugations.  Whenever there is a dependent or subordinate clause the subjunctive conjugation is always used, never the infinitive.  So, this would be wrong:

Yo te quiero manejar al aeropuerto.  

This would actually be translated as "I want to drive YOU to the airport"!

No, we must instead use the conjunction "que (that)" followed by the subjunctive conjugation, like this:

Yo quiero que me manejes al aeropuerto.
I want you to drive me to the airport.   

You will notice that the Spanish format of Independent Clause + que + Dependent Clause is very well apparent, as are the indicative and subjunctive forms of each verb.

Here's a good tip: re-write as best you can the English sentence so that the conjunction "que" takes on the meaning of "that" in English.  Confused?  Look: instead of saying "I want you to drive me to the airport" re-write it so it says:

I want THAT you drive me to the airport.  

Instead of saying "I need you to pick me up, too", say

I need THAT you pick me up, too.  

You can see both the Indicative clause and the Subjunctive clause more clearly at play here.  So, the above sentence can easily be transcribed to Spanish like this:

Yo necesito QUE me recojas, también.

If you are unsure of the subjunctive conjugation, please review that topic.  It can be found in any Spanish textbook.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Interesting way to ask, "How have you been?"

¡Muchísimas gracias a mi amigo Chepo de Ciudad de México que me envió esta frase ayer!  ¡Puro chilango! 

The phrase below is used to ask someone how they have been, or what have they been up to.  You will notice that it doesn't translate word for word.  It is what is known as "el caló" (slang). Here it is:

¡Qué milanesas que ya bisteces, yo pensaba que ya morongas! ¿Qué transita por sus venas?

Attempted translation:

What a miracle that I am seeing you now.  I thought that you were already dead!  What's happenin'?

This phrase is a very localized expression and is scarcely heard outside of the confines of Mexico City. It refers to a lot of meat products, like milanesas(schnitzel), morongas(blood sausage from a pig), and bisteces (beef steaks).  

There are many slang expressions in US English that are similar to the one above, as well.  Observe:

What's shakin'?  How's it going?
What's crackin'? How's it going?
What's the haps? What's happening?
Wussup? What's up?
Whaddup, playa? What's up, friend? 
What's cracklating?  My it has been a long time.  What's up?   

Can you think of any other expressions?  If so, leave them in the Comment section below. 

Again, thank you SO much for this contribution Chepo....hasta la próxima.....

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

NOW! $4 Spanish Classes - You can't beat that deal!

In order to better serve more students, I will now hold open-enrollment classes via Skype every week!  Classes are one hour long, and the price of admission is ONLY $4! The way I am able to do that is by taking a "one size fits all" approach that teaches core Spanish language fundamentals that I find myself teaching to students on a regular basis.  It's a great way to hone your Spanish speaking skills without spending too much.

$4 for an hour of quality Spanish instruction!  That's it! Now is the time to get affordable Spanish lessons.  Buy a bunch and get an even better deal! All ages welcome! 

There are 3 classes available at the following days and times:

Basic Spanish: An Introduction 
Time and Date: Saturdays 9AM Pacific Standard Time
This class is recommended for beginners up to 1-1.5 years of Spanish instruction

Covered in this lecture series:
•Basic sentence structure
•The verbs ser and estar
•Basic -ar, -er, and -ir verb conjugations
•Speaking practice
•Noun and gender matching
•Certain common verb phrases
•Geography of Mexico and Spain (political and physical)

Intermediate Spanish
Time and Date: Saturdays 11:00AM Pacific Standard Time
This class is recommended for those who have had from 1.5 to 4 years of Spanish instruction

Covered in this lecture series :
•Review of the verbs ser and estar
•Complex verb conjugations
•Complex verb structures - the verb haber
•Idiomatic expressions
•Reflexive verbs
•Object pronouns
•History of Mexico and Spain

Advanced Spanish
Time and Date: Saturdays 12:00PM Pacific Standard Time
Recommended for fluent (or highly functional) Spanish learners looking to focus on speech, as well as speaking and reading comprehension

Covered in this lecture series:
•Advanced grammar topics
•Word formations (argumentation and diminutives)
•Proverbial and colloquial expressions
•Spanish-speaking culture in the US, past to present
*Note: This class is only for advanced speakers with an excellent knowledge base in Spanish.  The
lecture will be primarily given in Spanish!  

SIGN UP NOW!!  Just buy your first lesson, and see you soon!  

Class Prices

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

STOP the ELF! Slideshow on the Difference of Ser and Estar

One of my students gave me this link to a wonderful slideshow presentation that explains the difference between the verbs ser and estar.

