Learn to Speak Spanish

The Best Ways to Learn Spanish: 6 Science-Backed Study Hacks [Infographic]

Learn to Speak Spanish

There’s no doubt that learning a second language can be a difficult task. Although learning Spanish as a native English speaker may be easier than picking up a language like Chinese, it takes time and practice to get from your first ¡hola! to full-blown fluency.

If you’re looking to accelerate your progress, it’s worthwhile to do some research into the best ways to learn Spanish. This means learning how to study smarter, not just harder. With the right study habits and a drive to succeed, you can reach your Spanish goals in the most efficient way possible.

To help, we’ve rounded up six study hacks that will prep your mind and body for learning Spanish more easily. Before we dive in, check out this helpful video on the fastest ways to learn Spanish, from TakeLesson’s expert Spanish tutor Danae Riley!

Now that Danae has got you on the right track, you can apply the following six study hacks to enhance your Spanish learning experience:

1) Write your notes by hand.

You’ve probably heard this popular tip before, but it’s one of the best ways to learn Spanish vocabulary that exists. Studies suggest that you are more likely to recall information if you write it down by hand because your brain has to focus on writing out each letter. So, ditch your keyboard or your iPad, and resort to an old-fashioned pen and paper. If you feel like you have to type your notes in order to keep up with your teacher, rewrite them by hand when you get home to help you study and retain the information.

2) Exercise.

This might sound like a strange tip, but a 2009 study showed that physical activity can improve brain function, learning, and memory. Try combining your studies with exercise by listening to a Spanish language podcast while at the gym. Instead of watching TV during a study break, take a jog around the block. Leading an active lifestyle will help you recall Spanish better.

3) Chew gum while you study.

A 2013 study showed that those who chewed gum while they learned had higher accuracy rates when recalling information than those who did not chew gum. There is also a potential link between level of focus and gum chewing. That’s because giving the jaws a workout can help keep the brain alert. So, the next time you’re struggling to concentrate, pop in some minty-fresh gum, and get back to studying!

4) Immerse yourself in the language.

A 2012 study shows that students who immerse themselves in a language instead of only learning in a classroom setting are more likely to absorb it. Furthermore, the study suggests that immersion can help the brain process the language like a native speaker. While not everyone can pack up and move to a Spanish-speaking country, there are ways to simulate immersion around your home. Try speaking and writing in Spanish whenever possible, along with listening to music and radio shows in the language.  This will help you bring a little Spanish immersion into your life.

5) Say it aloud.

This study shows that people who say information out loud are more likely to remember it than people who read everything silently. The study also suggests that our brain likes to remember oddball information, especially when it’s said aloud. Speaking out loud is not only necessary for sharpening your pronunciation, but it’s also one of the fastest ways to learn Spanish words and phrases.

6) Don’t stress; get some sleep.

Even though cramming for an exam or your trip to Spain might seem like a good idea, studies have shown that sleep is more beneficial than extra hours of studying. Getting a sufficient amount of sleep in the days leading up to your exam or trip will help you to recall information better. Your brain needs time to process the information that you take on throughout the day. Eventually, you may even start dreaming in Spanish!

Here’s a recap of all these Spanish study hacks in one handy infographic:

6 Science-Backed Study Hacks for Learning Spanish


So, what’s the best way to learn Spanish? It’s ultimately up to your own learning style and language goals. Working with a qualified Spanish tutor will help you build up your language skills in the most efficient way possible. They’ll present you with a customized study plan that considers your own unique approach to the language. Then, you can apply these hacks to maximize your study time!

Ready to start your Spanish learning journey? Online classes make it possible to connect with the perfect Spanish tutor from anywhere in the world. Search for a tutor today!

Bonus: Learn about the budget-friendly options for learning Spanish!

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useful spanish phrases

15+ Useful Spanish Phrases and Etiquette Tips for Dining

useful spanish phrases

Are you planning to eat your way throughout Spain? Below, Spanish teacher Breeana D. shares some useful Spanish phrases and etiquette tips for dining out…

Are you planning a big trip to Spain? Chances are you’re going to be eating at a lot of delicious restaurants during your stay.

Before you embark on your trip, it’s a good idea to learn a few useful Spanish phrases as well as some etiquette tips.

After all, the same etiquette rules you follow in the U.S. might not necessary apply in Spain, as the culture is very different.

Below are a few tips for eating out, as well as 15 useful Spanish phrases to assist you while you taste all of the delicious foods Spain has to offer.

Spanish Etiquette for Dining

  • Allow the host to begin eating first: Don’t dive into your dish before the host. Wait until the host begins eating or says, “¡Buen Provecho!” or “¡Provecho!” (Enjoy your meal) to begin eating your meal.
  • Use your eating utensils: You will be given a fork, a spoon, and a knife to use while eating. Large spoons are for foods such as soup and beans. Small spoons are for desserts.
  • Keep your hands visible: Place your hands on either side of the plate when not eating. Hiding your hands is seen as suspicious. Be sure to keep your elbows off of the table, while keeping your hands visible.
  • Don’t dip your bread in the soup: In Spain, it is considered rude to dip your bread in the soup. In fact, it is uncommon to dip bread in anything, including sauces.
  • Call over the waiter for the bill: It’s considered rude for a waiter to bring the bill to the table unsolicited. If you want the bill, make a point of catching the waiter’s eye and making the hand gesture like you’re writing in mid air.
  • Engage in conversation: Spaniards love conversation! Feel free to talk about your day, your family, and your hobbies. Also, don’t be scared to ask others at the table questions about themselves.

15 Useful Spanish Phrases for Dining

Now that you’ve brushed up on your dining etiquette, it’s time to learn some Spanish common phrases that will come in handy when conversing with your waiter or others at the table.

Here are some common Spanish phrases that your waiter may use:

  • ¿Qué desea comer? (What would you like to eat?)
  • ¿Qué desea beber? (What would you like to drink?)
  • ¿Estan listos para ordenar? (Are you ready to order?)
  • ¿Qué quiere? (What do you want?)
  • ¿Lo siento/Lamento, no tenemos _____ (Sorry, we don’t have___)

When answering the questions above, try using these useful Spanish phrases:

  • Un momento por favor. (One moment please.)
  • Estoy/Estamos listos para ordenar. (I/We are ready to order.)
  • Quisiera _____. (I would like ___.)

When asking the waiter/waitress questions, use these useful Spanish words:

  • ¿Cuál es el plato del dia? (What is the dish of the day?)
  • ¿Qué nos recomienda? (What do you recommend?)
  • ¿Cuál trae el plato? (What is in the dish?)
  • ¿Soy alérigico a ___ (I’m allergic to___)
  • ¿Señor/Señora, la cuenta, por favor? (Mr./Ms. the bill, please?)

When talking to the person you’re dining with, these Spanish common phrases will come in handy:

  • ¿Qué nos recomienda? (What do you recommend?)
  • ¿Como es tu comida?  (How is your food?)
  • ¿Qué te gusta hacer?/¿Qué le gusta hacer? (What do you like to do?)
  • ¿Qué libro acabas de leer ?/¿Qué libro acaba de leer? (What book did you just finish reading?)

Useful Spanish Words for Dining

In addition to learning the useful Spanish phrases above, it’s also helpful to learn some common Spanish words you’ll encounter on a menu.

When ordering food, keep these common Spanish words in mind:

  • Una entrada (a starter)
  • Segundo (main meal)
  • Postre (dessert)
  • Vino (wine)

Here are some Spanish words you might come across when reading a menu:

  • Pollo (chicken)
  • Buey (beef)
  • Carne de cerdo (pork)
  • Gambas (prawns)
  • Cerveza (beer)
  • Vino de postre (dessert wine)
  • Vino rosado (rose wine)

See Also: Spanish Food Vocabulary

If you keep these helpful etiquette tips in mind and practice these useful Spanish phrases and words, you should be well prepared when going to eat out at a Spanish restaurant!

¡Buena suerte y buen provecho! (Good luck and enjoy your meal!)

