Demand of Spanish teachers in China and Brazil


Some good news for those Spanish teachers willing to immigrate to other countries.  There is a growing interest in learning Spanish in China and Brazil, so there is higher demand of Spanish teachers.  The number of Chinese university students learning Spanish has increased from 1,500  in the year 2000 to 25,000 these days.  In India, there are 4,250 students registered to learn Spanish, which is the triple of six years ago.  Also, in Brazil, there is need of about 20,000 of Spanish teachers.  All this data was presented in the yearly report “El español en el mundo 2012” (“The Spanish in the world 2012”) by the Cervantes Institute.

Read the full news and practice your written comprehension visiting this link:  “Se busca profesor de español en China y Brazil: razón, el Instituto Cervantes” (“Spanish teacher wanted in China and Brazil: details from the Cervantes Institute”).


Survival Spanish phrases for travellers to handle 8 basic situations


Countries with Spanish as official language an...

Ideally, if your Spanish is intermediate or you have a very good basic one, you should be able to handle any situation and if you have some trouble at understanding the speaker, you can always ask for repetition or for more slowly speaking (see number 3: Basic politeness expressions).

Although, you can always try to find English speaking people at Spanish speaking countries, I think it is a well received gesture to make the effort to speak the local language of the place you visit.  However, if despite of  the effort, your basic Spanish is very poor or you can’t rely too much on your listening skills, try to find trustworthy people that speak English, for example at information desks or at hotel reception desks.  You can say something like: “Disculpe, ¿habla inglés? (Excuse me, do you speak English?  If they ask you if you speak Spanish, well, the truth would be: “Hablo muy poco español” (I speak very little Spanish).  Sometimes, you can also meet interesting, nice people during a tour.  They can be foreigners or local tourists as well.  In any case, they can be a good resource of advice about other places to explore.

Here it is my mini guide of survival Spanish for all-level learners:

1. Basic Greetings

Informal way (use it in informal situations, when you talk with younger people, people around your age and when you already know the person):
Hola, ¿qué tal? / Hi, how is it going?
Nos vemos / see you (informal way to say bye, when you know you will see the person again)
Chao / bye (informal way to say bye at anytime)

Formal way (use it with older people and usually with customer service representatives at stores or public services):

Buenos días / good morning
Buenas tardes / good afternoon
Buenas noches / good evening (from 7:00 pm, either when arriving or when leaving the place)
¿Cómo está? / how are you? (use it when you talk to older people you know)
Adiós / good bye (regular way to say bye, when you know you will not see the person ever again)
Hasta luego / see you later (polite way to say bye when you may or may not see the person again)
¡Que le vaya bien! / have a good day!

2. When meeting people

Informal way:
¿Cómo te llamas? / What is your name?
¿De dónde eres? / Where are you from?
¿Eres de aquí? / Are you from here?
¿Qué haces? or ¿a qué te dedicas? / What do you do? (for living)
¿Conoces a [name of a person]? or ¿conoces + [name of a place]? / Do you know [name of a person] or do you know [name of a place]?

Formal way:

¿Cómo se llama usted? / What is your name?
¿De dónde es usted? / Where are you from?
¿Usted es de aquí? / Are you from here?
¿Qué hace? or ¿a qué se dedica? / What do you do? (for living)
¿Conoce a [name of a person]? or ¿conoce + [name of a place]? / Do you know [name of a person] or do you know [name of a place]?                                                                                                   

3. Basic politeness expressions

Por favor / please
Gracias / thanks
Disculpe / excuse me… (before asking something to a stranger)
Perdón /excuse me (when you really want to apologize for something)
Permiso / excuse me (when somebody is blocking your way, and ad “por favor”)
¿Podría repetir, por favor? / Could you repeat, please?
Más despacio por favor / (Could you speak) more slowly, please?

4. To ask directions

Disculpe, ¿dónde queda…? or ¿dónde está?/ Excuse me, where is…? (try to ask this to information kiosk agents, hotel front desk customer service people and similar ones)
Disculpe, ¿cómo llego a…? / Excuse me, how do I get to…? (try to use this form or the previous one when you are sure you are really close to your destination, otherwise it will sound like you are LOST!)

5. To ask for a recommendation of a place

¿Conoce el restaurant “…”?, ¿qué tal es? / Do you know the restaurant “…”?, how is it?, how do you like it?

6. To take a cab

Por favor, a [name of the place]…
¿Cuánto cuesta?, ¿cuánto es? / How much is it? (ask this before you actually get into the cab)

7. To eat

Por favor, [name the dish/food item you want to have] – If you are not sure about your pronunciation, point out the name of the dish in the menu or the food item in the window, to avoid confusions.
La cuenta, por favor / The bill, please
Gracias / Thanks

8. To buy something

¿Cuánto cuesta esto? / How much does it cost?
¿Cuánto está esto? / How much is this?
To bargain:
If they tell you a price, just say a lower pricer with a nice smile.  For example: “¿Cuánto cuesta esto?” – They say “50.” Then, you can say: “¿qué tal 40?” or “¿los dos por 80?” (and do not forget to smile ;)). As you can imagine, you definitively need to know the numbers! Or at least the sets of ten!

Do not forget that to enjoy your experience, combine your curiosity with common sense and be always careful :).

