Top 5 Reasons why learning Spanish Online with a live speaker is best

Your best option for learning Spanish online? A real person.

These days there are so many options when it comes to online language learning. Online software, website registrations, apps, e-books, audiobooks, games, you name it! And while most of those things can be helpful, ultimately the very best way to learn a language online is with a real live speaker via Skype.

Learning Spanish Online with a live speaker means you can ask questions

English Spanish Accent Reduction

Your neat app or online bilingual dictionary might be great, until you run into trouble. Maybe you try to use the words you’ve learned and something goes wrong, or you’re just confused. Want to ask a question? Then your best bet is to learn with a live, fluent speaker who can answer those questions. At Confidence Learning Services, we tailor all of our instruction – and our answers – to you.

Learning Spanish online with a live speaker – just like you learned your first language

Can you imagine if your parents had set you in front of an app, instead of ever talking with you, teaching you the alphabet, and listening to you say your first words in your native language?

Okay, things are a little different now, and hopefully you no longer need to be spoon-fed and burped either. We can’t do that over the internet. But the point is, we learned our first language with live speakers, and that’s how we are most successful learning our second language. And thanks to modern technology, we can learn Spanish online with a live speaker, not just a machine.

Learning Spanish online with a live speaker means you get corrective feedback.

Sometimes, we make mistakes. We’re all human, after all. I’m sure you’ve heard someone make a mistake when trying to speak your native language. Unfortunately, you can’t correct a problem that you don’t realize you have. If you’re still making mistakes in Spanish after studying with an audiobook or website program – and chances are that you are – the only way to correct those is to have someone help you fix your mistakes.

Learning Spanish online with a live speaker is more fun!

Yes, we all get addicted to online games, and there are plenty of those that are designed to help you practice Spanish. But when you interact with a live speaker online, you get to exchange stories, communicate and get to know each other, and discover new places to visit to practice your language right in your hometown. And ultimately, that’s why you started learning Spanish in the first place – to communicate with others.

Are you ready to learn Spanish face-to-face with a live instructor? We can connect with you anywhere in the world via Skype, and help you make the most of your Spanish learning experience wherever you are!

Get started today with a free Spanish online consultation. Contact us at 1-865-226-9477.

Top 10 Reasons to Learn Spanish in 2015

learn english in Knoxville

Top 10 reasons to start learning Spanish in 2015

Is learning another language one of your New Year’s resolutions? Having a tough time deciding between Spanish, French, or Mandarin? Check out Confidence Learning’s top 10 reasons to start learning Spanish in 2015.

1. Connect with Spanish speakers in your community.

In the US, it is possible to maintain almost daily contact with native Spanish speakers in many cities or even in rural areas. This is certainly the case in the many states bordering Mexico, or such states as Florida and New York where many immigrants of Cuban ancestry reside. Even if your home state is not located in one of these areas, there is still a great likelihood of finding Spanish-speakers close to where you live.There are 40 million Spanish speakers in the US, including 80,000 in Nashville and 17,000 in Knoxville.

learn english in Knoxville

2. Communicate with 350 million native Spanish speakers worldwide.

Spanish is spoken by at least an estimated 350 to 400 million people around the world and is currently the 4th most commonly spoken language worldwide. Geographically, a large number of countries have Spanish as a dominant language: Spain, the United States, Venezuela, Argentina, Chile, Equatorial Guinea, the Philippines, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Panama, Colombia, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Knowing Spanish opens the door for you to communicate with 1/3 of a billion speakers worldwide!

3. Learn Spanish to enhance your travel experiences.

Planning to take a trip in 2015? Going on a missions trip or a vacation in Latin America or Spain? Wherever you decide to go, be it to Central America, or to Spain, the mother-country of the Spanish language, knowing the language and culture of the land you visit will give you insights into the people and culture that a non-Spanish speaker would never have access to.

Knowing even a little Spanish ahead of time helps travelers communicate more successfully, especially considering that a great number of Spanish speakers do not know English. Whether giving an address in a taxi, making reservations in a hotel, ordering food or drinks in a restaurant, or meeting the locals at the main hang-out, your travel experience will be smoother, more enjoyable, and more personal when you can communicate.