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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50 Free Resources for Teaching Spanish to Kids

50+ Free Online Resources for Teaching Spanish to Kids

50 Free Resources for Teaching Spanish to Kids - Worksheets, Games, and More

Teaching kids Spanish doesn’t need to be difficult. Whether you homeschool your child or you simply want them to become worldly citizens, learning Spanish will benefit them tremendously. In fact, raising a child bilingual is one of the best educational decisions a parent can make.

Why Should You Teach Spanish to Kids?

Childhood is the perfect time to learn a new language. As early as infancy, we learn language by listening. Frequent exposure to different words and sounds fosters and develops these skills. As we get older, however, it gets harder and harder to learn and retain new languages.

The benefits of being bilingual are vast, and by teaching your child from an early age, he or she will be at an advantage over their peers. Even a basic knowledge of a second language can help them immensely when they get to high school or college courses and dive deeper into more advanced Spanish grammar and vocabulary. Later in life, being bilingual can even lead to more job opportunities, a wider cultural understanding, and even a higher salary.

So, where should you start? Below are some great options for you to explore, from websites with learning modules to fun and addictive online Spanish games for kids. And if you don’t speak Spanish yourself, don’t worry — you can learn together!

Feel free to jump ahead by category with these links:

50 Free Resources for Teaching Spanish to Kids - Spanish Websites for Kids

Spanish Websites for Kids

  1. 1 2 3 Teach Me
    This is a great site with pronunciation guides (audio), flashcards, videos, songs, lyrics, and more. For vocabulary in particular, check out these flashcards.
  2. SpanishDict
    Here you can find interactive flashcards to teach kids the Spanish words for colors, clothing, numbers, and more!
  3. Digital Dialects
    This site is full of fun, easy-to-play games that teach Spanish grammar, vocabulary, and conversation skills. The Spanish games cover a wide range of topics, including greetings, colors, numbers, foods, units of time, animals, and clothing.
  4. GeoCom for Kids
    This is a fun-filled site featuring games, animations, coloring books, and printables for learning Spanish.
  5. Salsa
    This is a children’s TV show that is free to watch online. It’s all in Spanish, but it includes a translation of each episode. There are also a few games and activities for kids to play.
  6. BBC’s Mi Vida Loca
    Mi Vida Loca is another free Spanish TV show, but it’s meant for older kids. The series includes lessons and learning activities, as well as a teacher’s guide and syllabus to follow.
  7. Rockalingua
    This subscription-based site also offers a lot of free content, including songs, videos, games, and picture dictionaries.
  8. Online Free Spanish
    This site is full of resources in Spanish from level one up to advanced. It includes songs, vocabulary, and grammar lessons.
  9. Spanish Town
    This site has several different activities to learn Spanish, including crosswords, word finders, tests, and lessons in vocabulary and grammar.
  10. Spanish Playground
    This site includes vocabulary lessons, songs, printables, crafts, activities, books, and more.
  11. BookBox
    Bookbox offers online books available in different languages. Your kids can build reading and listening skills while they listen to stories with Spanish subtitles.
  12. Calico Spanish
    Calico Spanish is a wonderful resource for elementary Spanish curriculum. In addition to their classroom and homeschool materials, they offer free online Spanish videos via YouTube.
  13. PBS Kids
    Noah is the protagonist of the PBS Kids digital series Oh Noah! The series is designed to introduce children ages four through seven to Spanish in an entertaining way.
  14. Story Place
    Toggle over to the Spanish version of the site for books and activities in Spanish.
  15. Spanish Simply
    This blog, written by an elementary Spanish teacher, has some great ideas for activities that work for in-home practice as well!
  16. BBC
    This BBC site features vocabulary lessons, games, videos, photos, and songs.
  17. Hello World Spanish
    This website has more than 700 free Spanish games and activities, including logic puzzles, matching games, and bingo.

Fluent in Spanish? The following websites offer games and activities for kids — but they’re all in Spanish, so you’ll need to know how to speak it yourself!

  1. 9 Letras
    This is a blog by Alberto Abarca Fillat of Huesca, Spain. Alberto shares his free elementary Spanish resources, along with several printable activities for young Spanish learners.
  2. Pakapaka
    This site features activities, games, videos, stories, printables, and tongue-twisters!
  3. Make Beliefs Comics
    Have some ideas for what you want to teach your kids? Use these blank comic templates to create your own lessons!
  4. Educapeques
    This site offers exercises categorized by grades and subjects.
  5. Proble+
    Math word problems are excellent reading comprehension practice! Proble+ (pronounced proble-mas) offers engaging online games that combine Spanish reading comprehension and basic math skills.
  6. Chile Crece Contigo
    Created by the Chilean government, this site offers online games for preschoolers. The games are an excellent introduction to preschool vocabulary and concepts for Spanish language-learners.
  7. Manualidades con Niños
    This is the Spanish companion site to SimpleKidsCrafts, featuring hundreds of short tutorials for simple crafts with Spanish audio. Try having your kids watch a video and translate the Spanish, then use the language you heard while completing the craft.
  8. Discovery FamiliaThe Spanish version of Discovery Family offers videos, games, and printable activities in Spanish.
  9. Chillola
    Learning Spanish is easy here with lots of games (with audio) and free printable resources for parents.
  10. Disney
    Check out the Spanish version of Disney’s official website to play a variety of games and watch video clips!
  11. El Abuelo Educa
    This is a great site to learn Spanish, with lessons and games categorized by topics (math, geography, etc.).
  12. Enchanted Learning
    This site features fun activities, printables, and a vocabulary builder.
  13. Cuentos Interactivos
    This site has interactive stories for intermediate and advanced Spanish speakers.

50 Free Resources for Teaching Spanish to Kids - Spanish Websites for Kids

Looking for worksheets, games, videos, or vocabulary specifically? Check out the lists below for direct links.

Spanish Worksheets for Kids

  1. Gus on the Go 
    This site offers several free Spanish printables and worksheets, including numbers flashcards and an animal vocabulary fortune teller. They also offer a great app for $3.99 (available for both iOS and Android), in which kids interact with Gus, an adorable owl character, for games and vocab lessons.
  2. Spanish4Teachers
    Although this site is geared toward Spanish teachers, many of these worksheets offered are simple enough for parents to understand and use with kids.
  3. GeoCom for Kids Printables
    View and print vocabulary activities organized by themes like animals and seasons.
  4. Rockalingua Worksheets
    These worksheets also teach Spanish vocabulary, including words for seasons, colors, numbers, and weather.
  5. OnlineFreeSpanish Coloring Pages
    Download and print these coloring pages to learn numbers, animals, and more.
  6. SpanishTown Vocabulary Sheets
    Practice vocabulary with these printable activities and worksheets.
  7. Enchanted Learning Printables
    Here you can find short, printable books to practice vocabulary and Spanish reading comprehension.
  8. Living Montessori Now
    Check out Deb’s list of free Spanish printables and Montessori-inspired activities for some great ideas!
  9. Spanish411 Printable Resources
    This site offers maps, charts, activity sheets, handouts, games, and posters.
  10. Memorizing the Moments Spanish Resources
    Here you’ll find flashcards and lessons created by Kaysha, who blogs about early education.
  11. Nick Jr Dora Flashcards
    Learn simple Spanish greetings with these flashcards featuring Dora and all her friends.
  12. Boca Beth Free Bilingual Resources
    Boca Beth offers free language card downloads, as well as coloring and activity pages.

Spanish Games for Kids

Free Spanish Games for Kids

  1. 123TeachMe Games
    This is a great list of links to interactive games on other sites, such as Sid the Science Kid on PBS Kids.
  2. GPB Kids
    Practice vocabulary with the interactive games and coloring books here.
  3. Rockalingua Games
    This site has interactive games for learning about colors, numbers, feelings, and more.
  4. Spanish Playground Toys and Games
    Here you’ll find printables and online games, as well as app recommendations for kids.
  5. Calico Spanish Flashcard Games
    Flashcard games, matching games, and concentration games for beginner Spanish learners.
  6. Oh Noah! Games
    Check out these interactive games with the same characters as in the videos.
  7. Spanish Games
    Choose a topic, learn with tutorials, and then select from seven free Spanish games to practice.

