Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Spanish Language Learning Goals for 2009

Every year I like to set goals when it comes to my Spanish language learning. This year I would like to share them with you.

Goal #1 – Listen to the SpanishPod podcasts—all three (main, lesson review, dialogue only) as well as look over the transcripts. I know if I could just do this on a regular basis, my Spanish would improve greatly. Truly, it’s like a one-stop shop for language learners.*

Goal #2 – Listen to other podcasts such as ShowTime Spanish, Español Segunda Lengua Para Todos, and online radio using RadioBeta.

Goal #3 – In addition to reading in Spanish, I will also read aloud for at least 10 minutes every day. This one is easy since I kind of do it already—not every day, but I would say at least 3 times a week.

Goal #4 – Communicate more in Spanish with my boys. This includes more conversation, reading aloud, and playing using the language.

Goal #5 – Set up an intercambio. There is nothing like speaking the language to improve it.

That’s it! I think five is enough. I may add a couple more, but I think this should keep me busy. How about you? What are your goals for learning or teaching Spanish in 2009? Do you have any new strategies you might try in the classroom or at home? Please share them in the comments section.

*Not affiliated with SpanishPod in any way. I just like them a lot! :)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Bookmarks, a poll and Twitter

I’m staying pretty busy getting ready for the holidays, so I’m afraid I haven’t had much time to post here. Instead, I thought I would share my Delicious bookmarks with you. Also, if you could take a moment to answer my poll, I’d be most appreciative. If you have any favorites that are not listed in the poll, please put them in the comments section and why you like them. Gracias.

One more thing… I also post helpful web sites and other resources pretty regularly on Twitter. If you would like, follow me by clicking here.

¡Felices Fiestas!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Bablingua: resource for teachers

Eleena over at Voices en Español just wrote a review for Bablingua. Go check it out! Also, as a Christmas gift, if you subscribe to their mailing list, you’ll receive a free sample. You’ll find more information on their blog.

bablingua ___________________________________________________

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Open University: Languages

And this is why I love Twitter. Just this morning Kevin Gaugler, an Associate Professor of Spanish posted a link to the Open University on iTunes. He recommended that we look at the Languages section which I promptly did. ou

What did I find? Three Spanish language courses for beginner, upper intermediate and advanced learners. 

Portales: Beginners’ Spanish – audio tracks and transcripts  
Viento en Popa: Upper Intermediate Spanish – iPod video, video, transcripts
A Buen Puerto: Fast Forward in Spanish – iPod video, video, audio, transcripts

There are also courses for French and German language learners.

For more information about these courses, visit The Open University’s Spanish Language section.

Oh, if you haven’t downloaded iTunes, click here. You don’t need to be on a Mac or have an iPod to enjoy the benefits.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Book: First Spanish Words

firstspanishwordsFirst Spanish Words
Illustrated by David Melling, Compiled by Neil Morris
Oxford University Press
November 2008
48 full color pages
Ages: 4-8
ISBN: 978-0-19-911004-9



From the publisher:

"… each volume takes the reader on a picture-book journey through a child’s typical day. There is a bird’s eye view of an early morning at home. the journey to school, inside the classroom, at a birthday party and even a trip to the museum and the beach. Aside from the useful everyday items, these books also incorporate many children’s favorite things; airplanes, dinosaurs and even fairy tale characters… These books also include supplementary material—a picture/word matching game, a learning to count page, identifying shapes, opposites, the weather, time, and a comprehensive index.”

When I looked through First Spanish Words my initial thoughts were that this book was doable and not so overwhelming. On each page you’ll find a large, two-page spread illustration based on a theme with vocabulary words on both sides. For example on the Nuestra clase page there are only 18 vocabulary words. In similar books I’ve seen as many as 35-40 which can be quite overwhelming to a child learning a new language. (In total there are over 400 words with English translations.)

Also, I really love the illustrations which invite you to use the new vocabulary—either make up stories about the characters and scenes or play games. For instance, I could see a parent and child playing ¿Dónde está… ? (Where is… ?), ¿De qué color es… ? (What color is… ?) or Veo-veo (I Spy). For more advanced students, you could even make up an entire story to go along with the illustration… Había una vez…

In addition to Spanish, Oxford Press offers the First Words Series in French and German as well.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tips from TLSB readers – bilingual book for preschoolers

From Rachael: timkim

I just started reading a bilingual book to my preschoolers. They love this book "Tim and Kim" by Kay Linda Nord. It is really cute. Anyway, with the book we have made a new game. Whoever can use the words we learned in Spanish the most in one day, gets to pick the story to read at night. I love it when learning tools are so much fun! And this will be perfect!

Since we are sharing, here is where I found the book - It is great because it has cute illustrations and both English and Spanish (Mexican not the traditional Castilian) on the same page so you can follow along.

If you have any tips or advice for other TLSB readers, you may send me an email and I will post them. ¡Gracias!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Spanish children television shows and more

Vaya... just a quick post to share with you a very nice link. It's TVE a la carta - programas infantiles, but you can watch other types of online videos también such as sports, dramas, documentaries y más. Oh, and we're talking about entire episodes, not clips.

Let’s go shopping

Okay, not really, but how about we do some window-shopping online. I think it’s a fantastic way to learn new vocabulary and it’s pretty fun at the same time.

El Corte Inglés is a very large department store chain in Spain. When I studied abroad in Zaragoza, I shopped there a couple of times. From juguetes (toys) to zapatos (shoes), they have just about everything—including a supermercado (grocery store). Just have fun browsing around. Oh, and if you look carefully, you’ll find a free online magazine full of beautiful photographs, interesting articles and recetas (recipes).

Speaking of food, grocery store sites are fun to browse. One of my favorites is HEB Mexico. And guess what? You’ll find another free online magazine. Did you find it? I could see this being used in class when talking about food, shopping and even cooking. Maybe even use one of the recipes in class or have students make a dish and bring it in for extra credit.