Thanks, Sam, for the contribution!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Learning Spanish the Easy and Fun Way

One of the best ways to learn Spanish is by speaking it constantly. If you see a sign somewhere that says “HIPOTECA”, ask yourself in Spanish, “¿Qué quiere decir hipoteca?” What does “hipoteca” mean? Then, go up to some random vato who is just sitting there, and go “Perdón, Señor…¿qué quiere decir 'hipoteca'?" Then, taken aback by your outstanding command of the Spanish language, the dude will answer “el préstamo sacado por la compra de una casa”. And then you’ll go “¿Qué quiere decir 'préstamo'? and then he’ll get bored and walk away and then you will have to go on to the next random guy and annoy the hell out of them, too. Sure, it might be an odd way to start a conversation but look at that, you’ve gotten an exchange of four Spanish sentences! Increíble. As an added bonus, you also will give these random cuates something to talk about for the rest of their life, on how they met that guero en la calle, preguntándose de hipotecas.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Here are several ways to say "What's up?" in Spanish. Note that in addition to the phrase is the approximate phonetic pronunciation in parentheses.

¿Qué tal? (kay - TAHL)

¿Qué hubo? (kay - OO - boh)

¿Qué hay? (kay - EYE)

¿Qué onda? (kay - OHN - dah)

¿Qué hubiéndole (kay - oo - BYEHN - doh - lay)

Ways to Say "What's Up?"

Immediately improve your Spanish conversational skills with the following conversation starters (equivalent to "what's up?" in English):

¿Qué tal?

¿Qué onda?

¿Qué hay?

¿Qué hubo?

¿Qué hubiéndole?

BTW, I am sorry I haven't added any content in awhile, but I have had to rejoin the corporate IT world for the time being. Ho-hum.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

"La Troca del Moño Negro" por Los Originales de San Juan (with lyrics and translation)

Yo se lo dije a mi padre,
Quiero que vengas conmigo
Quiero pistiar esta noche
como dos grandes amigos
para decirte papá, lo mucho que te he querido...

¿No más me acompañarás?
hasta ver la madrugada
porque cuando raye el sol
Tengo una bronca pesada
si no me vuelves a ver
la suerte ya estaba echada

No es que te quiero alarmar
pero tengo un sentimiento
no más te quiero decir
que se ha llegado el momento
la muerte viene por mi
yo tengo el presentimiento

No más te quiero pedir
que no me llores si muero
desde muy chico creí
que eras el hombre de acero
no te vayas a doblar
cuando me quiten el cuero

Dáme un abrazo papá
Tal vez sea la despedida
Tú has sido mi protector
también mi madre querida
tú fuistes un gran señor
y eso, nunca se me olvida

Me tienden sobre mi troca
si de ésta no salgo vivo
en la cintura mi escuadra
También mi cuerno de chivo
para que en mi funeral
quiero que vayan conmigo

Pónganle un moño a mi troca
y me la pintan de negro
que me sirva de carroza
con rumbo así al cementerio
y guárdenla en el garage
que tiene mucho recuerdo...

Here's the translation:

I said to my dad
I want you to come with me
I want to have a few drinks
Like two great friends
In order to say dad how much I've loved you...

Will you come with me?
Until we see the dawn
Because when the sun comes up,
I am going to have a huge problem.
If you don't see me again,
Then my luck has run out...

I don't want to alarm you,
But I have this feeling
I just want to tell you,
that the moment has arrived.
Death has come for me,
I have a sinking feeling.

I just want to ask you
Not to cry, if I die.
Since I was a small boy, I believed
that you were my man of steel
Don't give up
when they tear me to pieces...

Give me a hug, Dad,
Maybe it'll be goodbye
You have been my protector
as well as my beloved mother,
You were a great man,
and that, I will never forget.

They will have me laid out on my truck
if I don't come out alive from this,
My squad at my waist,
as well as my AK-47,
because at my funeral
I want them to go with me...

Put a ribbon on my truck,
And paint it black for me
And it will serve as my hearse
like it is On its way to the cemetery
And keep it over there in the garage,
that has so many memories...

Monday, April 18, 2011

Rave Review: María, Full of Grace

The working Spanish title of this film is María, llena eres de gracia. What a terrific movie this was. I highly recommend it to everyone; however, the Colombian accent is mighty thick so you'd be better served if you put the English subtitles on.

This movie is rich with the scenery of Ecuador (although the screenplay is said to have taken place in rural Colombia) and the cinematography is outstanding. It is basically about las mulas ("the mules") who are usually women charged with ingesting 50-100 cocaine-filled condoms and flying into the United States undetected by Customs officials(hopefully). Although, as we see in the film, it seldom goes smoothly. The movie graphically depicts the entire journey, from poverty and uncertainty, to possible instant wealth and even more uncertainty.

The star of the movie is definitely actress Catalina Sandino Moreno, the young Colombian who stole the movie with her on-screen command. She is only the third Spanish-speaking actress (after Salma Hayek and Penélope Cruz) to be nominated for a Best Actress Oscar, which is a fact largely unknown. The other players, including the vibrant Yenny Paola Vega, who plays her best friend Blanca, add a marvelous compliment to Moreno's performance. Joshua Marston, the director, did wonderfully for his first, yes, first, feature film.

