Life in America vs. Life in Spain

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Spain vs. U.S.: Introductions

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

Spain vs. U.S.: Meals

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

Spain vs. U.S.: Drinking

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

Spain vs. U.S.: Nightlife

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

Spain vs. U.S.: Personal Space

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

Spain vs. U.S.: Driving

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

Spain vs. U.S.: Fashion

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

Spain vs. U.S.: Shopping

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

Happy Travels!

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

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

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

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30+ Cinco de Mayo Activities, Worksheets, & Recipes for Kids

30 Cinco de Mayo Activities, Worksheets, & Recipes for Kids

Countdown to Cinco de Mayo! If you’re a Spanish teacher, a private tutor, or a parent teaching Spanish to your child, this is a great time of the year to focus on Mexico’s rich history. Whether you’re looking for printables, games, Cinco de Mayo vocabulary, or traditional recipes to try, we’ve rounded up the best of the best to explore with your kids!

But First, Why Do We Celebrate Cinco de Mayo?

Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that is celebrated in both the U.S. and Mexico. This day, the 5th of May, commemorates the battle between Mexican and French soldiers in 1862. France wanted to conquer Mexico during the Franco-Mexican war, and both armies fought in a battle in Puebla, a city in Mexico.

Though the Mexican militia were outnumbered, they managed to defeat the French army. Today, many people, especially Mexican Americans, celebrate Cinco de Mayo to recognize this victory. Although there’s some debate about the “Americanization” of the holiday, it’s still an important event to recognize in Mexico’s history.

As part of the celebrations, it’s common to see street festivals or parades for the holiday. You may see women and men wearing traditional Mexican dress; men may wear trousers, a shirt, and a sombrero (hat). Women may wear colorful puebla dresses or pico skirts. Puebla dresses are full-length dresses that are decorated with flowers or traditional Mexican symbols. Pico skirts are long flowing skirts that are made of a light fabric.

Participants also engage in plenty of dancing and eating. Common foods during this celebration include tamales, enchiladas, and mole. Sometimes, parades include a reenactment of the battle in Puebla.

Cinco de Mayo Activities

Now, let’s get to the activities! Jump ahead to specific categories, or explore everything we’ve rounded up.

Cinco de Mayo Vocabulary


Cinco de Mayo Activities

Free Printables, Word Searches, & Worksheets

Cinco de Mayo Crafts

Kid-Friendly Cinco de Mayo Recipes

Did we miss a good resource? What Cinco de Mayo activities have you used with your kids? Leave a comment below and let us know! And for even more fun, check out our live, online Spanish class for kids — view the schedule and register your child here.

Breeana D.Post Contributor: 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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15 Easy Ways to Practice Spanish Throughout the Day

15 Easy Ways to Practice SpanishThroughout the Day

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

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

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

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

Practice Reading in Spanish1

Practice Reading in Spanish

1. Change the language on your devices

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

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

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

2. Research in Spanish

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

3. Pick up a Spanish newspaper

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

4. Read a book in Spanish

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

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

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

5. Take notice of signs and brochures in Spanish

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

6. Play games in Spanish

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

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

Practice Listening in Spanish

Practice Listening in Spanish

7. Watch TV Shows and YouTube Videos

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

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

Don’t have Netflix or Hulu? Try watching Univisión or Telemundo! I love Caso Cerrado, a Spanish-language Judge Judy! You can also check out Spanish lessons on YouTube in your spare time. Here’s a playlist to get you started-

8. Get Spanish language music for your daily commute

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

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

9. Listen to podcasts in Spanish

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

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

Practice Writing in Spanish

Practice Writing in Spanish

10. Write your shopping list in Spanish

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

11. Write a blog in Spanish

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

12. Get a Spanish-speaking pen pal

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

Practice speaking in Spanish

Practice Speaking in Spanish

13. Visit Hispanic bodegas and supermarkets

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

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

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

15. Teach someone what you already know

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

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

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

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25+ Inspirational Quotes for Language Learners

There are many benefits to learning a foreign language, from better cognitive health to higher salary wages. Learning a different language, however, can be difficult–not to mention time consuming.

If you need some motivation to help you get started, check out the 25+ inspirational quotes about language below. Keep these language quotes close by so you can refer to them whenever you’re feeling frustrated or defeated.