Did someone mention hardware? How about we visit a ferretería? I didn’t know this, but there are Home Depots in Mexico. You can even thumb through the folleto electrónico. Here’s a hardware store in Spain – Ferretería Esmas. Can you find a martillo?

Well, I think that is enough window-shopping for now. Hasta luego.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

ShowTime Spanish Podcast

Recently I started listening to a new podcast that I wanted to share with my readers here at TLSB. It’s called ShowTime Spanish, a new podcast from the Radio Lingua Network.

The two main presenters are Mark, an experienced teacher who has lived and worked in Spain and Alba, from Barcelona, who is teaching Spanish in Scotland. José Picardo, a native speaker from Andalucia, who currently teaches in England, makes a guest appearance in each show.

There are two acts in each podcast or show. During the first act, the presenters have a conversation about a particular topic. To help listeners understand the conversation, they provide a summary using more “straightforward” Spanish afterwards.

In the second act, the grammar and vocabulary used during the first act are then explained by Mark. In between the two acts is the intermedio where José talks about taking the language to the next level by introducing helpful phrases to sound more native. Also during the intermedio, Alba introduces trabalenguas (tongue twisters).

To access the podcasts, you can subscribe for free through iTunes or listen directly on the ShowTime Spanish site. You can take your learning even further by becoming a premium member. As a member you’ll have access to the lesson guides which include: “full transcripts of the introduction, the main conversation and any other Spanish texts used within the lesson. The guide also features the text and explanations relating to our intermedio section… premium members can also use the Encore podcast to test their understanding of what has been covered in the main lesson.”

For those who like to kick the tires and look under the hood so to speak, you can access the lesson 3 materials for free either through iTunes or here.

I have to say that I’m quite impressed with the entire package. The presenters are engaging and very knowledgeable about the Spanish language. The grammar and vocabulary explanations are done well and easy to understand. Overall I’m pleased to have found a new podcast to listen to as I go about my day in the car or around the house. I also have to mention that the Radio Lingua Network produces a podcast for beginners called Coffee Break Spanish as well as programs for other languages.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Tips from TLSB readers

Earlier I received an email from one of my readers and decided to share it with all of you.

From Tricia: I just made a good discovery in the dollar bins at Target. They are little wooden boxes with bears to "dress up." There's a boy bear and a girl bear. There are six heads with different emotions plus different colored pants, shirts, dresses, shoes, etc. I just sad down with my three year old and had a blast practicing Spanish for emotions, weather, clothes, colors, etc. They're actually in the $2.50 section, but I still thought it was a pretty good deal.

So, if you have any tips or advice for other TLSB readers, you may send me an email here at the Teaching & Learning Spanish Blog and I will post them. ¡Gracias!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Keep track of your language learning

While learning a language you might want to record what you have learned and what you would like to learn. The LinguaFolio is the perfect tool for this. From the web site:

LinguaFolio is designed for use by students and educators in secondary schools and in universities as well as for adult learners. Businesses and community employers may choose to use the document to profile language proficiency of their employees or job applicants.

LinguaFolio is designed to assist students with guidance from their instructors in assessing and describing individual language skills and to facilitate articulation from high school to the university level. The three sections of the portfolio are available to teachers and students for building individual portfolios in notebooks and/or as electronic files.

LinguaFolio should facilitate the earning of college credit for language study completed in high school or in transfer agreements among colleges by providing evidence of language learning experiences and intercultural experiences.

There are three parts: the Language Passport, Language Biography and the Dossier which are available in PDF format where applicable.

For younger learners, there is the LinguaFolio Jr. I have used this with my elementary-age student to assess what he knew and what he would like to learn. His mother commented that she really enjoyed filling it out with her son and that it gave her a clearer picture of what he had learned from previous Spanish classes and where he still needed help.

Some sample questions from the language biography section:

What helps me understand when I read words in another language?
What goals do I have for learning a language?
What activities help me pronounce words like my teacher says them?

You will also find a checklist for each level (novice, intermediate, advanced) and activity (speaking, listening, reading, writing). You can assess your child four times a year or fill it out over several years to track his/her progress. Here's a screenshot of a small part of the Advanced section under Speaking:


The LinguaFolio and the LinguaFolio Jr. can be very useful tools in school or at home to keep track of your language learning progress or the progress of your child.

(Here's a link to the Junior European Language Portfolio and the link to the adult version.)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Foreign language advocacy

In many schools across the United States, foreign languages are still not even offered until high school – yes, high school. As you have also most likely read, this isn’t the ideal time to introduce a new language. Okay, so what do you do if you would like to see foreign languages introduced earlier? Advocate.

First, you’ll need the reasons why foreign languages should be introduced at an earlier age. For a sampling of research, I would recommend the American Council on Teaching Foreign Language’s web site Discover Languages, Discover the World! Here you will find a good amount of information. On their What the Research Shows page, three major areas are listed:

How does language learning support academic achievement?

How does language learning provide cognitive benefits to students?

How does language learning affect attitudes and beliefs about language learning and about other cultures?

For annotated bibliographies of the research in support of elementary school foreign language learning visit this page.

Once you’ve gathered the research from here and other resources such as CAL (Center for Applied Linguistics), then you need a plan. Again, the ACTFL site has information on their Foreign Language Advocacy page.

More resources:

CALPER: Center for Advanced Language Proficiency Education and Research – Language Advocacy

FLAG: Foreign Language Association of Georgia – Advocacy

Sarah Shackelford (French Teacher): Advocacy Links

Glastonbury Foreign Language - Foreign Language Advocacy: A Case for Foreign Languages (The students in this community have studied at least one foreign language beginning in elementary school since the 1950s.)