4. Learn Spanish to improve your knowledge of your own language.

Spanish is from the Romance language family of languages, its roots coming primarily from Latin, the language spoken by the Romans. As you might know, English, too has many words of Latin origin. Because of this, knowing Spanish helps speakers of English (as well as some other European languages) broaden their vocabulary in their native language. Often times, these same Latin roots are at the base of many sophisticated words in English, so Spanish learners can also become more proficient in English.

5. Use Spanish to boost your career.

Know a second language? Great, you’re hired! If you have proven yourself to be a capable employee with just the right job skills AND you speak a foreign language such as Spanish, you are much more likely to land that job of your dreams than if you are monolingual. In fact, many jobs today require a minimum of basic proficiency in another language.

business rates for spanish courses in Knoxville

6. Learn Spanish to prepare for study abroad opportunities.

Various high schools, colleges, and universities offer study abroad opportunities, with different types of programs are available to choose from, varying in time from as little as a week of study to one semester, or even a whole year. Often, as little as one semester or one year of prior language study is all that is needed to qualify to participate in an exchange program.

What could be better than living, breathing, and using your newly acquired language skills than actually putting them to use in one of the many Spanish-speaking countries from around the world? Not only does an exchange program give you the opportunity to use the Spanish you know, but also the opportunity to improve your language abilities on a daily basis. Constant exposure the language and culture of the city in which you study is believed to be the key to true language mastery and helps pave the way to literacy and native speaker like fluency.

7. Get to know – and appreciate – Spanish-speaking cultures.

Not only will Spanish open up access to areas of “high” culture such as art, literature, and history, a knowledge of Spanish can help you understand and appreciate day-to-day culture in the Spanish-speaking world. The ability to read and understand authentic Spanish — whether that be in the newspaper, on television, in magazines, in letters from friends or pen pals, or on the street — truly gives an “insider” view into the language and all of its different shades of meaning.

Learning the Spanish language and culture go hand-in-hand. It may not be impossible to learn Spanish never having experienced the culture first hand, but direct exposure to the culture will give language learners insights into the language that would otherwise not be possible.

8. Build relationships with Spanish.

Language and communication are two sides of the same coin, but what many people don’t realize is that learning a foreign language, although intimidating at times, opens many doors to meeting new and exciting people that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. Getting to know somebody by communicating with them in their own language is a great way to really get to know that person on a much deeper level than only through communicating with gestures or body language. Language study, practice, and exposure to the language are vital to effective and successful communication.

Becoming proficient in Spanish might take a lot of effort, dedication, and time on the part of the learner,but  the rewards can be great. Imagine all of the friends it is possible to make while on vacation, during study abroad, through having a common interest in music, or even while at work. Having lifelong international friends not only opens future travel opportunities but makes you a cultural ambassador both at home and abroad.

remote learning spanish

9. Gain access to Spanish art, music, literature and film.

Ever wonder what it would be like to view a film in its original language instead of watching it in a dubbed version? Are you tired of being distracted from enjoying a film by the need to read the film’s subtitles? Have you wondered if the translation of the film is accurate or if you are missing out on the details in the film? Becoming proficient in Spanish would greatly enhance your enjoyment of such Oscar-winning films as Belle epoque (1993), All About My Mother (1999), and The Sea Inside (2004).

Spanish doesn’t just help you enjoy more films, but also gives you a glimpse into the minds and times of the people responsible for some of the greatest literature in the Spanish-speaking world. Who hasn’t heard of Miguel de Cervantes, whose novel, Don Quixote was not only groundbreaking in the 16th century when first published, but continues to fascinate and inspire current audiences?

What about Spanish music and art? Most people would recognize musicians like Gloria Estefan, Shakira, and Pitbull, and Spanish cubist painter Pablo Picasso is known worldwide for his modern-style of art that has influenced the artistic community around the globe. In recent years, film stars from Spain and Latin America such as Penelope Cruz, Antonio Banderas, and Salma Hayak have become recognized not just at home, but in Hollywood as well.

10. Learning Spanish makes acquiring the next foreign language easier.

Studies show that after learning a second language, adding a third language is even easier. Start with Spanish, a relatively easy language to learn for English speakers, before you move on to something like Arabic or Russian. Learning a foreign language develops a whole set of mental, social, and cultural skills and this newfound awareness carries over to other languages when learned. Once Spanish has been learned to a proficient level, when the grammar concepts, vocabulary, and other facets of the language have become fairly automatic, picking up a new language comes almost effortlessly. If you decide to study another Romance language (French, Italian, Portuguese) after adding Spanish, you’ll find it even easier.

