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75 Most Helpful Spanish Cognates to Know [Infographic]

Spanish cognates for Beginners

Did you know that cognates help make Spanish one of the easiest languages for English speakers to master? Spanish cognates are words that sound the same (or almost the same) in English and have the same meaning in both languages.

Memorizing Spanish cognates is the fastest way to expand your vocabulary! Here, we’ll share some of the easiest and most helpful cognates in Spanish to boost your conversational skills.

All About Spanish Cognates

Recognizing Cognates in Spanish

By studying cognate patterns, you can tap into thousands of Spanish vocabulary words that you already know. Here are some of the most common types of cognate patterns.

Spanish Cognates Without Spelling Changes

The easiest Spanish cognates to recognize are exactly the same in English. However, the Spanish pronunciation of the word is usually slightly different than what you’re used to.

Some examples are: metro, hospital, idea, escape, lava, visa, sociable, inevitable, funeral, original, cereal, horrible, and motor.

Spanish Cognates that Add an –ar or –ir

In Spanish, verbs end in –ar, -er, or –ir, and each follows its own conjugation rules. Many verb cognates exist by simply adding –ar or –ir to the English version of the word.

Some examples are: adopt – adoptar, calm – calmar, control – controlar, limit – limitar, invert – invertir, and insist – insistir.

Spanish Cognates that Change –tion to –ción

The common English suffix –tion is used to form noun versions of verbs. It commonly expresses the state or action of the verb. Luckily for Spanish learners, the rule is consistent in Spanish nouns as well but with the ending –ción.

Some examples are: action – acción, celebration – celebración, condition – condición, nation – nación, and fiction – ficción.

Spanish Cognates that Add an –o

This type of cognate is so common that many Spanish learners will try adding an –o to any English word when they don’t know the Spanish version. Sometimes it works, although this isn’t always the case.

Some examples are: academic – académico, alcoholic – alcohólico, domestic – doméstico, organic – orgánico, and panic – pánico.

There are many more cognates in Spanish, as well as patterns, other than the ones listed above. Taking the time to study cognate patterns will increase your vocabulary tenfold. However, be aware of false cognates! These are words that appear to be the same in two languages, but actually have very different meanings.

For example, embarazada means “pregnant” in Spanish, but it’s often confused with “embarrassed” in English because they appear to be similar.

SEE ALSO: 46 Spanish Adjectives to Describe Personality of your Friends or Family

General Rules for Cognates in Spanish

Here are some general rules you can use to understand how English and Spanish cognates relate:

  • –ity in English becomes –idad in Spanish (ie. difficulty = dificultad)
  • –ous in English becomes –oso in Spanish (ie. curious = curioso)
  • –ance in English becomes –ancia in Spanish (ie. ambulance = ambulancia)

Now, check out the infographic below to learn 75 of the most helpful (and easy) Spanish cognates to know.

75 Popular Cognates in Spanish Infographic

 

Believe it or not, the U.S. is now the second largest Spanish-speaking country! It surpasses Spain and only follows behind our southern neighbor, Mexico.

The increase in Spanish-speaking households means an increased opportunity for bilingual people in the workforce. Taking Spanish lessons as a second language can give you a leg up in your professional field and put you ahead of your competition.

These benefits (and the fact that Spanish cognates make learning the language even easier) are more than enough reasons to get started today.

Are there any more cognates in Spanish you can think of? Let us know in the comments section 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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The 50 Most Beautiful French Words You’ll Ever Hear | Infographic and Audio

When you think of speaking French, what comes to mind? If you’re picturing candlelit dinners, incredible art, and grand romance, you’re not alone.

French is known as the language of love, and just about everything in French sounds lovely. So here are 50 beautiful French words for your enjoyment.

Some of these beautiful French words were selected for their pleasant sound, while others were chosen based on their meaning.

Beautiful French Words

Hear These Beautiful French Words:

Listen as each of these beautiful French words is read by French tutor, Carol Beth L.

 

50 Beautiful French Words

  1. ange – angel (masc.)
  2. baleine – whale (fem.)
  3. bisou – kiss (masc.)
  4. brindille – twig (fem.)
  5. brûler – to burn
  6. brume – mist (fem.)
  7. câlin – hug (masc.)
  8. chaleur – heat (fem.)
  9. chatoyer – to shimmer
  10. chaussettes – socks (fem.)
  11. mon chouchou – my little cabbage, said as a term of endearment (masc.)
  12. citronnade – lemonade (fem.)
  13. citrouille – pumpkin (fem.)
  14. coquillage – seashell (masc.)
  15. croquis – sketch (masc.)
  16. dépaysement – the feeling of being in another country (masc.)
  17. doux – soft
  18. écarlate – scarlet
  19. éclatant – brilliant, dazzling, gleaming
  20. empêchement – a last minute difficulty (masc.)
  21. épanoui – blooming, joyful, radiant
  22. éphémère – ephemeral
  23. étoile – star (masc.)
  24. feuilles – leaves (fem.)
  25. flâner – to stroll aimlessly
  26. floraison – bloom (fem.)
  27. grelotter – to shiver
  28. hirondelle – swallow (bird) (fem.)
  29. libellule – dragonfly (fem.)
  30. loufoque – wild, crazy, far-fetched
  31. luciole – firefly (fem.)
  32. myrtille – blueberry (fem.)
  33. noix de coco – coconut (fem.)
  34. nuage – cloud (masc.)
  35. orage – thunderstorm (masc.)
  36. pamplemousse – grapefruit (masc.)
  37. papillon – butterfly (masc.)
  38. parapluie – umbrella (fem.)
  39. pastèque – watermelon (fem.)
  40. péripatéticien – wanderer (masc.)
  41. piscine – swimming pool (fem.)
  42. plaisir – pleasure (masc.)
  43. pleuvoir – to rain
  44. plonger – to dive
  45. retrouvailles – the happiness of seeing someone again after a long time (fem.)
  46. singulier – so odd it’s one of a time
  47. sirène – mermaid (fem.)
  48. soleil – sun (masc.)
  49. sortable – someone you can take anywhere without being embarrassed
  50. tournesol – sunflower (masc.)