Spanish Videos for Kids

Spanish Videos for Kids

  1. Calico Spanish
    This website features paid curriculum programs, but also offers tons of great free videos on their YouTube channel.
  2. 123TeachMe
    Here you’ll find short stories, along with questions that test your child’s understanding of the stories.
  3. BBC’s Mi Vida Loca series
    BBC offers this interactive video drama and Spanish course geared toward older kids who are beginners.
  4. Rockalingua Videos
    These Spanish videos for kids include songs about numbers, colors, feelings, parts of the body, and much more.
  5. Spanish Playground Videos
    On this site you can explore many clips with easy vocabulary for kids.
  6. Oh Noah!
    Young kids will love this video series featuring Noah and his language-learning adventures.

Spanish Vocabulary for Kids

Spanish Vocabulary for Kids

  1. Rockalingua Picture Dictionaries
    Review easy Spanish words for kids with these worksheets to color.
  2. 19 Easy Spanish Vocabulary Words to Teach Your Kids
    Check out TakeLessons’ handy guide and infographic with Spanish words for kids!
  3. Spanish Town Vocabulary
    Here you’ll find vocabulary with audio, as well as printable vocabulary sheets in PDF form.

Bilingual Parenting Blogs

Bonus Spanish Resources

  1. Billboard Latino
    Check out the charts for the top Latin artists, then use Spotify to stream them online at home! (See also: How to Use Fun, Creative Songs to Teach Spanish to Kids)
  2. YouTube
    Explore Latin music videos and additional Spanish lessons — simply enter your search terms and see what’s out there! (Hint: Check out Señor Jordan’s channel — one of our favorites!)
  3. Wikibooks
    This open-source Wikimedia project is designed to extend educational material to anyone willing to learn it. The website’s Spanish section starts off with basic conversation and grammar lessons, which gradually increase in complexity.
  4. ¡Hola Viajeros!
    This site provides a series of free audiobooks in slow Spanish along with transcripts. By listening to the audio while reading the transcripts, you and your children will quickly learn Spanish pronunciations, inflections, and other nuances.
  5. Amy Leonard’s Pinterest Boards
    If you’d like to create your own curriculum for your kids, this Spanish teacher’s resources are a fantastic place to start. Her website has additional worksheets and lessons.
  6. Pimsleur Approach
    Another great site for creating your own curriculum, where you can find tons of helpful links and resources for teaching Spanish.

Bilingual Parenting Blogs

Bilingual Parenting Blogs

Finally, want a little inspiration as you teach your child another language? The following are a few bilingual bloggers we love:

  • Latinaish
    Married to a man from El Salvador and raising two sons, blogger Tracy shares her insight on Spanish language, culture, food, and family.
  • Mommy Maestra
    Written by a homeschooling Latina, Monica, this blog is an amazing resource for anyone raising or teaching bilingual, bicultural kids.
  • All Done Monkey
    Leanna writes wonderful articles on language and culture in a balanced and inspiring approach to parenting.
  • Spanglish House
    In this blog, Cece, a Bolivian mom in the U.S., shares her experiences keeping her language and culture alive for her children.
  • Discovering The World Through My Son’s Eyes
    Written by a Puerto Rican mom, Frances, this blog is full of resources and inspiration for raising children with two languages.
  • A Life With Subtitles
    In this blog, Sarah, a mom married to a man from Guatemala, shares her family’s experiences and her insight in funny, yet moving articles.
  • Juan of Words
    Juan, Anjelica, and son Edgar share their experiences in the leading U.S./Hispanic Lifestyle blog on Mexican living.
  • Los Gringos Locos
    In this blog, Tina shares funny stories about living abroad in Mexico with her husband and four kiddos.
  • Españolita
    Living in the US but raising a bilingual daughter, Audrey blogs about Montessori education, parenting, language tips, and more.

What other Spanish websites, games, and worksheets did we miss? Let us know in the comments and we’ll add it in. Want to take it a step further? Consider signing your child up for private Spanish tutoring for additional practice and customized lesson plans. Make learning fun, and you’ll set your child up for success!

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28 Spanish Phrases & Jokes That Don't Quite Translate

28 Funny Spanish Phrases & Sayings That Don’t Quite Translate

28 Spanish Phrases & Jokes That Don't Quite Translate

There are dozens of funny Spanish phrases and sayings that will make you sound more like a native when conversing with friends and family. These sayings and jokes provide a unique “cultural window” that reflects the morals and values of many Spanish-speaking countries.

However, many of these funny things to say in Spanish don’t quite translate to English.  Check out the list below to see just how much Spanish speakers love to play around with words! (Translations included).

28 Funny Spanish Phrases, Sayings, & Jokes

Querer es poder.

Literal translation:
Wanting to, is being able to.

What it actually means:
Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

This wise saying points to the resilient heart of Spanish culture, that even if an obstacle appears insurmountable at first, you can overcome it!

No hay mal que por bien no venga.

Literal translation:
There’s nothing bad that doesn’t occur in the name of a greater good.

What it actually means:
Every cloud has a silver lining.

This is one of our favorite funny Spanish sayings. It points to a belief in Spanish culture that even if an event appears negative, you should trust that it happened for a reason. Life is giving you what you need now, even if it feels rough.

You can also attribute it to the belief in a greater good, or a greater power.

Échale ganas.

Literal translation:
Insert desire.

What it actually means:
Try your best.

Ponte las pilas.

Literal translation:
Put your batteries on.

What it actually means:
Work hard.

Es mejor pedir perdón que permiso.

Literal translation:
It’s better to apologize than to ask for permission.

What it actually means:
Do what you need to do now.

Here the attitude is “you better just do what you need to do now and worry about the consequences after,” highlighting another cultural proclivity toward staying in the present moment and doing whatever is needed in that moment.

SEE ALSO: 35 Spanish Slang Words

Despacio que tengo prisa.

Literal translation:
Slowly that I’m in a rush.

What it actually means:
Slower is faster.

Many funny Spanish sayings also have a bit of wise advice attached to them. This one suggests that doing what you need to do slowly and thoroughly is more productive in the long-run.

Más vale mal por conocido que bueno por conocer.

Literal translation:
Known evil is better than unknown good.

What it actually means:
Be content with what you have now.

This saying suggests that known imperfection is better than idealizing a future alternative that may not be too good at all. This is a double-edged sword, however, as staying in your comfort zone can actually prevent you from better options.

Él que transa no avanza.

Literal translation:
He who deceives never advances.

What it actually means:
Deception never pays off.

This rhymes smoothly but only in Spanish.

Tirar la casa por la ventana.

Literal translation:
Throw the house out the window.

What it actually means:
Roll out the red carpet.

This saying is about splurging on special occasions, namely spending a lot of money when the situation warrants it.

Mandar a alguien por un tubo.

Literal translation:
Send someone through a tube.

What it actually means:
Tell them to shove it.

This is about setting limits when people don’t treat you right.

Quedarse con los brazos cruzados.

Literal translation:
Staying with your arms crossed.

What it actually means:
He/she froze.

SEE ALSO: 36 Popular Spanish Slang Words

This is when someone gets paralyzed and doesn’t act when they need to.

Caras vemos corazones no sabemos.

Literal translation:
We see faces but we don’t know hearts.

What it actually means:
Don’t judge a book by its cover.

This isn’t one of the funny things to say in Spanish, but rather something more serious. It means that you should realize things aren’t always the way they appear.

Mejor solo que mal acompañado.

Literal translation:
It’s better to be alone than in bad company.

What it actually means:
It’s okay to be alone sometimes.

This saying reminds people to take care of themselves in relationships.

De golosos y tragones, están llenos los panteones.

Literal translation:
Cemeteries are full of greedy people.

