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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 matthew@listenandlearn.com.

Photo by The LEAF Project

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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 WordReference.com. 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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5 Hacks For When You’re Totally Lost in a Spanish Conversation

5 Hacks For When You’re Totally Lost in a Spanish Conversation

As you practice speaking, listening, and having real-time Spanish conversations, don’t fret if you start feeling lost. Get back on track with these tips from tutor Simion G.

Have you ever been chatting with someone in your non-native language, when suddenly you find yourself struggling to keep up? It happens to us all, from beginner language learners to fluent speakers and everyone in between.

Even I, as a Spanish tutor, still have moments when I completely lose track of what is being discussed.

But if (and when) it happens to you, don’t feel embarrassed. Take a deep breath, regroup, and get yourself back on track. Not sure how to do that? Here are my tips…

1) Acknowledge your Position

Don’t be afraid to admit to yourself you’re feeling lost. Sure, it can be frustrating, especially if you’ve been studying Spanish for a long time. But don’t allow this to destroy your confidence. As a matter of fact, realizing you’re lost will get you one step closer to learning something new!

2) Inform your Conversation Partner

Next, make sure you let the other person know! It’s better for the other person to know you’re struggling rather than think you understand. Don’t be embarrassed! Here are some phrases you can use during your Spanish conversation practice:

If you think you know, but the conversation is moving too fast:
“Perdón, no entiendo. ¿Podrías repitir?” (Excuse me/Sorry, I don’t understand. Could you repeat?)

If you’re certain you don’t know the word or phrase:
“Lo siento, no sé la palabra/la frase. ¿Qué significa?” (I’m sorry, I don’t know the word/phrase. What does it mean?)

If everything is scrambled eggs and you just want it over-easy:
“No comprendo nada. Estoy perdido.” (I don’t understand anything. I’m lost.)
“¿Puedes ayudarme a entender?” (Can you help me understand?)

3) Recall the Tense

Are you hearing words that sound familiar, but aren’t quite what you remember? Chances are the tense of the conversation has shifted.

Conjugation indicates the differences between what happened in the past, what’s happening today, what will happen in the future, and what could hypothetically or possibly occur. It can also indicate who the verb refers to (he/she/we/etc.).

The only way to combat this is to study the different tenses and conjugations in Spanish, so I recommend finding a well-structured conjugation chart to have on hand. Or, create your own! Writing the charts out with pen and paper was the best method for me when I was first learning Spanish. The process of making the chart yourself will engrave it in your mind, forever making you a conjugation wizard.

4) Don’t Panic. Focus.

If you’ve followed the previous steps and still feel lost, don’t sweat it. Take a deep breath (or three) and relax. When trying to convey a word or phrase that you can’t remember (or don’t know), or making sense of what someone has said to you, the solution is simple: resort to the basics. You may want to memorize a few conversational Spanish phrases that can help you understand or describe what you mean, even if you can’t remember the exact words.

For example:

When describing what you know:
“Significa la materia verde encima de la tierra.” (= “Césped”)
(It means the green stuff above the soil = Grass)

When figuring out what someone else has said:
“¿Es significa al amigo mejor de los humanos, un animal domesticado?” (= “Los Perros”)
(Does it mean human’s best friend, a domesticated animal? = Dogs)

Other Spanish phrases:
“¿Estás hablando sobre…?” (Are you speaking about…)
Es en relación a… (It’s in relation to…)

5) Speak with Confidence

You know the saying, right? “Assumptions, they need to be made.” Well, sort of.

This should never be the first option when trying to pull yourself back to the light of a conversation, but there are situations when it’s beneficial. This route can actually provide a subconscious alternative to learning.

Assume what you’re about to say is right and say it with confidence, even if you know you may be wrong. There’s a high chance of someone providing a correction, or just make a mental note and look into it in the near future. Either way, this will provide an experience that’s more likely to stick in your head.

Conclusion

I suggest practicing these tips whenever you have the opportunity to do so. Practice them not only in face-to-face conversation, but also while watching a movie, listening to music, or reading a book.

As my 7th grade science teacher and cross country coach would say when I forgot my homework or cramped up in a race, “Proper planning prevents pitiful performances.” It sounds harsh, but it’s a saying that’s maintained truth throughout my life. Learn these tips before you get stuck, and you’ll know just what to do!

Want more Spanish conversation practice? Check out our free Spanish classes to chat with a tutor and other learners in our live, online classroom!

Post Author: Simion G.
Simion G. teaches Spanish, guitar, and music theory in Seattle, WA and online. From beginners to higher education students, Simion is able to teach all levels of Spanish speakers. Learn more about Simion here!

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5 Common Problems Beginner Spanish Learners Face [Video]

5 Common Problems Beginner Spanish Learners Face

Learning a new language can be tough. From new vocabulary to strange grammar rules, there’s a lot of places beginners can stumble or get frustrated.

Although Spanish is a relatively easy language to learn, it’s not without obstacles. Many English speakers, in fact, run into the same hang-ups along the way. For example, conjugation rules take some time to get used to — there’s a reason most Spanish teachers include lots of Spanish conjugation practice in their classes! Repetition helps you understand the rules, and once you’ve got them figured out, the language gets much easier.

In the video below, tutor Sara T. shares five of these common trouble spots, and below the video, we’ve listed some extra resources and links to help you work on them!

1. Conjugating Verbs in Spanish

“For example, with the verb ‘to talk,’ in English, there are five conjugations but the verb is only going to change one time… on the other hand in Spanish, the verb is going to change five times.”

Resources for Spanish conjugation practice:

2. Understanding Lack of Pronouns

“You’ll notice that speakers do not use ‘I,’ ‘you, ‘we,’ or ‘they’ when they speak… because the verb is already communicating the pronoun for you.”

Resources for pronoun practice:

3. Irregular verbs

“Most of the verbs that are the most common are irregular… they DO NOT follow the same conjugation as regular verbs.”

Remember, the only way to tackle this is to memorize the conjugations!

Resources for practicing irregular verbs:

4. Phonetics

“There are some different sounds in Spanish that you’re going to have to get used to!… The biggest ones are vowels — for example, in Spanish the ‘A’ has one sound, a soft ‘ah’ sound like in hablar. Whereas the ‘E’ is going to have a strong ‘ay’ sound, like in leer.”

Resources for practicing pronunciation and phonetics: 

5. Expressions That Use Different Verbs

“For example, the verb tener, which means ‘to have,’ is used with many expressions that we would use ‘to be’ in English. For example instead of saying ‘I am cold,’ in Spanish you’re going to say ‘I have cold.’ (Tengo frio.)