Ready to get started? Enroll in a Skype based Spanish course today, and by this time next year you could be chatting with your friends you made on your summer rafting trip to Costa Rica. Contact us today at 1-865-226-9477 to get your completely free, no-commitment Spanish consultation.

 

 

Improving your English as a Native Spanish Speaker

Is Spanish Your First Language? Common Pronunciation Problems You Might Face

When working to improve your English as a native Spanish speaker, one of the most challenging aspects is becoming comfortable using English pronunciation.

accent reduction in knoxville

Words and sentences in Spanish are approached differently than in English, requiring speakers to learn a new set of pronunciation rules in order to properly communicate using connecting sounds, intonation, and stress. Even if you have spoken English for decades, pronunciation can still be difficult.

When learning English, it’s important to focus on using correct English pronunciation in order to avoid forming a habit of pronouncing words and sentences incorrectly. By overviewing the top three pronunciation problems native Spanish speakers face when learning English, you can evaluate your own English pronunciation and see how well you speak with an American accent.

Pronouncing the “th” sounds /ð/ /θ/

The fact that the English letter combination can be pronounced two ways, voiced (with vibration in the throat and vocal chords) and unvoiced (with no vocal chord vibration) doesn’t help that it is an already difficult sound.

Both of these sounds involve the tongue coming out between the teeth and making a continuous sound that can be held out for several seconds if necessary. The air should not be completely stopped, but there should be constant friction between the tongue and the teeth.

Because this is an awkward sound to make (sticking the tongue out of the mouth feels a little weird!), Spanish speakers often substitute /t/ for the unvoiced “th” /θ/ sound and a /d/ for the voiced “th” /ð/ sound. Thus, the English words “that” and “other” are often pronounced as “dat” and “oder” and the English words “three” and “thing” are pronounced as “tree” and “ting.

To see if you’re pronouncing the English “th” sound correctly, it’s best to look at yourself in the mirror as you pronounce words like “that” “other” “three” and “thing”. If you can see the tongue coming out between the teeth, you know you are probably pronouncing those sounds correctly. Additionally, you should feel some friction, vibration, or tingling in the tongue as you say these sounds.

It’s not enough to say these sounds correctly in front of a mirror by yourself. Your correct pronunciation must be used in your speech. Try saying the sentence, “Get those other three things, please.” Focus on using correct pronunciation as you pronounce this sentence. Then, you can focus on pronouncing this sound clearly in your regular speech.

S-blend Pronunciation

In English, we often pronounce many consonants together at once, which is different from Spanish pronunciation. As a result, Spanish speakers tend to insert extra vowel sounds in their words. This is especially problematic for words that begin with “s” followed by another consonant (sp-, sl-, st-, sk-, sp-, etc.).

As a result, Spanish speakers usually pronounce words like “spit” as “espit” or “slide” as “eslide.”

English pronunciation

To see if you’re pronouncing these words correctly, try saying the word “stop.” Place your hand on your neck, and pay close attention to the vibration that you feel, repeating the word several times. If you feel vibration at the beginning of the word, or if you feel your vibration turning off and on again within the word, you know that you are not pronouncing the word correctly. You should not feel any vibration in the neck until you say the “o” sound.

To practice this sound in context, practice saying the sentence, “Please speak to your son about screaming and slapping the other students.”

Pronunciation of Final Consonant Blends

Similarly, English combines many consonants at the end of words, and this can be difficult as well.

Thus, words like “tired” may be pronounced “tire”, “hold” is pronounced “hole” and “last” is pronounced “last.”

To see if you’re pronouncing these sounds clearly, record yourself saying the following sentence combinations:

“I watched a lot of TV/ I watch a lot of TV”

“I cleaned the house/I clean the house”

“You added an extra sound/You add an extra sound.”

Can you hear a clear difference between the first sentence and second sentence in each pair? If not, you’re not pronouncing those consonant blends correctly.

To practice these sounds, try saying two words together, like “feel down”, and then gradually eliminate more and more of the word “down” so you are saying “field”, still retaining a clear /d/ sound.

Due to the varying pronunciation problems that exist when learning English as a Spanish speaker, and the small differences that differentiate letters, working with an online Accent coach is one of the easiest ways to ensure you learn English pronunciation correctly. Participating in an online educational setting, native Spanish speakers can work one-on-one with a certified instructor to receive a personalized accent assessment and pinpoint specific pronunciation areas that need improvement.

