The 7 Spanish Question Words & How to Use Them

spanish question wordsReady to learn the question words in Spanish? One of the best ways to advance your Spanish skills is to converse with fluent or native speakers. But how do you break the ice? 

Start by mastering the new vocabulary in this guide, and then practice some of the most commonly asked questions.

People love being asked questions! It shows you’re interested in their opinions and experiences.

After reading this article, you’ll feel more comfortable meeting new people and making friends in Spanish. 

The 7 Spanish Question Words

Let’s go over some of the most important question words in Spanish. Memorize this vocabulary so you can be ready to strike up a conversation when the opportunity arises!

1. ¿Cómo?

Cómo literally translates to “how,” but it can also mean “what” when used in isolation. You should also know that como – without the accent over the O – means “like” or “I eat.”

This is a lot of different meanings, so be sure to pay attention to the context of the conversation for clues to the word’s definition. Here are some common questions you might ask using cómo:

  • ¿Cómo estás? (How are you?)
  • ¿Cómo te sientes? (How are you feeling?)
  • ¿Cómo te fue? (How did it go?)
  • ¿Cómo lo hiciste? (How did you do that?)

If you look closely at the sentence structure of these questions, you’ll see that in Spanish, you don’t need to add a word for “do.” For example, “How do you make that?” would literally be translated into Spanish as: ¿Cómo lo haces? (How you make that?).

It sounds funny when translated literally, doesn’t it? This is one example of a basic language translation fact: we translate ideas, not words.

2. ¿Quién?

Quién means “who” in English. When using it in writing, remember to apply the accent mark over the E. A few common questions using the word quién are:

  • ¿Quién es? (Who is it?) Note: Use when answering a phone or door.
  • ¿Quién sabe? (Who knows?)
  • ¿Quién es? (Who is that?)
  • ¿Quiénes son? (Who are they?)
  • ¿Con quién vas? (Who are you going with?)

As you can see in the last example, sentences in Spanish often begin with the word con, meaning “with.” This is a key difference from English, where sentences and questions rarely start with the word “with.” You wouldn’t say, “With whom are you going?”

Another thing you’ll notice is that when quién is used plurally, referring to more than one person, it becomes quiénes.

3. ¿Qué?

Qué means “what.” Like with quién, remember to apply an accent mark over the E. This is important because without the accent over the E, que means “that.” Here are some questions you’ll use regularly with the word qué:

  • ¿Qué es? (What is it?) 
  • ¿Qué significa? (What does that mean?)
  • ¿Qué hiciste? (What did you do?)
  • ¿Qué? (What?)

Be aware that when used in isolation, “¿Cómo?” means the same thing as “¿Qué?”  You’ll hear Spanish speakers using both of these phrases.

4. ¿Dónde?

Dónde means “where.” Just like the other Spanish question words, remember to apply the necessary accent mark. Common questions with dónde include:

  • ¿A dónde vas? (Where are you going?) Note: “A” means “to.”
  • ¿Dónde está? (Where is it?)
  • ¿Dónde vives? (Where do you live?)
  • ¿De dónde eres? (Where are you from?)

In the last example sentence, De means “of,” so the question literally  translates to: “Of where are you?”

5. ¿Cuándo?

Cuándo means “when.” Remember to apply the accent mark over the A. Here are some questions you’ll hear frequently using this question word:

  • ¿Cuándo es? (When is it?) Note: Use for social events or appointments.
  • ¿Cuándo vienes? (When are you coming?)
  • ¿Cuándo nos vemos? (When will we see each other?)
  • ¿Cuándo es la junta? (When is the meeting?)

Sentence structure for questions isn’t too different from English. The basic structure for all of these starts with the question word and is followed by the conjugated verb in the appropriate tense.

6. ¿Cuál?

Cuál means “which,” and as you can see, it also requires an accent mark over the vowel. Practice these sentences using the word cuál:

  • ¿Cuál es tu nombre? (What is your name?)
  • ¿Cuál es tu favorito? (What’s your favorite?)
  • ¿Cuál escoges? (Which do you choose?)
  • ¿Cuáles son tuyos? (Which are yours?)

Remember how quién became quiénes? You’ll also notice that when cuál is used in the plural form, it becomes cuáles.

In the first two examples, take note that Spanish uses the word for “which,” rather than “what” as we’re used to in English.

7. ¿Por qué?

Por qué means “why,” but be careful! It can also mean “because” when there’s no space between the words and no accent mark present. Here are a few questions you can ask using por qué:

  • ¿Por qué hiciste esto? (Why did you do that?)
  • ¿Por qué llegaste tarde? (Why are you late?)
  • ¿Por qué no te sientes bien? (Why don’t you feel good?)
  • ¿Por qué no está Juan? (Why isn’t John here?)

It’s vital to learn these seven words, because you can’t ask questions in Spanish without them! Study these essential Spanish question words to really take your conversation skills to the next level.

Need more help forming questions in Spanish? Check out the video below from one of our online Spanish classes.

You can also take private lessons with a Spanish teacher, online or locally. You’ll get hands-on instruction and instant feedback on your grammar and pronunciation. Buena suerte!