Resources for learning Spanish expressions: 

Readers, what other resources do you use for Spanish conjugation practice, verb practice, or pronunciation practice? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

Post Author: Sara T.
Sara T. teaches Spanish, English, Anatomy, and more through online lessons. She has over five years of teaching experience and holds a Masters degree in Teaching and Learning with Technology, with a specialization as an online educator. Learn more about Sara here!

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75 Free Resources for Learning Spanish Online

75 Free Resources for Learning Spanish online

As you study Spanish, it’s smart to take advantage of as many different resources as you can! Luckily, many of the online options are totally free and easy to use. Continue reading to find out the tutor-approved recommendations from instructor Sara T...

 

If you’ve stumbled upon this post, you’ve probably already decided to learn Spanish — that’s great! Now, you probably need some direction on where to begin. The World Wide Web offers an infinite number of resources that can help you learn a new language. The downside is that sifting through the junk can take hours on end to find a quality website or resource. Lucky for you, I have done the legwork and found 75 of the best online resources to help you improve your Spanish!

Here they are – starting with my personal top 10.

Click on these to jump ahead by category:

Online Spanish Resources - My Top 10 Picks

My Top 10

  1. Duolingo
    This app is a favorite among language learners of all ages. It has a game-like teaching methodology, which makes it fun to use!
  2. The Most Common Irregular Verbs in Spanish
    Get familiar with irregular verbs as soon as possible. The most-used verbs in Spanish (to be, to have, to be able to, etc.) are irregular. By studying one irregular verb each day, you’ll increase your proficiency at lightning speed.
  3. Conjuguemos (Let’s Conjugate)
    Verb conjugation is a nightmare for Spanish learners. We don’t change verbs nearly as often in English, but our pronouns are mandatory. In Spanish, you’ll get frustrated at the amount of conjugation you have to learn, but eventually everything will be simplified and you won’t even use pronouns when speaking. The verb will communicate the person you’re referring to.
  4. MIT Courseware
    Open-source courseware means that universities are letting anyone download their courses for free. You won’t get official academic credit, of course, but what a great way to get an MIT education for free!
  5. People en Español
    This resource can be substituted for any magazine you like to read. Reading in Spanish — especially if it’s about a subject that interests you –will help build your vocabulary and improve grammar. Research shows that learners who read correct grammar are more likely to use it when speaking.
  6. National Geographic in Spanish
    Who doesn’t love Nat Geo? This website is one of my favorites for articles, videos, and pictures. You can even subscribe to the physical magazine in Spanish (at an additional cost).
  7. Online Free Spanish
    Games are a clever way of disguising learning. This website is best suited for beginners or children, with games focusing on vocabulary. I really like this website because you can play a number of games using the same core vocabulary words. Repetition is necessary when learning a new language.
  8. Grammar Games
    For the adult or intermediate learners, try this website. The games focus more on grammar and sentence structure than individual vocabulary words.
  9. Y Mucho Mas
    When you’re ready to relax, try this YouTube channel to start watching La Familia Peluche, one of the most-watched Spanish TV series. This channel has all of the full episodes for free!
  10. Spanish Proficiency Materials
    This is a website from the University of Texas. It has all kinds of materials for improving your Spanish. My personal favorites are the videos featuring Spanish spoken by native speakers from different countries. You can read along with the transcript (in Spanish) alongside the video. This is an excellent resource for listening comprehension.

Online Spanish Resources - Websites

Websites for Learning Spanish Online

Below are some of the best online websites for learning Spanish. These websites will help you learn basic grammar, phrases, and vocabulary. Some offer additional exercises and/or videos to help aid comprehension and learning.

  1. BBC Spanish
    This is a comprehensive page of free online Spanish resources. You can test your Spanish proficiency, watch video courses, play games, and find authentic Spanish news, TV, and radio websites.
  2. Fluencia
    This app is also available as a website. You can sign up for free via Facebook and begin learning. The learning style is very similar to Duolingo and Rosetta Stone. Beginner lessons cover greetings, basic vocabulary, and pronunciation.
  3. Hello World
    This website has more than 700 Spanish resources! I really like the lessons and conversations section, which introduces basic vocabulary and language. There are short, animated videos that feature basic conversation and show vocabulary in real contexts. The website also features a dictionary and plenty of online games and activities.
  4. Learn Practical Spanish Online
    This is a free website that includes information on many grammar topics. The website is divided into levels, from beginner to advanced.
  5. Medical Spanish for Healthcare Providers
    Being bilingual is a huge advantage in the healthcare industry. This website has a lot of free information for Spanish learners, in relation to medicine and healthcare. Even conversational Spanish learners should take a look – you never know when you’ll be traveling and end up sick or in a medical emergency.

Online Spanish Resources - Lists for Studying Spanish

Lists for Studying Spanish

I love working with lists when learning or teaching a language. It’s an easy way to acquire new vocabulary like verbs, nouns, or adjectives.

With the lists below, I recommend committing to learning a certain amount each day. Take a look at one grammar rule each day or one irregular verb. At the end of the month, you’ll know 30 new rules and verbs!

  1. Common Mistakes When Learning Spanish
    Avoid these common mistakes for Spanish language learners by educating yourself before you start making mistakes. It’s much easier to create a good habit than to break a bad one.
  2. The Most Common Irregular Verbs in Spanish
    This website shows the most common irregular verbs in Spanish. Irregular verbs, like ser, estar, tener and ir, are widely used in the Spanish language. Use this website to practice conjugating them.
  3. Top 100 Regular Spanish Verbs
    Similar the irregular verbs list, you can use this to practice conjugating on your own.
  4. Top Spanish Vocabulary
    Make sure you know the most commonly used words — not just verbs — so that sentences really come together.
  5. Top 20 False Cognates
    False cognates are words that look similar in two languages, but have very different meanings. Avoid embarrassing mistakes by brushing up on these common amigos falsos (fake friends). (See also: 75 Most Helpful Spanish Cognates to Know)

Online Spanish Resources - Verb Conjugations

Spanish Help — Verb Conjugations

The best way to conjugate verbs is the old fashioned way — take out a piece of paper, list your pronouns, and begin writing the different conjugations. There’s no way around it. But you can also practice and test your conjugation knowledge online! Below are some websites with online exercises and Spanish quizzes to help you along.

  1. Conjuguemos (Let’s Conjugate)
    Practice conjugating verbs in an online quiz, based on the pronoun. Quizzes are separated into tenses and stem and spelling change patterns. If you’re a beginner, start with present tense regular verbs.
  2. Spanish Verb Drills
    Practice conjugating verbs in sentences here. This website will give you an overview of conjugation and also generates unique quizzes to practice.
  3. Spanish Verb Conjugation Trainer
    This site offers free, online Spanish conjugation practice. Quizzes are separated by tenses. You can either choose which verbs you want to practice or generate a random selection.
  4. Spanish New York
    This is another free, online verb conjugation practice site, with tons of verb categories to choose from.
  5. Verbs Online
    You can practice verb conjugations in sets of 10 here, with a choice of regular or irregular verbs.