What it actually means:
Care for others — or else.

This saying works in English but doesn’t rhyme at all.

Camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente.

Literal translation:
A shrimp that sleeps is carried away by the current.

What it actually means:
You snooze, you lose.

Here, again, the rhyme is lost in translation but it’s a good reminder to seize opportunties as they come your way.

Más vale un pájaro en mano que ciento uno volando.

Literal translation:
One bird in hand is better than 100 birds flying.

What it actually means:
A bird in hand is worth two in a bush.

The meaning behind this message is simple: you already have something that’s guaranteed yours, so don’t be greedy and try to grab two more that may or may not be yours.

Se puso hasta las chanclas.

Literal translation:
He/she put themselves up to the sandals.

What it actually means:
He/she got hammered.

There are many funny Spanish phrases that have to do with drinking. Use this one when you have a friend who got a little too carried away the night before!

Palabras necias, oídos sordos.

Literal translation:
Annoying words, deaf ears.

What it actually means:
If you don’t have anything positive to say, don’t say anything at all.

Nobody likes to listen to someone nagging, so it’s better to keep quiet!

Entre la espada y la pared.

Literal translation:
Between the sword and the wall.

What it actually means:
Between a rock and a hard place.

This describes a difficult situation where no matter what you do, it feels like the wrong choice.

Del dicho al hecho hay mucho trecho.

Literal translation:
There’s a giant gap between the saying and the action.

What it actually means:
It’s easier said than done.

Sometimes it’s easier to talk about an action getting done than to physically carry it out.

Se fue de Guatemala a Guata-peor.

Literal translation:
It went from Guate-bad to Guata-worse.

What it actually means:
Things went from bad to worse.

This play on words is clearly compromised in the translation, as the original saying in Spanish uses the country Guatemala, which has the word “bad” in its last two syllables.

Entre broma y broma la verdad se asoma.

Literal translation:
Between jokes and jokes, the truth lurks.

What it actually means:
Jokes can reveal truths.

The beautiful rhyming in Spanish is again lost in the English translation.

RELATED: 50 Beautiful Spanish Words

Now let’s look at some funny Spanish phrases and jokes to share with your friends!

¿Qué le dijo un pez a otro pez? Nada.


What did one fish say to another? Nada.

The word “nada” in Spanish can refer to the command to swim, or the word “nothing.” So this joke is a play-on-words

Hay dos palabras que te abrirán muchas puertas: Empuje y jale.


There are two words that will open many doors for you: push and pull.

This hilarious little joke is another play-on-words in Spanish.

¿Qué le dijo una ganza a la otra? Venganza


What did one goose say to the other? Revenge.

If you separate the first syllable ven, meaning “come,” from the next two, ganza meaning “goose,” you’ll see that the joke’s answer simultaneously reads, “come goose” and the word “revenge.”

Clearly, this joke does not work in English, so if it were translated in a movie, the subtitles wouldn’t capture it well, no matter how skilled the translator is. Talk about a dad joke!

Se encuentran dos abogados y uno le dice al otro:

-¿Vamos a tomar algo?

-Bueno… ¿de quién?


There are two lawyers and one says to the other:

-“Let’s get a drink.”

-“Yes. From who?”

In Spanish the verb tomar (“to take”) is also used to mean “to drink,” so the lawyers are “taking a drink” and “taking something from someone” simultaneously. This highlights the cultural tendency to view lawyers as corrupt, opportunistic, and greedy.

“¡Te dije que me gustan las películas viejas y buenas y tú me llevaste a una película de viejas buenas!”


“I told you I liked good and old movies, but you took me to see a movie with pretty women!”

This play-on-words is especially complicated. While vieja means “old,” it also refers to a woman, and while buena usually means “good,” it can also mean “attractive” when referring to a person.

Now that you know these sayings, you won’t feel confused if you hear them in conversation! Good luck with your Spanish studies and learning the intricacies of this fascinating language and culture.

What other funny Spanish phrases, sayings, or jokes have you come across? Leave a comment and let us know!

JasonNPost Author: Jason N.
Jason N. tutors English and Spanish in Athens, GA. He majored in Spanish at UC Davis and studied Spanish Literature and Psychology at the University of Costa Rica. Learn more about Jason here!  

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Moving to Spain 10 Expats Share Their Insight

Moving to Spain: 10 Expats Share Their Insight

Moving to Spain 10 Expats Share Their Insight

Moving to Spain is an exciting decision! It’s your chance to learn about a new culture, get better at speaking Spanish, and live experiences that would never otherwise be available to you.

Whether you are moving to Spain for work, study, or just an adventure, you are likely to have a number of qualms and concerns. But don’t worry — we’re here to help you make a smooth transition.

The Cost of Living in Spain

Although the cost of living in Spain has increased over the last few years, it is still an inexpensive option for expats from the U.S. In fact, housing is already far less expensive than it was in the past: on average, you can expect to pay around $600/month for an apartment with one bedroom or $900/month for two bedrooms in downtown — or even less on the outskirts of a city. Prices tend to increase with proximity to the coast.

Public transportation, including buses and rail, makes it easy to get around the country. It’s also reasonably cheap to eat out in Spain, ranging from $11 at an inexpensive restaurant to $22 for a three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant. Keep in mind that this can also vary depending on what city you’re in, with more tourist-heavy cities being more expensive. You can see some comparisons of cost of living here.

Living Expense Calculator

Use this Living Expense Calculator to determine how much you are likely to spend in Spain. You can improve the accuracy of you calculations by noting down what you normally spend in a month; for instance, how often you eat out a restaurants, what groceries you buy, and in what activities you normally partake.

What Expats Have to Say

Of course, the best advice about moving to Spain comes from those who have already made the move! Here’s what some our favorite bloggers said about their most surprising revelations after moving to Spain.

Moving to Spain - 1

“The most unexpected or surprising thing that I learned after I moved to Spain was all of the little cultural cues and phrases Spaniards use in everyday life that you never learn in the textbook, things like greeting and saying goodbye to people in the elevator, the waiting room at the doctor’s office, or at the gym; wishing “enjoy your meal!” to complete strangers; having to say me pones… for a bartender to get you something and me cobras… for them to charge you for it; and not apologizing if you accidentally touch/bump someone on the street.

Much of this is stuff you pick up after living in Spain for a while, so it feels great when you remember what to say or do and you finally ‘fit in’ for half a second.”

Trevor, A Texan in Spain

Moving to Spain - 2

“One of the most surprising things to us was how welcoming, accommodating, and friendly the locals were to us. Right from the beginning we would receive a wave and a hello on the street as we passed by.

We were included in many functions by neighbors or parents of other kids at the school. The locals didn’t seem to mind that we would fumble around through their language. They accepted us, listened patiently, and were very helpful.”

-Heidi, Wagoners Abroad (check out their tips for moving to Spain here!)

Moving to Spain - 3

“The first thing that surprised me when I first moved to Spain was the fact that people talk to each other in a much more informal way, unlike in Italy.

In English you use the pronoun ‘you’ to address to anyone, it doesn’t matter of the status. In Italian, Spanish, German, and many other languages, you have two forms, one is formal and the other one is like ‘you’ (informal). In Italy people like to have others recognizing their status; in Spain you can use ‘you’ with teachers, doctors or elderly people.

I felt quite strange doing this at the beginning, but after a while, I just love this way and I feel closer to everyone. I think in Spanish they don’t set barriers as much as they do in other languages.”

– Claudia, Coffee and Brunch BCN

Moving to Spain - 5

“‘Siestas really do exist! Spanish cities tend to cater to tourists so you might be able to find something open in the middle of the day in a city, but smaller villages that don’t get as many tourists shut down between 2pm and 5pm. Literally everything closes; restaurants close up after lunch, shopping markets take a three-hour break, and banks and other offices close for the day at 2pm. Everyone goes inside for a nap, and Spanish villages look like ghost towns for three hours every day. Then, around 5pm, everyone starts coming back outside. It’s not at all what I expected!