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Free curriculum online

When I was tutoring, I always tried to find free materials online before purchasing anything. Yes, I'm frugal. One has to be in this day and age.

During one of my searches I ran across Cuadros de familia - A Standards-Based Thematic Unit which is geared toward middle school students, but certainly could be adapted for elementary students which is what I did. It's available in PDF format.

The unit was developed by Katia Parviz-Condon, Donna Kleinman, Joseph Brown and Angela Roa. It was created as a result of a summer institute sponsored by the National K-12 Foreign Language Resource Center at Iowa State University.

It's based on the book Cuadros de familia by Carmen Lomas Garza which is about everyday life in a traditional Hispanic community in southern Texas. She also illustrated the book.

Among the teaching strategies used are Total Physical Response, Gouin Series, magic box, pair activities, language experience story and predicting and graphing. The first three are explained at the beginning. I could go on and on about this, but I would recommend you take a look for yourself.

Another great place to find curriculum is the thematic units page at Here you will find four thematic curriculum units covering El Día de los Muertos for intermediate students, El Bosque Tropical for beginning Spanish students, Convivencia (Medieval Spain) for intermediate students and finally CuentaColombia (Colombian folklore) for intermediate students. They're available in PDF format. Be sure to check out the other teaching materials available not only in Spanish, but also French, Italian, English, Mandarin Chinese and Thai.

Friday, October 10, 2008

VOA Podcasts - video and audio

Since we do not have access to Spanish-language television, I'm always on the lookout for ways to improve my listening comprehension. In particular I have been looking for newscasts in Spanish and the ones from Voice of America (VOA) fit the bill.

On this page you'll find three video podcasts:
  • El Mundo Al Día Capsulas
  • ArteKultura
  • Foro Inter-Americano
and two audio podcasts:
  • Deportivo Internacional
  • Buenos Días América
To subscribe using iTunes: from the top menu, choose Advanced, Subscribe and then paste the podcast url into the box. Click OK. Of course, you can also watch or listen to them online.

To supplement the news podcasts, I have also subscribed to their news summaries. I like to look over these before listening to familiarize myself with any new vocabulary.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Pocoyó - Servicio Postal de Pato



dibujar - to draw
enviar - to send
recibir - to receive

el dibujo - drawing (el retrato - portrait)
el cartero - mailman
la entrega - delivery
la carta - letter
el sobre - envelope
el sello - stamp (la estampilla is more common in Latin America)
el paquete - package
la caja - box

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Spain - On the Road Again

UPDATE: It appears that the first episode was free for only a limited time. I apologize for any confusion. Each episode is available for $1.99 on iTunes.

Download the episodes of Spain - On the Road Again.

For more information y recetas visit


Thursday, September 25, 2008

We Are Little Amigos CD Giveaway

The Foreign Language Fun Blog is giving away a copy of the We Are Little Amigos cd. This would be perfect for both the home and classroom. From the blog:
Fun is exactly what you’ll find in the We Are Little Amigos CD. I ordered my copy the other week, and my kids LOVE it. You should see them dancing away. Mirabel Suardy, a native speaker and the creative genius behind the CD, has put easy-to-remember lyrics to familiar, upbeat tunes. I know very little Spanish, but the bilingual songs are easy to pick up and remember. I even find myself singing little Spanish phrases throughout my day.
So, go over there for a chance to win!

Free Power Point presentations and other resources

During my daily visit at the Free Technology for Teachers blog, I found a good resource for Spanish teachers. At Pete's Power Point Station, I made a stop at the Spanish language station. Not only will you find links to Power Point presentations, but also links to sites for children and teachers.


Listening comprehension - helpful web sites

First we'll begin with where you'll find short stories and poems, organized by author, read aloud with transcripts. You will find works by García Lorca, Becquer, Neruda, Hardy, Poe, Woolf and many, many more. In some cases, you can find them in other languages side by side such as The Princess and the Pea/La Princesa y el Guisante or the combination of Spanish and French. Listen to the audio online or download them as mp3 files.

From literature to the news, we next visit Spanish NewsBites which is simply packed with lots of good things. They offer brief "snippets" from Spanish-language news sources with audio (listen online or download mp3 files), links and mouseover glossaries. Not only that, but Spanish NewsBites also offers a PDF transcript with key glossary words. And if that wasn't enough, you can test your comprehension with their fill-in-the gap exercises. There are three levels - beginner, intermediate and advanced.

The last one I will talk about today is Audiria. From their site:
  • An original daily audio file in Spanish with its transcription.
  • Different chapter "channels" along the week.
  • Chapters organized by difficulty level.
  • Different exercises associated to each chapter.
  • A forum for practicing your Spanish writing and get corrected.
  • Personal stats to follow-up your scores.
  • A collection of complementary learning resources.
  • A completely free book of grammar, vocabulary and a conversation guide.
  • Brief grammatical lessons in audio-text format.
  • A free iTunes podcast
All I can say is - wow! I mean, I really have nothing else to add. Wait, there is one more thing - all of these resources are free as in gratis. Enjoy!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Profeland: A resource site for Spanish teachers - high school & up

Profeland: La web para el profesor de español is a site that might be quite helpful to high school teachers, college professors and adults learning on their own.

They combine different types of media such as music videos, short movie clips and more along with support material. Here's un buen ejemplo. In fact, I think I might use this site myself.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Go Animate: Teaching tool


Okay, this is my first time making a cartoon at Go Animate.

¿Qué vamos a comer? - What are we going to eat?
Tengo hambre. - I am hungry.
Comer - to eat
Helado - ice cream
Pastel - cake
Arroz con pollo - rice with chicken

There is a way to add sound, but I thought I would keep it simple for my first one.