You can improve your American English pronunciation and fluency between 50-80% in just 12-weeks! Sign up today for a free evaluation to see how Confidence Accent Reduction can work for you. 

How to raise bilingual children

Children Spanish classes

In our last post about the benefits of raising bilingual children, I mentioned that I would write about exactly how to raise bilingual children. Let’s take a look at what’s involved.

Do I have to be bilingual to raise bilingual children?

The short answer here is no, you don’t. The evidence is all around you, even here in Knoxville, Tennessee. Walk into almost any ethnic community space in the U.S. – a Chinese grocery store, a Cuban restaurant, a Kurdish shop – and you will notice something they all have in common. The children and teenagers present are translating for the older generations. The children are bilingual in English and their heritage language, their parents are not. These parents have raised bilingual children without being bilingual themselves.

We can also see that the opposite is true. Many of those bilingual children will grow up and have children of their own, who only speak English. You will find this story in more established, older ethnic communities throughout the US as well. Visit a school with a high Hispanic population, and the teachers will probably lament that they have several students who speak only English, despite their grandparents speaking only Spanish. Being bilingual yourself does not guarantee that your children will be bilingual.

So, how do you raise your children to be bilingual, whether or not you yourself are bilingual?

Mostly, it comes down to one rule:

If you want your children to be bilingual, whatever they do in their first language, they must also do in their second language.

That’s it. Pretty simple, right? Let’s look at specifics.

For the sake of this example, I’ll assume you are an English speaker living in the US, raising your children to be English/Spanish bilingual. However, the same principles hold true for any two languages. 

1. Raising Bilingual Children – Community Exposure

Think about all the things that you and your children do within your community. Here in Knoxville, I go to the grocery store, go to the doctor’s office, go to worship services, beauty salons, look for a new house, dine out, and a hundred other things. Each one of these can be done in English and Spanish.

bilingual children Knoxville

It’s more delicious in Spanish, though.

If you speak Spanish, you can visit an English speaking doctor and walk your children through the appointment in Spanish. If you don’t speak Spanish, consider finding a bilingual doctor who will speak to your children in Spanish. At the very least, visit a health fair targeting a Spanish-language audience.

If you dine out at English dominant restaurants, try visiting a location where Spanish will be the dominant language. Options abound even in Knoxville. Depending on your location, this may be Cuban food, Mexican food, South American food, or if you’re in the Southwestern US, McDonald’s.

If you attend worship services regularly in English, find a Spanish language service to visit or attend regularly.

While these activities might be a little uncomfortable for you if you are monolingual, keep in mind that you are engaging in something that will be a lifelong benefit to your children. And you might just improve your second language along the way.

2. Raising Bilingual Children – Media Exposure

Do your children enjoy listening to music in the car? Start listening to music in Spanish. Don’t worry if you’re afraid you might not like Spanish music.There’s a lot more to it than Mariachi, Ranchera and Reggeaton. Start by checking out some Putumayo CD’s from your local library, and then go from there. Create some new Pandora stations and have fun.Bilingual Children Knoxville

Children’s TV is available in Spanish as well. If you don’t have Spanish channels, talk to your provider about adding them, or opt to watch Spanish Language Children’s TV shows on Hulu.com which has a great Latino section.

Thanks to modern technology, many children’s DVDs come with a Spanish dub option. Disney movies usually have a very high quality recording. If you start when your children are very young they’re likely to enjoy “Una Aventura Congelada” just as much as they enjoy “Frozen”, and you might enjoy mixing up “Let It Go” with “Libre Soy” every once in awhile.

3. Raising Bilingual Children – Educational Materials

bilingual children Knoxville

If you have the luxury of enrolling your child in a bilingual school, they should learn about the same topics (alphabets, reading, writing, math, science, history) in both languages.

If you do not have a bilingual school in your community, you can still be successful in this area, but it takes a little more effort from you. Watch episodes of “Plaza Sesamo” (Sesame Street) together, go to your local library to check out books with accompanying CDs. Visit websites that teach your kids the basics of the alphabet, numbers, colors, etc., like the BBC’s Spanish Site. Sign your kids up for Spanish class, or hire a bilingual tutor. If you live in a larger city, you may be able to find a bilingual storytimes, or other Spanish language educational activities.