SEE ALSO: 100+ Common Regular French Verbs

10 Tips for Learning New French Words Fast

Learning new French words can be one of the hardest parts of studying French. Use these 10 tips to “decode” the language so you can memorize French vocabulary faster.

1. Look for Roots

When you can, memorize French words that share a root at the same time.

For example, when you learn “écrire” (to write), you can also learn “écrivain” (writer) and “l’écrire” (the act of writing). This increases your vocabulary exponentially. Words and their meanings will stick more clearly in your memory since you learned the whole family of words together.

2. Know Your Cognates

As you study French, make a list of French/English cognates (words that sound the same and share the same meaning).

To study, write your cognates on a piece of paper in two columns (one for French words and one for English words) and quiz yourself by folding the piece of paper vertically in half. Test your ability to remember both the English meaning and the French word.

3. Practice With Your Textbook

Most language books have illustrations of new vocabulary. Looking at the illustrations, describe them using the vocabulary you already know or have studied, and then read the captions underneath the pictures to see how well you did. Notice how the French words are used in context.

4. Three is a Magic Number

If you’re really struggling to memorize vocabulary words, write each word three times in French and once in English. Then write the French word again without looking back. Check to see if you wrote it correctly.

5. Listen and Repeat

Look for digital recordings of French words. Try listening to these once, then repeat each word in French while listening to it a second time. There are many great French videos on YouTube that can help you memorize vocabulary and also practice listening.

6. Use it in a Sentence

For each vocabulary word, write a new sentence using it. Try to make your sentence memorable. Context is often a key to remembering new French words.

7. Make Associations

Make associations with words you are familiar with in English.

For example, look at the French verb “rencontrer.” While it means to meet or find, another meaning is “to encounter.” Make the association between these two words so you will be able to recall both the meaning and the word itself in French.

8. French Word of the Day

Choose a French word of the day each day.

Each day, take the French word you have chosen to study and write it on a few post-its with or without its English equivalent. Place the post-its in places you will see throughout the day, like the bathroom mirror, the monitor of your computer, or in your planner.

You’ll see the French word many times as you go about your day, and by the end of the day you should have it memorized!

9. Write it Down

If your goal is to increase your vocabulary rapidly by quickly memorizing additional French words, keep a notebook of new words you encounter in class, in books, and in conversations that you hear. Keeping a written record of words you are learning allows you to review and track your progress.

10. Do it Daily

Make studying French vocabulary a regular part of your day.

The key to learning a new language rapidly is studying it regularly. It doesn’t have to be for a long time; just a few minutes each day can make a huge difference.

You can add even more French words to your vocabulary by studying with a private tutor. Are you ready to learn how to speak French?


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150+ Common French Words You Need to Know

150 common french words you need to knowWhen studying any language one effective method for learning is to study and memorize the most common words first. This can help you to understand situations more quickly than if you’re learning vocabulary from random sources.

The French language is one of the beautiful romance languages. It is the official language in 29 countries and is spoken as the primary language by about 338 million people. The following is a list of over 150 common french words that every student should learn.

The list is broken down into groups that cover seven parts of speech: personal pronouns, articles, conjunctions, nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.

Common French Personal Pronouns

1 (2)Personal pronouns are words like he, she, I, and you. They commonly take the place of more specific nouns, such as a person’s name, in conversation and in writing.

French words – English definitions – part of speech/tense

1.  je – I – 1st person

2.  nous – we – 1st person plural

3.  tu – you – 2nd person

4.  vous – you, • yourself – 2nd person plural

5.  il – he, it – 3rd person

6.  elle – she – 3rd person

7.  ils – they – 3rd person plural, masculine

8.  elles – they – 3rd person plural, feminine

• NOTE:  Vous, the french word for “you” can be either singular or plural. When used in a singular form, it is considered a form of politeness. As a plural, it is used to address more than one person.

Learn more about the difference between tu and vous.

Common French Articles

2 (2)French articles can sometimes be confusing for students because they need to agree with the nouns they modify. They often don’t correspond to articles in other languages.

As a general rule, if you have a noun in french there is always an article in front of it, unless you use some other determiner like a possessive (mon, ton) or demonstrative (ce, cette) adjective.

There are three different kinds of articles in French, definite, indefinite and partitive.