If I had a 5 star rating system, it would largely receive at least 4 and a half. There are hardly any movies that come out that change your life (whether for the worse or better), so when one does, you're better off having witnessed it. Bravo.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Prepositional "A"

The "A" preposition is quite often the most overlooked part of Spanish grammar amongst learners. It took a vigilant (I can only assume) native Spanish speaker to send me a courtesy pointing out an error in my grammar on my website. I was guilty of not putting the "a" in the sentence

Los lobos me enseñaron aullar.

And thus began my adventure into researching the grammar surrounding enseñar(to teach). I discovered that indeed an "a" must accompany the verb phrase. So I should have said

Los lobos me enseñaron A aullar. The wolves taught me how to howl.

Gracias a aquel estudiante que me lo señaló....

So, being the sick-minded freak who has to stop everything and look it up if it involves Spanish, I research for a couple of hours the times to use "a". Prepare to be blown away as I regale you with my virtuosity:

1) Use the "A" when an actual person, or a thing that has been anthropomorphized to be an actual person (like a pet or a favorite car), is the direct object of the sentence. There is NO English equivalent to the "a" when it is used in this fashion. Observa, por favor:
Voy a ver a mi abuela mañana. I am going to see my grandma tomorrow.

El taxi lleva a Lucy por la ciudad. The taxi takes Lucy through the city.

2) The "a" is used to bridge two verbs together, such as in the common ir a + infinitive, or enseñar a +infinitive and a handful of others but not with querer.

3) It can begin a sentence with an interrogative pronoun when the pronoun is a direct object. Again, the "a" has no translation whatsoever:
¿A quién viste ayer? Who did you see yesterday?

4) The "a" is used as a preposition to mean "to", or "at", although when we want to say "at" in Spanish we usually replace "at" with "in", using "en":
Los chicos fueron a la fiesta. The boys went TO the party.

Los gallos van a estar en la 37 y Riverside. The gangstas are going to be AT 37th and Riverside. Simón.

5) Lastly, the "a" is used in idiomatic expressions and phrases with no real meaning to its inclusion:
Tengo que lavar los platos a mano. I have to wash the dishes by hand.

A propósito de su viaje a Europa, ¿han salido ya? Speaking of their trip to Europe, have they gone yet?

This should be very helpful to you as you navigate this Spanish minefield. Like this lesson? Leave me a comment below, Sr.

Monday, April 4, 2011

¡Vamos a practicar! - The Future Perfect

The future perfect is made up of the following verb phrase:

haber + past participle

with the auxiliary verb haber in the future tense. For the following, state what the following people will have done by the year 2012. Follow the model:

Lucy ______ (graduarse) de la Universidad para 2012.

Lucy se habrá graduado de la Universidad para 2012.

1. Miguel y Tomás _______ (empezar) estudiar latín.
2. El profesor _______ (casarse).
3. Yo _______ (enseñar) más que 1.000 lecciones de español.
4. Tú _______ (comprar) un nuevo automóvil.
5. Tu mamá y tú _______ (mudarse) de esta casa.
6. Los García _______ (llegar) en su nuevo destino.
7. Mi hermano _______ (contratar) un nuevo puesto.
8. Las hermanas _______ (volar) a Europa.
9. Facebook _______ (adquirir) más de trillón de integrantes.
10. Nosotros _______ (visitar) a nuestra abuela otra vez.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spanish and its Latin Roots (A Paper from my University days...what a treat!)

By now you’ve noticed that we determine what tense a verb is in Spanish by its suffix. This is due to Spanish being Latin-based.

The Roman Empire stretched across the Mediterranean region, as far west as the Iberian Peninsula. A strategic geographic location even in ancient times, the Iberian Peninsula was somewhat of a crossroads of cultures, as it had previously been occupied by the Phoenicians as well as the Carthaginians. The Romans called this province Hispania, which was later replaced by the phonetically accurate España.

The Latin language itself was a very unwieldy language indeed; it contained several different suffixes, each with different declensions and genders of their own! It was highly- inflected, with three distinct genders, seven noun cases, four verb conjugations, six tenses, six persons, three moods, two voices, two aspects and two numbers. It became a very difficult language to be universally accepted, but its method of placing separate, unique suffixes on different persons of the verb became more streamlined, and thus, easier to learn, speak, and understand. To this day, languages like Portuguese, Italian, Romanian, and French share the same grammatical structures and vocabulary since the time of the Romans.

In order to become an effective Spanish-speaker, it is critical to learn and understand the differences between each person (first, second, or third person) as well as the tense (is the action in the present, past, or future tense? Is the action in the indicative mood, or is it subjunctive?)