Online Spanish Resources - Apps

Spanish Learning Apps

A resource article wouldn’t be complete without mentioning apps! Downloading some of the following apps will let you practice Spanish on the go. Whether you’re taking a break from work or stuck in traffic, you can always find five minutes to practice.

  1. Duolingo
    This is a free language-learning app that focuses on a game-like way of learning, similar to Rosetta Stone.
  2. Open Language
    This website allows you to learn the language from real people. Get the hands-on learning experience you deserve!
  3. Memrise
    This is a free application for language learning that follows the CEFR (Common European Framework Reference), which is an international language proficiency scale. There are several Spanish courses ranging from beginner to advanced, based on the CEFR levels.
  4. Fluent U
    This is an app that introduces Spanish in context. You can view video/blog/visual-learning-strategies, newscasts, and articles in Spanish.
  5. Pinterest
    This is an overlooked app for language learning, but I use Pinterest for almost all of my teaching materials. You can search any topic, vocabulary, or grammar issue and you’ll see beautiful images, charts, and infographics to explain them. This is a must-have if you’re a visual learner.
  6. Rosetta Stone (free demo)
    The famous Rosetta Stone is now an app. You can try a free demo version to decide if this method is right for you.
  7. iTranslate
    This app lets you translate on your phone by voice. Simply say what you want to translate and your phone does the rest. This is great for traveling abroad — just remember, no translation app or website is perfect. It’ll give you a rough equivalent of the words in another language, but often the meaning is not correctly translated. Stick to simple phrases.
  8. HiNative
    This app lets you ask questions to native speakers or people who are practicing speaking Spanish.

Online Spanish Resources - Language Exchange

Language Exchange Platforms

Language exchange platforms can be helpful if they’re used in the right way. Many of these websites work like social networking, where you set up a profile with details about yourself. You then search for “friends” who you can practice your target language with.

It’s important to keep in mind, though, that you’ll most likely be practicing with other Spanish learners. This is not a substitute for private lessons, since you won’t be getting the error correction and guidance a teacher would give you. But, if you want to practice information you learned in class, like introducing yourself, this is a good option.

I haven’t included individual details because all of the sites operate the same. The most popular, however, is Tandem. Please be aware that using any website to meet other people (even for learning purposes) has risks. Avoid giving out personal information or becoming a target of a scam.

  1. Tandem Exchange
  2. HelloTalk
  3. Wespeke
  4. Speaky
  5. HiNative

Online Spanish Resources - Chatrooms

Spanish Chatrooms

Spanish language chatrooms are a great resource for practicing written Spanish in your free time. Keep in mind that chatrooms for language learning run the same risks as any chatroom. I wouldn’t recommend letting children use these alone, since they would be speaking with strangers and all the risks that that entails. Overall, though, most users are genuinely interested in learning and improving.

  1. Espanglish Chat
    This is an English/Spanish bilingual chatroom for students to practice either or both languages. The chatroom is free and works online through Java.
  2. Spanish Chat
    Chatrooms are organized by Spanish speaking country, major U.S. cities, or topic.
  3. My Language Exchange
    This is an online language learning community. You can sign up and join chatrooms to practice speaking in Spanish.
  4. El Chat
    This website is an all-Spanish option where you’ll find many more native speakers, not necessarily Spanish learners. This website can help you see how Spanish speakers really communicate and how the language is used in casual conversation.
  5. ICQ
    ICQ works a lot like Skype with free messages and video calls. You can find Spanish chatrooms and converse in Spanish with other speakers or learners.

Online Spanish Resources - Games Online

Spanish Games Online

Games are fun for everyone, not just kids. Everyone learns in the same way and even the most dedicated adult appreciates a break from the routine every once in a while! The websites below are the best, in my opinion, offering a variety of free games at different levels.

  1. Online Free Spanish
    This is one of my favorite websites for kids and beginners. It has games and activities, online books, and printable activities for all learning levels. Check out the memory game for tons of basic vocabulary themes.
  2. Digital Dialect
    This website has a great selection of Spanish games for beginner, intermediate, and advanced speakers. Topics cover vocabulary, phrases, and verbs.
  3. Que Onda? Spanish
    This website has several free online games to practice Spanish vocabulary. I really like the memory game for learning basic verbs and words. You can also play hangman, alphabet soup, whack-a-word, and a verb conjugation game.
  4. Grammar Games
    This website is definitely geared toward serious learners. Online quizzes help you perfect your Spanish in a variety of categories, such as adjectives, article verbs, and pronouns.
  5. My Spanish Games
    I really like the different and creative games on this website! Many of them are directions-based and aimed at children, but they’re also good for beginners of any age. The Spanish vocabulary games include body parts, weather, animals, and more.

Online Spanish Resources - Facebook Groups

Facebook Groups for Spanish Help

If you’re on Facebook, consider joining a group. Information shared in these groups often includes images, charts, and speaking tips. They’re also a great place to ask questions in between classes and practice communicating in written Spanish. Below are some popular groups that I have found on Facebook. Keep in mind these groups may not be monitored and you should always exercise caution in who you accept friend requests from or speak to privately.

  1. Amigos y amigas españoles (20,000+ members)
  2. Aprender, practicar y ensenar el español (6,800+ members)
  3. Quiero practicar inglés-español (4,000+ members)

Online Spanish Resources - Facebook Groups

Facebook Pages for Spanish Help

A less interactive option is Facebook pages. Pages like the ones below often share helpful information, such as proper ways to use vocabulary words, commonly confused words, and spelling help. You may also be able to ask questions, depending on the page’s settings.

  1. Spanish Language Routes (200,000+ likes)
  2. Practicamos Español (48,000+ likes)
  3. Aprender el Español (13,000+ likes)

Online Spanish Resources - YouTube Channels

YouTube Channels for Learning Spanish

YouTube is an amazing resource for seeing and hearing language used in context. I avoid Spanish “lessons” on Youtube — they’re often a video of a tutor in front of a whiteboard or a long PowerPoint with narration explaining difficult grammar — except you can’t ask any questions. Leave the lessons up to your private tutor (or, check out the live, online Spanish classes via the TakeLessons Classroom) and use YouTube to simply enhance your Spanish by experiencing it in real-life situations.

