Tag Archives: Spanish language

Spanish Alphabet


The Spanish alphabet has 27 letters and 5 digraphs.  This has been approved by the Royal Spanish Academy in 2010 and this rule applies to all the Spanish speaking countries.  Be careful when you find material in Spanish that is not up to dated and it shows there are 29 letters. There are also 5 diagraphs or a pair of letters that represent one single sound: ch / ll / gu / q / rr.


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”).

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: http://www.practicaespanol.com (September 23, 2012).


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: http://www.practicaespanol.com (October 1st, 2012).

Alfredo Bryce Echenique, premio FIL Guadalajara


Alfredo Bryce Echenique

Alfredo Bryce Echenique, 2012 Guadalajara International Book Fair Award

Alfredo Bryce Echenique (Lima, February 19, 1939) is one of my favourite Peruvian novelists and he just won the 2012 Guadalajara International Book Fair.  This is the most important book fair in the Spanish language.  His books published between the seventies and eighties are some sort of link between the Latin-American boom and the post-boom, influenced by the Noth American “dirty realism.”

You can practice your Spanish reading with this short article:  Alfredo Bryce Echenique, premio FIL Guadalajara.  I also recommend you this article-tribute: “Permiso para celebrar”  (“Permission to celebrate”), by Iván Thays, where you can learn more about Bryce’s work :).

El español ha sido el segundo idioma más hablado durante los Juegos Olímpicos.


Spanish has been the second language most spoken during the Olympic games

According to the article below, during the last 2012 London Olympics, there were more than 10,000 athletes speaking up to 62 languages.  The ranking of the most used languages during the Olympics goes this way: 1) English (official language of 42 participant nations); 2) Spanish (official language of 28 States); and 3) French (official language of 25 States).  However, French is the official language used during all the ceremonies, and it is translated into English.

Another thing worth to mention is that during these last games several next-generation digital appliances and social networks  were used.  The most used tool has been the online-dictionary, which has made possible that the athletes can communicate in any language.

Enjoy your Spanish reading practice with this short article:

El español ha sido el segundo idioma más hablado durante los Juegos Olímpicos.

Spanish pronunciation: Vowels and the letter C


Vowels (Photo credit: chrisinplymouth)

One thing most beginners start learning about pronunciation in Spanish is that you basically need to know the sound of the vowels (a, e, i, o, u), the diaeresis in “ü” (as in “bilingüe” – bilingual), and the consonant “ñ” (as in “mañana” – tomorrow). Then besides that, you might learn the rules of accentuation and how that affects your intonation. We will talk about accentuation another time, for now, let is keep it simple.

If you can remember these words: father, ten, she, over, tuna, then you know how the vowels in Spanish sound. There are no more vowels than these ones: a – e – i – o – u, and they sound like in ‘father’, ‘ten’, ‘she’, ‘over’ and ‘tuna’. Even when there are two or three vowels together, each one will keep their same individual sound. We will mention the few exceptions about this in a later post (“gue”, “gui”).

There are some special cases where you will find that a consonant followed by certain vowels will have a different sound. Starting in alphabetical order, the first special case would be the letter “C”. It usually sounds like /k/, except when it is followed by “e” and “i”. Here you have some examples:

You pronounce with the /k/ sound: casa – como – Cusco; but you will use the /s/ sound in: cerca – circo. However, in Spain, you will hear a different pronunciation for ‘cerca’ and ‘circo’, which can be represented by the phoneme /θ/ (as in ‘thought’). Also,  if you have the letter “c” after the consonant “h” (which is always silent), like in ‘chao’, you will get the phoneme /ʧ/ (as in ‘check’), and this applies to every Spanish-speaking country.

To finish the lesson, I will give you a few sentences for your practice of today:

Mi casa en Cusco está cerca del circo.  (My house in Cusco is close to the circus).

Hoy nos vamos a comer al chifa.    (Today we’re going to eat at the chifa).

¡Chao!   (Bye!)