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how to study for a Spanish test

24 Smart Study Tips to Get an “A” in Spanish Class

how to study for a Spanish testWant to get a better grade in Spanish class? If you’re struggling with homework, tests, or classroom participation, it’s time to figure out a strategy for success!

In addition to our top tips for getting an “A” in Spanish class, this article will also help you learn how to study for a Spanish test without cramming.

Ready for the insider secrets on how to pass Spanish with flying colors? Here are suggestions from some of the best Spanish tutors online.

Study Tips for Spanish Class

Spanish class isn’t the time to zone out! Make the most of class time with these helpful tips.

Caleb Howard - How to Study for a Spanish Test

Silently answer every question that the teacher asks the class, then listen for the correct answer from your teacher.

If you’re constantly staying engaged by mentally answering every question your teacher asks, you’ll be reinforcing grammar, vocabulary, and general fluency.

Then, when you really need the answer (for example, when your teacher calls on you), the answer will already be on the tip of your tongue!

Treat every class exercise like a Spanish quiz, and keep track of the answers you didn’t know.

A big part of studying successfully is using your time wisely. Be sure to keep track of what you don’t know, so that if you only have a short time to study, you can immediately zero in on these areas.

Use any extra time in class to study your vocabulary.

Keeping up with memorizing Spanish vocabulary is a key method to progressing in the language. As your vocabulary list keeps growing, study it consistently, and it will be much less overwhelming. You’ll become a more natural Spanish speaker, too!

Ask your teacher questions when you don’t understand something.

The old adage about there being no stupid questions really is true. In fact, teachers love it when students ask questions, because it makes it clear to us what’s still confusing to our students, so we’re in a better position to help them.

Anytime you ask a question, you’re also doing a favor to the countless other students who are wondering the same thing, but are too afraid to speak up!

Teach a concept to a classmate.

When a classmate doesn’t understand something and you’re able to explain it, do so. This helps cement the concept in your brain.

Teaching someone else will help you figure out any fine points you may be still working out. If you can explain something and answer any questions that arise from your explanation, you have also maximized your understanding of the concept.

Justin from Spanish Plans - How to Pass a Spanish Test

Mimic your teacher’s Spanish accent and other natives speakers’.

A large part of sounding like a native speaker of a language is speaking confidently and convincingly, so envision yourself in a Spanish-speaking country, and play the part!

Use your time wisely in the classroom – this helps minimize your study time at home.

As a student, it can be easy to fall into the hole of using class time to socialize or zone out. The smartest students, however, are those who realize that if you spend your class time in maximum focus and concentration, you’ll have much less work to do at home!

How to Study for a Spanish Test

The learning doesn’t end when Spanish class gets out! Make sure you really understand how to study, especially if you have a test coming up (so you can avoid cramming). Here are the essentials.

Carrie Toth - How to Pass Spanish Class

Always translate your homework to be sure you know what things mean.

This is a form of studying, and it will save you time in the long run. You can translate the meaning verbally or write it down on a separate sheet of paper.

Study a section of vocabulary every day, focusing on the words that were introduced in class that day.

If you’re having trouble memorizing some words, make flashcards for them. This ensures you won’t fall behind in vocabulary memorization and have to cram before your Spanish test.

Dustin Williamson - How to Ace a Spanish Test

Be very focused in class; you can learn most of the material just by paying close attention and staying on task.

This means you will be in reviewing mode before a test instead of cramming mode.

Write down grammar concepts and examples on index cards, and review them every couple days.

Trying to comprehend too many Spanish grammar concepts in a short amount of time can leave you confused. This method will ensure you have plenty of time to digest each concept.

How to Pass a Spanish Test

It’s go-time! Now that you know how to study for a Spanish test, you’ll be well-prepared come test day. Here’s what to keep in mind as you take the test.

Elizabeth Dentlinger - How to Study for a Spanish Test

Check to make sure your nouns and adjectives agree in number and gender.

Don’t forget to use the correct plural, masculine, or feminine form of the word!

Your verb endings should match the subject of each verb.

Be sure to double check your conjugations!

Look at the previous sentence and the sentence that follows when filling in blanks.

These sentences usually contain clues that as to which vocabulary word you should use.

Reread your answers all the way through once you’ve finished the exam.

If you have the time, this will save you from making simple mistakes!

With each of these tips, you should be able to easily improve your grade in Spanish class. Try to implement one suggestion per week, and you’ll see a noticeable difference in your overall skill level!

Need some extra help with your Spanish classes? Working with a private tutor can be an excellent way to learn how to speak Spanish both in and out of the classroom. Search for a Spanish tutor today!

Joan BannaPost Author: Joan B.
Joan B. lives in Carmichael, CA and has been teaching high school Spanish for more than 18 years. Joan helps students improve on tests and increase their conversational ability. Learn more about Joan here!

