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Learn Spanish Watching Series!


Throughout this blog the importance of having fun while learning has been widely defended, in fact, this is crucial if we want to succeed in our aim. Because of this, it is important to get appropriate materials which ensure we will have a great time and, today, if there is a cultural product which stands out over the rest, I would say without hesitation that is the TV series.

If you are learning English, you are likely to know some of the multiple and popular series that can be found in the market. This is not difficult because English, in both American and British variants, is widespread. But, what can you do if you are learning other languages?

Obviously I can’t give an answer for every situation, but I can recommend you some stuff if you are learning my native language, which is Spanish.  So, I would like to dedicate this post to recommend some of the Spanish series of the last times which have received better critics and appreciation from the public, with the hope you find them attractive and help you learn a bit.

1. Gran Hotel:

  • Synopsis: “TV series of 39 episodes (2011-2013). In the year 1905, a young guy (Yon González) arrives at a hotel in the countryside to investigate the strange disappearance of his sister. While he is doing his research, he falls in love with the daughter of the owner and fiancée of the hotel’s manager (Amaia Salamanca). A love as impossible as it is dangerous. (FILMAFFINITY)”
  • My review: From my point of view, this series stands out not only for its meticulous photography and atmosphere, which takes place in the historical Palace of La Magdalena, but because of its very good recreated sensation of suspense and danger, with some mysteries which are not revealed till the end. The cast is pretty good; especially the veterans, but the attractive young couple of stars does well too. A catchy show that leaves you wanting more.
  • How to watch this series: You can enjoy these episodes for free only by registering in the website of the TV channel which produced the series, this one: http://www.antena3.com/series/gran-hotel/. Subtitles available.

2. El Tiempo Entre Costuras

  • Synopsis: TV show (11 episodes). An adaptation of the María Dueñas’ best-seller that tells the story of Sira Quiroga (Adriana Ugarte), a young seamstress from the capital city who sees how her life turns down and has to get ahead alone in a hostile place from the start as Tangier, in Morocco. The young dressmaker arrives there pushed by destiny to commit herself in a risky arrangement in which fabrics and models hide something much more shady and transcendental. (FILMAFFINITY)
  • My review: Frequently adaptations of famous books disappoint their fans, but this is not one of those cases. The truth is that this spectacular super production does not detract from María Dueñas’ original work, which I also recommend. The atmosphere, beautiful and full of dream places, took part in three different countries: Spain, Morocco and Portugal. With regard to the story, it has a bit of everything: history, intrigue, excitement, romance, danger and situations that leave us on the edge of our seats. Don’t think twice and give it a chance.

3. Carlos, Emperor King 

  • Synopsis: How a taciturn young boy became one of the most powerful men of Europe of all time. Along the story of the life of Carlos de Habsburgo since his rugged arrival to Castile, we will see how the inheritor of the Hispanic crowns grows as a statesman and how he becomes stronger by reacting to the threats that surround him, and the rights and wrongs of this counselors.
  • My review: This series is being broadcast right now, so it is difficult to offer a complete opinion. Nevertheless, I have to recommend it. Succesor to the previous historical series “Isabel”, this new one took the best of the previous series, with very appropriate data and situations, but added to it a special touch of life and color. I could not say if it is because of the renaissance atmosphere or the closest characters, but I like this new stage of the saga more

To begin, these three series are quite good. But, if you take a look to the links I posted you will see that you can have access to much more of the series that this channels produced. So that, if you don’t like my recommendations, you can pick something you find more interesting. So, there aren’t more excuses, you have a lot of material. Now is time to have fun while learning!



Linguistic Challenges


In previous posts I commented on the great importance that motivation has when learning languages, in fact, it is one of the most important factors, see: 3 Keys to Effective Language Learning

A lot of people have a high level of motivation on their own, up to the point that they have made this learning one of their main hobbies. Those privileged don’t need more advice; they are going to do it well for sure. But the rest would certainly benefit from a bit help, and extra dose of motivation that help them achieve their goals.

How to get more motivation?

First of all, we should ask to ourselves, because nobody can know what we really like as well as us. In this manner, it would be advisable, when you want to learn a new language, to focus in those parts of the culture of the country you like the most. If there are some countries where it is spoken, then you are lucky to have a great range of possibilities to find something you like: Music, series, people, etc. If there is something about the local culture that interests you, use it as foothold. This is very personal and depends exclusively on you.

However, leaving aside our own interests, there are also some resources we may turn to get more motivation. Today I am going to talk about one of these resources: Linguistic challenges.

What are linguistic challenges?

Challenges are, overall, objectives to be achieved. They are defiances, games, incentives that invite us to take action. This, at a linguistic level, could be done in so many ways, but the most important thing is to have an aim, or in other words, something we really want to achieve. Then we only have to find our wish. Some examples could be:

  • One degree or certificate.
  • Travelling to the country whose language we are learning and being able to speak to people from there.
  • Reading a book saga in the original language.
  • Finish all the levels of one application.
  • Watching a full soup opera. One thousand hours of listening!
  • The only limit is your imagination.