These are the kinds of questions you will need to ask yourself as you proceed learning the language. After awhile, you will have memorized each grammar rule, and with enough practice, you will be able to fluently converse in all tenses with ease as you already do in English.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

¡Práctica! - The Conditional

What would you do if the following situations were to occur? Practice responding to them in the conditional tense ("would"). Sigue el modelo.

MODELO: Qué harías tú si fueras ganador/-a de la lotería?
Lo ganaría todo en las tiendas y los almacenes.

1. ¿si heradaras (inherited) una casa?
2. ¿si jugaras al campeonato?
3. ¿si promterieras algo a tu novio/-a que no pudieras realizar?
4. ¿si atardecieras a una reunión?
5. ¿si no pudieras llegar a tiempo a la boda de su hija?
6. ¿si te pusiera mal el estómago el café?
7. ¿si te despertaras tan temprano y faltaran 2 horas antes de trabajar?
8. ¿si estuvieras leyendo un libro y te durmieras?
9. ¿si te dieras cuenta que se te olvidara tu cartera (wallet)?
10. ¿si estuvieras comiendo algo que no te gustara?

Monday, March 28, 2011

¡Práctica! - Future Tense Exercise

Practice the future tense! Below are several sentences starting with a si clause. Explain in the future tense what WILL happen if something occurs.

1. Si Roberto viene a nuestra casa, mamá _______ (poner) la mesa para la cena.
2. Si los Wilson llega antes de las 4, nosotros ______ (cenar) más temprano.
3. Si Matilda acompaña a su familia, _______ (traer) una ensalada.
4. Si Timoteo e Ivan van a la fiesta, ________ (bailar) con las muchachas.
5. Si las muchachas los ven, ¡los _______ (rechazar)!
6. Si hago mi tarea ahora, _______ (poder) ir al parque contigo.
7. Si acabamos la fiesta a las nueve, todo ______ (salir).
8. Si manejas tú a la oficina hoy, yo lo ______ (hacer) mañana.
9. Si Miguel necesita venir con nosotros, él lo ______(decir).
10. Si nosotros nos tranquilizamos, _______ (divertirse) en la fiesta.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"La Leyenda de la Coca" - A Great Bolivian Legend about the Origin of the Coca Plant

Extraída del libro "Leyendas de mi tierra" de Antonio Díaz Villamil)

Era por el tiempo en que habían llegado a estas tierras los conquistadores blancos. Las jornadas siguientes a la hecatombe de Cajamarca fueron crueles y sangrientas. Las ciudades fueron destruidas, los cultivos abandonados, los templos profanados e incendiados, los tesoros sagrados y reales arrebatados. Y, por todas partes en los llanos y en las montañas los desdichados indios fugitivos, sin hogar, llorando la muerte de sus padres, de sus hijos o de sus hermanos. La raza, señora y dueña de tan feraces tierras yacía en la miseria, en el dolor. El inhumano conquistador, cubierto de hierro y lanzando rayos mortales de sus armas de fuego y cabalgando sobre briosos corceles, perseguía por las sendas y apachetas a sus espantadas victimas.

Los indios indefensos, sin amparo alguno, en vano invocaban a sus dioses. Nadie, ni en el cielo ni en la tierra, tenía compasión de ellos.

Un viejo adivino llamado kjana-chuyma que estaba, por orden del inca, al servicio del templo de la isla del Sol, había logrado huir antes de la llegada de los blancos a las inmediaciones del lago, llevándose los tesoros sagrados del gran templo. Resuelto a impedir a todo trance que tales riquezas llegaran al poder de los ambiciosos conquistadores, había conseguido después de vencer muchas dificultades y peligros, en varios viajes, poner a salvo por lo menos momentáneamente; el tesoro en un lugar oculto de la orilla oriental del lago Titicaca.

Desde aquel sitio no cesaba de escudriñar diariamente todos los caminos y la superficie del lago para ver si se aproximaban las gentes de Pizarro.

Un día los vio llegar. Traían precisamente la dirección hacia donde él estaba. Rápidamente resolvió lo que debía hacer. Sin perder un instante, arrojo todas las riquezas en el sitio mas profundo de las aguas. Pero cuando llegaron junto a él los españoles, que ya tenían conocimiento de que kjana-chuyma se había traído consigo los tesoros del templo de la isla, con intención de sustraerlo al alcance de ellos, lo capturaron para arrancarle si fuera preciso por la fuerza el ansiado secreto.

Kjana-chuyma se negó desde el principio a decir una palabra de lo que los blancos le preguntaban. Sufrió con entereza heroica los terribles tormentos a que lo sometieron. Azotes, heridas, quemaduras, todo, todo soporto el viejo adivino sin revelar nada de cuanto había hecho con el tesoro.

Al fin los verdugos, cansados de atormentarle inútilmente, le abandonaron en estado agónico para in por su cuenta a escudriñar por todas partes.