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Special thanks to the following bloggers, who contributed to this list:

spanish past tense conjugation

How to Conjugate Verbs in the Spanish Preterite (Past Tense)

Past Tense (Preterite) Conjugation: How to Conjugate Spanish Verbs

Spanish past tense conjugation is necessary for describing situations and events that have already happened. Once you learn these conjugations, you’ll be able to talk about so much more with friends and family!

[This is Part 3 of a guide to conjugating Spanish verbs. In previous posts, we’ve reviewed the basics of conjugating Spanish verbs, as well as how to conjugate stem-changers].

Next, we’re going to take your verb conjugation skills to an even higher level. This involves learning Spanish past tense conjugation, so that you aren’t restricted to only describing actions in the present tense.

How to Conjugate Verbs in the Spanish Preterite

It’s important to note that Spanish has two types of past tenses: the preterite and the imperfect. Here, we’ll start with Spanish preterite conjugations and review the imperfect in a future post.

The Spanish preterite tense is a way to express the past, and it breaks down verbs into five different endings. Keep reading to learn how to change a verb into its past tense form.

Conjugating -AR Verbs in the Spanish Preterite

Here is an example using the Spanish verb mirar (to watch). First, shave off the -ar ending. Then…

  • If you are referring to Yo or ‘I,’ add the letter é to end the conjugated verb, forming miré.
  • If you are referring to  or ‘you,’ use the ending –aste, to form miraste.
  • If you are referring to él or ella or ‘he’ or ‘she,’ use the ending –ó to form miró.
  • If you are referring to nosotros or ‘we,’ use the ending –amos to form miramos. (This is the same as present tense conjugation!)
  • If you are referring to ellos or ‘they,’ use the ending –aron, to form miraron.

SEE ALSO: 46 Spanish Adjectives to Describe All Your Friends

Conjugating -ER Verbs in the Spanish Preterite

Now let’s use comer (to eat), as an example. First, shave off the -er ending. Next…

  • If you are referring to Yo or ‘I,’ use the ending –í, (instead of é) to form comí.
  • If you are referring to  or ‘you,’ use the ending –iste, to form comiste.
  • If you are referring to él or ella or ‘he’ or ‘she,’ use the ending –, to form comió.
  • If you are referring to nosotros or ‘we,’ use the ending –imos, to form comimos.
  • If you are referring to ellos or ‘they,’ use the ending –ieron, to form comieron.

Conjugating -IR Verbs in the Spanish Preterite

Conjugating -ir verbs shares the same rules as conjugating -er verbs. See the following chart as an example.

Vivir (to live):
Yo viví
Tú viviste
Él/Ella/Usted vivió
Nosotros vivimos
Ellas/Ellos/Ustedes vivieron

SEE ALSO: 75 Most Helpful Spanish Cognates

Ready for some Spanish past tense conjugation practice? Fill out the following chart:

Spanish Conjugation Chart - Preterite

12 Irregular Spanish Preterite Endings

There are 12 core verbs in Spanish that have irregular past tense conjugations in the preterite tense. Fortunately their main endings are similar to what we’ve already learned in this post: –é, –iste, , –imos, –isteis, –ieron/*eron. Here are the 12 verbs, also known as “the dirty dozen.”

Spanish Dirty Dozen - Irregular Past Tense Conjugations

Let’s conjugate estar as an example:

Estar (to be):
Yo estuve
Tú estuviste
Él/Ella/Usted estuvo
Nosotros estuvimos
Ellas/Ellos/Ustedes estuvieron

Now that you know how to conjugate Spanish past tense verbs, you’re once step closer to becoming fluent in Spanish! As always, it’s a great idea to work with a Spanish tutor who can help you work through these concepts and provide extra guidance as needed.

You can also take online Spanish classes to get even more practice conjugating verbs in everyday conversation. Buena suerte!

Jason N width=Post Author: Jason N.
Jason N. tutors in English and Spanish in Fairfax, CA. He majored in Spanish at UC Davis, lived in Mexico for 3 years where he completed a Master’s degree in Counseling, and studied Spanish Literature and Psychology at the University of Costa Rica. Learn more about Jason here! 

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Mother's Day Poems in Spanish

5 Beautiful Mother’s Day Poems in Spanish

Mother's Day Poems in Spanish

Mothers love a genuine and creative gift. Writing a poem, or even simply reciting a poem, is a great addition to any Mother’s Day present or greeting card. If you’re learning Spanish or have a Spanish-speaking mother, here are five Mother’s Day poems in Spanish that will melt her heart!

5 Beautiful Mother’s Day Poems in Spanish

“A mi madre”


Eres una mujer muy fuerte

Traes bendiciones y buena suerte

Me ayudaste a crecer como una mariposa

Y esta es la razón por la que te estoy dando más de una rosa

Feliz dia de las madres a la mejor mamá

Te amo



You are a strong woman

You bring blessings and good luck

You helped me grow like a butterfly

And that is the reason why I am giving you more than a rose

Happy Mother’s day to the best mom

I love you

This is a beautiful poem for a strong mother who truly helped shape you into the person you are today. If you choose to read this poem to your mom, I’d suggest also giving her some roses as the poem suggests, and maybe even some chocolates too!