  1. MisCositasTV
    This website has many Spanish-language videos for learners. What I like about the channel is that there are videos from different countries. Spanish is spoken in so many countries and there are many accents you’ll encounter.
  2. Y Mucho Mas
    If you’re studying Mexican Spanish or hoping to travel to Mexico, you must watch La Familia Peluche. This series is about a modern-day family living in Mexico City. This series will remind you of Married with Children or The Simpsons. The visual effects, facial expressions, and body language all help facilitate understanding. Plus, it’s hysterical!
  3. VideoEle
    This is a very good channel that features videos according to levels done by the CEFR (Common European Framework). The videos cover basic language and include vocabulary presented in themes. If you’re a beginner, choose A1 videos; intermediate, choose B1 videos; and advanced, choose C1 videos.
  4. BookBox.
    This is a collection of animated stories in Spanish (with Spanish subtitles). It says the stories are for children, but adults can benefit from watching them as well!
  5. Vocabuflash
    This channel offers stories in both Spanish and English. There are videos for vocabulary, short stories, and dialogues. It’s a great way to listen to pronunciation and work on your reading comprehension skills.

Online Spanish Resources - free eBooks

Free Spanish eBooks

More websites are beginning to publish and share free books. The books are either readable from the website or you download them in a PDF format. The websites below offer a variety of books, from beginner children’s books to classic novels. Adult learners shouldn’t be embarrassed to read children’s books, either. A beginner is a beginner — and the level is the most important factor. Plus, children’s books are well-illustrated and fun!

  1. Children’s Library
    This website has an extensive collection of children’s books. By doing a simple search for Spanish, you’ll find 159 books in Español. The best part is that no downloading is required! You can view the books page by page online. It’s perfect for beginner to intermediate learners.
  2. The Spanish Experiment
    This page has classic children’s stories in Spanish. As a bonus, you can also listen to the audio version. No downloading required! Just choose a story and beginning reading.
  3. Espacio eBook
    Here you can either view in PDF or download the eBooks. Many of them are classic stories and fairy tales by famous writers, such as Hans Christian Anderson.
  4. Free-ebooks.net
    This website lets you download free eBooks in Spanish. There’s a wide selection of books, including romance, cooking, terror, mystery, and more. The only negative is that the books are not arranged by level. This site would only be helpful for intermediate to advanced learners.
  5. Children’s Books Forever!
    While this website doesn’t have the biggest Spanish selection, I wanted to include it anyway. The titles are well-illustrated and very simple to read. There’s no downloading required; the books are viewed in Adobe Acrobat Reader. Hopefully their Spanish library expands in the future!

Online Spanish Resources - Open Source Materials

Open-Source Materials

Open-source materials are free, downloadable materials on the internet. This field is growing by the day and includes resources for both teachers and students to use. They’re great for independent studying and students who are self-motivated.

  1. Spanish Proficiency Materials
    This is one of the best Spanish-learning websites that offers materials in a natural context. It features tons of videos and podcasts organized by skill level. It’s also one of the few sites to feature an advanced and superior level. You can hear and see native speakers speaking naturally about many different topics.
  2. MIT Courseware
    Would you like to study at MIT? Would you like to do it for free? MIT offers free open-courseware, which you can download onto your computer. In addition to Spanish language classes, you can download English-language courses on Spanish culture and history.

Online Spanish Resources - News Websites

News Websites

Listening to the news is extra challenging in a second language. Think about how fast the newscasters speak in English… yes, it’s the same in Spanish! By listening to the news in Spanish, you can fine-tune your ears to very difficult listening comprehension. This will be very helpful if you travel abroad or engage in conversation with native speakers. One of the most common complaints from language learners is that people speak too fast — but in reality, they’re just speaking at their natural speed.

  1. CNN en Español
    This is the Spanish version of CNN. You can read all of the same stories you can find in English.
  2. El Universal
    This is widely-read Mexican newspaper based in Mexico City.
  3. Hoy Los Angeles
    This is a Spanish-language newspaper based in Los Angeles, California.
  4. Diario las Americas
    This is a Spanish-language newspaper based in Miami, Florida. It covers national and international news.
  5. La Opinion
    This is another Spanish-language newspaper based in California. It covers U.S., Mexico, and some international news stories.

Online Spanish Resources - Music Channels

Music Channels

Learning Spanish is going to open your world up to an amazing collection of artists and music from so many different countries. Music styles vary from country to country, so you might want to try a little of each before you decide which type is your favorite.

Below are websites that stream online radio stations from the U.S. and all over the world in Spanish. You can find salsa, oldies, rock and roll, heavy metal… just about anything to listen to. For extra practice, when you find a song you enjoy, try looking up the lyrics and singing along.

  1. La Paz
    This is my favorite website for music because it divides the radio stations by country.
  2. TuneIn
    Choose from more than 20 music categories and even more radio stations to stream over the Internet.
  3. Live365.com
    This website features the top Latin radio stations from all over the U.S. Choose from many music categories and stream live.
  4. Last.fm
    This website lets you choose a specific artist to listen to. Check out Shakira, Enrique Iglesias, and Juanes!
  5. Surf Music
    This website lets you listen to radio stations from Spain. It has a long list of categories and includes styles of music from Europe.

Online Spanish Resources - Magazines

Spanish Magazines

Use whatever interests you to get some meaningful practice reading in Spanish! This strategy will help you learn vocabulary related to topics that you’re likely to talk about. Below are some popular magazine websites in their Spanish versions. If you don’t see your favorite magazine listed, try searching online for a Spanish version.

  1. People en Español
  2. National Geographic in Spanish
  3. Cosmo en Español
  4. Men’s Health
  5. Vogue Español

Online Spanish Resources - Misc Websites

Misc. Websites in Spanish

You can always keep immersing yourself by switching websites you already use to the Spanish version. Below are some websites that I use frequently, but if you don’t see any of your choices on the list, just try searching for them. You can always change your location in your account settings to a Spanish-speaking country to get the Spanish version by default as well.

  1. TripAdvisor
    If you’re like me, you obsessively check TripAdvisor reviews before booking any vacation. You can kill two birds with one stone by checking it in Spanish. You can go to any TA site in a Spanish-speaking country (the link here is Mexico) and still sign in with your original ID and password.
  2. Hotels.com
    There’s nothing better than reading authentic Spanish text with beautiful images to keep you interested. Build up your vocabulary quickly by checking amenities and hotel descriptions. Then, switch back to English to check your comprehension.
  3. Facebook
    Sign up for Facebook in Spanish or change your language settings to Spanish. Your friend’s English posts won’t change – but you’ll have the option to translate them into Spanish. And all of the buttons and links will be in Spanish, reinforcing your vocabulary a little bit each time you click me gusta.
  4. Yahoo! en Español
    Change your home page to Yahoo! in Spanish to get a daily dose of vocabulary and news headlines every time you log on.

How to Effectively Use Online Spanish Resources

As you explore these options for learning Spanish, keep in mind that one website or one method alone is not going to make you a master Spanish speaker. The best thing you can do is to work with a private Spanish tutor to help you navigate through all the resources available.