French words – English definitions – part of speech/tense

9.   le – the; him, it – definite article (referring to a masculine singular noun)

10. la – the; her, it – definite article (referring to a feminine singular noun)

11.  l’ – the – definite article (used instead of le or la before nouns beginning with a vowel)

12. les – the, them – definite article/ pers. pronoun (referring to a plural noun)

13.  au – at the, to the, in the – definite article (used with a singular masculine noun)

14.  aux – (a+ les) of the – definite article

15.  un – a, an, one – indefinite article (used before a masculine noun)

16.  une – a, an, one – indefinite article (used before a feminine singular noun)

17.  des – some, any – indefinite/ partitive article (used before a m or f plural noun)

18.  du – some/any – partitive article (masc. singular)

19. de la – some/any – partitive article (feminine singular)

Common French Conjunctions

3 (2)In order for a sentence to make sense the parts must be linked logically, this is the job of conjunctions. There are seven coordinating conjunctions, which are used to link either words or sentence fragments of equal importance, they are:

French words – English definitions

20.  mais – but

21.  ou – or

22.  et – and

23.  donc – thus, therefore

24.  or – now, yet

25.  ni – neither

26.  car – for, because

Common French Nouns

4 (2)Nouns are words that name a person, place, or thing.

French nouns can often function as other parts of speech such as verbs, auxiliary verbs, adverbs and adjectives as well as nouns depending on their usage within the context of a sentence.

French words – English definitions – part of speech/tense

27.  être – being – noun, masculine

28.  dire – according to – noun, masculine

29.  tout – all, everything, any – adj, indefinite adj.

30.  pouvior – power – noun, masculine

31.  bien – well, very good – adverb, noun

32.  devoir – duty – noun, masculine

33.  une chose – thing, matter – noun, feminine

34.  un petit – kid, child – noun

35.  merci – thanks, thank you – noun

36.  un peu – not much, not very, few – noun, adverb

37.  un homme – man – noun

38.  une femme – woman, wife – noun

39.  le temps – weather, time, times – noun

40.  la vie – life, lifetime, existence – noun

41.  le jour – day, daytime – noun

42.  un dieu – god – noun

43.  personne – anyone, anybody – indefinite pronoun, noun, feminine

44.  un père – father – noun

45.  une fille – daughter, girl, gal – noun

46.  le monde – world, people – noun

47.  un ami – friend, friendly – noun, adjective

48.  besoin – need, demand, necessity – noun, masculine

49.  accord – agreement, accord, harmony – noun, masculine

50.  monsieur – gentleman, Mr. – noun, masculine

51.  madame – madam, Mrs. – noun, feminine

52.  enfant – child, infant – noun

53.  grand – big, tall, large, great, big girl, big boy – adjective, noun

54.  mère – mother – noun, feminine

55.  maman – mummy, mama, mom – noun

56.  maison – house, home – noun, feminine

57. nuit – night – noun, feminine

58.  peur – fear, fright – noun, feminine

59. problème – problem – noun, masculine

60.  argent – silver, money – noun, masculine

61.  dernier – last, latest – adjective, noun, masculine

62.  tête – head, face – noun, feminine

63.  amour – love, love affair, cupid – noun, masculine

64.  nouveau – new, fresh – noun, adjective

65.  revoir – to see again, review – noun, masculine

66.  fait – event, fact – noun, masculine

67.  affaire – affair, business – noun, feminine

68.  frère – brother – noun, masculine

69.  histoire – history, story – noun, feminine

70.  jeune – young, youthful, young person – noun, masculine

71.  porte – gate, door – noun, feminine

72.  année – year – noun, feminine

73.  meilleur – better ; the best one – adjective, noun

74.  place – room, square, seat – noun, feminine

75.  ville – town, city – noun, feminine

Common French Verbs

5 (2)While there are literally thousands of French verbs, there are a few that are commonly and often used so it’s important to know them, know what they mean and understand how to use them and conjugate them.

Conjugating French verbs can be difficult. As in the English language, the verb changes depending on who is speaking and context. While in English there are some verbs which require memorization, but in general conjugating an English word is not too difficult.

French verbs on the other hand, typically have different endings for almost every subject pronoun, in all tenses and all moods. This list touches on the most common french verbs, you’ll need to know the tense!

Learn more about conjugating French verbs.

French words – English definitions

76.  être – to be

77.  avoir – to have

78.  faire – to do, make

79.  dire – to say, tell

80.  aller – to go

81.  voir – to see

82.  savoir – to know

83.  pouvoir – can, to be able to

84.  falloir – to be necessary

85.  vouloir – to want

There are many other verbs that you should learn and understand beside the top 10.

Here are 25 more common French verbs to learn and use.

