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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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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?


Secrets of Learning a Language III


When children start attending school, they get to know the other great vehicle of word transmission: the written language. Written language, which allows associating words with precise and clear symbols, help the messages to be transmitted in large quantities and in a very effective way.

  • Reading is the other great tool to learn a language.

Either by the text books of every subject, or by just reading for fun, the truth is that due to this exposure children improve a lot in the use of the language. Reading allows the process and rules of a language to keep recorded in the mind in a subconscious way, while we are focused in the contents.

It is a proven fact that, in all cultures and nations, those who use the language best, are those who read more. The culture is strongly reflected in the way we express ourselves. The more we read in the target language, the better, because then we can integrate its structures without realizing. I must add, that a large part of the vocabulary that we learn in our lives, comes through reading.

  • Don’t forget to add some nice readings to the process. Look only for things that you really like, that make you enjoy, and suitable for your level.

As in the case of the listening, remember that the process is slow, so that, we have to be patient. Besides, we should always choose the most attractive topics for us, because fun makes us relax, and relaxation makes much easier this process.

The last point is probably the most polemic, and it is the grammar. As I commented before, languages used to be generally studied through grammar books and rules in the past, but the results were poor and students didn’t get hooked. It is clear that by studying only the grammar, learners won’t improve much because we are ignoring the two great pillars of learning, listening and reading. However, I disagree with the big opposition that some current gurus have declared to grammar. Let’s see why.

Grammar gives us rules, and rules are good in a lot of occasions.  Knowledge of grammar rules reduces making mistakes by learners. Those parts which are more irregular and don’t have rules, are more difficult to learn. It takes foreign learners much less time to learn grammar rules that are explained than to figure out grammar rules on their own intuitively from texts because grammar rules may have exceptions and other peculiarities.

We learn basic grammar when we start to put sentences together as children. But, the actual knowing of a language is much more complex. Grammar teaches us how to build sentences, about the types of words that we use and when we should use them. The organization of grammar all depends on the logic. And, understanding grammar will mean you can think more logically.

In conclusion, neither we should base all the learning in the repetition of grammar exercises, as in the past, nor leave it apart as some of the current methods intend. It is always positive to know and to understand the grammar, and to use it whenever we have doubts.

  • Have always a good grammar manual to help you know, understand and to solve your doubts.

And that’s all! I hope you like this saga of articles and find them useful. Soon we will analyze much more things. See you!

Also see: Secrets of Learning a Language I,  Secrets of Learning a Language IIWhy “Why Create the Languages”



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A funny recommendation – Una recomendación divertida.

Hello everybody! Let’s start for the moment with something brief but funny to break the ice.

I usually talk to some students to whom I exchange languages. It is a great practice with which you can little by little increase your fluency, although it is not the fastest way to learn a language. To favor this purpose, I would recommend you to get a good teacher for a one-on-one dynamic, because then you will have someone totally thrown into your learning. I offer myself to teach lessons. I have a lot of practice and experience.

But let’s get to the point. The other day I was talking to a friend when he suggested me to watch some funny videos. It is a strange saga called “¿Qué hora es?, that you can find if you write that words on the Youtube seeker, although bellow I uploaded one of them. Take a look at them and enjoy!

If you are studying Spanish, you will understand them well 😉

And this is all for the moment, have fun! And remember that to study languages can be funny.

¡Hola a todos! Vamos a empezar de momento con algo breve pero divertido para romper el hielo.

Habitualmente suelo hablar con varios estudiantes con los que realizo un intercambio de idiomas. Es una práctica fenomenal con la que poco a poco podréis incrementar vuestra fluidez, aunque no es el modo más rápido de aprender un idioma. Para favorecer este propósito, lo más recomendables es conseguir un buen profesor para una dinámica one-on-one, ya que de esta manera tendréis a alguien completamente volcado con vuestro aprendizaje. Yo misma me ofrezco para dar clases. Tengo bastante práctica y experiencia.

Pero vayamos al grano. El otro día estaba hablando con uno de mis amigos cuando me sugirió ver unos vídeos muy divertidos. Se  trata de una extraña saga llamad a “¿Qué hora es?” que podréis encontrar si escribís en Youtube esas mismas palabras, aunque abajo os pongo un ejemplo. ¡Échales un vistazo y diviértete!

Si estás estudiando español, lo vas a entender muy bien. 😉

Y esto es todo por el momento, ¡que lo disfrutéis! Recordad que estudiar idiomas puede ser divertido.