Me dio vida

Amoroso honesto

La mejor mamá


Gave me life

Loving, honest

The best mom

This simple yet elegant poem is a haiku when written or recited in Spanish. It’s perfect for the artsy and creative mother who prefers something short and sweet.

“El Mejor”

Eres la mamá más graciosa

Me haces reir todo el dia

Eres la mamá más fabulosa

Desfruto tu compania

Feliz día de la madre


You are the funniest mom

You make me laugh all day

You are the most fabulous mom

I enjoy your company

Happy Mother’s Day

If your mom is silly or a jokester, then she’ll love this poem. Think outside of the box with how you share this poem with her. Maybe you can get it written on a cake!

SEE ALSO- Mother’s Day Music: 5 Guitar Songs to Play for Mom

“De Mamá a Abuela”

Tú me muestras amor, Me muestras fuerzas

Me enseñaste todo lo que sé

Y ahora tengo mi propio bebé

Mis hijos dicen feliz día de madres para mí

Siempre te diré feliz día de madres a ti, la mujer que empezó todo


You show me love, You show me strength

You taught me everything I know

And now I have my own baby

My children say Happy Mother’s Day to me

I will always say Happy Mother’s Day to you, the woman who started everything

If this doesn’t make her tear up, we don’t know what else will! This is a great poem for a mother to write to her own mom. Any grandmother would love it because it acknowledges her as the woman who started it all!

“Como tú”

Cuando crezca quiero ser como tú, una gran mujer

Eres honesto y verdadero

Eres inteligente y creativo

Eres cariñoso y amable

No más que decir excepto tener un fabuloso día de madres


When I grow up, I want to be just like you, a great woman

You are honest and true

You are intelligent and creative

You are loving and kind

There is nothing more to say except have a fabulous Mother’s Day!

This poem is ideal for a young girl who admires her mother and all of her virtues. Recite this poem to your mom and she will surely appreciate that she’s your most cherished role model.
Any of these poems would make your mother smile on her special day. If you want to use one of these poems, feel free to change some of the adjectives to make it more personal for your mom. You can also frame and decorate the poems to add that personal touch!  

Breeana D.Post Author: Breeana D.
Breeana D. teaches Spanish lessons in Abington, PA. Specializing in Early Childhood, Elementary, and Special Education, she is currently enrolled in Temple University’s Elementary Education program. Learn more about Breeana here!

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Spanish adjectives personality

46 Spanish Adjectives to Describe All Your Friends [Printable List]

Spanish adjectives list

Spanish adjectives are crucial to learn and memorize if you want to be fluent in Spanish. Spanish adjectives will help you describe places, things, and especially – people!

If you’re learning Spanish, you might already know a few basic nouns and verbs to carry on a conversation. Now is the perfect time to start learning some extra, descriptive words! There will be many times in conversation when you’re looking for just the right word to describe a quality or trait, and our Spanish adjectives list is sure to come in handy for each of them.

In this post, we’ll share how to use 46 of the most common Spanish adjectives. (You’ll also be able to download a free worksheet to practice all the new vocabulary you’ve learned at the end!)

How to Use Spanish Adjectives

There are a few ways to form sentences with Spanish adjectives. Here are some examples to get you started.

  • Juan es muy mentiroso. Siempre dice cosas que no son verdad.
  • Mis padres tienen un carácter fuerte, pero son muy amables.
  • Tengo mucho sentido del humor y por eso soy gracioso.

In most cases though, you’ll use the verb ser in combination with an adjective. For example:

  • Ella es simpática.
  • Ellos son graciosos.
  • Nosotros somos organizados.

Learning how to conjugate the verb ser will be a huge help when it comes to using adjectives properly. Now, are you ready to learn some new words? Here are 46 Spanish adjectives that will help you describe yourself, your friends, and your family. (Some of these words can also be used to describe places and things).

The Ultimate Spanish Adjectives List

46 Spanish Adjectives List to Describe Personality

Additional Practice with Spanish Adjectives

Want even more practice? You can download a free worksheet here to review the vocabulary above and practice forming sentences. You can also check out these additional resources to help you learn more about Spanish vocabulary and grammar:

We hope you enjoyed this guest post by Sara from Spanish2Learn. Can you think of any more unique Spanish adjectives to add to this list? Let us know in the comments below!

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difference between Spanish and Portuguese

10 Important Differences Between Spanish & Portuguese

difference between Spanish and Portuguese

The 2016 Summer Olympics were held in Rio de Janerio, Brazil. For language-learners everywhere, it was and still is a great time to explore Portuguese, their official language!

And if you’re already learning Spanish, you’re at an advantage. There are a lot of similarities between the two languages — in fact, there’s even a name for speaking a mixture of the languages to help speakers of different backgrounds communicate (Portuñal or Portunhol, in Spanish and Portuguese, respectively).

But what about the difference between Spanish and Portuguese? You’re not off the hook if you speak Spanish; you’ll need to put in some work to learn new pronunciations, spellings, and vocabulary in Portuguese. Same goes if you’re a Portuguese speaker trying to learn Spanish!