25+ Inspirational Quotes About Language

“One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.” -Frank Smith

“The man who does not know other languages, unless he is a man of genius, necessarily has deficiencies in his ideas.” -Victor Hugo

“Learn everything you can, anytime you can, from anyone you can; there will always come a time when you will be grateful you did.” -Sarah Caldwell

“The conquest of learning is achieved through the knowledge of languages.” -Roger Bacon

“Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.” -Chinese Proverb

“One who speaks only one language is one person, but one who speaks two languages is two people.” -Turkish Proverb

“Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going.” -Rita Mae Brown

“Language is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run and out of which they grow.” -Oliver Wendell Holmes

“A different language is a different vision of life.” -Federico Fellini

“Language comes first. It’s not that language grows out of consciousness, if you haven’t got language, you can’t be conscious.” -Alan Moore

“Speak a new language so that the world will be a new world.” -Rumi

“Language is not a genetic gift, it is a social gift.  Learning a new language is becoming a member of the club-the community of speakers of that language.” -Frank Smith

“Language is a city to the building of which every human being brought a stone.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

“As a hawk flieth not high with one wing, even so a man reacheth not to excellence with one tongue.” -Roger Ascham

“I am always sorry when any language is lost, because languages are the pedigrees of nations.” -Samuel Johnson


“Language shapes the way we think, and determines what we can think about.” -Benjamin Lee Whorf

Hopefully, these quotes about language will inspire you to start off the year learning a new language. Tell us… what’s your favorite from this list of quotes about language?

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30 Quirky New Year's Eve Traditions 500x300

30 Quirky New Year’s Traditions From Around the World

How much do you know about New Year’s Eve traditions?

Here in the U.S., you know what to do: gather your friends and family, turn on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve in the background, and count down from 10 as midnight nears. At the strike of the clock, you know to toast everyone as the fireworks blast off, sing a verse of “Auld Lang Syne,” and sneak in a New Year’s kiss, if you can!

But outside of the United States, did you know there are some much more quirky New Year’s Eve traditions? If you’re in Spain, for example, you’ll want to get 12 grapes ready to eat with each strike of the clock. In Turkey, make sure you have a few pomegranates ready to throw off your balcony for good luck.

To start your faux travels, we did some research into some of the bizarre New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day traditions around the world. While some of them might be outdated — or more of an old wives’ tale — they’re certainly interesting to learn!

Here’s what we found:

30 Quirky New Year's Eve Traditions Around the World

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Readers, what do you think? Have you heard of these New Year’s Eve traditions around the world, and are they true? Let us know by leaving a comment below!


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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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being bilingual

10 Hilarious Frustrations Every Bilingual Can Relate To

Did you know that 26% of American adults speak another language other than English?

There are a number of benefits to being bilingual, such as better cognitive abilities, higher job salary, improved creativity…the list goes on.

While being bilingual has its perks, there are some frustrations that come along with it.

We’ve interviewed a bunch of language bloggers to compile the ultimate list of the most common problems that bilinguals face.

1. You meet another bilingual person, but can’t figure out what language to speak in.

“When you meet someone who speaks the same languages and don’t know which one to speak to them in,” said Linas of ikindalikelanguages.

2. People constantly try to guess where you’re from and always get it wrong.

“Native speakers find it hard to guess where I’m from. I don’t have a perfect ‘native’ accent in any language nor do I have a discernible English-speaking one either,” said Conor Clyne of Language Tsar.

“So in Italian, many Italians think I’m German, in Russian many think I’m French, in Romanian many native speakers think I’m Russian etc.  Being multilingual uniquely makes me mistaken for other nationalities depending on the language I’m speaking in.”

3. You have a hard time getting your grammar rules straight.

Does the verb come right after the subject or the last word of the sentence? And when do I use that weird ß in German?

4. People treat you like a foreign dictionary.

“The second people know that you speak more than one language, they start asking how to say words as if you were a dictionary!” said Lucrezia Oddone of Learn Italian with Lucrezia.

5. You confuse two languages and end up speaking in a weird hybrid language.

“A problem only bilingual people can understand in my opinion is when a word for something in one language seems to click more than the words for the same thing in other languages and you end up speaking this weird hybrid language!” said Lindsay Dow of Lindsay Does Languages.

6. Auto correct is your worst enemy.

When you’re feverishly trying to send a text in Italian, but your phone keeps auto correcting to English or visa versa.

7. You embarrassingly forget your native language.

“The weirdest thing that happens to me is forgetting the name of common things in my native language, but remembering in a foreign language. I remember once I wanted to say ‘hanger’ in Portuguese, but I couldn’t remember, but I knew in English; so I had to look in an online dictionary to remember a simple word in my own language,” said Nathalia of Polyglot Nerd.