Also, most Spanish people consider going to a restaurant a social event. Sometimes they don’t even eat, they just go to hang out and chat with friends. My first social outing was new and surprising to me. Our group was the only group in the restaurant but the restaurant didn’t close until we left, which was around 1 in the morning. We asked for the check, but instead of a bill we got two bottles of alcohol. Apparently in Spain, it’s normal for restaurants to thank you for your business with free ‘chupitos,’ or shots, right before they bring the bill. Who knew!”

– Alyssa, She Went to Spain

Moving to Spain - 6

“One of the most unexpected things I learned after moving to Spain was how there is a strange coexistence of the Spaniards’ spontaneous and live-in-the-moment attitude and their adherence to a traditional daily routine revolving around meal times.

It was difficult to strike a balance between planning and organizing my days and social events while also keeping in mind that things crop up and flexibility is a necessity. My one takeaway lesson from Spain has definitely been patience in all aspects of my life!”

– Chelsea, Andalucía Bound

Moving to Spain - 7

“The thing that surprised me most about Spain was how friendly every is! People in the south of Spain are exceptionally welcoming and hospitable; when I first moved here I was a bit suspicious of everyone… I couldn’t understand why people I had just met were willing to go out of their way to help me.

Eventually it became apparent that this is just part of their culture; most of the people I have encountered here are very open, generous, and altruistic. This is only one of the many reasons why I’ve decided to stay in Spain — it’s simply a wonderful place to live!”

– Kate, Kate’s Travel Tips

Moving to Spain - 8

“For me the most surprising thing I learned is that Spain has this amazing food culture. I knew absolutely nothing about Spanish food before I came, so the fact that there are so many regions, each with their own (delicious) cuisine, was totally unexpected and eye-opening.”

– Daniel, The Chorizo Chronicles

Moving to Spain - 9

“I had no idea just how difficult speaking Spanish full-time would be. I naively assumed that, having aced Spanish classes in high school, my Spanish would be fully fluent after a few weeks. Ha! Speaking a language in its native country is a whole different ball game.

The most important thing I learned is that you won’t get anywhere if you’re too afraid of making mistakes to speak. Everyone has language flubs sometimes, locals are understanding, and you won’t start improving until you just relax and practice at every chance you get!”

– Kirstie, Venga, Vale, Vamos

Moving to Spain - 10

“You may think you know the language. You may have even taken some high school Spanish from Señora Johnson. And then you arrive in southern Spain and think to yourself ‘well that did me little good.’

The Spanish spoken in Andalusia consists of not only rapidly stringing words together, but dropping off their endings altogether. But fear not, your ear will tune it in after a while!”

– Jed, Bucking the Trend

Moving to Spain - 11

“I think I would have to say that the most unexpected thing I learnt after moving to Spain was just how important — and incredibly delicious — food is here.

In North America we often hear about the French or the Italians and their food cultures, but Spain is very much left out of the mix. Eating good quality, fresh foods are extremely important here, and most families cook daily using seasonal ingredients. It’s flavorful and varied, and is eaten as a family unit as often as possible.

Food is without a doubt an integral part of Spanish culture.”

– Ashley, Cómo perderse en España

Readers: Are you moving to Spain, or do you have your own expat tips? Let us know about your experience in the comments section below!

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Learning Spanish by Budget Cost

Want to Learn Spanish? 5 Options Broken Down By Cost

You probably already know the benefits of learning Spanish, from getting ahead in the job market to networking with new friends and more! But as with any skill, language mastery takes time — and often money — to achieve.

If you’re wondering how much it costs to learn Spanish, there isn’t one hard-set answer — it really depends on how you’re going about your learning. These days, the Internet makes it easy to find resources to even teach yourself Spanish, without needing a ton of expensive books or software. If you’re on-the-go, free Spanish-learning apps can be a fun way to fit learning into your day.

And when you’re ready to get serious about your studies, the advent of online lesson platforms makes finding a tutor within your budget easier than ever.

So, what’s the right option for you and your budget? Continue reading to learn about five popular options to help you teach yourself Spanish.


computer software for learning Spanish

The modern version of a workbook is language learning software. While there are many available out there, the most well-known option is Rosetta Stone.

Language software is a great option if you want to set your schedule — sitting down whenever you have some spare time — however, the biggest drawback is the lack of personal attention. You won’t be able to double check of your pronunciation with the software, so you’ll need to rely on your own ear to determine whether you’re getting the syntax and pronunciation correct.

This kind of software can cost you from $30 for a budget option up to a few hundred dollars for a comprehensive study of Spanish.

Example option: Rosetta Stone costs$499 for a 36-month beginner program.


learning Spanish with books

This language-learning option was around well before computers, the Internet, or smartphones. A well-crafted book will allow you to learn a language without purchasing multiple resources and building a considerable expense, and similar to software, you can go at your own pace.

Keep in mind, though, that books share the same drawbacks as software as well. Most books will have quizzes or tests at the end of each chapter, but it’s difficult to really gauge your progress outside of that. On top of this, you won’t have the audio that software provides — typically just a phonetic spelling that you’ll need to decipher.

Books can be as inexpensive as $5 secondhand, or over $100 for a textbook.

Example option: Easy Spanish Step-By-Step is a top seller on Amazon, and the paperback version can cost less than $8.

Mobile Apps

learning spanish with apps

Nowadays, there’s an app for everything — including tons of apps for learning Spanish. Language-learning apps are quite similar to software, but they are obviously much more portable. It’s an easy option for quick study during your commute, on your breaks, or anywhere else that you bring your smartphone or tablet. In addition to being portable, many of these apps are free.

On the drawback side, however — keep in mind that these apps typically set your path for you and assume your goals. Because of this, you might get stuck at a certain “level,” even if what you really want (or need) to learn is introduced much later on.

Mobile apps may be free and ad-supported, or require a monthly subscription of $5 up to $40 or even more.

Example option: Download TakeLessons Live for free to access live, online classes in a variety of languages.

Online Learning Websites

learning spanish with websites

Don’t want to install software or download an app? Another learning method comes in the form of websites or tutorial videos. It shares the same drawbacks as apps and software, in that they’re not targeted to your specific goals. While there are certainly some great sites out there, there’s also a handful of not-so-great options — ones that rely on memorization and repetition, instead of real-life scenarios for learning.

Online resources can also be free and ad-supported, or require a monthly subscription of $10 to $50 or more.

Example options: Check out LearnWithOliver, or our other recommendations for Spanish-learning websites for adults, or free Spanish-learning websites for kids.


Learning Spanish by Budget Cost

Whether you seek an online tutor that you meet over video chat, or an in-person tutor that you meet with regularly, tutors are easily the most bang-for-your-buck.

You have complete control over the pace of your learning (your tutor will monitor progress and only proceed when you have mastered the current Spanish segment), instantaneous feedback on pronunciation errors, and the ability to ask questions about anything that you’re having trouble with. As you’re weighing options and considering how much a tutor will cost, it’s important to realize how much more you’re getting for the expense.

Tutors with TakeLessons set their own rates, which gives you a wide variety of options. You can typically find tutors for as little as $15 per hour up to $100 per hour, depending on experience.

Example option: A native Spanish speaker and TakeLessons Student Favorite, Georgina L. teaches beginners, intermediate, and advanced students at $30 per hour.

Teach Yourself Spanish - Options by Budget

So there you have it — several options for learning Spanish, all at your fingertips! Best of luck with your studies, and let us know if you need any help getting started. Going the tutoring route? Find Spanish tutors in your area and compare prices with a search here at TakeLessons!

Photos by Devon D’EwartLexnGerTom RafteryS MartinJeremy Wilburn

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Amazing Virtual Field Trips Around Spain & Beyond

agbar tower

One of the great things about learning a new language is immersing yourself in the culture. There are so many fantastic things you can learn from the culture of a country, from important holidays to unique traditions with rich historical roots.