To help you get started, our friends at LiveLingua put together a post showcasing some key things to remember. Here’s part of the article:

1. Difference between hasta and hacia. In Portuguese there is no hacia preposition. There is the preposition até, but we need to explain the difference very well so students can learn how to use it properly. In short words, hacia indicates the direction in which we move and hasta the point at which we arrived.

2. The preposition “a” after many verbs. The most common example [in Spanish] is “ir a.” I guess it must be weird for some Portuguese native speakers to use an expression even found in Portuguese, but adding an “a” in the middle. Let’s have a look at this sentence: Vou sair agora ( Portuguese), Voy a salir ahora (Spanish)

3. The position of reflexive pronouns. The rule is very simple. In Spanish, when the tense is either gerund or infinitive, the pronoun merges to the end of the verb. Otherwise when the verb is conjugated, the pronoun is placed before the verb and not joined. Example: dormirse, bañarse; se durmió, te bañaste, etc.

4. False friends or very similar words. Every language has to face this issue. We only learn this when we come across those words. There is a funny word which needs to be clarified: almóndiga. This is a Spanish slang word which means “meatball,” but in Portuguese is pronounced albóndiga. In Portuguese a vagabundo is a person who leads a bad life, while in Spanish it is someone who lives on the street (morador de rua in Portuguese).

5. Muy or mucho? In Portuguese this is easy: muito is the only word compared to those two. Muy is used before adverbs and adjectives, while mucho is placed either before a noun or after a verbs. When we want to make a comparison, we always have to use mucho. Example: Es mucho (no muy!!!) mejor que tú.

The article goes on to list five more differences between Portuguese and Spanish — continue reading it here!

Now, ready to get started learning Portuguese? Keep these tips in mind:

  • Determine your learning style and goals. Instead of blindly jumping into learning, have a plan in place. Are you learning for fun? Do you want to be fluent? How do you learn best? Knowing the answers to these will help you stay on track. Here are some guiding questions to start with.
  • Find a conversation partner. The most important part of learning a new language is understanding the context and having real conversations with others, and practice makes perfect! Instead of simply memorizing vocabulary words, make the effort to talk and listen!
  • Work with a tutor. Taking 1-on-1 lessons with a language tutor is a great way to get that conversation practice. TakeLessons offers both Portuguese tutors and Spanish tutors to help you improve.

Readers, do you have experience learning both Portuguese and Spanish? Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts!

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what is the SIELE spanish proficiency test

The SIELE: Here’s What You Need to Know | Spanish Proficiency Test

what is the SIELE spanish proficiency test

Aspiring expats, you’ll want to read this! If you’re interested in someday working or studying in a Hispanic country, you may need to take a new Spanish proficiency test called the SIELE. Learn more about it in this guest post from Matthew at Listen & Learn


The Instituto Cervantes, a globally recognized non-profit organization created by the Spanish government, and three highly respected universities in Spain, Mexico, and Argentina, have created a Spanish language proficiency exam that is going to change how the world thinks of Spanish as a second language. It’s called the Servicio Internacional de Evaluación de la Lengua Español (SIELE) and it’s slated to be far more ubiquitous than any of its predecessors.

It is already available as of this year in the United States, China, and Brazil, and will almost certainly expand to other nations within the decade. If you have any interest in working or studying in a predominately Hispanic country, here is everything you need to know about where, why, and how to take the SIELE before you leave.

Where Can I Take the SIELE?

The exam is taken online, but it must be done in a designated exam center. There are currently around 100 registered centers scattered throughout the major U.S. cities, and that number will soon expand thanks to the ease by which an institution can obtain authorization to allow test-takers to use their facilities. For now, exam centers can be found in Seattle, Los Angeles, Albuquerque, San Antonio, Chicago, and New York.

How Do I Take The SIELE And What It Will Cost Me?

In total, the exam consists of four separate sections: reading, listening, writing, and speaking. If you so choose, you can complete all four sections in one sitting over the span of three hours. However, you’ll also have the option of splitting the exam in parts, with each sitting consisting of two of the four parts. The full exam costs $175. If you prefer to take two sections at a time instead of four, the smaller exams vary between $85 and $90. Prices will vary if you intend to take the exam in a country outside the United States.

What Distinguishes The SIELE From Other Proficiency Exams?

  • Integration of Dialect: There are a number of special new features that set the SIELE apart from anything that came before it. Among the most interesting yet challenging is the integration of the numerous Spanish dialects from around the world. Whereas in past exams dialect was only tentatively included, the SIELE will extensively integrate vocabulary, accents, grammar, and expressions ranging from Argentina to Mexico to Spain, as well as the many nations in between.
  • Quick Results: For exams prior to the SIELE, results typically took two to three months. For the SIELE, test-takers will receive a score for reading and listening immediately upon completion, since the test is taken on the computer. The full assessment will be provided within no more than three weeks. So if, say, you have a potential employer or university that has shown interest in you, but first wants you to prove your Spanish proficiency, you will now be able to do so in a timely manner.
  • New Evaluation System Will Become The Norm: In past exams, test-takers had to decide which level they wanted to take. At the end, they would either pass or fail for that particular level. If they failed, nothing happened. If they passed, be it by an inch or a mile, they could put that level on their résumés. For the SIELE, there is only one exam for all takers, and it is evaluated on a point system of 1 to 1,000. This will prove more attractive to employers, as they will be able to evaluate your skill level to a more exact degree.
  • The Credential’s Validity Is Limited To Two Years: At first glance, you may assume that this is a disadvantage, but the fact of the matter is that the fresher the credential, the more valuable it is to an employer. If you had attained adequate proficiency a decade ago but have no way of proving you have kept up your language studies, you are of lesser value than someone who has just recently completed an exam and is at the height of his or her studies and is still improving.