86.  devoir – to have to,  must

87.  venir – to come, occur

88.  suivre – to follow

89.  parler – to speak, talk

90.  prendre – to take, get

91.  croire – to believe, think

92.  aimer – to love, like, be fond of

93.  passer – to pass, go by, cross

94.  penser – to think

95.  laisser – to leave

96.  arriver – to arrive

97.  donner – to give, give away

98.  regarder – to look at, watch

99.  appeler – to call, ring

100.  rester – to stay, remain

101.  mourir – to die, pass away

102.  demander – to ask, ask for, be looking for

103.  comprendre – to understand

104.  sortir – to go out, take out

105.  entendre – to hear, listen to, understand

106.  chercher – to look for, seek

107.  revenir – to come back, return

108.  jouer – to play

109.  finir – to finish, end

110.  perdre – to lose, miss

Common French Adjectives

6 (2)Adjectives are words which add the color to a conversation! They describe, identify and further define nouns and pronouns. Proper use can give depth to your speech by describing how something feels, looks, sounds, tastes, or acts.

This list contains the various French adjectives that should be among the first you should learn. They’re broken down into categories including desciptions of physical qualities of people, objects, less physical qualities, and feelings, health and emotions.

Physical Qualities – People

French words – English definition

111.  petit – small, short

112.  grand – large tall

113.  jeune – young

114.  vieux – old (masculine)

115.  vieille – old (feminine)

116.  beau – handsome; beautiful (with masculine noun)

117.  belle – beautiful (with feminine person, or noun)

118.  fort – strong

119.  faible – weak (person or object)

Physical Qualities – Objects

120.  froid – cold

121.  chaud – hot

122.  bien chaud – warm

123.  long – long

124.  court – short

125.  clair – clear, bright (light); thin (soup)

126.  bas – low

127.  haut – high, tall

128.  lèger – light (as in not heavy)

129.  lourd – heavy

130.  sale – dirty

131.  plein – full

132.  vide – empty

133.  sec – dry

134.  humide – damp, wet

135.  fraise – fresh, chilly, wet (paint)

Descriptors – less physical qualities

136.  bon – good, right

137.  mauvais – bad, wrong

138.  nouveau – new

139.  proche – near

140.  facile – easy

141.  difficile – difficult

142. dur – hard (as in difficult, or not soft)

143.  pauvre – poor

144.  riche – rich

Feelings/ Health/ Emotions

145. heureux – happy

146. content – happy, satisfied

147.  triste – sad, unhappy

148.  malade – ill

149.  gentil – kind, nice

150.  sympathetique – nice, friendly

Common French Adverbs

7 (2)Adjectives add color and description to nouns.  Adverbs modify pretty much everything else. They can be used to modify a verb, adjective, another adverb, a noun phrase, clause or entire sentence.

Adverbs provide information about the words they modify, like when, where, how, or how often.

In English adverb placement can be arbitrary. The French language has stricter rules about adverb placement, for example a french adverb when used to modify a verb, it is generally placed after the conjugated verb.

The following are some common French adverbs you should include in your vocabulary!

French Words – English Definitions – Type of Adverb

151.  actuellement – currently – adverb of time

152.  assez – quite, fairly – adverb of quantity

153.  aujourd’hui – today – adverb of time

154.  aussi – as – comparative adverb

155.  beaucoup – a lot – adverb of quantity

156.  bien – well – adverb of manner

157.  bientôt – soon – adverb of time

158.  déjà – already – adverb of time

159.  demain – tomorrow – adverb of time

160.  enfin – finally – adverb of time

161.  ensuite – next, then – adverb of time

162.  heureusement – fortunately – adverb of manner

163.  hier – yesterday – adverb of time

164.  ici – here – adverb of place

165.   – there – adverb of place

165.  là-bas – over there – adverb of place

166.  longtemps – for a long time – adverb of time

167.  maintenant – now – adverb of time

168.  mal – poorly – adverb of manner

169.  parfois – sometimes – adverb of frequency

170.  partout – everywhere – adverb of place

171.  moins – less – comparative adverb

172.  peu – few, little – adverb of quantity

173.  quelque part – somewhere – adverb of place

174.  rarement – rarely – adverb of frequency

175.  souvent – often – adverb of frequency

176.  tard – late – adverb of time

178.  tôt – early – adverb of time

179.  toujours – always – adverb of frequency

180.  très – very – adverb of quantity

181.  trop – too much – adverb of quantity

182  vite – quickly – adverb of manner

 

This list, while far from complete, gives you over 180 common French words used in everyday conversation.

While there’s no magic formula for learning to speak a new language, starting by studying and learning the most common words in any language will help you to develop an “ear” and an understanding.  The two main aspects of learning any language are study and practice.

Immerse yourself in the culture and language.

Listen to French music, you may not understand all of the words, but your ear and subconscious mind will begin to pick up the subtleties of the language.

Watch French movies while reading the subtitles and your mind will begin to make the connection.

Learn these common French words and then get out there and use them in conversation!

 

Bonne chance, and have fun studying French! For more help, check out our 10 tips to help you memorize French vocabulary fast

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interesting facts about Spain

50 Interesting Facts About Spain [Infographic]

50 interesting facts about Spain

Curious to learn some interesting facts about Spain? If you’re planning a trip to Spain soon and are interested in Spanish culture, there’s a lot to learn about this awesome country. If you’re learning how to speak Spanish, studying the culture of Spain will motivate you and make your studies much more interesting!

So without further ado, here are 50 interesting facts about Spain that you might be surprised to learn.