However, for Spanish classes, flying all the way to Spain or Mexico can be an expensive endeavor. The good news is that the Internet provides a portal to learning that allows teachers and students to experience the culture from the classroom or home — plus it makes lesson plans much more exciting! So put down the flashcards and conjugation charts for the day, and pull up your browser. Your students will love these unique options for virtual field trips around Spain and beyond!

1. Google Maps and Google Cultural Institute

sagrada familia

Google Maps is a great first stop for a virtual field trip. If you have a list of landmarks and well-known hot spots in the area, use that to start your tour. In the screenshot above, for example, you can “visit” Spain and get an up-close look at the Sagrada Família, a Roman Catholic church and one of Barcelona’s most popular tourist attractions.

You can also use the Google maps engine to create your own maps and routes, and add resources at each destination. Try using this to create a fun lesson plan that takes your students all over the country!

Finally, check out the Google Cultural Institute, which incorporates Google Maps and additional online resources to showcase various world wonders and historic moments, all easily searchable.

2. Connected Classrooms

Connected Classrooms

Yet another option in the Google suite, Connected Classrooms uses Google Hangouts to connect and empower educators. Here you can share resources, collaborate, and brainstorm ideas, including virtual field trips and other learning opportunities. Once you join the community, you’ll be able to sign up for the upcoming field trips, which are broadcast via Hangouts on Air.

3. City Tourism Websites

barcelona X

Many cities have robust and interactive websites created by their tourism department, aimed at educating and inspiring readers! For Spanish classes, check out the Barcelona Tourist Website. There’s ton to explore on the website, including details about each of Barcelona’s districts (neighborhoods), tourist attractions, and interesting historical facts. The website also provides a newsletter in Spanish and connections to their Twitter and Instagram accounts, for real-time updates on city life.

4. AirPano


AirPano showcases 360-degree views of various cities, including Barcelona. The website also includes a brief bit of geographical and cultural information for each location. For example, did you know that according to one of the legends, the city was founded by Hercules, the legendary hero of Greek mythology? There’s also some gorgeous 360-degree videos in the gallery.

5. Spain Virtual Field Trip


Spain Virtual Field Trip is another online visual view of Spanish cities, including Segovia and Madrid. Students can navigate through the interactive map and click on buildings to learn more about what they are and how they are unique to Spain.

6. 360Cities

Sevilla panorama

This website is the largest 360° panorama sharing community, featuring thousands of extraordinary locations created by HD virtual reality photographers. Type in the city you want to explore, and check out all the gorgeous panorama photos, like the above photograph of the Plaza de España.

7. Reach the World

Lana's journey to Spain

Reach the World is an awesome website that offers students and teachers opportunities to connect and learn from world travelers who are documenting their experiences through field notes, journal entries, and photographs. Students can explore the journals freely, while the RTW Full Program includes traveler-to-classroom matching, video conferencing, on-site support from classroom interns, and teacher professional development.

8. Mexico: A Global Trek Activity via Scholastic

Mexico virtual field trip

Spanish-speakers should also be learning about Mexico, of course! has excellent lesson plans and resources for exploring Mexico’s history, cultures, and landmarks. Recommended for grades 3-8, students can read all about the country, take a virtual tour, and then write about it in their online travel journal.

Don’t teach Spanish? Looking for other lesson plans and virtual field trips outside of Spain and Mexico? Here are some more ideas:

Virtual Field Trips for Science & Ecology

Virtual Field Trips for History

Virtual Field Trips for Other Subjects

Readers, what other resources have you used? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll add it to the list!

Photo via AirPano

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teaching spanish to kids

11 Free (& Fun!) Resources for Teaching Spanish to Kids

teaching spanish to kids

Are you a parent interested in teaching Spanish to your kids? You’ve made a big — but fantastic — decision!

Studies have shown the benefits of being bilingual in today’s society; not only will you be making an impact on your child’s communication skills and cognitive abilities, raising your child bilingual will help set him or her up for success later on in life.

Teaching Spanish to kids is easy if you speak the language yourself, but where do you start if you don’t already speak it? It’s a wonderful opportunity to learn Spanish at the same time as your kids (benefiting you both), but you’ll need to find the right resources to do so. And if you’re on a budget? You might think it will be even harder — after all, Spanish-learning software can be expensive… and weekly tutoring lessons might be too much of a commitment if you’re not sure you’ll stick with it.

Luckily, thanks to the Internet, it’s never been easier to teach a new language to your kids and yourself at the same time. To get a jump on bilingualism, hone your language skills with the following helpful resources.

Spanish Learning Apps

There are so many apps to learn Spanish available these days — and many of them are completely free. These apps can provide a great introduction to the language, and many of them have games that are fun for kids and adults alike. Here are some of our favorites:


If you don’t have the money for Spanish textbooks, phrase books, and flashcards, don’t worry. All of the same instructional benefits are available for free from Wikibooks, an open-source Wikimedia project designed to extend educational material to anyone willing to learn it. The website’s Spanish section starts off with basic conversation and grammar lessons, which gradually increase in complexity over time. Spend an hour a day on Wikibooks lessons and you and your child will master basic Spanish conversations in no time.

Spanish Learning Websites

There are tons of fantastic websites that offer easy-to-follow lessons on vocabulary, grammar, and more. We love FluentU; with your free account, you’ll get limited access to Spanish videos and clips, along with subtitles to help you learn how vocabulary and phrases come together in real-world contexts. Paid accounts for unlimited watching and listening start at $8/month.

SpanishDict is another great website for teaching Spanish to kids, with more of a focus on vocabulary and grammar. The interactive flashcards make it fun to learn the words for colors, clothing, numbers, and more!

Finally, Spanish Playground is fantastic for kids who want a variety of activities — here you can find ideas for games and crafts, plus printable worksheets, videos, jokes, and much more!

Online Spanish Learning Games

After you’ve done some studying, it’s time to take a break and play some games! Educational games and activities are wonderful for reiterating and reviewing what you’ve learned. An awesome website to bookmark is Digital Dialects, which is full of fun, easy-to-play games that teach Spanish grammar, vocabulary, and conversation skills. The games cover a wide range of topics, including greetings, colors, numbers, foods, units of time, animals, and clothing. The website also offers vocab lists and conjugation breakdowns to help children without prior Spanish experience.

For a fun activity, hold contests with your kids to see who can win the most games. The more fun you have, the less of a chore studying will be and the quicker you’ll pick up the language!

¡Hola Viajeros!

When you’ve gotten the hang of reading Spanish, it’s time to start learning how to recognize the spoken language. ¡Hola Viajeros! provides a series of free audiobooks in slow Spanish along with transcripts. By listening to the audio while reading the transcripts, you and your children will quickly learn Spanish pronunciations, inflections, and other nuances. Best of all, these audiobooks are mostly devoted to describing Spanish-speaking countries, customs, and books, allowing you to learn about Spanish-speaking cultures as you learn the language.


Once you’ve listened to all of ¡Hola Viajeros!’s audiobooks, it’s time to move on to faster-paced Spanish audio. YouTube is great for this, providing a wide range of music videos, TV shows, and movies from Spanish-speaking countries. By watching YouTube videos in Spanish, you’ll get a sense of how the language is spoken in practice. You can also find a ton of fun, silly songs for teaching Spanish that kids love!

Another great idea is to find songs from the Spanish-language versions of Disney musicals. Your kids likely know the English lyrics to many of these songs by heart, so they’ll already understand the gist of what the characters are singing about; this will make it easier to break down the meanings of the Spanish lyrics. As an example, here’s the Spanish version of “Let it Go” from Frozen:

Once your kids can understand Spanish-language Disney songs without too much trouble, move on to watching films, TV shows, and vloggers. You should have no trouble finding age-appropriate videos for teaching Spanish to kids.

So… Now What?

When you are ready to invest in your or your child’s language mastery, make sure you’re spending your money wisely — by hiring a qualified Spanish tutor! As effective as these resources can be, there’s no substitute for working one-on-one with a teacher who can cater lessons to your specific learning style, and catch pronunciation mistakes that you might be overlooking. After all, these apps and website are all missing one crucial element: actual communication with other Spanish speakers!