What Can I Expect From The Actual Exam?

  • Reading: You’ll be tasked with completing five sections, which add up to 38 questions based on reading passages designed to test your reading comprehension level. You will have exactly one hour to complete it.
  • Listening: You will be required to demonstrate your understanding of six listening tasks, delivered in the form of recordings. This section also has a total of 38 questions. You’ll have exactly 55 minutes to complete this section.
  • Writing: There are only two tasks for this section, in which you’ll be required to react to content by writing full responses. Grammar and sentence structure will be taken into account, but above all, coherence will be the most important factor. This section takes one hour.
  • Speaking: This section only lasts between 15 and 20 minutes. This too will be delivered to you in the form of recordings, and you’ll need to respond with recorded spoken answers. There will be a total of five tasks for this section.

The Numbers Don’t Lie

Until this year, the closest resemblance the world had to a Spanish equivalent of the TOEFL was the Diploma of Spanish as a Foreign Language (DELE), which to this day is only taken by roughly 70,000 people per year. The SIELE is projected to have some 300,000 test-takers in its opening year and that number is expected to reach over 700,000 within half a decade. If you’d like to find your nearest test center and sign up to take the SIELE, you can do so by clicking here. If you know something we don’t about Spanish proficiency tests, please let us know in the comments section below.

Looking for a local or online Spanish tutor? Start your search here.


Matthew writes for Listen & Learn, a language-training company that offers customized group and individual packages around the world. Take one of their 18 free language level tests. Matthew is from Philadelphia and has lived in Argentina and Colombia, splitting his time writing and teaching English. If you have any questions or comments, you can contact Matthew at

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11 Tips for Improving Your Conversational Spanish 720x300 (1)

11 Tips for Improving Your Conversational Spanish [Infographic]

conversational Spanish lessons + tips

Whether you’re learning Spanish for business or just for fun, your end goal is most likely to communicate with others — not just stare at a textbook! And to do this, you’ll need to practice listening and talking with real people. Here, Spanish tutor Joan B. shares some tips, and where to find conversational Spanish lessons… 

Ready to start speaking in Spanish with confidence? The following tips include creative ways to practice your Spanish in social settings and in your community, with native and non-native speakers.

If you’ve been studying Spanish but feel your conversational skills are lagging behind your understanding of grammar or your reading abilities, use these tips to make rapid, consistent progress while simultaneously having fun!

Note: These tips work for any language you’re learning. From Spanish to Japanese to French, conversation practice is key.

11 Tips for Improving Your Conversational Spanish

1. Attend social events geared toward Spanish speakers.
This could be a cultural event, a local gallery opening of Latin American art, or a community meeting regarding an issue affecting the local Spanish-speaking community.

2. Listen to material that is casual and conversation-based.
It’s great to listen to newscasts, but if you’d like to converse in Spanish, you can improve your comprehension of spoken Spanish by listening to podcasts and other recordings that reflect common usage of Spanish, rather than formal spoken Spanish. (Our Spanish podcast picks here!)

3. Combine your passions.
It can be hard to find time to improve your language skills when you’re balancing work or school, friends, and other hobbies. So, why not combine them?

If you like traveling, consider choosing a Spanish-speaking country, where you can practice your conversational skills and gain new ones. You could also consider doing volunteer or paid work in your field that would expose you to Spanish speakers. If you enjoy dining out, go out with a few friends who speak your target language — and try to go the entire meal speaking in Spanish!

4. Find a language exchange partner and work with a tutor.
Language exchanges are an excellent way to practice conversation, make a new friend, and learn all about the cultural aspects of speaking Spanish. This is a unique way to challenge your conversational skills, as language exchange partners are usually fluent, native speakers.

Keep in mind, though, if you’re making grammatical mistakes, your partner may not provide corrections. Because of this, it’s smart to balance your study by also working with a private Spanish tutor. Don’t let the word “tutor” scare you off — the great thing about private lessons is that you can set your own specific goals! If you’d prefer to spend the majority of the time practicing conversations, just let your tutor know! Many teachers specialize in conversational Spanish lessons.

5. Chat with a friend who is also learning the same language. 
If you’re more comfortable with someone familiar, try chatting with a friend who is also learning the same language! Even better, take a class together. Even if you don’t live in the same city, online group classes are a great way to learn together and get structured conversation practice with others.