8. When you know multiple languages, but still can’t seem to find the right word.

“Remembering the word for something in three languages, but not in the one you are speaking just then,” said Rita Rosenback of Multilingual Parenting. 

9. People always ask you how to say swear words in a different language.

Your friends never stop asking you how to say certain swear words in different languages, and you can’t help but giggle and tell them…every time.

10. You’re in a group of people who speak two different languages and you’re forced to play translator.

“I often have to translate between my Spanish and Dutch speaking families. So when my Dutch speaking family says something in Spanish, I say it in Dutch to my Spanish speaking family. Always to great amusement of the people involved!” said Noel van Vliet of

Being bilingual has its quirks, however, don’t let these common frustrations prevent you from learning a new language!

Photo by Peter

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5 Fun Ways for Families to Learn Spanish Together

ways to practice Spanish this summer

Families: looking for creative ways to practice Spanish together now that summer is here? Read on as Sacramento tutor Allison H. shares a few of her fun ideas…

Summer is here, the warm temperatures and sunshine tempting us outside to pools, concerts, and neighborhood barbecues. With so many fun things to do, it’s hard to buckle down and learn Spanish outside your daily activities.

But one of the keys to learning a language is practice, practice, and more practice. Whether you are worried about your student suffering summer loss, are gearing up for that vacation in Mexico, or just want some fun Spanish-language activities for the summer, here are a few ways to practice and learn Spanish that will get the whole family involved.

1. Listen to a song

Music is a window into other cultures and languages, plus it’s good for pronunciation and vocabulary expansion. Listening and singing along to music in another language is wonderful for your pronunciation. Even if you don’t have a clue what the song is about, just singing along will help your mouth start to form the sounds of the language. Listening to music will also get your ears used to the sounds of the language. You’ll be surprised how many words you start picking out once you get started. So pull up YouTube and watch a few music videos from Latin American and Spanish bands. (Here are some great Spanish musicians to start with!)

Extra credit: Write down 3-5 words you didn’t know and look them up!

Here is one of my favorite tunes:

2. Catch up on the news

Listening to the news provides a snapshot of everyday life in the country where it came from. Much like listening to music, listening to the news provides an excellent opportunity for comprehension practice and vocabulary expansion. Each time you listen, select 3-5 words to look up and add to your vocabulary practice. Check out News in Slow Spanish — not only does it provide a newscast in slow basic Spanish, but it also includes a transcript so you can practice your reading comprehension as well.

Extra credit: Discuss what you just heard, in Spanish, with a family member or study buddy!

For more ideas check out these three simple steps for adding Spanish to your summer fun!

3. Get cooking

Everyone loves to eat, so why not make it an opportunity to practice your Spanish? Visit Allrecipes Mexico to pick out a delicious recipe, all in Spanish. How much can you understand on your own and how many of the words do you have to look up? Add the words you had to look up to your vocabulary practice. Now prepare and enjoy.

Extra credit: Make your kitchen a Spanish-only zone while cooking the meal. Here’s a great guide to Spanish cooking vocabulary from FluentU!

4. Put a label on it

Make your house the classroom. Label your furniture and appliances in Spanish. The repetition of seeing those labels will help everyone in the family associate the words with the object. This can be helpful for students who struggle with connecting the words in a book to real life.

Extra credit: Only refer to labeled objects by their Spanish name!

Related Video: Learn How to Describe Family Members in Spanish

5. Take a walk…. with flashcards

Now that you have all this new Spanish vocabulary, it’s time to practice it. My personal favorite vocab study technique, backed up by research, is flashcards. Research shows that flashcards help with memorization because they appeal to many learning styles (visual, auditory, and kinesthetic), force active recall (you have to remember the word from scratch without any context to hint at the meaning), and allow for self-directed study (you choose what you need to work on). Walking while you study has also been shown to help with retention, plus it’s more fun than sitting at home. So make up your flashcards and go for a walk.

Extra credit: Take a study buddy and quiz each other!

Here’s a visual recap of these ideas for practicing Spanish this summer:

5 Ways to Practice Spanish This Summer

Readers, what other ways do you practice and learn Spanish with your families? Let us know in the comments!

AllisonPost Author: Allison H.
Allison H. teaches Spanish in Sacramento, CA. She studied Spanish at Warren Wilson College and Spanish Language at La Universidad de Granada. She has been teaching since 2011. Learn more about Allison here!

Photo by Nestlé

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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!