Private instructors can save you hours of frustration by explaining difficult grammar concepts in a way they know you’ll understand. In addition, your lessons will give you the opportunity to speak in Spanish and be corrected on the spot. Error correction is essential to learning a language, especially when it comes to pronunciation.

Beyond that, another key to immersing yourself in a language is to have meaningful, everyday experiences in it. This happens when you use the language in a real-life context: try writing messages, updating your social media status, making a phone call, or ordering in a restaurant in Spanish. Making a personal connection to the language in this way makes it more likely that you will retain the information.

Try to use as many of the different types of resources as you can, on a daily basis, and you’ll be amazed at how fast your vocabulary bank and knowledge expands! And if you’d like extra help, feel free to contact me through my TakeLessons profile for private lessons, or check out the online group Spanish classes I’m teaching here!

Post Author: Sara T.
Sara T. teaches Spanish, English, Anatomy, and more through online lessons. She has over five years of teaching experience and holds a Masters degree in Teaching and Learning with Technology, with a specialization as an online educator. Learn more about Sara here!

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15 Easy Ways to Practice Spanish Throughout the Day

15 Easy Ways to Practice SpanishThroughout the Day

Learning a new language shouldn’t be limited to textbooks and coursework! Here, tutor Kaitlin W. shares her (easy) ideas for practicing Spanish throughout the day… 

 

I don’t come from a Spanish-speaking family, nor is my family from a country where Spanish is spoken. Yet every time I open my mouth to speak Spanish, I’m asked where I am from.

I have a near-native accent that leaves little trace of my Anglo roots. I often make people guess what country I’m from, and I’ve heard everything from Spain to Cuba! Students always want to know my secret. How did I manage to essentially eradicate my native accent and achieve a level of pronunciation that native speakers themselves envy?

Below are a few of the ways that I created my own self-immersion program. By including these activities in your everyday life, you can learn and practice Spanish without feeling like it’s homework!

Practice Reading in Spanish1

Practice Reading in Spanish

1. Change the language on your devices

Consider changing your phone, computer, tablet, Facebook page, and anything else with a language option to Spanish. This is an easy way to practice Spanish, since you’ll see more of the vocabulary on a daily basis.

For example, every time you look at your phone, you’ll see the date in Spanish, reinforcing the days of the week and months of the year. Facebook will ask you if you would like to agregar amigos, teaching you the verb that means “to add.”

Seeing a few of the same words over and over again will help the language feel more natural to you, and you’ll find it becomes easier to incorporate them into everyday life with very little effort involved!

2. Research in Spanish

How many times a day do you Google something that you’re curious about? I use Wikipedia at least once a day, and I always go for the Spanish version of the website first. Next time you need information about your favorite celebrity, look at their page in Spanish and see how much you can understand before switching the language to English!

3. Pick up a Spanish newspaper

In most cities, these can be found for free on the street. You can also download apps and read the news on your phone. I recommend El País, an international newspaper from Spain. I like to read the articles out loud to practice Spanish pronunciation in addition to my reading skills. This is also a great way to stay informed about what is happening in Spanish-speaking countries.

4. Read a book in Spanish

I recommend beginning with teen literature or popular novels that don’t have a lot of challenging vocabulary. You can also start with poetry, which is challenging but shorter. Pablo Neruda is one of the most famous Spanish-language poets of the 20th century, and he has written beautiful love poems, such as “If You Forget Me” (Si tú me olvidas).

Another great idea is to pick a book in English that you like and read the translation. All of the Harry Potter books are available in Spanish, as well as other popular novels such as “The Da Vinci Code”, “The Life of Pi”, and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”. You can find anything on Amazon!

As you build your vocabulary, try some books that were originally written in Spanish. I really enjoyed “La Sombra del Viento” by Carlos Ruíz Zafón. This popular book uses some advanced vocabulary, but mainly tries to use common words in unconventional ways, making it a very satisfying read for a conversational Spanish speaker. Be sure to read with a dictionary and make note of new and interesting words!

5. Take notice of signs and brochures in Spanish

Depending on where you are, you might see signs in Spanish — pay attention to these! If you purchase an item with directions listed in Spanish, try reading those too. You can do this with shampoo bottles while you’re in the shower, as well.

6. Play games in Spanish

Once your phone is in Spanish, many of your games will appear in Spanish, too. Trivia games force you to be quick on your feet as you practice Spanish, as many of them are timed. If that isn’t your speed, WordBrain offers an interesting vocabulary challenge in Spanish!

(Editor’s Note: Check out some other tutor-approved Spanish apps and games here!)

Practice Listening in Spanish

Practice Listening in Spanish

7. Watch Univisión, Telemundo, and Netflix

Don’t knock telenovelas until you try them! Netflix and Hulu now offer shows and movies in Spanish, some of which include English subtitles so you can check how much you understand. You can also watch your favorite movies with Spanish subtitles.

As for telenovelas, I recommend the ones from Mexico. The production value is higher than other Latin American countries and the accent is faint. They speak a pure Spanish. Typically, accents of Colombia, Argentina, and Chile are harder to understand if you’re just getting started.

Don’t have Netflix or Hulu? Try watching Univisión or Telemundo! I love Caso Cerrado, a Spanish-language Judge Judy!

8. Get Spanish language music for your daily commute

Why not practice Spanish during your commute? Singing along to songs will help your pronunciation and helps you begin to think in Spanish. Make an effort to learn the lyrics!

You can get music in any genre in Spanish, just like in English. If you like soft rock, I suggest Maná. For reggaetón, a Spanish rap, try Don Omar. You might recognize “Danza Kuduro”! Juanes is great for pop music, and for salsa, try listening to Marc Anthony, Celia Cruz, and Juan Luis Guerra. My favorite artist, however, is a jazzy Mexican rock group called Camila!

9. Listen to podcasts in Spanish

While you’re sitting at your desk, in your car on your way to work, or at home cooking dinner, put on a podcast in Spanish. It could be one aimed at teaching Spanish or a Spanish-language podcast about another topic.

For learning conversational Spanish, I recommend Coffee Break Spanish, which focuses on conversations for traveling abroad, like how to order coffee! If you are a true beginner, SpanishPod101 is another great one. They have all levels of Spanish for any student!

Practice Writing in Spanish

Practice Writing in Spanish

10. Write your shopping list in Spanish

Before you head out to buy something, look up the things you need to purchase and make a list in Spanish! As you find your items in the store and cross it off your list, actively think about the new word and associate it with the item you’ve just picked up. This is how I learned a lot of Spanish vocabulary for food!