Bueno, ahora, ¡buen viaje y buena suerte! 😉

Fotografía – Juanes y Nelly Furtado


Completa los espacios en blanco de la canción con los verbos estar e ir (conjugados), así como con algunas partes del cuerpo humano:

Fotografía – Juanes y Nelly Furtado (Un día normal, 2002)

Cada vez que yo me_________, llevo a un lado de mi piel
tus fotografías para verlas cada vez
que tu ausencia me devora entero el _________
y yo no tengo remedio más que amarte.

(1) Y en la distancia te puedo ver
cuando tus fotos me siento a ver
Y en las estrellas tus _______ ver
cuando tus fotos me siento a ver.

(2) Cada vez que te busco te_______
Y cada vez que te llamo no_________
Es por eso que debo decir que tu solo en mis fotos _________.

Cuando hay un abismo desnudo
que se interpone entre los dos
yo me valgo del recuerdo
taciturno de tu voz

Y de nuevo siento enfermo el __________
que no le queda remedio más que amarte.

Repetir (1), (2)…

What are “estadounidismos”?


The Royal Spanish Academy (RAE – Real Academia de la Lengua Española) has admitted the inclusion of “estadounidismos” for the next edition of its dictionary.  The “estadounidismos” are the words or uses that are characteristic of the Spanish spoken in the United Stated of America (according to the DRAE – Diccionario de la Real Academia de la Lengua Española). Some of these new words include the following: “email”, “hispanounidense”, “paralegal” (asistente de abogados), “van” (microbús), “aplicar” (from apply, which means solicitar); “departamento” (of a Ministry, not only in the sense of an apartment), “parada” (from parade, which means desfile); or “elegible” (from eligible, which means beneficiario).

According to Gerardo Piña-Rosales, president of the North American Academy of the Spanish Language (ANLE – Academia Norteamericana de la Lengua Española ), the inclusion of those terms by the RAE shows the growing influx of the Spanish language in the United States.  However, it is necessary to distinguish the “estadounidismos” from the “spanglish”. The first implies the use of some words admitted by the RAE, while the latter involves the mix of both languages: Spanish and English.

You can find the whole article for your Spanish practice here:  “Los ‘estadounidismos’ entran en el diccionario de la RAE”, by Eva Sáiz. El País (October 15th, 2012).

The “war” of the Spanish language against other predominant languages


The article below reminds us that Spanish is the language of 450 millions of people all over the world and it is the second language in teaching (after English) and the second most used on the Internet.  Also, Spanish is the obligatory foreign language studied in Brazil (about 200 millions of inhabitants) and its use is spreading all over the United States.

In the book «El español en las relaciones internacionales» (“The Spanish language in the international relashions), by the diplomatic and writer Javier Rupérez and David F. Vitores, Phd in Linguistics and Literature, it is mentioned that English and French are the languages used in international forums, while the Spanish remains as a “translated language.” However, according to Rupérez, who was the former Ambassador of Spain in the United States, that situation could change if there were a significant increase of native Spanish speakers, which could likely happen in the United States.  In the same sense, Humberto López Morales, the Secretary-General of the Spanish Language Academies’ Association since 1994 and academician of the Language Academy of Puerto Rico, assured on his book “La andadura del español en el mundo  (“The journey of the Spanish in the world”) that in 2050 the Spanish will be the language most spoken in the United States, even above the English.

While I do not like the idea of a fight among predominance of languages, the truth is the facts demonstrate that the use of Spanish is increasing, either for business, tourism or international development work.  Only time will say if the use of languages in international forums will change in order to be more functional and reflect the actual usage of the language.  In the meantime, let’s keep practicing our Spanish with this article: “La “guerra” del español contra otros idiomas predominantes” by Javier Parra.

Retrieved in: (September 23, 2012).


“Aquellas pequeñas cosas” / “Those little things”, by Joan Manuel Serrat


Enjoy the song, following the lyrics in Spanish in the video. Below, find the translation into English.

“Those little things”

One may think/ that time and absence killed them./ But, their train/ sold a round-way ticket./
They are those little things/ that left us a time of roses/ in a corner,/ in a piece of paper/ or in a drawer.
Like a thief,/ they lie in wait for us/ behind the door./ They’ve got you so much/ at their mercy/ like dead leaves/ that the wind drags/ over there and here,/ that they smile at you sadly and/ make us cry when nobody sees us.

Films in “Spanglish”


The article below highlights the constant switch between the Spanish and English languages and the use of Spanglish in the Oliver Stone film “Savages” (Salvajes), which includes on its cast the actors Salma Hayek and Benicio del Toro.  This is not the only film that has included the use of Spanglish, but what is interesting here is that through this film it is displayed the importance of the Spanish language in the United States.  As it is indicated in the final part of the article: “… this time it seems that Stone knew how to capture the inalienable truth that the Spanish language should not be seen as a minor language and that North Americans must assume that they need to know the essential expressions of the language that is spoken beyond Rio Grande, since there are many millions of Hispanics that crossed its rich waters in order to settle in the old British colony, but without forgetting their mother tongue.”

Enjoy the reading in Spanish by clicking the following: Películas en “spanglish”, by Javier Parra

In: (October 1st, 2012).