6. Use online forums and communities to your advantage.
The internet is full of helpful resources for language learners! The TakeLessons Blog, for example, features articles and guides from professional language tutors like myself. You can also check out forums, like If you can’t find the answer to your question, you can post it and get answers from native speakers and other in-the-know Spanish speakers.

7. Set specific goals or niches you’d like to focus on.
Is there a certain topic that you would like to excel in conversationally? Identify what interest you, then look for resources (or ask your tutor) to help you build a specific set of vocabulary.

For example, if you like to discuss politics, you could read the newspaper in Spanish, follow Spanish and Latin American politicians on Twitter, or join a community political activist group where Spanish speakers are active. Soon you’ll find yourself conversing easily on a variety of topics in your niche interest!

8. Supplement real-time conversations with language-learning apps.
Language-learning apps are great to use on your own and during your downtime. Some apps focus on pronunciation and conversational skills. Others include fun games that can drill vocabulary and grammar rules that you’ve worked on with your tutor.

Here are some of our favorite apps for supplementing your conversational Spanish lessons:

9. Watch films and telenovelas. 
Watch classic films or catch up on your latest telenovela to hear how Spanish sounds, what vocabulary is used, and how people express themselves. Try watching with subtitles to add another layer of reinforcement and understanding!

10. Get out in the community.
Volunteer to help Spanish speakers learn English, and you’ll learn about Spanish sentence structure and expressions by observing the ways in which they try to express themselves in English. Your knowledge of Spanish will also help when they are searching for an expression in English, but haven’t learned it yet.

This is just one of many ways to offer your skills as a volunteer and simultaneously improve your conversational skills. There are many opportunities for volunteering in the fields of law, social justice, nutrition, and more!

11. Host an exchange student or rent a room to a student.
If you have some extra room in your apartment or house, why not host an exchange student or rent a room to a Spanish-speaking student? In addition to making some extra money, you’ll get an enriching experience as you interact with your guest, learn various social customs, and engage in both Spanish and English. Your guest will appreciate your effort to learn his or her language, and you could also request that your guest does a weekly conversation hour with you in Spanish. It’s a win-win!

To recap…

How to Improve Your Conversational Spanish - lessons

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Conversational Spanish can be one of the most challenging yet rewarding activities for language learners. Start with one or two of these tips, and then continue through the list as you improve. Most of all, enjoy the journey as you increase your knowledge, make new friends, and have new experiences.

Want some extra help? Search for a local or online Spanish tutor to get started!

Joan BPost Author: Joan B.
Joan B. lives in Carmichael, CA and has been teaching high school Spanish for more than 18 years. A lover of language, she’s studied French, Arabic, and Italian and spent time living in Spain. Learn more about Joan here!

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Life in America vs. Life in Spain

Culture Shock: Life in Spain vs. Life in the U.S. [Infographic]

Spain is a popular country to travel to for pleasure, for school, or even for a permanent move! But before you go, it’s smart to research the differences in culture, traditions, and daily life, so you know what to expect. Read on as Spanish tutor Joan B. explains…


A diverse country filled with delicious dishes, rich cultural offerings, and plenty of fun, Spain is a country that will delight, amaze, and inspire you.

And as anyone who has traveled abroad knows, no two countries are alike! You might even be surprised by some of the cultural differences that exist. Below, I’ll share some of the key points — based on my own experiences working and living in Spain. Knowing these will help you blend in, connect more with the culture and people, and feel comfortable in whatever setting you find yourself in!

Life in Spain vs. Life in the U.S.

Culture Shock Life in Spain vs. Life in the U.S. [Infographic]

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Here’s a more in-depth look at eight of the cultural differences between Spain and the U.S.

Spain vs. U.S.: Introductions

  • Spain: It’s common for women to kiss on both cheeks when being introduced to either a man or a woman. Men will kiss women on both cheeks when introduced, but shake hands with another man. When introduced, you can reply with “Mucho gusto” (glad to meet you).
  • United States: It’s common in both formal and informal situations to shake hands upon introduction; in informal situations, you might also hug at the conclusion of the meeting once you are better acquainted with the other person. The standard “nice to meet you” will cover any introduction.

Spain vs. U.S.: Meals

  • Spain: Breakfast is a light meal that often consists of a bollo (roll) and cafe con leche (a delicious mix of coffee and steaming milk). Spaniards usually have a snack around 11 a.m., like a bocadillo (a sandwich made with french bread). Lunch, which is the largest meal of the day, is eaten at around 1:30 or 2 p.m. and is often followed by a siesta (nap). At this time many of the shops are closed. At around 7 many people have a snack–often tapas. Dinner, which is a light meal, is eaten at 9:30 or 10 pm.
  • United States: Breakfast can be a big or small affair, with cereal or eggs with toast being common choices. During the weekend, more elaborate options like French toast, waffles, or an omelet with bacon and toast are common. Lunchtime is generally from noon to 1 p.m. A mid-afternoon coffee combined with a pastry is often used to combat hunger and the afternoon slump, while dinner is usually around 6 or 7. Dinner usually consists of pasta, meat, or some other hearty option.