50 Interesting Facts About Spain & Spanish Culture

  1. Not all Spaniards are native speakers of (Castilian) Spanish. There are four official languages in Spain (Castilian, Catalan, Basque and Galician), three unofficial regional languages (Asturian, Aragonese, and Aranese), and several more dialects.
  2. The Spaniards have a completely different life rhythm from other Europeans. They typically have lunch between 1 and 3 pm, and dinner around 10 pm.
  3. Spanish culture greatly influenced modern art from the late 1800s, with artists like Antoni Gaudí (Art Nouveau), Pablo Picasso (expressionism, cubism, surrealism), Joan Miró (surrealism), and Salvador Dalí (surrealism).
  4. Flamenco is not actually a dance; it’s a musical style, which sometimes has dancing in it.
  5. 58 million tourists go to Spain every year, making it the fourth most visited country in the world.
  6. Spain is renowned for its lively festivals, including San Fermín (“running of the bulls”) in Pamplona and Tomatina (“tomato battle”) in Buñol.
  7. More than 150,000 tomatoes are usually thrown at La Tomatina.
  8. The official name of Spain is “Kingdom of Spain.”
  9. The national anthem of Spain has no words.
  10. There are no laws about public nudity in Spain.
  11. 43% of the world’s olive oil production is done in Spain.
  12. From 2008 to 2013, the Spanish national football team was named FIFA Team of the Year.
  13. Spain won its first World Cup football title in 2010, which made the country the 8th country to have ever won.
  14. The tooth fairy is a mere rodent in Spain, referred to as Ratoncito Pérez.
  15. Our favorite of all the interesting facts about Spain – Breaks, free time, and siestas are a huge part of everyday Spanish culture.
  16. Spain was the world’s third most popular tourist destination in 2013 (after France and the US).
  17. Don Quixote, the famous book written by Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes in 1605, was voted the “most meaningful book of all time” in 2002 by a panel of top authors.
  18. Traditionally, you have two surnames in Spain – the first surname from your father, and the second from your mother.
  19. Spaniards celebrate the New Year by eating one grape with their family for each bell strike of the clock.
  20. The quill pen is thought to have originated in Spain about 1,400 years ago.
  21. The Spanish often use gestures with, or to substitute for, words. Flicking the teeth with the thumbnail, wiggling fingers from the nose, and grabbing the left arm with the right while making a left-handed fist are all thought to be offensive.
  22. There are fewer marriages in Spain than in any other EU country, except Sweden.
  23. The divorce rate in Spain is 17% (relatively low compared to over 50% in the
    USA).
  24. Madrid is in the physical center of the country and the plaza Puerta del Sol is the exact center of the country.
  25. Spain has the second highest number of bars per inhabitants.
  26. Do not be alarmed by a dirty floor in a bar. It is completely acceptable and normal to throw things on the ground in bars. Most of the time a dirty floor means a good bar!
  27. Tortillas in Spain are not the same as tortillas elsewhere. Tortilla española refers to a very popular egg and potato dish. Spaniards use the word “tortitas” to refer to flour/corn tortillas.
  28. Most households buy fresh bread every day. Traditionally, they are long baguettes called barras or pistolas. Bread is present (and required) at almost every meal.
  29. Tomatoes, potatoes, avocados, tobacco, and cacao (for chocolate) were all imported into Europe by Spain.
  30. Though Spain is more famous for its red wine than white, the majority of its vineyards have white grapes.
  31. Spain is one of the world’s biggest producers of saffron, an important ingredient in paella.
  32. The Madrid subway is the second largest underground system in Europe and the sixth largest system in the world.
  33. The family is the basis of the social structure and includes both the nuclear and the extended family, which sometimes provides both a social and a financial support network.
  34. Owning one’s home is very important to Spanish people, and some 80% of Spanish households do.
  35. The majority of Spaniards are formally Roman Catholic, although different religious beliefs are accepted.
  36. People are often referred to as Don or Dona and their first name within formal occasions.
  37. If invited to a Spaniard’s home, you can bring chocolates, pastries, cakes, wine, liqueur, brandy, or flowers to the hostess.
  38. In business, face-to-face contact is preferred to written or telephone communication.
  39. Despite the beret being associated with France, the Basques in Northeast Spain invented it.
  40. It is not customary to tip in Spain, especially for cheap meals.
  41. Each regional country of Spain – Pais Vasco, Cataluña, Galicia – has its own language, hymn, and flag.
  42. Barcelona has 15 million visitors per year, while Madrid has only 6 or 7.
  43. The Madrid-Barcelona route has the highest number of flights per week in the world.
  44. Spain has more than 8,000 beaches.
  45. The name Spain diverged from the word Ispania, which means the land of rabbits.
  46. Of all the interesting facts about Spain, this one is perhaps the most bizarre. On May 15th all the single women in Madrid visit the chapel called Ermita de San Isidro to prick their fingers with pins and put it in a vessel, in order to find a husband.
  47. Same sex marriage has been legal in Spain since 2005.
  48. On St. George’s Day (April 23rd) in Barcelona, it’s customary to exchange a book and/or a rose with the person you love.
  49. Spaniards own more cars than cell phones.
  50. Spanish people are very fond of food. A famous saying is Barriga llena, corazón contento, which translates to “A full belly and a happy heart”!