*It works now. Thanks for your patience!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008

A personal note

I wanted to let all of you know that I'm going to slow down a bit the next few weeks for medical reasons. I'm not going to stop posting, but maybe just once a week or so. Thank you for understanding.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Spain - On the Road Again


I'm definitely watching this from start to finish. For more information visit Spain - On the Road Again.

(Apparently Gwyneth Paltrow, in addition to acting and singing, can also speak Spanish quite well... does it ever end?)

SpanishPod - subscription changes

On September 1, SpanishPod started charging for their podcasts except for the newbie lessons, ¿Qué Pasa? and Del Taco al Tango which will still be available for free. At first, I was sad to hear it because I really love their podcasts and I didn't think I would have the money to pay for even the basic subscription. (It seems everything in our house is breaking down at once - from the refrigerator to the plumbing. Like many of you, money is tight right now.)

But then I started thinking about it as an investment in my future. Out of all the Spanish-language podcasts available, I still think SpanishPod is far superior. I have learned so much from listening to them. I would even go as far as to say that I have learned more from their podcasts than in some of my Spanish courses in college. Their podcasts help me with my teaching and did I mention my language skills just helped me land a very cool part-time job? An investment in my future? Most definitely.

So today, I signed up for the basic subscription of $69/year which equals to $5.75/month which I can handle. With my subscription, I get all the MP3 lessons, video lessons and pdf transcripts. As the saying goes, "you get what you pay for." So true...

Monday, September 1, 2008

Watching online videos on your television

Recently I started thinking how much I would like to watch online videos on my television. You know, instead of having my five-year old perch on my lap as we watch Pocoyó videos on the laptop, we could watch them while we sit comfortably on the couch.

Now I'm not going to get too technical because of the number of variables, but this is what I did. We have a TV that is four years old which has an S-video input in the back. I have an S-video output on my laptop which is less than a year old.

With the computer off, I plugged the S-video cable (photo: on the right - empty package, click on it to see it up close) into the TV and laptop. In order to hear the sound through the TV, I also plugged in another cable (photo: on the left) into the headphone jack on my laptop and the other part into the TV.

Then I switched on my PC laptop running Vista and selected S-Video on the TV. Very easy! Total cost - about $6. I already had the audio cable from our portable DVD player. For more help, I recommend Googling "hooking up computer to TV."

So, yesterday, my little guy and I watched a couple of Pocoyó videos on our television... snuggling on the couch. I really believe my kids will be more inclined to watch more Spanish-language shows since all of us will not have to "crowd" around the laptop.

Also, for myself, I'm going to start watching Amar en tiempos revueltos - a television drama out of Spain.

And for you classroom teachers, this could be quite handy as well. Save the online videos beforehand using RealPlayer or some other similar program and then show them to your class on a larger screen. Always check the video quality first though. Not all online video will come through clearly.


Sunday, August 31, 2008

Scholastic's Club Leo

One of my readers, Tricia, sent me an email about Scholastic's Club Leo which is a great resource for Spanish, English, and bilingual books from the U.S., Latin America, and Spain.

By now your child's teacher has probably already sent home Scholastic book order forms or will very soon. My kindergartner came home with one on Friday. I'm going to ask his teacher if we can also order from Club Leo. The prices are unbeatable and parents do not have to pay for shipping and handling. Also, the teachers will benefit by getting points towards books and materials for their classrooms. It's certainly a win-win situation.

Thanks for the tip, Tricia!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Pocoyó - New activities on web site

As I was exploring the Pocoyó site, I noticed that new printable activities had been added. Click on the characters at the top of the screen to access them. You'll find masks, coloring pages, and crafts for each character. Enjoy!


Pocoyó - Exigente Pato


Keywords and phrases:

exigente - fussy, demanding

la mancha - spot, stain
la bañera - bathtub (Tina is more common in Latin America.)

pintar con los dedos
- fingerpaint
Pinto - I paint.
Pintas - You paint.
Pinta - He/She paints.

estar limpio(a) - to be clean
estar sucio(a) - to be dirty

Estoy limpio. (For a girl - limpia.) - I am clean.
Estás limpio. - You are clean.
Está limpio. - He/She is clean.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Working on your listening skills? Here's a site for you.

Reading Jessica's blog entry about developing your Spanish language listening skills reminded me of this outstanding web site. I find myself going back to it again and again.

From the site:
Spanish Proficiency Exercises is a compilation of brief video clips in which native speakers of Spanish from various locations throughout Latin America and Spain demonstrate various language tasks. The objective of the exercises is to provide students of Spanish with the necessary tools to be able to talk about the same topics in Spanish. In order to do, this Spanish Proficiency Exercises contains five major components. First, there is a simplified video clip. This simplified version is scripted, the native speakers talks slower, and he or she uses simpler words and less slang. Second, there are video clips of native speakers who also perform the proficiency tasks. These clips are not scripted. What the native speakers say is what they really said. Some may talk fast, others talk slow, and some have specific regional dialects.
You'll also find an English/Spanish glossary to assist you in conversing about the topics, sample sentences and short grammar explanations. Four different levels are offered: beginner, intermediate, advanced and superior. With most of the videos, you have the choice of seeing the transcript in English, Spanish or not at all.

The topics cover everyday things such as ordering a simple meal, your TV viewing habits, a typical day of activities and so on. You can also download them to your iPod.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mi vida loca: Spanish for beginners

As I was looking through various sites and blogs this morning, I found this one. La vida loca: Spanish for beginners is an interactive online course with video and sound produced by the BBC. From the site:

There will be 22 episodes, themed according to language topics such as directions, shopping, etc. You can check the full breakdown in the syllabus.

Each episode is a combination of real-action video with language teaching and practice, focused on developing communicative skills. The language is presented in small bitesize chunks when it's needed. Learners are encouraged to practise and to speak out loud to the characters they encounter.