If you’re serious about guiding your child toward bilingualism — or securing your own fluency — a tutor will help you get there. The money you spend on Spanish lessons is well worth the cost, as most experienced polyglots agree. And in between your lessons? Take advantage of all these free resources for teaching Spanish to kids, and everybody wins — that’s what they’re there for!

Ready to get started? Search for a tutor here!

Bonus:  Learn about other budget-friendly options for learning Spanish!

Photo by Jessica Lucia

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10 Milestones to Celebrate As You Learn Spanish

Learning Spanish takes a lot of work — so don’t forget to celebrate when you’ve made progress! Here, Spanish tutor Joan B. shares the significant milestones to be on the lookout for…


Learning a language can be an exhilarating experience, as you master concepts, increase your vocabulary, and discover a whole world of communication! When learning Spanish, there are several points along the language learning-process that are indicative of where you stand in your fluency with the language. So, when you reach these points, be sure to give yourself a pat on the back for all your hard work!

Here are 10 milestones to celebrate as you learn Spanish:

1. You can conjugate -ar, -er and -ir verbs in the present tense.

Knowing how to conjugate Spanish verbs in these three different endings multiplies the possibilities you have for expression. You’ll know you’ve reached this milestone when you can write out the following charts of conjugations:

Learning Spanish

2. You can ask simple questions using interrogative words and answer them using complete sentences.

Knowing interrogative words and being able to form questions and answers means you can have casual conversations in Spanish with a variety of individuals in daily life. For example, you can ask a shopkeeper, “¿Cuánto cuesta el cinturón?” (How much does the belt cost?), or reply to the question, “¿De dónde es usted?” (Where are you from?) with, for example, “Soy de Miami” (I’m from Miami.).

3. You can listen to an audio recording in Spanish, understand its content, and answer questions about it.

When listening to a story or other type of Spanish audio recording, you have to keep up with the rapidity of speech, quickly assimilate the meaning, and comprehend the main points and details. If you can do this, well done! If you’d like to test your comprehension, you can ask your Spanish tutor to read you a passage and ask you comprehension questions, or you can look for exercises in your textbook that offer an audio component.

4. You can recite the numbers one through 100 and use them in daily contexts.

Numbers are essential to know in Spanish, from telling time to speaking about age or the date. If you can confidently recite the numbers from one to 100 and say the time, a price, and your age, you’re competent in numbers, because you can then go on to learn the hundreds, the thousands, and beyond! Here are some examples:

Son las tres y media. (It is 3:30.)
El precio es cuarenta y nueve dólares y noventa y nueve centavos. (The price is 49 dollars and 99 cents.)
Tengo veintisiete años. (I am 27 years old.)

5. You can describe yourself — both your physical attributes and personality traits.

When you can write or say a short paragraph describing yourself, that means you are able to correctly use the verb ser (to be), descriptive adjectives, and colors in Spanish. For example:

Soy cómico pero también puedo ser serio. (I’m funny, but I can also be serious.)
Tengo los ojos azules y el pelo rubio. (I have blue eyes and blonde hair.)

6. You can talk about what you like to do and don’t like to do.

When you can express your likes and dislikes in Spanish, you are able to more richly express your preferences, you favorite activities, and your opinions. For example, could you say something along these lines in a real conversation?

Me gusta mucho el fútbol, pero no me gusta el tenis; la razón principal es porque soy aficionado del Real Madrid.
(I really like soccer, but I don’t like tennis; the main reason is because I’m a fan of Real Madrid.)

If you can do so, then you have just hit this milestone through the goalpost!

7. You can talk about your family — detailing their ages, names, professions, and other details.

Describing others in Spanish allows you to discuss news and events with others, share details about your friends and family, and generally speak about others, expanding from speaking about yourself.

Here’s a short example of what reaching this milestone might look like:

Mi hermana mayor se llama María. Ella tiene treinta y tres años, y vive en la misma ciudad que yo. María trabaja como doctora en un hospital.
(My older sister is named Maria. She is 33 years old, and she lives in the same city as I do. Maria works as a doctor in a hospital.)

8. You can describe your city.

Discussing your favorite neighborhoods or talking about the incredible Día de los Muertos festival that happens annually in your city means that you’ve hit this milestone en español! Being able to provide details about the size of your city, its neighborhoods, and its cultures and ethnicities means that you can create complex sentences, express opinions, and make use of a variety of verbs. For example:

Mi ciudad es mi ciudad favorita porque está llena de vida, de gente, y actividades, como festivales, fiestas y conciertos. Mi barrio tiene mucho que ver, muchos restaurantes y muchas actividades en que participar. Sobre todo, me encanta mi ciudad porque tiene variedad y muchas culturas distintas.
(My city is my favorite city because it’s full of life, people, and activities, like festivals, parties, and concerts. My neighborhood has lots to see, many restaurants and activities to participate in. Above all, I love my city because it has variety and lots of different cultures.)

9. You can talk about what you’re going to do on your next vacation, using the forumula, ir + a + infinitivo.

Knowing vocabulary for vacations is important, because it reflects your knowledge of leisure activities. Being able to discuss your next vacation also means that you have mastered the near future tense, in which you use the verb ir (to go) + a + a verb in the infinitive to express the idea of “going to” do something.

Here’s how you might talk about your next vacation:

En el verano, voy a ir a Puerto Rico. Cuando estoy allí, voy a ir al mar, comer pescado y nadar. Voy con mi familia, y vamos a estar en Puerto Rico por dos semanas.
(This summer, I’m going to go to Puerto Rico. When I’m there, I’m going to go to the sea, eat fish, and swim. I’m going with my family, and we are going to stay in Puerto Rico for two weeks.)

10. You can talk about your daily routine, using reflexive verbs, and what you have to do during the day.

Daily routines are full of detail, locations, and items. If you can accurately describe what you do everyday to get ready in the morning (Me ducho a las siete. [I take a shower at seven.]) and what you have to do during the day, using tengo que + infinitive (Tengo que ayudar en casa. [I have to help at home.]), you have reached this milestone with flying colors!


As you reach these 10 milestones, reflect back on how far you’ve come since you started learning Spanish. You are now able to communicate effectively, express yourself and understand others! Keep up the great work as you continue learning Spanish.

Joan BannaPost 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!

Photo by Sarah Reid

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conversational spanish

Want to Learn Spanish? 5 Things to Stop Wasting Time On

conversational spanishWant to learn Spanish fast? Feeling overwhelmed yet? Stop over-complicating things! Depending on your goals, you may be able to simplify your studies and just focus on the basics of conversational Spanish. Here are five tips from online Spanish tutor Montserrat P...


If you’re reading this, congratulations! You have decided to learn one of the most beautiful and useful languages: Spanish!

As you’ve probably recognized so far, there are lot of grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation rules to remember. How do you keep yourself motivated — and avoid getting overwhelmed — when there’s so much to learn? Depending on what your goals are, you may be able to simplify your learning to just conversational Spanish. Here are five things you can actually stop doing to make your time more efficient.

1. Learning Useless Vocabulary

Stop trying to learn complicated and specific words. Words such as melancolía (melancholy), etéreo (ethereal), and iridescente (iridescent) are not going to come up in day-to-day Spanish. Knowing these types of words will help you as you advance in the language, but not so much while in casual conversation.

Instead, focus on vocabulary you’re likely to use regularly. Benny over at Fluent in 3 Months has some great tips in his article on common mistakes new language-learners make (see fix #4).

Also, consider learning idioms. Tomar el pelo (“to take the hair”) is a phrase that expresses surprise, de sol a sol (“from sun to sun”) means “all day long,” and matarse trabajando (“to kill oneself working”) is “to work very hard.” These idioms are almost guaranteed to be in a casual conversation. If you master idioms, you are more likely to understand and be understood when speaking Spanish.