11. Write a blog in Spanish

Whether you write a public blog or a more traditional private journal, writing is a great way to practice Spanish. You can write about any topic that you are interested in, which makes your learning experience fun and personalized. You could also make it as simple as writing about your day. Taking a few minutes to practice your Spanish writing is a great way to keep your mind thinking in the language and to pick up on any grammatical issues you may be having.

12. Get a Spanish-speaking pen pal

There are many websites, like iTalki, that connect you to people who are trying to learn English. I have met friends in Colombia and Chile this way, and we are still Facebook friends to this day! You can send emails or texts, or use Skype to practice reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

Practice speaking in Spanish

Practice Speaking in Spanish

13. Visit Hispanic bodegas and supermarkets

If you enjoy cooking, you may have fun shopping at Hispanic supermarkets and buying ingredients to make dishes from Spanish-speaking countries. If you can’t find the item you’re looking for, ask an employee for help in Spanish!

14. Talk in Spanish… even if you’re alone!

Those moments when you don’t have anyone to speak with may be your best opportunity to really speak without inhibitions! Take advantage of alone time to speak out loud, even if no one is there to correct you. As long as you are practicing the sounds of the language, you are making progress! Speak your thoughts, narrate your day, and talk to your dog! We all do weird things when we’re alone… why not make your weird thing productive?

15. Teach someone what you already know

Teaching can be a great way to reinforce the knowledge that you already have without even realizing that you’re doing it. When you have to search for ways to explain something to someone, you’re actually explaining it to yourself all over again! This can be as simple as teaching your friends and family what you’ve learned.

 

I continue many of these rituals daily to keep my Spanish as strong as ever. I also give my students resources to implement their own immersion programs. Everyone has different reasons for learning a language, and it’s important for students to know that they have control over their learning process and can tailor their experience to fit their needs. You control your learning, so make it fun!

Post Author: Kaitlin W.
Kaitlin W. teaches in-home and online Spanish lessons in Medford, NJ. She holds a Bachelors degree in Spanish from The College of New Jersey. Kaitlin aspires to be a professional Spanish teacher and would love to help you succeed in learning Spanish. Learn more about Kaitlin here!

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How Many Spanish Speakers Are in Your State?

Spanish is quickly becoming a prominent language in the US — in fact, it’s estimated that there are now more than 54 million Spanish language speakers throughout the country, accounting for almost 20% of the entire US population!

These stats alone are a compelling reason to learn Spanish as a second language. But it’s also interesting to look at how the language has grown over the years. The infographic below, put together by Day Translations (with data from the US census, Pew Research Center – Hispanic Trends, and Wikipedia) — shows the distribution of Spanish speakers in the US, and just how much the total has increased since 1970.

Check it out:

Spanish speakers in US

Continue reading the post here. And if you want to learn more about Spanish speakers in the US, the Pew Research Center for Hispanic Trends is another cool website to browse!

Ready to Learn Spanish?

There are so many benefits to being bilingual, and Spanish is a great second language to choose! Here are some resources to help you get started:

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25 MORE Spanish Writing Prompts for Beginners

25 MORE Spanish Writing Prompts for Beginners

A while back, Spanish tutor Joan B. shared a list of easy writing prompts for practicing Spanish. Readers loved these, so we’re back with even MORE Spanish writing prompts to try! 

 

Writing in Spanish is not only an essential skill on its own; practicing writing will also improve your vocabulary, increase your understanding of grammar concepts, and enhance your communication skills both in written and spoken forms.

The following are 25 Spanish writing prompts that will stimulate your imagination, stretch your abilities and, most importantly, help you to become a powerful and persuasive writer in Spanish. Tackle a writing prompt regularly (like once a day, or once a week) and you’ll soon find yourself writing persuasively with very little effort!


1. Describe a time when you had an argument with someone, and how you resolved it. This is a chance to describe a sequence of events or statements using the preterite tense (“El dijo…y entonces yo le dije…”), as well as the expressions (“No estar de acuerdo” and “Hacer las paces“).

2. Write a ‘tall tale’. Describe an outlandish event in as much detail as possible. Use this as a chance to practice narrative writing and use a variety of descriptive adjectives and phrases. The more out there, the better!

3. Explain what you do to conserve, recycle, reduce, and reuse. Green living is a hot topic today, and the words associated with it (conservar, reciclar, reducir, reusar) include useful Spanish vocabulary for daily living.

4. What is your favorite Spanish or Latin dish? Is it paella, pollo asado, or tamales? Whatever it is, write out the ingredients and process for making it, in the form of a recipe. You can look up a recipe in English for inspiration if you’re not sure how to make it.

5. In your opinion, what is the worst environmental problem facing us today, and what can be done to improve the issue? Take this opportunity to learn issue-specific vocabulary (for example, for global warming, you could use el calentamiento global) as well the subjunctive when expressing certain views (“Espero que…“).

6. Write a letter to the editor about a local community issue you feel strongly about. This prompt will challenge you to use formal, polite, and print-worthy grammar and syntax, as well as develop your own personal voice in Spanish.

7. You’ve decided to apply for a job where you’ll use your Spanish-speaking skills. Write a paragraph or essay in Spanish detailing your knowledge, experience, and study in the language. This can include descriptions of trips to Spanish-speaking places, formal study, the types of Spanish classes you’ve taken and concepts learned (“Sé explicar bien mis opiniones.“), and how long you’ve studied (“Comencé a estudiar en la escuela secundaria, y después assistí a la universidad.“). Not only is this great practice, it’s good to have on hand just in case you do need to document your Spanish knowledge, in short order!

8. Your roommate or neighbor has a very annoying habit and you’ve finally decided you can’t take it any longer. Instead of telling him or her directly, write a letter using a variety of formal commands and subjunctive structures (“¡Cámbialo!” or “Sugiero que…“).

9. You’ve met someone who’s about to start studying Spanish. What advice would you give him or her to succeed? This is a great opportunity to give advice (dar consejos) and even include a proverb or two (“La práctica hace al maestro.“).

10. You’re planning to travel to a Spanish-speaking country. Describe what you hope your daily routine will be. Practice using sequencing words (antes, después, entonces), reflexive verbs (relajarse, divertirse, etc.) and expressions for activities (ir al concierto, visitar un museo, dar un paseo por la ciudad).

11. If you could have any type of pet, which would you choose, and why? Talk about how you would take care of your pet and what activities you could do together. You can use hypothetical phrases (“Si pudiera tener una mascota, tendría un perro e iría al parque con él“).

12. Describe the members of your household and who is responsible for what duties around the house. The expressions you use are essential phrases for travel and daily life — it’s important to know how to say cambiar las sábanas (change the sheets) and lavar la ropa (wash the clothes)!