For those who are visual learners, here is a fun infographic with dozens of interesting facts about Spain.  If these facts don’t get you excited about taking a future trip to this beautiful country, we don’t know what else will!

Interesting Facts About Spain Infographic –

50 Interesting Facts About Spain Infographic

 

Do you know any additional interesting facts about Spain or Spanish culture? If so, feel free to leave a comment below and share!

How to make learning a language easier and faster

Infographic: How to Learn Languages Easier & Faster

easiest languages to learn

When it comes to learning a new language, everyone has different goals. Maybe you just want to keep your mind sharp and broaden your communication skills in general — in that case, you might be wondering what the easiest languages to learn are, and will go from there.

Other learners might have a specific language in mind, whether you’re heading on vacation and want to chat with the locals, or need to be able to communicate with business contacts or clients.

So… why do your goals matter? The fact is, learning a new language shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all process. And the way you approach it makes a big difference!

Getting Started With the Hardest Languages to Learn

German (with its three grammatical genders), Finnish (with its complicated grammar rules), and Japanese (with its entirely new writing system) are all known as some of the hardest language to learn. Don’t let that deter you, though! Benny over at Fluent in 3 Months has a great article about what actually makes these languages difficult (spoiler: it’s your attitude!).

Moreover, often the idea of the “hardest” language to learn is completely subjective.

It’s also a matter of knowing your learning style, and your personal learning goals. Once you’ve got these figured out, you can determine the logical steps and strategies you need to take (more in this later!).

Your motivation in general makes a big difference, too! Learn more about the psychology of learning a language in this article over at the LinguaLift blog.

Getting Started With the Easiest Languages to Learn

So, what are the easiest languages to learn, you might be asking? As we discussed above, any kind of classification like that can be a bit misleading. If you begin the process thinking learning Spanish won’t even take much studying, you’re setting yourself up for disaster. There’s a lot to focus on, from new vocabulary to tenses.

Instead of making it harder than it needs to be, start off on the right foot by again acknowledging your learning style and goals.

What Type of Language Learner Are You?

Now, that you know what you need to do, let’s get started! To begin, take our learning styles quiz. This will tell you what to keep in mind as you study.

Next, with your learning style in mind, read on to determine what ‘type’ of learner you are and check out Spanish tutor Joan B.‘s tips and suggestions for reaching your specific goals.

(1) The Vacationer

Do you dream of passing the time drinking sangria, exploring cathedrals, and having a late Spanish dinner followed by a night out on the town? If you’re planning a trip to Spain or Latin America, you’ll have a much richer cultural and traveling experience if you brush up on Spanish a bit before leaving.

Language-learning goals:

  • To communicate basic needs and ask questions as needed.
  • To understand signs and announcements.
  • To engage with locals, both for pleasure and learning, as well as for transactions (in a market, at a pensión [guesthouse]).

How much and what you should learn:

  • Basics: greetings, numbers, interrogative words.
  • Key verbs (for Spanish, these include ir, estar, ser, querer, and tener).
  • Key vocabulary related to traveling and places.
  • Key phrases that you’ll hear often.
  • Any special pronunciations or slang related to the country you’re visiting.

Tips to reach your goal:

  • Carve out a few minutes in your daily routine to practice through listening. You can listen to a language tape, a language podcast, a song… anything to increase your exposure to the language!
  • Keep a notebook with new vocabulary so you can keep track of it and see your progress.
  • Start learning well ahead of your departure date, and make a timeline with your tutor or teacher to reach a level of basic comprehension and speaking ability.

(2) High School or College Student

You’re taking a Spanish class as a requirement, or perhaps you’re exploring the possibility of majoring or minoring in Spanish. In a span of a few months, you’ll be absorbing a number of new grammatical concepts, vocabulary, and more in order to gain fluency and pass your class with a high grade.

What language should I learn?

Depending on your school, you may have a choice of languages, or there may be only one offered. If you have that choice, avoid selecting something just because it’s the so-called “easiest” language to learn. Instead, think long-term — where do you want to travel in the future? Will your career interests benefit from learning a specific language?

Language-learning goals:

  • To fulfill your requirement and earn a high grade.
  • To increase your marketability in another field (Spanish language fluency is in demand in many job markets!).
  • To learn a new language, and possibly have a new cultural experience by studying abroad in the future.

How much and what you should learn:

  • The goal in high school or college classes is well-rounded fluency. You want to achieve mastery at whatever level you’re enrolled in in the areas of speaking, listening, reading comprehension, and writing.
  • Focus on key grammatical concepts, thematic vocabulary by chapter, and culturally specific information as detailed in your textbook.
  • Tip: For Spanish learners, Castilian Spanish is the standard for high school and college classes. If you study abroad, you might eventually learn a different variety of Spanish, such as Argentine or Mexican, but the goal now is to achieve mastery in Castilian Spanish, which is considered “textbook Spanish.”

Tips to reach your goal:

  • Study intelligently: stay on top of deadlines and exam dates, and plan your studying so you learn a little bit each day. Language learning is cumulative, so it’s very hard (and a bad idea!) to try to cram for an exam.
  • If you’re confused about a concept, seek extra help from your teacher. Grammatical concepts also build upon one another, so it’s important to clear up confusion before it grows. If you’re really struggling, consider seeing a tutor once or twice a week to get individualized attention and help.
  • Remember the many uses for the language. Learning in a classroom setting may seem removed, but its dividends pay off exponentially as you travel, work, and have the possibility to communicate with the millions of Spanish speakers in the world.