These are just some general guidelines, but they will make an important difference in your child’s journey to becoming bilingual.

Do you have any advice or tips for parents who are trying to raise bilingual children? What are some things that have worked for you? Share them with us here, or on one of our social media sites. And remember, if your children need a jump start to becoming bilingual, you can sign them up for one of our Spanish language courses today by calling 1-865-226-9477.

“Me llamo es…” How to really introduce yourself and others in Spanish.

Spanish Introductions

Most of us learn quickly in Spanish class to say “Me llamo…”, sometimes followed by a Spanish name we were instructed to pick at random and call ourselves from then on. For the especially gifted Spanish student, it’s easy to make the jump from “Me llamo” to “Me llamo es”. After all, you want to say “My name is…”, right?

Spanish Introductions

Me llamo…

“Me llamo” (pronounced “may yahm-oh”) literally means “I call myself.” So when I say, “Me llamo Laura” I am literally saying “I call myself Laura.” Under no circumstances would I ever want to say “I call myself is Laura.” If you’ve already established the bad habit of saying, “Me llamo es…” try to break that habit by repeating the correct form dozens of times throughout the day, or perhaps, choose one of the other options, like…

Soy…

Literally “Soy” means “I am.” So you could easily say, “Soy enfermera” I am a nurse, “Soy la dueña de Confidence Learning Services” I am the owner of Confidence Learning Services, just as you could say, “Soy Rebecca,”  I’m Rebecca.

Mi nombre es…

But wait! I thought we weren’t supposed to use “es.” Well, it turns out this phrase translates literally to the English. “Mi nombre es…” My name is…

So why don’t we learn this in Spanish class day one? Well, frequently, when you use the word “nombre” it sounds a little formal, and your listeners will often be expecting your full name, which in Spanish might be pretty long. If you were meeting the King of Spain, he could say, “Mi nombre es Juan Carlos Alfonso Víctor María de Borbón y Borbón-Dos Sicilias.”

Spanish Introductions

You might fall asleep before you hear his whole name.

Introducing Others

When introducing others you can use the following phrases:

Phrase Translation Formality
Le presento … I present to you… Formal
Se llama… She/He is called… Casual
Mi amiga/hermana/vecina…. My friend/sister/neighbor… Casual
Este es… This is… Casual

 

Typically we will introduce someone by stating their title or relationship to us. Normally we wouldn’t just say in English, “Her name is Julie” without first saying, “This is my doctor, her name is Julie.” It’s the same in Spanish, we are much more likely to say “Esta es mi doctora, se llama Julia.” Or just a short, “Mi doctora, Julia.

When asking for other’s names:

Phrase Translation Formality
¿Cuál es su nombre? What is your name? Formal
¿Cómo se llama? How are you (formal) called? Semi-formal
¿Cómo te llamas? How are you (inf) called? Casual
Y ¿su nombre? And your name is? Semi-formal

 

What about that Spanish name you picked in class?

You might have been in a Spanish class in which you picked from a list of 10-12 traditional sounding Spanish names, like Rigoberto or Magdalena. It’s always fun to pretend to assume different identities of course, but everyone knows there aren’t many Guillermo Jacksons out there. (Okay, Facebook tells me there are a few, sorry Guillermo.)

The point is, your name is part of who you are, so don’t feel obliged to hide your identity, even if you feel Spanish speakers might have trouble pronouncing it. You could go for an easy Spanish variant of your name – for example, Thomas – Tomás. Or you could just stick with Thomas, it’s mostly about what you are comfortable being called.

Sometimes a phonetic spelling (using Spanish phonetics) might help. If your name is Kevin and you don’t want to be called “Kev-een”, you may consider showing Spanish speakers “Keven” which will still sound a little different but a lot closer to the English pronunciation of Kevin.

And of course a few names are difficult to communicate cross culturally. The name Cameron, for instance, looks a lot like “Camaron” which is the word for shrimp. “Ching” comes very close to a Spanish obscenity. “Linda” is the Spanish word for pretty or cute, “Deja” means “leave”. If you have a name that falls into this category, it’s up to you again to decide how you want to handle it. You may choose to go by a different name entirely, or you may just deal with a few uncomfortable laughs each time you introduce yourself, knowing you probably won’t be easily forgotten.

 Want to learn some more Spanish phrases and start having conversations in Spanish with real speakers? Contact Confidence Learning Services at 1-865-226-9477 for a free Spanish consultation via Skype. We’ll give you some free recommendations and set up some smart goals to help you on your Spanish learning journey. 