Esa noche, el desdichado kjana-Chuyma, entre la fiebre de su dolorosa agonía, soñó que el Sol, Dios resplandeciente, aparecía por detrás de la montaña próxima y le decía:

-Hijo mió, tu abnegación en el sagrado deber que te has impuesto voluntariamente, de resguardar mis objetos sagrados, merece una recompensa. Pide lo que desees, que estoy dispuesto a concedértelo.

-¡Oh!, Dios amado – respondió el viejo- ¿Qué otra cosa puedo yo pedirte en esta hora de duelo y de derrota, sino la redención de mi raza y el aniquilamiento de nuestros infames invasores?

-Hijo desdichado-le contesto el Sol- Lo que me pides, es ya imposible. Mi poder ya nada puede contra esos intrusos; su dios es más poderoso que yo. Me ha quitado mi dominio y por eso, también yo como nosotros debo huir a refugiarme ene. Misterio del tiempo. Pues bien, antes de irme para siempre, quiero concederte algo que esté aún dentro de mis facultades.

-Dios mió,- repuso el viejo con pena- si tan poco poder ya tienes, debo pensar con sumo cuidado en lo que voy a pedirte.

Un grupo de habitantes del imperio del Sol, escapando de los intrusos, embarcándose en pequeñas balsas de totora, atravesó el lago y fue a refugiarse en la orilla donde kjana-chuyma estaba luchando con la muerte.

Los indios acudieron a cuidarlo. Kjana-chuyma era uno de los yatiris mas queridos en todo el imperio, por eso los indios, rodearon su lecho de agonía, llenos de tristeza, lamentando su próxima muerte. El anciano, al ver en torno de si ese grupo de compatriotas desdichados, sentia mas honda pesadumbre e imaginaba los tiempos de dolor y amargura que el futuro guardaba a esos desventurados. Fue entonces que se acordó de la promesa del gran astro. REsolvio pedirle una gracia, un bien durable, para dejarlo de herencia a los suyos; algo que no fuera ni oro ni riqueza; para que el blanco ambicioso no pudiera arrebatarles; en fin un consuelo secreto y eficaz para los incontables días de miseria y padecimientos.

Al llegar la noche, lleno de ansiedad en medio de la fiebre que le consumía, imploro al sol para que acudiera a oírle su ultima petición. Alos pocos momentos un impulso misterioso lo levantó de su lecho y lo hizo salir de la choza.

Kjana-chuyma, dejándose llevar por la secreta fuerza que lo dirigía, subió por la pendiente arriba hasta la cumbre del cerro. En la cima notó que le rodeaba una gran claridad que hacia contraste con la noche fría y silenciosa. De pronto una voz le dijo:

-Hijo mío. He oído tu plegaria. ¿Quieres dejar a tus tristes hermanos un lenitivo para sus dolores y un reconfortantes para las terribles fatigas que les guarda en su desampara?

-Si, si. Quiero que tengan algo con que resistir la esclavitud angustiosa que les aguarda. ¿Me la concederás?

-Bien,- respondió la voz- mira en torno tuyo ¿ves esas pequeñas plantas de hojas verdes y ovaladas? La he hecho brotar por ti y para tus hermanos. Ellas realizaran el milagro de adormecer penas y sostener fatigas. Serán el talismán inapreciable par los días amargos. Di a tus hermanos que, sin herir los tallos, arranquen las hojas y después de secarlas, las mastiquen. El jugo de esas plantas será el mejor narcótico para la inmensa pena de sus almas.

Kjana- chuyma, sintiendo que le quedaban pocos instantes de vida, reunió a sus compatriotas y les dijo:

-hijos míos. Voy a morir, pero antes quiero anunciaros lo que el INTI, nuestro Dios, ha querido en su bondad concederos por intermedio mío: Subid al cerro próximo. Encontrareis unas plantitas de hojas ovaladas. Cuidadlas, cultivadlas con esmero. Con ellas tendréis alimento y consuelo. En las duras fatigas que os impongan el despotismo de vuestros amos, mascad esas hojas y tendréis nuevas fuerzas para el trabajo.

En esos desamparados e interminables viajes que les obligue el blanco, mascad esas hojas y el camino os hará breve y pasajero.

En los momentos en que vuestro espíritu melancólico quiera fingir un poco de alegría, esas hojas adormecerán vuestra pena y os dará la ilusión de creerlos felices.

Cuando queráis escudriñar algo de vuestro destino, un puñado de esas hojas lanzado al viento os dirá el secreto que anheláis conocer.

Y cuando el blanco quiera hacer lo mismo y se atreva a utilizar como vosotros esas hojas, le sucederá todo lo contrario. Su jugo, que para vosotros será la fuerza de la vida, para vuestros amos será vicio repugnante y degenerado: mientras que para vosotros los indios será un alimento casi espiritual, a ellos les causará la idiotez y la locura.

Cuidad que no se extinga y conservarla y propagadla entre los vuestros con veneración y amor. El viejo kjana-chuyma doblo su cabeza sobre el pecho y quedo sin vida.