2. Watching Children’s TV Shows

Children’s TV shows deal with very basic vocabulary used in very simple conversations. While they can be an amazing resource in your very early stages of learning, ultimately, watching these shows will not lead you to Spanish fluency.

If you really want to become fluent, go for more advanced programming, and turn the Spanish audio and subtitles on. By doing this, you will gain the necessary listening training to be able to sustain a Spanish conversation. Additionally, you have the chance to read the subtitles of the show, which guarantees you will understand every word the characters are saying. (And if you don’t recognize a word, look it up!)

Even though watching your favorite TV show in Spanish with subtitles on may not sound all that fun, it is one of the most efficient ways to get your brain used to this new language. Listening and reading Spanish will help you to solidify your bases before you move on to face-to-face conversation. Plus, you get to watch your favorite TV show as homework. Doesn’t sound that bad anymore, does it?

3. Reading Too Much

While reading helps you to develop a wide vocabulary, do not spend all your time on it. Your conversational Spanish will not be taught to you by books alone; you need to get out there and practice!

So, instead of spending two hours of your day reading, dedicate one hour to your books and one hour to the people around you. Find a friend from your Spanish class and have some coffee together. Working one-on-one with a Spanish tutor is another great idea, as it forces you to fit in time for practice. The most important thing is for you to get those conversations going. After all, practice makes perfect!

4. Studying Alone

Studying Spanish by yourself can be very useful when it comes to understanding the grammar and learning new words, as you are able to study the language at your own pace, placing emphasis on those areas that give you the most trouble.

However, conversational Spanish needs to be studied with others. Volunteer with the Spanish-speaking community around you, book more regular sessions with your tutor, sign up for a study abroad program, or find a language exchange partner — just do whatever you can to get yourself involved in Spanish conversations. If you’re looking for an online language exchange, here are some great sites to check out:

5. Speaking with Non-Native Spanish Speakers

This one might be a little challenging, depending on your surroundings, but whenever possible, avoid speaking to only non-native Spanish speakers. Though speaking to non-native speakers is a great way to get your conversation going, speaking Spanish to native speakers is the most efficient way to become completely fluent in Spanish. After all, who’s a better teacher than somebody who grew up speaking the language?

You may feel weird and intimidated at first, but keep going. With time and practice, you will feel completely comfortable. Don’t be ashamed of making mistakes. Rather, be open to suggestions, and learn from your errors.

From Conversational Spanish to More Advanced Levels

Of course, this is not to say that you should not learn the more advanced elements of the language. Once you have constructed these bases, you will need to continue studying Spanish in order to acquire the building blocks that will allow you to become fully fluent. Not all your conversations will deal with easy vocabulary or non-trivial topics, and if you want to take part in these interactions, you need to master all levels of Spanish dialogue.

But don’t worry — even though dealing with more complicated Spanish sounds intimidating, it is easier than it seems. If you work on the simpler elements until they are solid, learning the more complex ways of expression will come naturally. And as you progress with the language, you will realize that some of the rules you thought were set in stone can be bent to accommodate your needs. Working with a teacher or tutor guarantees that you will be learning all these exceptions and new concepts correctly.

Spanish is a wonderful language. Now that you have this advice, go forth and continue working hard. Soon, the results will show in your conversational Spanish abilities! ¡Buena suerte!

Montserrat P.

Montserrat P. teaches Spanish lessons online. Originally from Costa Rica, she is now completing her studies at Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan. She is bilingual in English and Spanish, and has been teaching private lessons since 2012. Learn more about Montserrat here!



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10 Tricky Spanish Tongue Twisters to Try Today!

Spanish tongue twisters (or trabalenguas) can be very amusing for children and adults alike. But did you know that tongue twisters can also help improve your pronunciation as you’re learning to speak Spanish?

Since tongue twisters have a certain pattern, they can help you practice your oral skills by honing in on one sound at a time. For example, the famous “she sells seashells by the seashore” focuses on the “sh” and “s” sounds.

Not only are tongue twisters fun, they can get pretty competitive if you’re trying them out against your friends and family to see who can say it perfectly with the least amount of tries. A great way to practice your pronunciation and enunciation is by reciting the following 10 Spanish trabalenguas.

Feel free to read them slowly, then practice until you can say them fast. In case you have trouble with the pronunciation, we’ve provided an audio recording for each trabalengua. If you’re new to speaking in Spanish, there is nothing to fear — these are hard even for seasoned veterans!

1) Tres tristes tigres tragaban trigo en un trigal.

This tongue twister focuses on the “tr” sound. The “r” sound is pretty difficult for new Spanish speakers – and even more difficult is the “rr” sound. Try your best to say this tongue twister yourself first, then listen to the audio to see if you got it right.

2) Un perro rompe la rama del árbol.

This tongue twister focuses on the hard “r” sound (same as the “rr” sound). The hard “r” sound seems to be difficult for almost all non-native Spanish speakers. With practice you’ll be able to roll your “r” sounds — just be patient.

3) Buscaba el bosque Francisco, un vasco bizco, muy brusco, y al verlo le dijo un chusco, ¿Busca el bosque, vasco bizco?

This tongue twister focuses on the “b” and “v” sounds, and the “sq/sc” sound. For most people, these sounds are relatively easy and not that difficult to pronounce. This is a bit of a long one; how many tries does it take for you to say this one correctly?

4) Pancha plancha con cuatro planchas. ¿Con cuántas planchas Pancha plancha?

This tongue twister focuses on the “p” and “pl” sounds. These sounds aren’t too difficult for Spanish learners. Nevertheless, it’s a good tongue twister to help with your pronunciation.

5) Cuando cuentes cuentos, cuenta cuantos cuentos cuentas, cuando cuentes cuentos.

This tongue twister focuses on the “cua” and “cue” sounds. The sounds aren’t really difficult to pronounce correctly, however, remember that the “t” and “cua/cue” sounds are heavier than their English counterparts. Beginner Spanish speakers tend to pronounce Spanish sounds softly rather than with the heaviness that’s prominent in the Spanish language.

6) Hoy ya es ayer y ayer ya es hoy, ya llegó el día, y hoy es hoy.

This tongue twister focuses on the “y” sound and the silent/non-existing “h” sound. It’s another fairly simple tongue twister if you take your time. Interesting fact: Some Spanish speakers pronounce the “y” like a “j” in English. For example: “ya es ayer” would sound like “ja es ajer” (phonetically spelled using the English “j” sound).

7) Compré pocas copas, pocas copas compré y como compré pocas copas, pocas copas pagué.

This tongue twister focuses on the “co,” “po,” “pa,” and “é” sounds. It’s definitely a fun one to try with your friends. Remember though, the “é” is the heavy part of the word (where you put more force on enunciating).

8) La sucesión sucesiva de sucesos sucede sucesivamente con la sucesión del tiempo.

This tongue twister focuses on “su,” “ce,” and the overall “s” sound. In Spanish, when a “c” is followed by “e” or “i,” it sounds like an “s.” In this tongue twister, the “s” is very prominent — which can make this one very easy or very tricky.

9) De generación en generación las generaciones se degeneran con mayor degeneración.

This tongue twister focuses on the “ge” and “ción” sounds. This one can be a little difficult, but if you take your time you should be able to get it. Remember, when the “r” is in between vowels, it’s a light “r,” not a hard “r” (“rr”) sound.

10) Juan junta juncos junto a la zanja.

This tongue twister focuses on the “j” sound. It’s short, simple, and pretty easy to read, but nevertheless a fun little sentence. However, don’t be surprised if you mess up on this insidious tongue twister.

Congratulations – you got through every single one! If you had trouble with them, go back through them slowly to make sure you can say all the words, check the pronunciation on the audio files, and then practice until you can go faster. Spanish tongue twisters really are mind over matter!

It also helps immensely to take Spanish lessons with a great tutor, so you can practice speaking in Spanish more and get feedback on your pronunciation. If you can get through all of these tongue twisters, you’ll be well on your way to having excellent Spanish pronunciation!