Spain vs. U.S.: Drinking

  • Spain: People generally drink wine or beer with meals or tapas (appetizers). If you want a draft beer, you have to order una caña. Although you must be 18 to purchase alcohol in Spain (16 in Asturias), some families are lax about underage drinking as it is served daily with meals in most homes.
  • United States: Drinking can be accompanied by a meal, but alcohol is often also consumed on its own, at a bar with friends. The drinking age for both consumption and purchase is 21, and parents generally frown on teenagers drinking in the home or outside.

Spain vs. U.S.: Nightlife

  • Spain: If you want to go dancing in the big cities, the nightlife usually doesn’t start until 11 p.m., and lasts long into the night or until dawn.
  • United States: Nightlife can start early — around 8 p.m., or after dinner, and laws generally require bars and nightclubs to close at a certain hour.

Spain vs. U.S.: Personal Space

  • Spain: Personal space is much closer to those with whom you are interacting, often just inches away. You’ll find that people stand and sit very close to you on the subway, especially when it is crowded. It is also customary for women friends to walk arm-in-arm down the street and for male friends to walk with an arm draped over the shoulders of a friend.
  • United States: Personal space is respected and coveted, as throughout most of the United States it’s common to commute in your car, and crowded public spaces are uncommon except in the case of special events. Invading someone’s personal space can be viewed as rude or a violation, especially in the case of mixed genders.

Spain vs. U.S.: Driving

  • Spain: Big cities like Madrid and Barcelona have wonderful transportation systems. Buses and the metro can get you anywhere you want to go. Cars are small and often used more for trips out of the city. Also, pedestrians do not have the right-of-way, so be careful when crossing the street!
  • United States: Driving is the norm in most parts of the United States, with the exception of bigger cities that have good public transportation, such as New York and Chicago. Some families opt for bigger cars to accommodate growing families and increase comfort during long drives. Pedestrian right-of-way is uniformly adopted throughout the United States, so even if you’re the lone pedestrian on a street filled with cars, you will be able to safely cross.

Spain vs. U.S.: Fashion

  • Spain: Young people are fashionable, but dress casually. Men do not wear shorts in the city unless visiting a town on the beach. Older adults generally dress more formally. When visiting a religious site, be sure to dress conservatively, covering both your arms and back — and save the flip flops for the beach. This is not only the respectful thing to do, it is an enforced rule, so you will be turned away in many cases if you are dressed inappropriately for a religious site.
  • United States: People on the whole dress casually during days off, with shorts and sandals a common choice during warmer seasons. Fashion is generally quirky and urban in bigger cities, with preppy choices more common on the East Coast and a laid-back beach style on the West Coast.

Spain vs. U.S.: Shopping

  • Spain: When entering a small shop, always greet the store clerk with “buenos días” or “buenas tardes,” depending on the time of day. You should ask the clerk to show you something; it’s not customary for the customer to handle the merchandise. This also applies to buying fruit or other food items from a market; you do not select the fruit yourself, but ask for medio kilo (half a kilo) or un kilo (2.2 lbs.) of what you want. And don’t forget to say “adios” when exiting the shop.
  • United States: Most shopping is done in behemoth malls, where you can shop to your heart’s content. Malls can be a place to spend the whole day, by enjoying a meal and a coffee or tea, getting your exercise walking around it, and, of course, shopping. It’s nice to say hello upon entering a shop, but not common or required in chain stores.

Happy Travels!

Now that you’re up to speed on what to expect in Spain, you’re ready for your trip! And when you’re there, don’t shy away from meeting the locals. Immersing yourself in the culture and chatting with Spanish speakers is a great way to boost your language skills. (Need some extra practice before you go? Meet with a tutor, or sign up for an online Spanish class!)

Readers, have you traveled to Spain? What other differences did you notice about life in Spain? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

Joan BPost Author: Joan B.
Joan B. lives in Carmichael, CA and has been teaching high school Spanish for more than 18 years. A lover of language, she’s studied French, Arabic, and Italian and spent time living in Spain. Learn more about Joan here!

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Video Lesson- How to Say the Date in Spanish (1)

Video Lessons: How to Say the Date in Spanish


Another day, another set of Spanish words to learn!

Follow along with tutor Sam H. to learn how to say the date in Spanish, including the days of the week and the months in Spanish.

Video Recap – How to Say the Date in Spanish

Time to learn some new Spanish vocabulary!

Days of the Week in Spanish

Lunes = Monday
Martes = Tuesday
Miércoles = Wednesday
Jueves = Thursday
Viernes = Friday
Sábado = Saturday
Domingo = Sunday

Months of the Year in Spanish

Enero = January
Febrero = February
Marzo = March
Abril = April
Mayo = May
Junio = June
Julio = July
Agosto = August
Septiembre = September
Octubre = October
Noviembre = November
Diciembre = December

Formula for Saying the Date in Spanish

Es el __ (number) de _______ (month). 

Want to learn more? Check out the schedule for our live, online Spanish classes, taught by Sam and our other tutors. New students get $25 to use toward any class!

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