Los desdichados indios gimieron por la muerte del venerable yatiri. Eligieron la cima del próximo cerro para darle sepultura. Fue enterrado dentro de un cerco de las plantas verdes y misteriosas. Recién en ese momento se acordaron de cuanto les había dicho al morir kjana-chuyma y recogiendo cada cual un puñado de las hojitas ovaladas se pusieron a masticarlas.

Entonces se realizo la maravilla. A medida que tragaban el amargo jugo, notaron que su pena inmensa se adormecía lentamente…

Friday, March 18, 2011

Great Article on the False Portrayal of Latin American Culture in Spanish Texbooks

Thanks so much to Sandy Shedivy of Rethinking Schools for bringing this issue to light. It is a bias I have been aware of for many years. If you have any comments leave them in the box below...

Lies My Spanish Textbooks Tell

By Sandy Shedivy

In the world of Spanish textbooks, class divisions do not exist. In a section on verbs in the Ven Conmigo (Come with Me) textbook, for instance, the illustrations are all decidedly middle-class or upper-class in their representations: riding bicycles on a nice gravel path; casually walking a group of dogs, hanging out with friends at a seaside resort.

The images imply that the verbs students are studying are activities that all Latin Americans enjoy. By not naming a country, an assumption of "Latin Americanism" is suggested, as if these activities are typical of the entire Spanish-speaking world. The books collapse Latin America into one monolithic middle-class culture, devoid of individual histories, collective and culture- specific experiences, and indigenous pasts.

Secondly, the books' illustrations give students the impression that all the children in Spanish-speaking countries have money for bicycles, for dining with their friends in restaurants, and have modern kitchens in which to prepare the family dinner. The middle-class portrayals serve to deny that anything is amiss in what is, in reality, a world of great disparity. Instead, there is a falsely presented worldview that Latin Americans enjoy a pleasant lifestyle similar to that of the middle class in the United States.

They Throw and Catch!

Just as the texts concentrate on a middle- and upper-class perspective, they also consistently over-represent Latin Americans as famous sports or entertainment figures. All of the texts I examined featured Sammy Sosa and other baseball players as representative of Latin American culture. No doubt, baseball is popular in Latin America. But its over-representation distorts students' impression of life there.

The texts portray a Spanish-speaking world that loves baseball while concealing the reality of desperately poor children willing to quit school for a chance at the Major Leagues. In the Somos Así (We Are Like This) textbook, for example, the caption accompanying one baseball photo highlights the Dominican Republic's training academy for Major League Baseball players. (Twenty-six percent of all players in the Major Leagues come from Latin America and one out of seven is from the Dominican Republic.) There is no discussion of how Major League Baseball exploits the poor of Latin America. For example, 60 percent of Dominicans live below the poverty line and young Dominican athletes typically play without shoes, using cut-out milk cartons for gloves, rolled-up cloth for balls, and sticks and branches for bats. Often, kids quit school at 10, 11, or 12 to play ball at the "baseball academies." If a Major League club does offer a contract, it's typically 5 to 10 percent of the signing bonuses offered to U.S. players. Sammy Sosa himself received a signing bonus of only $3,500.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spanish Lessons Now on YouTube!

Howdy all! Well, the day has finally arrived where I've decided to create tutorial videos on YouTube!

I will post one every day, and if there is a topic you would like me to delve into please don't hesitate to let me know and I will upload a tutorial vid.

Here's the most recent one I just uploaded. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Word on Stem-Change Verbs

A considerable number of verbs change the vowel e in the stem to the diphthong ie, and the vowel o to ue. This happens when the stem vowel receives the stress. These verbs are referred to as stem-changing verbs. Examples include pensar 'to think' (pienso 'I think'), sentarse 'to sit' (me siento 'I sit'), empezar 'to begin' (empiezo 'I begin'), volver 'to return' (vuelvo 'I return'), and acostarse 'to go to bed' (me acuesto 'I go to bed').

Virtually all verbs of the third conjugation (-ir), if they have -e- or -o- in their stem, undergo a vowel-raising change whereby e changes to i and o changes to u, in some of their forms (for details see Spanish irregular verbs). Examples include pedir 'to ask for' (pide 'he/she asks for'), competir 'to compete' (compite 'he/she competes'), and derretirse 'to melt' (se derrite 'it melts').

The so-called "I-Go" verbs add a medial -g- in the first person singular, present tense (making the Yo [or I] form end in -go — for example, tener 'to have', tengo 'I have'; venir 'to come', vengo 'I come'). These verbs are often irregular in other forms as well.

The Preterit Tense of -ar verbs

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Future Tense - Conjugation Review

I've had several lessons in the last several days that have been centered around, perhaps coincidentally, the future tense.

Unlike the present, preterit, or imperfect tense, the future tense is derived from the infinitive as a whole plus a suffix. The suffix depends on whether or not the subject is first, second, or third person.