Each episode should take no more than 20-30 minutes to complete for an absolute beginner. Learners can then be encouraged to watch the full episode or some of the key scenes more than once. Just make sure not to close the episode window.

At the end of each episode there is a consolidation section, bringing together all the key vocabulary, explaining the grammar structures and providing extra practice. All these pages are printable.

Learners can also review the key scenes, tagged with the key language objective, by using the orange bar at the top of the video screen after viewing the episode.

Along with the video you'll find a syllabus, teacher's guide and a user's guide.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Tecla: an online magazine for teachers and students of Spanish

I don't know why I keep forgetting about this wonderful resource, but I thought if I blogged about it, then perhaps I would remember it better. Let's see if it works...

Tecla is a monthly magazine published by the Consejería de Educación which is part of the Spanish Embassy in the United Kingdom. Each month there are three articles at three different levels (beginner, intermediate, advanced). Comprehension exercises accompany each one along with the answers so that you can check yourself.

I could see this as a resource for the classroom teacher, homeschool teacher and adults who are studying Spanish on their own.

Edited: Updated link - 2/27/2012

Pocoyó - Música Maestro

Keywords and phrases:

la orquesta pelota
- ball orchestra
los instrumentos musicales - musical instruments
un par de platillos - a pair of cymbals
un tambor - drum
una trompeta - trumpet

necesitar descansar
- to need to rest
Necesita descansar. - He/She needs to rest.
Necesitas descansar. - You need to rest.
Necesito descansar. - I need to rest. (so true...)

tener una idea
- to have an idea
Tiene una idea. - He/She has an idea.
Tienes una idea. - You have an idea.
Tengo una idea. - I have an idea.

tocar la trompeta - to play the trumpet
Toca la trompeta. - He/She plays the trumpet.
Tocas la trompeta. - You play the trumpet.
Toco la trompeta. - I play the trumpet.

Es una lástima. - It's a shame.

La música está en todas partes. - Music is everywhere. (It's also correct to say por todas partes. I've heard por more often in this context.)

Good site for some YouTube tricks:

Also, I use RealPlayer to download YouTube videos and watch them offline.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Two blogs - technology and languages

This evening through Twitter I found two wonderful blogs. They talk about using technology in the modern foreign language classroom.

The first one is Integrating ICT into the MFL Classroom written by Joe Dale, a French middle school teacher. The second blog is called ICT and Education - Box of Tricks written by José Picardo, a high school foreign language teacher.

Not much else to say except, please go take a look at them. Come back and let me know your opinions. For me, I think it's so important to introduce and integrate technology into the classroom, but as a tool to help students learn, not for the technology itself.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Turning a Wii remote into a digital whiteboard

For classroom teachers, this is something you might want to try.

He also demonstrates how to turn the video game controller into a touchscreen and a head-mounted 3-D viewer. This is just fascinating to me.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Teaching parts of the face with a monster puppet

When talking about the parts of the face in Spanish, I know that many teachers use Mr. Potato Head in class. Well, about a year ago, I saw the Melissa & Doug Make Your Own Monster Puppet online and a lightbulb went off. Wouldn't this be great to use instead of or in addition to Mr. Potato Head?

I finally got around to buying one last week through Amazon. I laid out all the parts for you to see. (To enlarge, click on photo.) For $15 and some change, I really think you get a good deal.

Imagine using this in class. The children helping him find his eyes... "No puedo ver. ¿Dónde están mis ojos?" The child or teacher can place them in the right place. The puppet then could say Puedo ver. ¡Gracias! You could do the same with the nose, ears and arms even. You could also put them in the wrong place - such as placing the eyes under the mouth and then the students could tell you the correct place.

I have to say that I can't wait to use this little guy in class. I think the kids will love him!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Official Olympics web site in Spanish

If you want to practice your Spanish and learn more about the Olympics in Beijing, here's a good place to go:

For more information about the Olympics and foreign languages, visit Foreign Language Fun.

Even more coverage in Spanish:

Quick note: For the month of August, I'm going to slow down a bit with the posts - perhaps one or two a week. It's my last month with my little guys before they start school. My youngest will be in kindergarten, so I feel that I need to grab this time now. (Yes, they grow up way too quickly.) ¡Gracias!

Thursday, July 31, 2008


Keywords & phrases:

la carrera - race
los corredores - runners (el corredor/la corredora - runner)
el premio - prize
la competencia - competition

¡Preparados, listos, ya! - Ready, set, go!

¿Quién es el ganador? - Who is the winner?

____________ es el ganador/la ganadora. - ______________ is the winner.

Bien hecho - well done

Monday, July 28, 2008

La oruga muy hambrienta - food and days of the week

Another book I like to use is La oruga muy hambrienta (The Very Hungry Caterpillar) by Eric Carle. Using this book, you can cover the days of the week, different types of foods, small/big, to be hungry and other themes.

For my preschool class, we mainly talk about the food:

la manzana - apple
la pera - pear
la ciruela - plum
la fresa - strawberry
la naranja - orange
la sandía - watermelon
el pastel - cake
el barquillo de helado - ice cream cone
el queso - cheese
la paleta - lollipop

Using my dry erase/magnet board and pictures printed on magnet paper, I first show them the food listed above. Then we talk about the useful phrase tener hambre (to be hungry). We also talk about which foods are healthy and not healthy (saludable, no es saludable). After they have a good grasp on the new words, I then read the book using the kit pictured (item # LA988) from Lakeshore Learning.

For the cocoon (el capullo), I roll up a piece of brown construction paper large enough for the puppet to fit inside. While it's inside, I make it so the butterfly comes out, but not the caterpillar (the butterfly is attached inside the puppet) - only comes out at one end. Every time I do this I get ooos and ahhhs. *grin* Then they would always ask me how I did it and to please read the book again.