Festivals in Knoxville

Knoxville Asian Fest

Today I want to let you know about three special upcoming festivals in Knoxville.

First Annual Knox Asian Festival

Knoxville Asian Fest

http://knoxasianfestival.com/

Where: Krutch Park, Downtown Knoxville TN

When: Saturday, September 20, 10 a.m – 6 p.m.

Knoxville’s very first Asian festival will feature various performers, including music, Lion Dancing, and Martial Arts. There will be activities including Samurai practice and origami folding. Several vendors will be there, including some great Knoxville Asian food vendors – we’re looking forward to egg rolls! And there will be Door Prizes, with chances to win a $50 gift card, Free Sushi Making class, and more.

Confidence Learning Services will have a language booth at the Knox Asian Festival. We’ll be playing “Guess the Language”, with chances to win prizes for identifying different Asian languages, as well as playing an English language vocabulary game and giving away door prizes. Plus you can sign up in person for our English Pronunciation and Accent Reduction lessons. Stop by and say hi to us!

 

Knoxville Greek Fest

Knoxville Greek Fest

http://greekfesttn.wordpress.com/

Where: Saint George Greek Orthodox Church on Kingston Pike in Bearden

When: September 26th and 27th – 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and September 28th 12:00-6:00.

The 35th annual Greek Festival will feature authentic Greek food (Baklava?Dolmeh? Yes please!), as well as cooking demonstrations. There will be authentic Greek wares such as clothing, ceramics, jewelry, books and icons for sale. Face painting and games will be available for the kids, and there will also be church tours available and dancing.

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about the Greek Orthodox religion, Greek Culture, and Greek food, and participate in an iconic Knoxville event that has been taking place for decades.

 

HoLa Festival (Hora Latina)

)Knoxville HoLa Festival

http://holafestival.org/events/

Where:  Market Square in Downtown Knoxville

When: Saturday, September 27th – 7p.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday, September 28th – 11:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

The HoLa festival always takes place during Hispanic Heritage Month, usually near the 15th and 16th of September which are the Independence days for Mexico as well as many Central and South American countries. Musical performances by the Asheville Tango Orchestra, Reverbnation, and Orquesta de Jaime Bonilla, among others, will be featured.

There will be special dance and drama performances, as well as craft activities for the kids and special family activities.

The food at the HoLa festival in Knoxville is so much more than tacos! Cuban Sandwiches and plantains, alteñas, empanadas, cuñape, tres leches, gorditas, and more will be available. Brush up on your Spanish and come hungry!

 

These festivals remind us that the city of Knoxville is so much more than Bluegrass music and the Great Smoky Mountains. We have diverse populations that make various cultural contributions to our city, and remind us of how global East Tennessee is becoming. There are more than 17,000 Spanish Speakers in Knoxville, many of whom are represented at the HoLa festival, and many non-native English speakers represented at all three festivals. Take the time to get out and get to know your community a little more, and we hope you stop by and say hello to Confidence Learning Services at the Knox Asian Festival.

4 Resources You Should Be Using to Learn Spanish Fast

Learn Spanish Fast Tacos

With more than 37 million speakers, Spanish is one of the largest and fastest growing languages in the country. This might get you wishing you could add “Se habla español” to your list of qualifications, but no one really wants to spend time with a textbook, and a trip to language school in Barcelona isn’t in the budget. So what are you to do?

Try these 4 resources that help you to learn Spanish fast!

#4: Learn Spanish Fast by Binge Watching! www.Hulu.com/Latino

Hulu Latino

It’s like Hulu, but in Spanish.

 

Admit it, you’ve spent a rainy afternoon watching 15 episodes of your favorite show in a row. And while everyone enjoys catching up on their favorite shows, adding some new ones might get you closer to that “Se habla español” goal.

“But all Spanish-language television is slapstick comedy and steamy novella soap operas, and I’m more of a “Lost” or “Glee” type of person.”

It’s true that slapstick comedy and romance dominate, and we highly recommend watching “El Chavo” on Hulu, as it’s a classic cultural icon and very understandable for beginners. But there’s more to Spanish-language television than gets broadcast on your satellite, and that’s where the glory of the internet shines through.