All these good purposes can help a lot. Nevertheless, if you are studying a language, it is certain that sooner or later one plan will show up in your mind. Ideas usually appear on the fly and most of the times the only thing you have to do is to move ahead. Then things may appear suddenly.

Nonetheless, it is possible that you are studying just because you have to; maybe you need languages to find a job. If you live in Spain you know well what I am talking about. If you don’t please share with us the experience in your country J. And yes, I also think that the requirements to get a job are excessive these days. The point is, we always put more passion in the things we do just because we like and no when we are forced to. However, we can always find a challenge in our way that can make things change.

For my part, right now I have a couple of challenges in view. The first one is to take the exam to get the well-known Proficiency or CPE, how it is named now. I am thinking of doing it by the end of 2016.

The second one is another Proficiency, but this one not that acclaimed. I want to take the test that the well-know application Duolingo provides, this time in Portuguese. Yes, this certificate is not as prestigious and I don’t even think that is proves much about your real knowledge of the language, especially taking into account the level of the “the butterfly eats the elephant” app. However, I have notice that in certain arenas this game-application certificate is recognized, so now I have a good reason to pass all the levels and learn more and more. Whatever happens, I have nothing to lose but something to learn. I will talk about this experience in more detail in the future. Regardless to the date of the event, it is still to be determined, I am just a beginnerJ.

And what about you? Have you had your challenge yet? Would you like to share it with us?

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Castilian or Spanish


Most Spanish learners will discover sooner or later two terms that refer to the same language. The election between one and another is somewhat controversial and will bring up some doubts to all the people interested in the Hispanic world. Because of this the logical question comes up, what is the right word?

To introduce the subject, let’s review the origins. The word Castilian comes from Castile, in other words one of the historic regions that form the Spanish lands. Castile is known for being the cradle of the Spanish (or Castilian) language. Castilian appeared in the Middle Ages and was based on Low Latin which also received the linguistic influence of the people present at that time in the kingdom: Arabs, Basque and Germanic-Visigoths. The language spread to all the peninsular land due to the Castile’s supremacy over other kingdoms and became the most spoken language, although some other tongues coexisted.

The conquest of the Americas resulted in the spread of the language to a large part of the continent and currently it has become the second most spoken language in the world.

Now we can see the historical origin of the word “Castilian” and understand the beginning of the divergences.

At a linguistic level, both terms are not only right, but synonyms, which means that you can use them interchangeably. The problem arises because due to political issues, there is a dispute with respect to the use of one or the other.

With regards to Spain, there are three other official languages apart from Castilian:  Catalonian, Basque and Galician. Thus, to avoid giving Castilian precedence over the rest by calling it “Spanish”, it remains as “Castilian”. It is something similar to Switzerland where four official languages exit at the same time but none of them is considered “Swiss”.

In Latin America, there is a balance among the countries that use one option or the other. In the south of the continent, except for Colombia and El Salvador, the term Castilian is more widely used. It is even included in some constitutions. However in Mexico, Colombia, Central America and the Caribbean, Spanish is more likely used. The reasons to pick one or the other change depending on the way each country explains the differences between its language and “what is spoken in Spain”.

To get an official point of view, let’s see what the Panhispanic Dictionary of Doubts says about this subject:


Spanish: To designate the common language of Spain and some American nations which is also spoken in other parts of the world, the words Castilian and Spanish are equally valid. The polemic about which of these designations is more appropriate has been left behind today. The term Spanish is more advisable because it is free of ambiguity and refers in an unequivocal way to the language which is spoken today by four hundred million people. Furthermore, it is the internationally used designation (Spanish, espagnol, Spanisch, spagnolo, etc.). While being also a synonym of Spanish, it is preferable to use Castilian to refer to the Roman dialect born in the kingdom of Castile  during the Middle Ages or to the Spanish dialect spoken in that region nowadays. In Spain, that name is also used when we want to make reference to the common language of the country in relation to the rest official languages in their respective territories, like Catalonian, Galician or Basque.

Panhispanic Dictionary of Doubts, 2005, pages. 271-272”


Despite the regulatory role of this publication, I have to say that the polemic is far from having been decided. Nevertheless, what is true that Spanish learners don’t have any need of getting involved in such political questions and can use without hesitation the word “Spanish”, which is perfectly valid and universally admitted.

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Interesting Future Topics


Dear readers and followers,

First of all, I would like to say thanks to all the people who came through here, especially to those who decided to follow this blog or liked one of these publications. I have to say that these small details help us authors a lot to move forward in our professional careers.

I must admit that, although my dear blog is nearly always in my head, I am not publishing as frequently as I would like. This is due to a new professional experience I am trying right now, which is quite time-consuming; it is not easy to break through. Now, I don’t know where this new way is going to lead me, not even if I will ever get results, but is something that I want and must try. However, I will try to come back to this small space whenever I can. Regarding to this last point, I am preparing a short list of topics I would like to deal with, these are the following:

  • General articles about language learning.