13. Prepare a short comedy act. Choose an event that has comedic potential and make light of it in a humorous way. Try to contar un chiste (tell a joke), which is challenging to do in Spanish as a second-language speaker. You can even ask a native Spanish speaker for help with tackling this prompt.

14. Describe your route to work or school. What mode of transportation do you use, which way do you go, and what are the pros and cons of your particular route and way? This is another practical writing prompt to exercise your ability to describe modes of transportations, routes, and transportation directions (“Primero, tomo el autobús número…“; “Evito el tráfico de las 5 por tomar una ruta alternativa…“).

15. Respond to a letter or other communication you’ve received from someone telling you about their news and activities. Even though they probably wrote to you in English, draft a response to them in Spanish, detailing your own news and activities and commenting on theirs. You can also draft a response to an imaginary letter in Spanish if you prefer. Explain what you’ve been habitually doing (“En estos días, estudio mucho…“) and retell specific events that have occurred (“Ayer recibí una buena nota.”). This is a good time to practice choosing between the imperfect tense and preterite tense for past events.

16. Invent a fairy tale in Spanish. You can begin with the words “Había una vez…” (once upon a time…) and let your imagination take it from there. You can write a fairy tale you’re familiar with, or create a new one. This Spanish writing prompt is good practice for perfecting the imperfect and preterite tense, as well as refining your descriptive writing abilities in Spanish, since fairy tales often involve vivid description of interesting characters.

17. Write a letter to a world leader whose policy actions you’re familiar with. Commend him or her on the actions you agree with, and explain why you agree. Offer criticism of those actions you disapprove, along with suggestions for alternative action to be taken. Use the comparative and superlative in your letter (“Esta acción es tan buena como lo que hizo“); you may also find use for the subjunctive (“Es mejor que resuelva el problema de…“).

18. If you could live in any country for an extended period of time, which country would you choose and why? Explain what traditions, customs, cultural practices and daily living styles appeal to you, and what you would do there. This is a chance to use the imperfect subjunctive and the conditional in a common and useful structure (“Si pudiera vivir en algún país, viviría en…“).

19. In your opinion, what was the most important world event of the past year? Describe the event itself, using the appropriate tense (imperfect or preterite). You may also find a use for the past progressive (“Mientras el gobierno estaba estabilizando, el presidente se murió.”). Try to use a mix of objective factual statements, as well as more subjective statements that reflect your opinion about the event.

20. Spanish is fast-becoming the lingua franca (a language that is used among people who speak various different languages) of the United States. What are the benefits and disadvantages of this, from an economic and cultural standpoint? Useful phrases for this prompt include “Por un lado…y por otro lado…” and “Pienso que…“.

21. Why do you study Spanish? What do you hope to gain from the language? Are your reasons primarily linguistic, cultural, economic, or something else? Explain what attracts you to the language, and the level you aim to reach. Also express how you feel using verbs such as “sentirse” and “me parece que…“.

22. You have the opportunity to live with a family in a Spanish-speaking country as part of a study abroad program. Write a letter to the family, introducing yourself. Tell them essential information, as well as some fun and interesting facts about you so they can start to get to know you. Use an informal yet polite tone. You can also include what you hope to gain by living with them by using polite requests (“Me gustaría si pudiéramos hablar en español casi todo el tiempo.“; “¿Sería posible hacer actividades todos juntos?“).

23. What do you like to do in your free time? Describe the activities you do, when you usually do them, and with whom. You can begin with “En mi tiempo libre…“. Use this prompt as a chance to expand and memorize Spanish vocabulary — you might learn new expressions as you describe your activities in Spanish.

24. What is your astrological sign? Do you believe in astrological signs? Why or why not? Do you think you fit the typical profile for someone of your sign? You might want to use expressions like aunque (although) and sin embargo (nevertheless).

25. You’re going to host two Spanish-speaking exchange students. Write them a letter telling them about any customs they should be familiar with, as well as the daily schedule they will follow. You can describe your daily school or work schedule, as well as the times that activities occur. You can also remind them of specific items they might want to bring from home.

 

If you work through (ahem, write through!) these 25 Spanish writing prompts, you’ll be well-versed in a variety of topics, registers of written Spanish, and typical structures and expressions to express your ideas concisely and clearly.

You can also take your completed prompts to your teacher or tutor for further feedback, or simply re-read them and edit them on your own, over time. Enjoy, and continue working toward the level you wish to reach in Spanish!

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. Joan aims to help students improve on tests and increase their conversational ability when traveling to Spanish-speaking countries. Learn more about Joan here!

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15 MORE of the Best Tutor-Approved Spanish Apps

15 best Spanish learning appsWe’ve reviewed some of the most popular Spanish learning apps out there — but there’s always more to talk about! Read on as tutor Breeana D. shares her recommendations for 15 MORE of the best Spanish learning apps to check out…

 

These days, it’s easier than ever to learn Spanish. When you’re not getting conversation practice in with your tutor, apps are an excellent way to review things like cognates, vocab and grammar. And since Spanish learning apps can be accessed 24/7, you can practice alone — any time, and practically anywhere — while having fun at the same time!

If you’re curious about the BEST Spanish learning apps, though, I’ve compiled the list below to check out. Here are my reviews of 15 useful, affordable, and worthwhile Spanish learning apps for either Android, iOS, or both:

Click on these links to scroll down to the section of your choosing:

Android Spanish Learning Apps


1) Spanish in Pictures: Food by Mind GA  [Android]

This app offers a dictionary of vocabulary for the following categories: foods, drinks, spices, vegetables, fruits, meat, and seafood. After learning the Spanish vocabulary (which includes pictures and audio), you can test your knowledge by clicking on “words to pictures” or “pictures to words.” This is great for catering to different learning styles. (Hint: Take this learning styles quiz to determine yours!)

From a tutor’s perspective:

I like this app because it has a variety of food vocabulary and pictures; however, they do not provide the English words for any of their pictures or Spanish words. So this app may be difficult to use if you are not familiar with certain fruits, veggies, spices, drinks, and food. For instance, a picture of la alcachofa (artichoke) is listed under vegetables with no English word beside it.


2) Spanish Word of the Day by Declan Software [Android]

This free app teaches you a new Spanish word each day. You can also click on the word, which has the English word beneath, and hear a pre-recorded voice say it.

From a tutor’s perspective:

This app is a simple and useful tool to enhance your Spanish vocabulary and to impress your tutor! However, one precaution to keep in mind is that practicing words in isolation is not as useful as using them in context. Your tutor can help you establish an appropriate context for the word of the day.


3) Learn Spanish with SpeakTribe by Edushire [Android]

Before you begin using this app, you’ll be asked to choose your current level of Spanish: absolute beginner, a few words at most, can read somewhat, can follow slow speech, or can speak basic language. You’re also asked to input your age and why you would like to learn Spanish (for social reasons, academically, etc).