Fan of “Downton Abbey”? Try “Isabel” a historical drama set in 15th century Spanish court. Police drama more your style? Watch “Los Hombres de Paco”, following police unit in Spain. If “Keeping up with the Kardashians” is your favorite, you might like “Mi Vida en Sayulita” documenting lives of rich teens on the beach. Kids shows also abound. The point is, no matter what you enjoy, you can find a TV Show in Spanish to entertain you and help you to learn Spanish fast. Many shows have plot summaries and character lists online to help you keep up with what is going on.

Pro Tip: Avoid watching the news, which goes at a speed many native speakers struggle with.

#3: Learn Spanish Fast, Foodies!

Tacos

Mmm, tacos.

I’ve met a few people in my life who just don’t seem to enjoy good food, but I’m guessing you aren’t one of them. At Confidence Learning Services, we enjoy a good meal, and it turns out that between bites you could be training your tongue to speak Spanish.

If you’ve been trying your best “Otra Cerveza, Por Favor” to impress your waitress at your local Mexican restaurant and gotten nowhere, it’s time for a new approach. Most Mexican food in the U.S. is Americanized Mexican catering to U.S. palettes, and if the rest of the diners in the joint are speaking English, there’s a chance that the food isn’t very authentic and the environment is English-dominant. And you definitely won’t learn Spanish fast or slow there. So what to do?

Start by looking for “Authentic Mexican Food” in your community, where staff and patrons are more likely to be speaking Spanish. It’s there, I promise, whether you’re in upstate New York or Middle Tennessee. A good place to start is a “Taqueria,” a taco-shop. Even better if you can find a store, a “Tienda” or “Supermercado” and restaurant combination. Not only are those places more authentic, but you get the chance to roam the aisles finding different products, pronouncing new vocabulary from the labels, and listening to other shoppers. You might be able to ask your cashier for recipe tips to go with your new ingredients!

But don’t stop there. Try searching for the cuisines of other Spanish speaking countries – Dominican or Cuban food, Argentinean, Colombian or Central American. Many of these places will be more authentic since their cuisine is less popular and less imitated, and may give you the opportunity to listen and speak in Spanish.

Cuban Food

Cuban Tostones Rellenos

You can also encounter authentic Spanish-language eating experiences by searching out specific dishes. Finding a Mexican place that serves “sopes” or “tortas” in your area will likely be more authentic, and require more Spanish to be spoken, than someplace famous for their Nachos or Speedy Gonzalez combos. Likewise, finding someplace selling mofongo, pupusas, arepas or bocaditos will bring more Spanish language opportunities into your life, and put more delicious varieties of food on your plate.

While there, try to pronounce the names of dishes on the menu, ask for a paper menu to take home and look over, and ask questions about the restaurant specialties. Let your server know that you’re learning Spanish, and that you’d like to practice. Buen Provecho!

Pro Tip: When we say ask questions, we mean it. You may be surprised to learn that intestines and tongue are favorite taco fillings if you aren’t careful what you order.

#2: Reading kids’ books can help you learn Spanish fast!

Very Hungry Caterpillar

He didn’t make it to the taqueria.

I can count the number of times I’ve thought about brewing myself a cup of coffee, sitting on the couch, and poring over a chapter of the good ol’ Spanish textbook, and it’s exactly zero. Even if you’re an avid reader, checking out a paperback novel or biography in Spanish will likely be overwhelming. Wait, did we forget how we got so good at speaking English ourselves?

Never underestimate the power of children’s books. Reading was an important part of your first language development, and it can help you learn Spanish fast. Children’s books are colorful, written on an easy to understand level, and often hilarious. Many already familiar titles are available in Spanish, “Oso Pardo, Oso Pardo” and “Buenas Noches, Luna” are a couple, as well as books originally written in Spanish. Most libraries have a small section of Spanish language children’s books, sometimes with an accompanying Audio CD. Start out with books as basic as possible, with lots of pictures and few lines of text. You can slowly build yourself up to higher level books on elementary or middle school levels, like Captain Underpants, Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Harry Potter. For a list of suggested books with links to “Compre” (purchase), visit Colorin Colorado.

Pro Tip: Ask your librarian for suggestions for obtaining Spanish language books.

#1: Learn Spanish Fast by teaching English.

ESL Classes

Say what? I’m trying to learn Spanish and you want me to go back to English?

