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Bridging the Spanish Gap Challenge #008

Bridging the Spanish Gap Challenge #008

Can you translate this story?

I’ve been feeling guilty these past few days because my parents bought me a digital camera with a telephoto lens more than a week ago and so far I haven’t taken one stinking picture. It’s not that I don’t like photography—I love it—, the problem is that I have no idea about lenses, exposures or shutters. After flipping through the manual a bit and binge-watching twenty online tutorials, I decided to take action and go out into the street to take pictures. Like a real photographer.
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The Difference Between Llevar and Traer: an Annotated Text Conversation

The Difference Between Llevar and Traer: an Annotated Text Conversation

The best way to internalize complicated bits of Spanish is by noticing the context in which they’re used and using them yourself until they become second nature.

Take llevar and traer. Trying to understand them by thinking of them as “to bring” is as frustrating as chopping wood with a blunt axe. To sharpen your Spanish axe, you have to place them in a web of interconnected ideas that elicit an emotional response. Or more simply:

Embed confusing Spanish words inside memorable stories.

Think about what happens when you hear the words “get up.” Your brain has accumulated so many stories throughout your life that the meaning seems obvious (Get up, it’s time for school. Let’s get up that tree. I want you to get up from the floor). Those stories look nothing like the ones you have for, say, “take up” (You’re taking up too much space. The plan takes up nutrients. I want to take up Spanish), but someone who hasn’t collected enough stories for those words will have a hard time telling them apart.

If this is your problem with llevar and traer (or with their equally misunderstood cousins ir and venir), let’s build some stories for them using the conversation below, where Bea and Diego are texting each other a few hours before they head out to Rafa’s party.

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Bridging the Spanish Gap Challenge #007

Bridging the Spanish Gap Challenge #007

Can you fix these sentences?

M1: Después del cine, me decidí ir a una heladería porque hacía meses que no me he tomado un helado.

M2: No estoy seguro sobre lo que voy a hacer en mi viaje próximo a México.

M3: Aparece un hombre simpático, pero si le dijera que he besado a su hija no creo que le haría mucha gracia.

M4: Este último parágrafo es demasiado largo. No sé cómo me lo puedo hacer más corto.

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A Date in Madrid: an Annotated Story About Imperfects, Preterits and Conditionals

A Date in Madrid: an Annotated Story About Imperfects, Preterits and Conditionals

You know your Spanish is in great shape when you can talk about something that happened to you without getting your verb tenses all mixed up. Getting better at storytelling is one of the best things you can do on your road towards fluency, and in order to do it successfully, you need to master the imperfect, the preterit (pretérito perfecto simple), and the conditional.

Instead of making a list of rules for each tense and going over a few simple phrases, let’s observe them in their natural habitat: the story.

What follows is a Spanishified liberal translation of a moving anecdote that I came across while reading the bestseller Essentialism). It’s an excellent illustration of how these verb tenses work together to move the plot forwards.

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Bridging the Gap Challenge #006

Bridging the Gap Challenge #006

Can you fix these sentences?

M1: La semana pasada estaba llena de sorpresas y de sustos, pero me parece que la próxima pueda ser más tranquila.

M2: Quiero conocer más gente de este país, pero no les entiendo cuando hablan entre sí mismos.

M3: No sabía que tu hermana tiene los ojos del mismo color que yo. Acabo de me di cuenta ahora.

M4: Tengo un amigo quien me ha dicho que en este pueblo antes veranearon muchos turistas.

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How to Sound Natural When Giving Directions in Spanish

How to Sound Natural When Giving Directions in Spanish

Let’s say you’re living in a Spanish-speaking country and somebody stops you in the middle of the street to ask you for directions:

—Perdone, ¿me puede decir dónde está la calle Maldonado?

La calle Maldonado. You know that street.

You could just say por allí and call it a day, but what this person really needs to do is keep going straight, go to the other side of the park, make a right, and take the second one on the left.

How do you say that in Spanish without sounding awkward?

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Bridging the Gap Challenge #005

Bridging the Gap Challenge #005

Can you fix these sentences?

M1: Terminé el instituto y me pasé el próximo año preparándome para poder asistir el programa en Oxford.

M2: Tengo una amiga quien me está ayudando mucho y me ha ocurrido hacerle un regalo.

M3: Mi primer viaje fue en el 2008, y en cuanto salí del aeropuerto me di cuenta que en ese país hablaron muy raro.

M4: Yo tenía muchas ganas para cambiar de trabajo, pero los primeros meses en mi nuevo puesto me pasé muy mal.

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How to Take Your Spanish to the Next Level: Get Rid of Your Permanent Mistakes

How to Take Your Spanish to the Next Level: Get Rid of Your Permanent Mistakes

This is the final article in an epic three-part series designed to help you take your Spanish to the next level.

In Part 1: You’re 10,000 mistakes away from fluency, we saw that making more mistakes is actually a good thing, because it means you’re spending a lot of time outside your comfort zone producing Spanish (as opposed to just consuming it).

In Part 2: Your Language Problem Is Just a Noticing Problem, we saw that keeping a mistake notebook and relying on native speakers are two great ways to get better at noticing your blind spots.

In this last part, we’re going to talk about persistent mistakes, the kind that refuse to go away, the kind that make you want to slap your forehead, the kind that you make five seconds after someone just pointed them out.

It’s like your brain refuses to acknowledge them as mistakes, so you can’t even catch yourself making them.

But before we get into that, let’s start with a memory challenge.

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Bridging the Gap Challenge #004

Bridging the Gap Challenge #004

Can you fix these sentences?

M1: Gracias para los consejos, pero ¿hay otros calles en esta ciudad cuales no son seguras?

M2: Estás correcta en no perdonarle. Que no intente echarle la culpa a sus raíces latinos.

M3: No tengo algo más que decir, pero te prometo que haremos todo lo que podemos.

M4: Yo era en un trabajo muy aburrido, y un día mi jefe me dio el oportunidad de cambiar y le dije sí.

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How to Take Your Spanish to the Next Level: Your Language Problem Is Just a Noticing Problem

How to Take Your Spanish to the Next Level: Your Language Problem Is Just a Noticing Problem

This is part two of an epic three-part series on taking your Spanish to the next level. This article will make much more sense if you read part one first—You’re 10,000 mistakes away from fluency—where we discussed the largest roadblock slowing down your Spanish progress: your dislike of making mistakes, especially new ones.

We saw that the antidote was committing to a daily writing and speaking output. The recommended daily dose is at least 100 written words and 60 seconds of recorded audio.

Once you get into the habit of producing Spanish (as opposed to just consuming it), your mistake-making rates will start going through the roof—which is exactly what we want. The goal then becomes catching as many mistakes as possible.

In this article, we’ll cover a few techniques to get better at noticing mistakes and we’ll see how to turn them into memorable insights.

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