After you’ve gone through the set-up, this Spanish learning app quizzes you on the basics, such as conversational Spanish and grammar. It has 29 levels, and levels one through four are free. The higher the level, the more difficult the learning; for example, Levels 15+ focus on commands, adverbs, and the imperfect and subjunctive tenses. If you want to spend more time practicing your grammar, this is the app for you!

From a tutor’s perspective:

The flexibility of this app makes it an attractive learning tool for students of all ability levels. Even the levels that aren’t free are worth the price, as the lessons are great for reviewing important concepts!


4) Spanish for Kids by D.G.S. [Android]

Spanish for Kids, or Español para Niños, is a great Spanish learning app for kids! Users can learn the Spanish alphabet, numbers one through 10, colors, animals, clothing, and much more.

As you are learning the vocabulary words, you click on the pictures to hear the Spanish word. You can also play it in a “game” mode, which can be really fun! Overall, it’s a colorful and engaging app with a lot of categories.

From a tutor’s perspective:

While this app is kid-friendly with its colorful appearance and fun activities, beginner students of any age will benefit from this app, as it focuses on the fundamentals.

 

iOS Spanish Learning Apps


1) Basic Spanish by Greg Vick [iOS]

This app is my personal favorite. It offers several free activities that cover many different topics. Basic Spanish has 27 free categories from which to choose — including directions, sports, clothing, feelings, and health. Each category includes a study list, a memory game, flashcards, a quiz, word exercises, listening activities, meaning matching, spelling, and a review list. You can also see your score at the end of each activity.

From a tutor’s perspective:

With 27 free categories, you’re sure to find an area that is useful to your study needs! In addition, the app provides ample activities with a great deal of depth.


2) Mirai Spanish by Mirai LLP [iOS]

Mirai Spanish has 20 chapters, each with five lessons. The lessons focus on vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar. Each lesson includes background information about the topic, a summary list, vocabulary list, and a quiz. Chapters one through four are free, and the other chapters can be purchased.

From a tutor’s perspective:

This app will be most beneficial for students who enjoy a more formal way of learning. There are no games.


3) Cat Spanish by Memrise [iOS]

This free app teaches you conversational Spanish, with a focus on grammar, by using pictures of cats and an activity called, “chat practice.” In this activity, you match Spanish phrases with pictures of the cats. For instance, there may be a picture of a cat eating fish and the phrase under it will say, “es delicioso” (it’s delicious).

After learning the new phrases, you can apply your skills with chat practice.  During chat practice, you “text” another cat by responding to his questions and selecting from phrases you’ve learned during the picture lesson.

From a tutor’s perspective: This is a good way to practice engaging in conversational Spanish. It is also purrfect for cat lovers.


4) Lingo Cat by Lingo Cat [iOS]

Lingo Cat is a free app with 10 categories, including los colores (the colors) and la hora (the time). It includes a dictionary that lists and describes all of the words included in the app, and each category includes several activities to practice Spanish vocabulary. At the end of each activity, you receive a grade based on your performance.

From a tutor’s perspective:

This app’s inviting and invigorating music and sounds keep users engaged, which makes it much easier to remember your daily practice! It offers lessons in several categories, and some activities as well.


5) Learn Spanish with Lingo Arcade by Alligator Apps [iOS]

This app costs $4.99 to benefit from all of their 150 levels. Levels one and two are free. Each level has a timed vocabulary game. As you play, you will hear a Spanish word and have to click the correct picture before the time runs out.

From a tutor’s perspective:

I like this app for practicing basic vocabulary. The voice is pretty monotone, but the pressure of the time limit offers enough positive stress to work up “brain sweat.”

 

Android and iOS Spanish Learning Apps


1) Learn Spanish Quickly by Priya Yerunkar [Android]||[iOS]

This app has 33 categories, from body parts to colors to numbers! Simply click on the picture category and the words that you want to learn to hear a native speaker pronounce it in a clear voice.

From a tutor’s perspective:

I would definitely recommend this app to a student who wants to learn basic Spanish words quickly, due to its wide range of categories.


2) Learn Spanish by Bravolol [Android]||[iOS]

Learn Spanish has 24 categories that focus on Spanish vocabulary and phrases. Nine of those categories are free, including lessons on greetings, shopping, driving, sightseeing, weather, and eating. You can access the other categories through a free trial, or you can purchase them for $4.99.

Each category lists vocabulary and phrases that are said out loud when clicked. You can also repeat the phrase or word while recording your voice to make sure your pronunciation is accurate.

From a tutor’s perspective:

While other apps may be more colorful and exciting, this app allows you to practice your accent and Spanish pronunciation — a must for conversing with native speakers.


3) FluentU by FluentU [Android]||[iOS] 

Fluent U engages you in the Spanish learning process by using interactive tools, such as music videos and the news. The videos can be played with the Spanish translations appearing underneath, and you can click on any word to read the English definition.

From a tutor’s perspective:

This app is great for Spanish students who enjoy popular culture. Teens will especially appreciate the social relevance of this trendy app.


4) Spanish Class by Cognitecco [Android]||[iOS]

The free demo for this app includes reference material (vocabulary, verbs, grammar, and phrases) and four exercises (vocabulary, verbs, grammar, and listening). The full version can be purchased for $2.99. Each activity has multiple-choice responses that incorporate reading; there are no recordings for either questions or answer options. Each activity also has a reference page or “article” which explains the correct answer.

From a tutor’s perspective:

This app has no bells and whistles. It gets the job done; students who don’t mind the silence will find it useful.


5) Speak Easy by Pocketglow Inc. [Android]||[iOS]

Speak Easy is an excellent app for students, especially those who travel! It teaches greetings, basic phrases, travel essentials, and more. Each Spanish word shows the English word above it, as well as the phonetic spelling below, and an audio recording. The free app has more than 100 free words and phrases to learn, and the full version (with 750 more words and phrases) can be purchased for $3.99.

From a tutor’s perspective:

If you are going abroad to a Spanish-speaking country, this is the app for you. It doesn’t have any games, however, so keep that in mind if you need interactive activities to stay engaged.


6) Learn Spanish by Codegent Ltd [Android]||[iOS]

This free app teaches more than 200 words and phrases, with audio recordings from native speakers. Students who want to practice their accent will benefit from this app.

From a tutor’s perspective:

This app is ad-free, which is great! It’s especially helpful for travelers, because it includes traveling tips.


These 15 best Spanish learning apps are sure to assist you in your language endeavors! If these apps don’t interest you, try checking with your Spanish tutor to see if he or she has more recommendations. And of course, consider your learning style and goals as you practice on your own. Good luck!

Which apps do you use and recommend? Let us know by leaving a comment below! 

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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