Another great thing about the future tense is that the suffixes are going to be regular despite whether or not the verb is -ar, -er, or -ir.

inf. + -é
inf. + -emos
inf. + -ás
inf. + -éis
inf. + -á
inf. + -án

Sample verb charlar(to chat):

yo charlaré
nosotros charlaremos
vosotros charlaréis
él, ella, Ud. charlará
ellos, ellas, Uds. charlarán

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Regular -Ar Verb Conjugations

When you're starting to learn basic verb structures and conjugations, start with easy verbs that follow a pattern, instead of trying to force feed yourself irregular verbs right away, as that will only serve to discourage you.

The best thing to do is start by mastering the regular -ar verbs. These follow a specific pattern, so the best thing to do is learn the pattern.

Subject Pronoun
Regular -AR Verb Ending
él, ella, Ud.
ellos, ellas, Uds.

So check out these following sentences with the different subject pronouns:

Yo hablo español. I speak Spanish.

Tú masticas chicle. You chew gum.

Melissa toma un refresco. Melissa drinks a soft drink.

Nosotros llamamos a nuestra abuela. We call our grandmother.

Vosotros miráis la tele. You (plural) are watching T.V.

Los amigos platican. The friends chat.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What's the best way gain fluency in a foreign language?

1) Spend the time!

By far the most important factor is how much time you are immersed in the language. The more time you spend with the language, the faster you will learn. This means listening, reading, writing, speaking, and studying words and phrases. This does not mean sitting in class looking out the window, nor listening to other students who do not speak well, nor getting explanations in your own language about how the language works. This means spending time enjoyably connected to the language you are learning.

2) Listen and read every day!

Listen wherever you are on your MP3 player. Read what you are listening to. Listen to and read things that you like, things that you can mostly understand, or even partly understand. If you keep listening and reading you will get used to the language. One hour of listening or reading is more effective than many hours of class time.

3) Focus on words and phrases!

Build up your vocabulary, you’ll need lots. Start to notice words and how they come together as phrases. Learn these words and phrases through your listening and reading. Read online, using online dictionaries, and make your own vocabulary lists for review. Soon you will run into your new words and phrases elsewhere. Gradually you will be able to use them. Do not worry about how accurately you speak until you have accumulated a plenty of words through listening and reading.

4) Take responsibility for your own learning!

If you do not want to learn the language, you won’t. If you do want to learn the language, take control. Choose content of interest, that you want to listen to and read. Seek out the words and phrases that you need to understand your listening and reading. Do not wait for someone else to show you the language, nor to tell you what to do. Discover the language by yourself, like a child growing up. Talk when you feel like it. Write when you feel like it. A teacher cannot teach you to become fluent, but you can learn to become fluent if you want to.

5) Relax and enjoy yourself!

Do not worry about what you cannot remember, or cannot yet understand, or cannot yet say. It does not matter. You are learning and improving. The language will gradually become clearer in your brain, but this will happen on a schedule that you cannot control. So sit back and enjoy. Just make sure you spend enough time with the language. That is the greatest guarantee of success.

Steve Kaufmann is a former Canadian diplomat, who has had his own company in the international trade of forest products for over 20 years. Steve founded The Linguist Institute Ltd. in 2002 to develop a new approach to language learning using the web. The new LingQ system for learning multiple languages is now available in Beta. Steve speaks nine languages fluently and is currently learning Russian using LingQ. Steve maintains a blog on language learning.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Some Interesting Facts about Gender Ambiguity of Nouns

Thanks to About.Com for providing this great article on the masculine/feminine ambiguities of articles in Spanish!

Some Nouns Are of Ambiguous Gender
By Gerald Erichsen, Guide

la libido(the libido) — Some authorities say that libido and mano (hand) are the only Spanish nouns ending in -o, other than shortened forms of longer words (such as foto for fotografía and disco for discoteca, or occupational words, such as la piloto for a female pilot), that are feminine. However, the word is often treated as masculine.

el/la Internet(the Internet) — The general rule is that nouns imported from other languages are masculine unless there's a reason for making them feminine. In this case, the feminine is often used because the word for a computer network (la red) is feminine.

el/la web(the web page, web site, World Wide Web) — This word may have entered the language as a shorter form of la página web (web page), or it may be feminine because red (another word for the Web) is feminine.

el/la sartén(the frying pan) — The word is masculine in Spain, feminine in much of Latin America.

el/la radio(the radio) — When it means "radius" or "radium," radio is invariably masculine. When it means "radio," it is feminine in some areas (such as Spain), masculine in others (such as Mexico).

el mar(the sea) - Mar is usually masculine, but it becomes feminine in some weather and nautical usages (such as en la alta mar, on the high seas).

el arte(the art) - The masculine is used when arte is singular, but the feminine is often used in the plural, as in las artes bellas (fine arts).

