Quick, easy game for Spanish class

I was inspired to try this game with my 7th grade class after reading Martina Bex’s great blog about her first unit of the school year. She gave an idea for a “brain break” which is a quick activity that you can use when your kids are starting to zone out.

I’ve been looking for ideas for activities that can be done very quickly because my kids sometimes do need brain breaks. Or we finish what I’ve planned 5 minutes early and I can’t let them go yet, but there’s no time to start something new. I think that this activity will be a great one for those situations.

I call it “Palomitas” which means “popcorn” in Spanish.

To play:

1. I told the kids to all think of a sentence about themselves starting with “Yo quiero...” We are studying querer right now, but I could do this again with any verb. I gave them an example: “Yo quiero un novio.”¬†They all laughed because I had just told them that I wanted a boyfriend. Well…I do! ūüôā

2. After they had a sentence in mind, I told them all to stand up. They had to say their sentences one by one in no structured order and then sit down. If 2 kids started talking at the same time, then everyone had to stand back up again and start over. Today I didn’t time it, but it would be really fun to time this as well and see how fast they can do it.

How it went:

They loved it! They were all able to say their sentences and sit down without interrupting each other. I thought maybe it was too easy, but I could tell that they were all looking around the room at each other trying to gauge when would be a good time to speak. They all asked to play again, but class was over and we were out of time. Now that they know how to play, I’ll time it next class and see how fast they can do it. I’m sure that using a timer will create more situations where they’ll start talking at the same time and have to start over. Plus, one of the best parts of the game was that we got 22 more repetitions of “Yo quiero”¬†used in context.


¬°Bienvenidos a 2013!

¬°Feliz a√Īo nuevo! I just wanted to wish you all a happy new year. I have spent my winter vacation hanging out on my parents¬ī ranch in Montana. Check out my pic of the road right by where they live. When I get back to Denver next week, I¬īm planning to start some new side projects and get the new year started right! Hopefully, more people in Denver will know more Spanish at the end of 2013 than they do right now! ūüôā

Spanish for Beginners: Level 2

Did you take Spanish in high school but struggle to use it in real life? We’ve all been there. Even though I took 2 years of Spanish in college, I struggled to tell my host mother that I wanted to eat dinner on the first night of my semester abroad in Costa Rica.

Fortunately, I was able to get past that hurdle and now I’m fluent in Spanish. I know that Spanish classes can actually be useful for real life. I’m planning a series of classes that will help to simplify all of those grammar rules and verb tenses that you learned in high school while allowing you opportunities to practice your speaking skills with other Spanish learners. Plus, you’ll learn tips and shortcuts for communicating and understanding the most important messages in Spanish without wasting time dissecting whether “el” or “la” is correct.

For this class, we are using a great text called “Spanish Demystified”. In Level 1, we studied the first 3 chapters which included pronunciation, basic conversations and introduction to verbs. In Spanish 2, we will continue to learn more about verbs and putting words together to form sentences.¬†

Who: Adults who want to learn Spanish for work or travel. This class is for students who’ve taken at least 1 Spanish class and want to improve their speaking skills.

What: Small group Spanish classes. 4-6 students in total.

When: Monday nights at 6. Starts March 12 and goes for 6 weeks.

Where: Upstairs cafe of Whole Foods. 870 S. Colorado Blvd., Glendale, CO 80246

Why: To practice Spanish, have fun, and become better communicators.

Space in the class is limited! Contact me to reserve your spot! 

Tasting Spanish Tapas

¬°Hola a todos! It’s been awhile since my last blog post, and I’ll tell you why.¬†I recently started a new position as a student teacher at a Spanish immersion elementary school! I’m finishing up my Masters degree after almost 3 years of studying and I’m speaking Spanish all day every day. Most of the teachers at the school are from Spain or have spent time in Spain on a semester abroad or extended travel. Other than a weekend of partying in Barcelona, I haven’t spent much time in Spain at all, so I know I’ll be learning a lot about Spain during my four months of student teaching.

Espa√Īol: Tapas en un establecimiento de Barcel...
Image via Wikipedia

One of my first lessons about Spain came from happy hour after work on Friday. All of the teachers went straight to a tapas bar in Denver called Ondo’s. I had eaten tapas once or twice, but I didn’t really know much about them. I was feeling hungry and faced a spread that looked just like the one in the picture on the left. Yum!

There were plates of bread with different types of toppings that were held on by toothpicks. I learned that you just fill a plate with whatever you would like, and then they bill you at the end by counting the toothpicks. This place charge $2 per toothpick.