For more ideas about using Eric Carle's books in class or at home, visit the Caterpillar Exchange Bulletin Board on his official web site.

Here's an earlier post about another Eric Carle book.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Pocoyó: Juego limpio

Keywords and phrases:

la escoba - broom
el caballo - horse
el vaquero - cowboy
la guitarra - guitar

Pocoyo finge que la escoba es un caballo. - Pocoyo is pretending that the broom is a horse.

Tenemos que limpiar. - We have to clean up.

Justo a tiempo. - Just in time. (Easy one, eh?)

¡Es espectacular! - It's spectacular!

Es una idea brillante. - It's a brilliant idea.

Songs about cleaning up:

Clean-up on the We Are Little Amigos cd by Maribel Suardy (Her voice is simply gorgeous!)

Vamos a recoger (Let's put it away) from Play and Learn Spanish by Ana Lomba and Marcela Summerville

Spanish food

I'm going to reminisce a little... bear with me, por favor.

Many years ago, when I studied abroad in Spain (Zaragoza and Madrid), I don't recall eating one bad meal. It was all good - from the paella, tortillas, migas and everything in between. My host mother, María, created masterpieces in the little kitchen. Every single meal was delicious.

My most favorite? A mouth-watering tortilla stuffed inside a crusty bocadillo. Do you know where I ate it? Take a look at the photo in the upper left-hand side of the page. I sat on a sun-warmed boulder, eating that wonderful sandwich while looking at that view. I miss it. I miss Spain. For some reason, I've been missing it even more lately.

To help, un poco, I have been watching Made in Spain with José Andrés on PBS. I think it's wonderful that there is now a program that shows off the culinary treasures of Spain. My mouth waters pretty much everytime I watch it. On his site, I found another good site, called La Tienda. I received my first order today - chocolate de la taza, picos de aceite y rollitos. (Oh, make sure you read the story behind the site.)

Perhaps if I close my eyes, as I sip the chocolate, I might be able to imagine myself back in España... tal vez.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

For adults who want to learn Spanish - Lingus.TV

Lingus.TV offers a different way to learn Spanish (Peninsular). Each video comes with the written dialog, translation and grammar notes. There are three different levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced.

An excerpt from their About Us page:

We are here! We have finally arrived! We are the opportunity that many of you are waiting for. At last, a method of learning languages that doesn't cause drowsiness or have side effects like boredom.

Lingus.TV is a television channel for the new generation devoted to teaching and disseminating languages, while taking advantage of all the social characteristics of the Internet.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Goldilocks & the Three Bears or Ricitos de oro y los tres osos

This past year in my preschool class we talked about opposites (los opuestos) using the book Goldilocks and the Three Bears (Ricitos de oro y los tres osos) by Ana Lomba.

The new vocabulary I introduced:

grande - big
mediano(a) - medium
pequeño(a) - small
blando(a) - soft
duro(a) - hard
frío(a) - cold
caliente - hot

First we talked about the words in Spanish. I had three balls (small, medium, big), some cottonballs (soft), a wooden block (hard) and then for the last two I used a bit of sign language since they were pretty easy to understand without using English. (With hot I did the sign and then waved my hand in front of my mouth like I had just eaten something hot.)

After I felt sure the children understood the words, I read the book aloud in Spanish - in a lively manner. (No need to read it in English since it's so well-known.) What I like about this version of the story is that Lomba simplified it so that kids wouldn't get bored. The children would listen very intently and look at the pictures just as if they were listening in English. I did not hear one peep out of them as I read it. After I was finished, they would ask me to read it again!

Since our class was so short we just talked about the opposites, but at the back of the book is a list of key vocabulary words used in the book with pictures. Also, and this is the best thing, is that the book comes with a cd which also makes this a perfect tool for parents teaching their children at home. On the cd, you'll find the vocabulary and story in both English and Spanish, how to use the cd effectively (great ideas!) and also tracks for each character to so that you can even do a dramatic skit or puppet show.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Doki Mezcla Colores

Here's another video about colors (los colores).

Keywords & phrases:

naranja – orange (Also can use anaranjado.)
azul - blue
blanco - white
negro - black
marrón - brown (Also can use café.)
amarillo - yellow
verde - green

la pintura
- paint

mezclar - to mix
pintar - to paint

No tengo pintura verde. - I don't have green paint.
Tengo pintura roja*. - I have red paint.

Mezcla la pintura azul con la pintura amarilla. Mix the blue paint with the yellow paint.

*Since the adjective roja is describing a feminine noun - la pintura, it's roja instead of rojo. It would be the same for some of the others: negra, blanca, amarilla, and anaranjada.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Pocoyó: Brilla brilla

Keywords & phrases:

la noche - night
la estrella - star
el cielo - sky

brilla* - shine, sparkle (Brillar is the verb.)

¡Espera! - Wait!
¡Ten cuidado! - Be careful!
Eres muy amable. - You're very kind.
¿Dónde está _______? - Where is _____?

One version of the song Twinkle, Twinkle:

*According to my Oxford Spanish Dictionary and other sources, twinkle is titilar or centellear when talking about a star.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Review: Our Hawaiian Hula Adventure by Professor Pocket

On this second cd by Professor Pocket, we join Desi the Dinosaur and Chico the Chicken on another adventure, but this time in Hawaii. There they meet the Big Kahuna, played by Parents Choice award-winning family artist, Billy Jonas.

Like in their first cd, Our Silly Farm Adventure, the music is excellent. Once you listen to the songs, you'll be tapping your toes and singing along with your children - in Spanish! Nathan, my five-year old, loves Vamos a la Playa and has pretty much learned all the words which is good because it's full of useful vocabulary.

In addition to the music, there's a fun bilingual storyline that your children will enjoy following - from dancing the hula to visiting a volcano.