(3) Moving Overseas

You’re planning to study or live abroad, or perhaps you’re already there. You may have chosen the country for a variety of reasons, but one thing is sure: living or studying abroad is a unique opportunity to rapidly gain fluency in Spanish as you’re constantly exposed to it in a variety of contexts.

Language-learning goals:

  • To deepen your understanding of the culture, and to communicate meaningfully throughout your stay of several months to a year.
  • To gain fluency as you’re immersed in a Spanish-speaking environment.
  • To work, study, or otherwise participate in daily life in the country in which you’re staying.

How much and what you should learn:

  • Functional fluency: you want to have a significant breadth of vocabulary, grammar structures, and colloquial language to communicate in a variety of contexts, such as in stores, government offices, at a party, or in a vocational or educational environment.
  • Appropriate registers: polite language, formal language, informal language, and phrases, as well as the ability to choose the appropriate register for each situation.
  • Vocabulary, slang, and pronunciation differences unique to the area you’re living or studying in.

Tips to reach your goal:

  • Combine your immersion learning with specific learning in a class, with a tutor, or with a language partner. You might also consider going to a class or seeing a tutor in combination with practicing conversation with a language partner.
  • Take advantage of every opportunity for interaction: don’t be shy! Locals will appreciate your effort and enjoy meeting someone from a different place and learning about you.
  • Keep a language journal, so you can remember unique conversations, new words, and your experience in general. Living or studying abroad can be a life-changing and memorable experience!

(4) Business Professional

You’re established in your field and looking to continue progressing, when you realize that knowing another language will help you in moving ahead in your career. You might even be eyeing a specific position where that knowledge is an asset, if not required.

What language should I learn?

A lot has been written on the benefits of bilingualism, but what’s the best language to learn to help your career? According to Forbes, the general consensus is that Mandarin-Chinese, German, and Spanish are great picks. Of course, the right pick for you will also depend on your location and industry.

Language-learning goals:

  • To gain and demonstrate ability in Spanish for use in professional contexts: business meetings, with clients, or with Spanish-speaking partners abroad.
  • To pass competency tests to put on your résumé as proof of your ability.
  • To demonstrate cultural sensitivity and interest as needed in your field.

How much and what you should learn:

  • No matter what your goal is, it’s important to always start with a strong foundation. Enroll in a beginning class (or an appropriate level if you already have some knowledge) to gain an understanding of the language as a whole.
  • Either concurrently or after gaining a good foundation, take a course or study privately with a tutor to learn vocabulary appropriate for your field (for example, business or medical Spanish).
  • Learn with the goal of clear and appropriate communication. You want to be able to make your point, in addition to expressing it appropriately and politely.
  • Learn cultural habits and trends to help you respond appropriately with whom you interact with: this is a very important point that can often be overlooked! Competency without cultural sensitivity can leave a huge gap in your professional interactions, as people like to feel understood and appreciated by their business partners.

Tips to reach your goal:

  • Speak to others in your field who are fluent in your chosen language, either through bilingualism or study. Ask them for help, suggestions, and information about the use of that language in your desired field.
  • Explore various competency tests and work toward a specific one with the goal of a passing score.
  • Make sure you understand the level of fluency required for your particular career. In some careers, being at a conversational or basic level is sufficient, while in others, a higher degree of fluency is necessary.
  • Look into certificate programs for working professionals at universities.

(5) Hobbyist

You’re a weekend warrior: you’re learning the language out of love and a personal motivation and interest. You might want to build new neural pathways by challenging yourself to learn a new language, or you might have always had an interest in learning it. Whatever the reason, you’re sure to discover a whole new world of possibilities and growth through your language study.

What language should I learn?

This one’s up to you! There’s no best language to learn, so whatever sparks your interest — go for it!

Language-learning goals:

  • To enjoy the process, gain new skills, and challenge yourself to learn a new skill.
  • To experience a new culture and world of communication possibilities.
  • To one day use the language in other contexts, as well: travel, study, work, friendship, or love.

How much and what you should learn:

  • Learn at a pace that is comfortable to you. Since you’re learning for fun, there’s no need to rush. You can learn new grammatical concepts one by one, and take your time seeing the various contexts in which you might use them.
  • Ask your teacher or language tutor to incorporate extracurricular activities like dining out, going to a concert, or other Spanish language activities to build your progress in a fun way.
  • Explore literature, comics, cartoons, music lyrics, or other things that appeal to you as a way to improve.
  • Study all aspects of the language (speaking, listening, writing, and reading comprehension), but if there’s an element of particular interest to you (for example, writing to one day have a pen pal, or reading comprehension to read new literature), don’t hesitate to focus in on it! You will inadvertently improve other areas of the language by delving deeply into a particular part of it.

Tips to reach your goal:

  • Join a language meetup or other social group to have fun while improving your language skills, in addition to making new friends.
  • Explore different teaching and learning styles to find the one that is most effective and enjoyable for you.
  • Consider taking a vacation to combine learning and pleasure. It can be a great way to reinforce all of the benefits of learning the language in addition to accelerating your learning curve.