Great article, huh? What a life I lead...Joel B.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Reflexive Pronouns - A Homework Series

Pues estudiantes, ¿listos para unos ejercicios? Give the activity below a shot:

1. A las 7 de la mañana, yo _______ (despertarse).
2. Luego, _______ (levantarse) y voy a la cocina.
3. Yo ______ (prender) el coffee maker, y _______ (llenar) la jara con agua cálida.
4. Después, voy al baño y _______ (cepillarse) los dientes.
5. _______ (ducharse) con champú y jabón.
6. _______ (secarse) con una toalla.
7. Luego, ________ (peinarse) el cabello.
8. _______ (ponerse) la ropa, _______ (ponerse) los zapatos, y ______ (atarse) los cordones.
9. Agarro unas meriendas de pocas calorias porque necesito _______ (mantenerse) en forma.
10. _______ (irse) para la oficina a las 8:15 de la mañana. ¡Uf!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Un Mapa de México - A Map of The Mexican States

Please click to enlarge if needed...

The Difference between Por and Para

Let me see if I can teach you the difference between por and para in as little time as possible:

The word por is used in the following circumstances:

1)to mean "through", "by", or "around"
Fui por la puerta para salir. I went through the door to exit.

2)to mean "in exchange for"
Pagué 15 dólares por este suéter. I paid 15 dollars for this sweater.

3)to mean duration
He estado en Colombia por tres días. I've been in Colombia for 3 days.

The preposition para is used in the following circumstances:

1)to mean "for"
Este libro es para ti. This book is for you.

2)to mean "in order to..."
Necesito ir al mercado para comprar unas verduras. I need to go to the market (in order) to buy some vegetables.

3)to express "by" a certain time
Entrego este papel para el 15 de octubre. I will turn this paper in by October 15.

Hope this helps! Any questions or comments? Post them below....

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Form the Subjunctive...The 3-Step Approach

To form a verb in the subjunctive, take this 3 step approach:

1)Take the yo form of the verb from the present indicative
i.e. for the verb tomar(to drink), the yo form will be tomo.

2)Drop the -o from the yo form, so you're left with the root. In this case, you're left with the root tom-.

3)Add the opposite vowel suffix on the end. For -ar verbs, opposite vowel suffixes are -e, -es, -e, -emos, and -en. For -er/-ir verbs, the opposite vowel suffixes are -a, -as, -a, -amos, and -an. So for the verb tomar, the complete conjugation will be:

que yo tome
que tú tomes
que Ud. tome
que nosotros tomemos
que ellos tomen

For an -er/-ir verb like vivir, the complete subjunctive conjugation is:

que yo viva
que tú vivas
que él viva
que nosotros vivamos
que ellos vivan

Notice the first and third person singular conjugations are the same, so the use of a subject pronoun is critical in these instances.

Monday, January 24, 2011

El Presente del Subjuntivo - Learn This!

Please click to enlarge...sorry about the small size!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Verb Hacer(to do, to make)

Below is the conjugation for verb hacer("to do, to make").

To practice using this verb, try accompanying it with the following expressions commonly used in Spanish:

hacer buenas migas  to hit it off with somebody
hacer un papel  to play a role
hacer juego  to match  
hacer época to be sensational, attract public attention
hacer su agosto  to make a killing
hacérsele agua la boca  to make someone's mouth water

I wrote these sentences, implementing a variation of verb conjugations:

Nos conocimos ayer y hicimos buenas migas.  We met each other yesterday and we hit it off. 
La industria hace un papel grande en el gobierno.  Industry plays a big role in the government.
Estos pantalones harán juego con mi camisa.  These pants will match with my shirt. 
Si el Super Bowl estuviera jugado en Washington D.C., haría época If the Super Bowl were played in Washington D.C., it would be AWESOME!!! 
Si vendiera todos los libros, yo me habría hecho mi agosto.  If I sold all of the books, I would have made a killing.  
El camarón brochete de Uncle Julio's Mexican Restaurant en Irving, TX se me hace agua la boca.  The Brochete shrimp at Uncle Julio's Mexican Restaurant in Irving, TX makes my mouth water.  

Monday, January 10, 2011

Direct and Indirect Object Pronouns

Here are the Direct Object Pronouns:

Indirect Object Pronouns:

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Antonio Banderas con Los Lobos - "Canción del Mariachi"

"this is the best 2 minutes of any movie ever made...EVER!!!"-Anonymous YouTube User

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Ud. and Uds. Commands - A Basic Chart

Here are the basic rules of forming Ud. and Uds. commands in Spanish:

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Irregular Affirmative Commands

Here are the irregular commands in their affirmative forms:

poner pon

tener ten


salir sal

decir di

ir ve

venir ven

hacer haz

Monday, January 3, 2011

Craigslist ad - In Spanish!

See if you can understand some of what this ad is might have to click to zoom...

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