The cd comes with the words to all the songs with translations. At the back of the booklet is a list of the key vocabulary, verbs and expressions used. You can also find all of this on their web site including music samples. Also on their site, you can download activity sheets for free. It's a great way to reinforce the new vocabulary.

For more information, visit their site at

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A lady in Spain...

Through a roundabout way, I ran across this blog today:

María Amelia began writing in her blog when she turned 95 years old on December 23, 2006. Here's her introduction:
Amigos de Internet, hoy cumplo 95 años. Me llamo María Amelia y nací en Muxía (A Coruña) el 23 de Diciembre de 1911. Hoy es mi cumpleaños y mi nieto como es muy cutre me regalo un blog. Espero poder escribir mucho y contaros las vivencias de una señora de mi edad. -- (My friends in Internet, today I am 95 years old. My name is Amelia and I was born in Muxía (A Coruña - Spain) on December the 23rd of 1911. Today it's my birthday and my grandson, who is very stingy, gave me a blog.)
I can't wait to read it.

Edited to add: She's now the world's oldest blogger. ¡Vaya!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Pocoyó - La máquina de colorear el mundo

This is a great episode to learn about some colors in Spanish. Listen for the following:

rojo (red), azul (blue), verde (green), rosa (pink), amarillo (yellow)

Other key phrases:

Ten mucho cuidado. (Be very careful.)

¿De qué color es Pato? (What color is Pato?)

I'll be posting more about Pocoyó - keywords and phrases. I hope you'll find this helpful!

Adults who want to learn Spanish

Yesterday, I had a really good conversation with one of my readers. She was frustrated because she didn't feel comfortable teaching her children Spanish when she didn't have any formal background in the language.

What do you do? Sometimes it's hard for me to understand this because I've been studying Spanish off and on for over 20 years. After talking to her though, I now have an even deeper respect for parents who are teaching their children a foreign language.

Well, in order to teach the language, it would be helpful learn it. Makes sense, eh? But how? Luckily today's parents have an amazing resource at their fingertips - the Internet. Also, don't forget your local library (books, dvds, cds, computers, digital media, etc.).

Let's begin! (By the way, all of these are free. I like free, don't you?)

First of all, I would recommend visiting the Spanish Language page on The guide, Gerald Erichsen, has put together a series of lessons for beginners. You'll start off with the alphabet which is very important. Once you learn the sounds of the Spanish alphabet, you'll be able to pronounce any Spanish word you see. I strongly recommend doing this first. You might be tempted to jump ahead, but don't. So, go through all of his lessons a little at a time. Set aside perhaps 15 to 30 minutes a day to do this.

Now, let's go back in time to when you were in elementary school. Remember when you learned how to read? Some may recall the Dick and Jane books. "See Jane run. See Dick run. See Jane and Dick run." Yeah, well, there you go. You have to go back to the beginning in Spanish as well. Go visit your local library. They may have a Spanish language section. Browse the books and look for the easy ones - 5-7 words to a page and pictures. Think about some of the easy books you have read to your children and find their Spanish equivalent. If they don't have any, try your library's inter-library loan service. For some super-simple books, visit this site. She has free printable books in Spanish (scroll about halfway down).

By this point, you might be getting a little bored. No pain, no gain. *grin*

Okay, another thing you can do is listen to the newbie lessons on which are actually pretty fun. I have mentioned them before here. I highly recommend that you subscribe to them through iTunes, so that you can see the transcripts (right-click on the podcast, click on get info, then click on the lyrics tab and wa-lah, there it is). If you want, you could copy and paste the transcript in a document and read while you listen. Also, to work on your pronunciation, read the transcript aloud. If you have any questions, please feel free to send me an email (link on profile page). There have been some changes with SpanishPod.

Are you ready to watch something in Spanish? How about Destinos: An Introduction to Spanish? I wrote about it here. Don't worry if you don't understand every word. Relax and just enjoy it. Before you know it, you'll start to understand more and more each time.

Well, I think that is enough for now. Don't feel overwhelmed. First step - the Spanish alphabet. ¡Buena suerte!

Sunday, July 13, 2008


What is Panwapa? It is a children's show made by the Sesame Workshop that airs on PBS Kids Sprout. According to their site:
Panwapa, which means "here on this earth" in the Tshiluba language, aims to foster the foundation for global citizenship and community activism in young children, ages 4 to 7. Featuring an entirely new group of Muppet characters, Panwapa consists of an interactive website,, a DVD, and print materials that are available to children around the world in five languages —Arabic, English, Japanese, Mandarin and Spanish.
On their website, you'll find videos, games, printable activities, and more. As mentioned above, you'll find all of this in other languages in addition to Spanish.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Board games in Spanish

We have a couple of them at home - ¿Adivina Quién? and Cadoo. I bought both at our local Walmart in the clearance aisle. They're also available at Amazon.

The object of the first game is to guess the mystery person on your opponent's card by asking one question per turn. You have to have a keen eye and really notice the differences among the faces on your board such as hair and eye color; some faces have beards or mustaches; some are wearing hats or glasses.

Now, your wheels are probably turning... wouldn't this be a great game for learning parts of the face in Spanish? YES! Adam, age 8, likes this game. I have given him a little cheat sheet with the hair colors and such, but I have noticed that he's not referring to it as often now. I think this would be a great game to have in centers in your classroom - perhaps third grade and up.

Another game we have is Cranium's Cadoo in Spanish. The object of this game is to get a Cadoo which is four play-pieces in a row (up, down, horizontal or diagonal). To get to this point is really a lot of fun. You either are sculpting something with the clay, acting, drawing, or solving a puzzle. I have to help Adam with this one, but he still enjoys it. I'd probably recommend this one for perhaps middle school and up - depending on the level of Spanish of your students.

