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#4 La Compra – Advanced Spanish Listening Challenge

#4 La Compra – Advanced Spanish Listening Challenge

When you’re consuming Spanish in print or audio form, it’s easy to fall into Spectator Mode and spend hours listening or reading without actually producing any Spanish. The best way to avoid this trap is to read or repeat aloud what you consume.

I’ve created a video to help you go through this process sentence by sentence. Check it out:

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#3 La Siesta – Advanced Spanish Listening Challenge

#3 La Siesta – Advanced Spanish Listening Challenge

When you’re consuming Spanish in print or audio form, it’s easy to fall into Spectator Mode and spend hours listening or reading without actually producing any Spanish. The best way to avoid this trap is to read or repeat aloud what you consume.

I’ve created a video to help you go through this process sentence by sentence. Check it out:

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#2 Dancing in Spain – Advanced Spanish Listening Challenge

#2 Dancing in Spain – Advanced Spanish Listening Challenge

When you’re consuming Spanish in print or audio form, it’s easy to fall into Spectator Mode and spend hours listening or reading without actually producing any Spanish. The best way to avoid this trap is to read or repeat aloud what you consume.

I’ve created a video to help you go through this process sentence by sentence. Check it out:

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Repeating Sentences from Memory Improves Your Spoken Spanish

Repeating Sentences from Memory Improves Your Spoken Spanish

The first time you swing a baseball bat it feels incredibly awkward. After enough swings, however, your brain internalizes the conscious instructions you are giving it—turn the left shoulder, keep your hands back, rotate the ankle—, and the movement eventually becomes subconscious and natural.

Learning Spanish is not that different from swinging a bat: it only starts to feel natural after you’ve put in enough repetitions. If you feel like you’re stuck in Intermediate Purgatory, you’re probably doing a lot more consuming (reading and listening) than producing (speaking and writing). If that’s the case, here is a deliberate practice exercise that you can use to continue improving.

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Mastering the Spanish Reflexive Verbs: The Family Edition

Mastering the Spanish Reflexive Verbs: The Family Edition

Do you find the verbs in this conversation confusing?

—¡Qué calor! Así no se puede estudiar. Voy a darme un paseo por la playa y sigo en la biblioteca, que allí por lo menos tienen aire acondicionado.
“It’s so hot! It’s impossible to study like this. I’m going for a walk on the beach and I’ll continue (studying) at the library. At least there they have air conditioning.”

—¿Te vas ya? Si me esperas cinco minutos, voy contigo.
“Are you leaving right now? If you can wait five minutes (for me), I’ll go with you.”

—Venga. Termina y mientras aprovecho para darme una ducha.
“Cool. Finish what you’re doing and I’ll go take a shower”.

Since they’re accompanied by reflexive pronouns (me te se nos os), it’s common to think that they must all be reflexive verbs, but “I’m going to give myself a walk” makes no sense, and neither does “Are you leaving yourself right now?” So, what’s the deal?

The secret to making sense of these verbs is to realize that they belong to different families, each with its own hopes and dreams:

  1. Verbs with an object pronoun
  2. Impersonal verbs
  3. Emphasized verbs
  4. Verbs with pronominal twins

So, instead of lumping them all as reflexive verbs, let’s look at each family in turn. Once you understand what makes them tick, it’s much easier to spot their members.

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Making Sense of the Direct and Indirect Object Pronouns in Spanish

Making Sense of the Direct and Indirect Object Pronouns in Spanish

Mastering the difference between direct and indirect objects is an unavoidable rite of passage on your way out of intermediate purgatory. It’s not always as straightforward as grammar books make it out to be, but learning it will give you the key to the secret lives of verbs.

In this article, we’ll talk about the job of direct objects, the fear of missing out of indirect objects and the games of musical chairs that object pronouns like to play. I hope you come away with better mental tools and a greater ability to fend for yourself out in the streets of the Spanish-speaking world.

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Better Stories in Spanish: The Upcoming Future

Better Stories in Spanish: The Upcoming Future

Welcome to the final part in our 3-part series on Telling Better Stories In Spanish. Today we tackle the upcoming, but here are links to the other two for your clicking pleasure:

The upcoming

In English, we typically tell stories about the future in two ways:

  • Using the future: I‘ll text you the name of the restaurant in a bit.
  • Using the present continuous (with or without going to): I‘m picking you up (or I‘m going to pick you up) in five minutes, so hurry up.

In Spanish, instead of the future we tend to use the present (with or without ir a):

  • Te mando un mensaje con el nombre del restaurante dentro de un rato.
  • Te voy a recoger en cinco minutos, así que date prisa.

The future tense in Spanish is rarely used to talk about the future. Instead, it’s relegated to making predictions and expressing doubt about upcoming events:

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Better Stories in Spanish: The Recent Past

Better Stories in Spanish: The Recent Past

This is part 2 of a 3-part series about telling better stories in Spanish:

The recent

Although technically part of the past, the recent feels philosophically different. Consider the question you’re most likely to get asked on a Monday morning in any of the Spanish-speaking regions of the planet: ¿Qué tal el finde? (How was the weekend?)

You have two options:

  1. Using the preterite. This is a way of talking about your weekend with a sense of finality: the weekend is over, it’s part of the past, this is what happened.
  2. Using the present perfect. This lets your conversation partner know that you still consider the weekend a recent event: it maybe over, but in your mind it still feels relevant and current, it’s like you’re still living there.
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The Ultimate Guide to Telling Better Stories in Spanish: The Past

The Ultimate Guide to Telling Better Stories in Spanish: The Past

“Every time I try to have a conversation in Spanish, I freeze”

That’s the number one complaint I hear from intermediate Spanish speakers. You have no problem understanding what the other person is saying, but when it’s your time to speak, you draw a blank. Why does that happen?

The answer is that the part of your brain that gets activated when you’re consuming Spanish is very different from the part responsible for producing Spanish. It’s perfectly possible to not know how to say something, and have no problem understanding it once you hear it.

The single most effective thing you can do to overcome this communication gap is to practice telling stories in Spanish. Or rather, practice writing stories in Spanish. You might say that you prefer speaking to writing, but that’s like saying you prefer playing live concerts to rehearsing in your basement. Improvisation is undeniably sexy, but without deliberate practice it can be painful to watch. If you want to get out of Intermediate Purgatory, you have to get good at writing.

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