The fact is, there are many churches, non-profits, or government organizations offering free ESL classes to Spanish-speakers, and many are looking for volunteers. Some organizations may be looking for mentors or tutors for Spanish-speaking school children. How does this help you learn Spanish? It puts you in contact with real people. People who speak Spanish. You might wind up using your limited Spanish vocabulary to help explain class instructions, or to confirm plans for next week, and you might be addressed with clarification in Spanish or questions when the English words are lacking. Either way, when you are in close contact with someone who speaks predominantly Spanish, that is the best opportunity for your Spanish to flourish. Call local Spanish speaking churches, your school district or library for more info on potential English classes targeting Spanish speakers in your area.

Some organizations even arrange for “Language Partners”, matching speakers who want to learn each other’s languages. “Round Table” type events are also often available for group conversation between Spanish and English speakers to better both languages.

Pro Tip: Check out your library or community center event calendars for info on language exchanges or English courses. You might even post flyers at Spanish-language stores or restaurants in search of a Spanish/English language partner!

Just getting started on your Spanish journey? Or maybe you’ve been estudiando for awhile? Either way, Confidence Learning Services can help you on your way. Give us a call today, we’ll set you up with a Spanish course that’s right for you. No boring textbooks, but food, field trips and fun might be involved. 1-865-226-9477.

How long will it be before I can speak Spanish?

Speak Spanish

Many people are afraid to start studying Spanish because they believe it will be 5 or 10 years before they can speak Spanish. Others wait until a week before visiting a Spanish speaking country to pop in some Spanish-language CD’s, hoping that will do the trick. So how long does it really take to speak Spanish?

You can start to speak Spanish in a matter of weeks.

Speak Spanish

You can speak Spanish – get started today!

In fact, you may already be speaking Spanish without realizing it. Perhaps you’ve jokingly said “Gracias” to a helpful co-worker, or greeted your family with “Buenos Dias”. Whether or not you are speaking in a lighthearted manner, that’s all there is to speaking Spanish – just do it!

“But I can’t speak Spanish because I’m not fluent!”

Let’s forget about whatever exactly “fluent” is and focus on what you need. Do you really need to be “fluent” in a language when your goal is simply to order a chicken taco (Un taco de pollo, por favor)? How long do you think it would learn to say “Thanks for calling ABC services, this is John, how may I direct your call?” in Spanish? You can start functionally communicating in Spanish quickly – with the right training. Your best bet is working with a real person, preferably in an immersion experience in a Spanish-speaking country, or work with someone who will help you create a similar experience here in Knoxville, Tennessee or in your community, like we do for all of our clients at Confidence Learning Services.

“I don’t just want to speak Spanish, I want to have a conversation.”

Now we’re getting down to the dirty details. Becoming conversationally fluent in Spanish takes an average of 1-2 years with consistent study and practice. A lot depends on you – how regularly you practice, your age, background education, other languages you speak, and your language aptitude are all factors that affect your language learning. 1-2 years can sound like a long time, but think back to what you were doing 2 years ago. Had you started studying then, you might be reading this blog post in Spanish. If you begin now, you can be having conversations before you know it.

“I need more than conversations – I want to speak Spanish in order to get a job or conduct business in a Spanish language environment.”

If your goal is to move beyond basic conversational skills into academic language, learning to speak Spanish takes a bit longer. The average is 5-9 years, and those same factors above affect the length of time it would take for you personally to learn. Keep in mind, we are talking about reaching a native-like level of proficiency that would allow you to read and sign contracts, open and close accounts, conduct business over the phone, attend University classes and religious services in Spanish. If those things aren’t your goal, take a deep breath and go back to that 1-2 year projection for your conversational goals.

“Is there any way to speed up the process? I’d really like to be speaking Spanish by my 3 p.m. flight to Madrid”

A lot of companies make claims that you will “Speak Spanish in 10 days” or “Become fluent in 3 months.” The fact is, research is pretty consistent on the timelines I’ve given you above. You can start using specific phrases for targeted goals within days or weeks of beginning Spanish study. We can help by providing targeted instruction for your goals. When you enroll in a Confidence Learning Services course, we tailor the material to you, so you’re not learning about gardening or food preparation unless those are part of your goals. This allows you to waste less time and get right to the skills you need. However, achieving conversational fluency or academic levels of language will still take a year or more. But it will take a lot longer if you don’t start learning today. Contact Confidence Learning Services at 1-865-226-9477 now to make this your Spanish-language learning year.