(6) Connecting With Family or Friends

You have a significant other, friends, or family members who speak another language. There’s nothing quite like talking to them in their native language, except… you don’t speak it. Never fear! With some focused study, you can be chatting with them in no time!

Language-learning goals:

  • To communicate freely with your friends or family.
  • To participate more richly in this realm of your social life. When everyone else around you speaks another language, you can miss out on a rich tapestry of humor and expression of feeling if you don’t understand.
  • To better understand your friends and family. Language learning directly educates us about cultural rituals, perspectives, and much more.

How much and what you should learn:

  • Colloquial expressions and conversational vocabulary are key. You’ll be able to carry on a social conversation and understand those around you.
  • Grammar is also important, but to a lesser extent for your goal.
  • Learn vocabulary as needed, focusing on themes of vocabulary that are most useful (for example, activities and hobbies, food, etc.).

Tips to reach your goal:

  • Watch films in the language to understand native speakers. You can start by watching them with English subtitles and then progress to just listening as normal.
  • Ask your friends and family to help you learn. A few minutes of conversation every day can help you progress and get used to their accent.

Using Your Learning Style & Type Effectively

First, here’s a recap of what you’ll need to determine:

Which Language Learner Are You

 

Now that you’re clear on your goals and how to reach them, it’s time to get started! Need a tutor? We’ve got you covered — search for a local or online tutor here. Good luck!

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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italian grammar

5 Most Difficult Italian Grammar Rules Made Simple

italian grammar

Are you ready for a lesson in Italian grammar? Below, Italian teacher Liz T. breaks down the five most difficult Italian grammar rules…

Learning Italian can be difficult, not to mention overwhelming for new students. Many students are afraid of tackling Italian grammar, as it can be complex and confusing at first.

If you take the time to learn Italian grammar, however, you’re much more likely to understand what you’re actually saying, hearing, reading, and writing.

Below, we break down the five most difficult Italian grammar rules to make it easier for you to understand.

1. Nouns and Adjectives

We categorize nouns and adjectives as either masculine and feminine. Typically, nouns ending in -o are masculine, while nouns ending in -a are feminine. See examples below.

  • Feminine: “Donna” (woman)
  • Masculine: “Uomo” (man)

If the noun ends in -i that means it’s masculine, but plural and nouns ending in -e are feminine, but plural. See examples below.

  • Masculine: “Bambini” (children)
  • Feminine: “Ragazze” (girls)

2. Singular vs. Plural

Knowing how to create singular and plural nouns can be difficult. While there are a few tricks to remembering the rules, it’s really all about memorizing the endings. See examples below.

Nouns ending in singular -o switch to plural -i

  • Amico” is changed to “Amici” (Friend, Friends)

Nouns ending in singular -a switch to plural -e

  • Torta” is changed to “Torte” (Cake, Cakes)

Nouns ending in singular -ca switch to -che

  • Mucca” is changed to “Mucche” (Cow, Cows)

Nouns ending in singular -e switch to -i

  • Professore” is changed to “Professori” (Professor, Professors)

3. Introducing “The” Definite Articles (Singular)

Singular:

There are two main forms of the definite article in the singular, il (masculine) and la (feminine) and two alternate forms. l’ for any noun starting with a vowel, and –lo, for any masculine noun starting with s- plus a consonant, p-s, or -z. See examples below:

Masculine singular

  • Example: “Il gatto” (the cat)

Feminine singular

  •  Example: “La gatta” (the cat)

Masculine noun starting with a vowel

  • Example: “L’uomo” (the man)

Feminine noun starting with a vowel

  • Example: “L’amica” (the friend)

Masculine noun starting with a -s plus a consonant

  • Example: “Lo Zio” (the uncle)

Plural:

Le is used to describe plural feminine

  • Le Ragazze” replaces La or L’.

I is used to describe plural masculine

  • I Ragazzi” replaces il.

Gli is used to describe plural masculine

  • Gli Zii” replaces Lo or L’.

4. Indefinite Articles “A, An” Describing Nouns

Masculine nouns use “Un” before a vowel or consonant.

  • Example: “Un libro” (a book)

Masculine nouns use “Uno” before consonant beginning with -s, -z, -gn, -ps etc.

  • Example: “Uno specchio” (a mirror)

Feminine nouns use “Una” before consonant.

  • Example: “Una donna” (a woman)

Feminine nouns use “Un” before vowel

  • Example: “Un’attrice” (a actress)

5. Italian Pronouns to Use When Describing People

According to Italian grammar, there are singular pronouns and plural pronouns. Below is a table that will help you better memorize the singular and plural pronouns:

Italian Pronouns

To gain a better understanding of the Italian language, it’s important to master these five grammar rules. Use flash cards, write them down, put them in a song, use visuals, anything that will help you memorize them.

Here are some additional Italian grammar articles that can help supplement your studies:

Photo by Phil Roeder

LizTPost Author: Liz T.
Liz T. teaches singing, acting, music and Italian lessons in Brooklyn, NY. She is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music with a B.M. in vocal performance and has a graduate certificate in arts administration from New York University. Learn more about Liz here!

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