I have modified the game a bit so that I can use it with an elementary age student I tutor. I made up some different cards to go with the vocabulary we're learning. For instance our subject was going to a restaurant. Some of the cards were:

Interpreta lo siguiente: el mesero
Modela esto con plastilina: la mesa

Elige la cosa que no pertenezca: a) la cuchara b) el tenedor c) el gato

There are quite a number of board games in Spanish available now. It's a great way to learn and have fun at the same time.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Spanish Phonetics

Let's talk a little about phonetics. According to Merriam-Webster, the definition is:

1: the system of speech sounds of a language or group of languages 2 a: the study and systematic classification of the sounds made in spoken utterance b: the practical application of this science to language study

Some time last year, I ran across this web site Phonetics: The Sounds of Spoken Language. It brought back memories of my own phonetics class in college which was difficult but very interesting.

I have found this site to be very helpful, because it explains how to pronounce the various Spanish sounds in detail. For instance, for each vowel and consonant, you'll find an animated diagram, step-by-step descriptions and a video of the sound being used in context.

This site is mainly for students of foreign languages, but I think it's also good for those who are teaching the language either at home or as refresher for those who are classroom teachers.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Review: Our Silly Farm Adventure by Professor Pocket

The songs are original and unforgettable, the characters are engaging and yes, your children will even learn some Spanish (and probably not even realize it).

On this cd you’ll meet Desi, el dinosaurio (dinosaur), Chico, el pollo (chicken), and of course Professor Pocket. They visit una granja mágica where they meet Chico’s familia, vacas (cows), ovejas (sheep), cerdos (pigs) and even a flying white horse named Carlos!

Along the way, your children will learn helpful phrases such as tengo hambre (I’m hungry), tengo sed (I’m thirsty), me gusta (I like) and so much more.

To reinforce the new vocabulary, visit their site for free printable activity sheets. Parents will also find on the site the lyrics to the songs, translations and a list of the key vocabulary, verbs and expressions used on the cd.

My five-year old thoroughly enjoyed listening to it, and I even caught my 8-year old listening to it as well. And to be honest, I liked it, too. (The cd is for ages 2 and up.)

Without a doubt, I would have no problem recommending this to the parents of my preschool students. In fact, I would encourage them to buy it so that they could continue their language learning at home.

They have a new one out called Our Hawaiian Hula Adventure which I will review later in the week. For more information and music samples, visit their site at

Thursday, July 3, 2008

A simple color game: La caza de los colores

Yesterday, we received a package from Bilingual Fun which contained a couple of dvds, some color beanbags, and other items. My younger son instantly liked the beanbags. We first played hot potato with them. Each time we tossed it, we had to say the color in Spanish. We did this for a while with all of ten of them.

Later on my older son had another idea of how to play with them. He suggested that we try to find something the same color as the bag. So, we lined them up on the couch and each of us picked one. Then we walked around the house hunting for things which matched the bag we were holding - el mismo color. For example, when he found a red book. El libro es rojo. Es el mismo color.

To make it more interesting, a couple of times we limited the searching to one room - la sala, la cocina, etc. Trying to find rosado in their room was a bit challenging though.

I was amazed at their enthusiasm over something so simple as a set of beanbags. We really had a lot of fun with them.

For more color fun visit these sites: and

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Spanish language activity sheets

Not too long ago I ran across a web site that offers activity sheets in pdf format. They're from the company Language Stars which offers classes not only in Spanish, but also French, German, Italian and Mandarin Chinese in the Chicago area. Alas, I'm not anywhere near them, but I think it's great that they make their worksheets available through their site. *grin*

Harry Potter is pregnant?

I'm reading Harry Potter y el prisionero de Azkaban and have run across the word embarazado three or four times now. Here is one example:

On page 65 of my edition, the scene where Mrs. Weasley gives a kiss to all her children including Harry when the Hogwarts Express arrives:

"Éste se sintió embarazado pero muy agradecido cuando ella le dio un abrazo de más."

Well, let's hope he doesn't feel pregnant, because then that would take the story to an entirely new level. Embarazada means to be pregnant. (Of course, the word embarazado doesn't exist.) I think the translator was thinking of embarazoso which means embarrassing or awkward.

I was very surprised to see it the first time, but more than once? I'm on chapter 10 now. I wonder how many more times I'll run across this word used in this way.

For more translation funnies, visit Josh's blog.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Medical Spanish and Spanish Grammar Review Podcasts

Molly Martin, M.D. started producing these podcasts last year and in my opinion, is providing a very helpful service in light of the increase of native Spanish speakers needing medical services. Topics include lyme disease, glaucoma, stroke, physical exams and so much more.

Dr. Martin is a practicing Internal Medicine doctor and has been speaking Spanish for over 10 years. Her friend Maria Bjorklund, MS, who is originally from Peru, often plays the role of the patient in the dialogs, proofreads the podcast transcripts and is a high school Spanish teacher.

She also supplements the medical podcasts with Spanish grammar podcasts.

So, if you're in the medical field or know someone who is, I would recommend these podcasts. And now that I think about it, it might be possible to use these in more advanced classes - learning about parts of the body and so on.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Free Sesame Street videos in Spanish on iTunes

While exploring iTunes one afternoon, I ran across these free episodes in Spanish. Here's how you can find them:

1) Open iTunes

2) Click on TV Shows

3) Scroll down to the bottom of the middle column to where you see Free on iTunes.

4) Click on See All

Click through the pages to find the episodes. I believe there are about seven episodes (green covers). You can also find the same ones in English (purple covers). Perhaps you and your children could watch an episode in English first, then watch the Spanish version. Did I mention that they were free as in gratis?

To download iTunes, click here. You will need an iTunes account in order to download from the store. Account registration is free, but may require a valid credit card.