I made a little piggy of myself and had five toothpicks on my plate by the end of the night. I had toppings of pecans, cheese and jam; roasted red pepper, eggplant and cheese; tuna and shrimp (I ate 2 of those!); and potatoes with mayonnaise. ¡Delicioso! One of the teachers also ordered croquetas so I tried a fried ball of bechamel sauce with ham inside. (Pictured at the right.)

After this delicious tapas experience, I started wondering about what other types of tapas are available. Here are some references I found for more information.

El Mundo de las Tapas– There aren’t enough pictures on this site, but it gives a recipe for lots of different types of tapas. I put the link to the Spanish version of the site in this hyperlink so that you can practice your Spanish while learning about tapas. ūüėČ

What is Tapas?– This article clarifies what types of food are considered tapas and what isn’t. You can also read about the myths surround tapas and the history of the tradition.

Top Spanish Tapas– This site is all in English and gives pictures of each dish as well as recipes.

Between bites of bread and sips of sangria, I also had a conversation with one of the teacher about the Camino de Santiago. Look for a blog post about this coming soon… adios!


Listen to Music and Learn Spanish: Bachata

I remember the first time I heard a Bachata song. I was in the Dominican Republic for my cousin’s wedding. We went out to a night club and a Bachata song came on. I thought I knew how to do all the dances because I knew salsa, meringue and cha cha. Since my cousin has always been infinitely cooler than me, I was ready to impress him with my dancing skills. I got my chance toward the end of the night when my cousin grabbed my hand for a dance…but then I realized that I had no idea how to dance to song that was playing! He tried to teach me, “Step to the right 3 times and then do a little hop, step to the left 3 times and do a little hop.” I almost got it by the end of the song, but I definitely did not impress anyone! Check out a proper Bachata dance.

Despite my rough beginnings with Bachata, I really love this music and the dance. When I go out Latin dancing and I hear a Bachata song come on, I grab the first available partner and proceed to the dance floor.

A Quick History of Bachata

Similar to my rough first experience with Bachata, the genre itself had rough beginnings. Bachata began in the rural parts of the Dominican Republic during the early part of the 20th century. According to Wikipedia,

During much of its history Bachata music was denigrated by Latino/Caribbean society and associated with rural backwardness and delinquency. As recently as 1988 Bachata was considered too vulgar, crude and musically rustic to enter mainstream music. In the 1990s, bachata’s instrumentation changed from acoustic guitar to electric steel string. The new electric bachata soon became an international phenomenon, and today bachata is as popular as salsa and merengue in some Latin American dance-halls.


Listening to Bachata to Learn Spanish

I also like this style of music for Spanish-learners. The sound of the music is less intimidating than some other styles of Latin music. Last weekend I had some Bachata playing in my apartment when guests came over and they commented about how nice the music was. This music is also great for learning Spanish because the tempo is slower and students can understand the song lyrics¬† more easily than a lot of other styles. I suggest checking out “Dile El Amor” by Aventura which is a great song for listening, dancing or practicing Spanish.

Aventura is one of the most famous groups. Others to look for are Xtreme, Prince Royce and Moncha y Alexandra. One of the easiest ways to get started listening to Bachata is to make an account with Pandora Radio and create your own radio station based on one of these artists.


Savvy Spanish Fiesta de Navidad

I’m planning a fiesta! It’s for Spanish-speakers, so if you can’t read and understand the following, then you’re not invited! ūüėČ Lo siento!

¬ŅQui√©n?: Mis amigos y estudiantes quienes hablan espa√Īol

¬ŅD√≥nde? Mi casa. (Me puedes mandar un mensaje para mi direcci√≥n)

¬ŅCu√°ndo? El 17 de diciembre, 2011 a las 7 de la noche

¬ŅQu√©? ¬°Una fiesta de Navidad! Hablamos totalmente en espa√Īol y disfrutamos comida y bebida de paises que hablan espa√Īol. Lleva una cosita para compartir. Por ejemplo, vino de Espa√Īa, empanadas, tamales, caf√© de Costa Rica, etc.

M√°ndame un mensaje si quieres asistir.

Si quieres venir pero est√°s ocupado con un viaje o cosas de las fiestas de Navidad, no te preocupes porque voy a tener otras fiestas en mi casa para juntar todos mis amigos que hablan espa√Īol.


¬°Calle 13 at the Latin Grammy Awards!

Last night was the Latin Grammy awards. As you can see from the picture above, the biggest winner of the night was Calle 13. I’ve been a fan of Calle 13 ever since I went to Chile and heard their music in 2006. In fact, I even posted a blog about one of Calle 13’s songs a few weeks ago. I’m not as familiar with their newer music, but I’m definitely going to have to catch up and see what won this impressive load of Grammys!

My friend Maritza watched the Grammy awards from start to finish, you can more about the show and the winners on Maritza’s post about the Latin Grammy Awards.