  • Analysis of learning applications which are available on the internet.

  • More frequent doubts about Spanish

  • Free topic articles about whatever subject I consider interesting. I keep this small independent space to me because, as a writer, I like having creative freedom, and, if something is very good, why not to talk about it?

In broad outline, this is what my blog is going to be about. Obviously, if I happen to have new interesting ideas, I can add them to the list.

This is not a long post, but now that I have the topics more or less decided, I wanted to share them with you. Moreover, I was thinking in giving a personal touch to this blog, to prevent it from being too boring or technical.

What do you think?


Some more Great Tips for Learning Languages


In the previous post we saw the 3 essential foundations that we must never lose sight of when learning languages; that is, motivation, patience and daily practice. But, apart from these important bases, there are some more activities we can carry out to effectively achieve our goal. Among them, I would like to highlight some which I consider especially useful from my point of view.

  1. Language immersion:

We have been hearing this tip for such a long time by now that it sounds too obvious to mention. But the reality is that it was and it is still so true. To be exposed to a language is the best way to acquire it. That’s the reason why the most of the modern methods tend to create a similar environment through the use of videos, audios and graphic materials.

The best way to achieve this immersion is, of course, travelling or living in the country. We just have to see the incredible amount of money that companies which arrange courses abroad make. However, the most fortunate learners are those who have the opportunity to gain professional experience in another country. This activity can provide us much better results since it allows us to fully know the society and make connections with the people of the area.

To move abroad will always be a very efficient method, not only because of the great amount of hours we are likely to use the language, but because it gives us the chance to know the culture of the area, something that has a lot of relation to the use of  languages. In fact, we can learn more expressions and idioms this way than in any other one and it can also give us a great context to understand everything.

Nevertheless, I have to say that today, in the 21st century, we can achieve a kind of immersion without moving from our seats due to new technology. So, if you don’t like to move, you are lucky. Although it’s true that the level of immersion won’t be as high, you can still get excellent results, and here everything depends on your will and motivation. If you are willing to devote enough time to read books and to listen and talk, then you can succeed and speak a language. Remember always that, as we said in the previous post, perseverance is the best weapon, therefore, you need to practice every day a little.

  1. Be like a child

The general belief that children are the world’s best learners is widely propagated and there are a lot of arguments in its favor. For instance, when a whole family moves to another country, children are usually the first ones in communicating in the new language. Besides, we must remember that we all learn our mother tongue during childhood and we do it very successfully.

A lot of scientific research has been conducted to determine the real differences between children’s and adult’s brains and they ended up with different results. But, leaving aside this subject, what seems to be clear is that children have certain attitudes that help them a great deal for this purpose. However, if we pay attention, we will see that we can understand these attitudes and maybe use them in our own interest. Therefore, let’s see what makes children so efficient learners:

  • They have a strong need to socialize and adapt to their environment. This gives them extraordinary motivation, so they do everything possible to open to the world. They really want to communicate and become a part of the society.
  • Absence of fear of failure: Children don’t have the same prejudices or fears than adults, and that is what makes them feel so confident when they have to express themselves. Even though their errors are often seen with tolerance and understanding, we, as adults, can consciously ignore the fear of failing. In any case, it is not worth staying in touch with those who are not respectful with our errors.
  • Less pressure: Children are freer and they don’t usually have concrete aims such us “find a job” or “pass an exam”, which relieve them from anxiety. In general, everything goes smoother when we are relaxed. Actually, their only goal is to communicate, which is the base of the whole process.

For all these reasons, it is not difficult to understand their success, so it would be a great thing to learn from them.

  1. If you are a beginner, try to learn a lot of vocabulary.

Portuguese, Mandarin or Russian, it doesn’t matter which language you are learning. Although you don’t have a strong grammatical base, if you learn words, you can start understanding the language, and everything comes after understanding. Besides, realizing that we are able to catch some things, give us a good dose of motivation.

In principle, I wouldn’t recommend studying long boring lists, not even over use memory which, in the long term, won’t help us much. Ideally, all this vocabulary should have the support of some other audiovisual media, such us pictures, recordings, videos, etc. because memory works better in association. Today you can find a lot of applications in these media; now we have to find out which are the good ones.

  1. Keep what you have learnt.

Language learning is a long road that probably never finishes because, to be honest, it is impossible to achieve a language at a native level of perfection. Moreover, and to make things worse, our brains are lazy and if we don’t use one of the skills, they tend to forget it to make more room. That’s why, if we want to maintain what we learnt, we should never stop practicing. Then our level won’t decrease.

  1. Have fun

As we have to devote a lot of time and dedication to obtain our purpose, it would be sensible to try to make it more fun, so we won’t give up. To achieve this, each one of us should find the methods and the ways that we enjoy the most. For instance, moviegoers can have a lot fun by searching OV movies. But we could say the same about books, comics, games, series, etc.  So, ultimately, learning languages can be fun, if we are able to adapt it to our personal tastes.

This was my list of tips but what about you? Can you tell us one of your secrets?

Also see: 3 keys to effective language learning