Jueves Musical: Me Voy por Julieta Venegas

I’ve been writing “Miércoles Musical” on Wednesdays, but I got way too busy yesterday to write anything, so this week we’ve got “Jueves Musical” on Thursday instead.

This week’s song is “Me Voy” by Julieta Venegas. Julieta Venegas is a very popular singer-song writer from Mexico. She’s been around for a few years and has created a lot of music that I really like. I always recommend Julieta Venegas’ music for learning Spanish because her music is slower and she uses fairly standard, simple vocabulary in her song lyrics. By the time you’re at an intermediate level, you should be able to understand a lot of what she is singing about without having to look up the lyrics. Plus, I enjoy the style of her music and her voice.

I first heard this song right before I went to Chile to teach English. I remember getting excited because I could understand a lot of the lyrics the very first time that I listened to it. It got really popular while I was in Chile, so hearing it now always takes me back to that time.

If you watched the video, you can probably tell that this song is about a breakup.

Chorus Lyrics

Me voy…I’m leaving

Qué lástima pero adiós…What a shame but goodbye
Me despido de ti y…
I bid farewell to you and
Me voy…
I’m leaving

Qué lástima pero adiós…What a shame but goodbye
Me despido de ti….
I bid farewell to you

 Grammar Alert!

You’ve probably seen the word voy before. It comes from the verb ir which means “to go.” Ir is the most used verb in the Spanish language. Voy is the “yo form” of ir. You can say voy or yo voy to mean “I go.”

So now you know what voy means, but what is me voy?

Me voy  and voy essentially have the same meaning, but there is a subtle difference. Me voy shows more intensity than voy. Me voy can be translated as “I’m leaving” or “I’m getting out of here”. Voy means “I go” or “I’m going.”

So, by using me voy in the song, Julieta Venegas isn’t just saying that she’s going out of the house to buy groceries. She is leaving him and dumping him and not coming back.

On Your Own

Read the complete lyrics and English translation for “Me Voy”.



Calle Cultura: A Denver Street Fair

Yesterday, I attended the 2nd annual Calle Cultura event, which was hosted by Intercambio Denver. The flyers for this event mentioned a salsa tasting competition, games, and a raffle. I invited all of my facebook friends to the event and had some new business cards printed up so that I would be ready to hand them out to anyone who might be interested in Spanish tutoring.

On my way to the event, I was feeling a little nervous because I wasn’t sure what to expect. The nerves didn’t get any better as I arrived at Barnum Park, which was supposed to be the location of the event. I didn’t see any signs of tents, salsa tasting or any type of gathering. I remembered seeing on the map that there are several sections of Barnum Park and I realized that I was at the wrong one. My friend Zac was having the same problem and we found each other in the parking lot of the wrong park. He had no clue where to go so I set out to lead us to our destination. After 10 more minutes of driving on back streets and making U-turns in the part of Federal that is under construction, I was relieved to finally find the Calle Cultura street fair.

Zac and I walked up to the registration table and gave a donation to Intercambio Denver. Then we received 3 tickets to vote on our favorite salsas in the tasting competition and a raffle ticket for door prizes. I immediately went to the salsa section to begin tasting. I do love hot, spicy food, so I wasn’t worried about any of the salsas being too picante. However, by the time my friend Matthew arrived, I was feeling embarrassed to greet him because my eyes were watering and my nose was running after trying the hottest salsa in the competition. The hot salsa tasted delicious and I ended up voting for it despite the water works that it caused. I also got to try a few different green salsas and some guacamole. Yum!

In between tasting salsa and crying because of the heat, I chatted with friends and met some of the volunteer English teachers who work for Intercambio. The organizers stopped the party to do a raffle drawing and I won a stainless steel water bottle with the Intercambio logo! I felt like my luck was finally changing!

Then, I participated in a language exchange event that was organized by Speakeasy Spanglish. The idea was for one native Spanish speaker and one native English speaker to sit on each side of a table. First, both of them would speak Spanish for 5 minutes and then both of them would speak English for 5 minutes. There weren’t enough native Spanish speakers who wanted to participate, so I ended up filling the Spanish-speaking role. I got a little nervous being on the Spanish-speaking side of things, even though it was just a casual event. I felt like I was tripping over a few easy phrases and I couldn’t remember the Spanish word for “courage”…it’s coraje, which is almost the same as the English word! At least I’ll never forget that one again.

To wrap up the afternoon, the organizers announced the winners of the salsa competition. The hot salsa that made me cry won in the “Red Salsa” category. I found out that Tarasco’s, a restaurant on Federal that serves Latin food, had made that salsa. I’m going to have to stop by there the next time that I’m in the mood to eat salsa that clears out my sinuses.

Overall, the Calle Cultura street fair was a fun event. Despite getting lost, feeling nervous, forgetting my Spanish vocabulary and the spicy salsa fiasco, I managed to meet some new people, win a prize and enjoy my afternoon at the park.

How to Improve Your Spanish Skills in 5 Hours or Less

Hire a tutor! Could it be that simple? ¡Si! ¡Es la verdad! Yes! It’s the truth!

I see all of my 1-on-1 students make remarkable progress in their Spanish abilities after 4 or 5 lessons one-hour lessons. The progress is even faster if we get all of these lessons done within a couple of weeks. But even if we just get together once a week for 5 weeks, I see a lot of improvements in that short time. Studying with a good tutor who can spot your weaknesses with the language and give you some explanations and exercises to help you straighten out the problem areas can really give you a boost. Plus, with a tutor, you get the chance to practice your speaking skills. In a traditional Spanish class, the teacher does most of the talking and you only get to listen.

How do you find a good Spanish tutor? Well, if you’re in Denver, you can hire me, of course! If you’re out of town, try searching Yelp for a tutor that is highly rated or look on Craigslist for your city.

You can also look on Thumbtack.com to find tutors in your area. Thumbtack isn’t as famous as some of the other sites, but I’ve gotten a lot of my students by using the auto-post to Craigslist feature. If you are looking for a tutor, you can submit a request and you’ll get bids back from several tutors in your area. Definitely beware of choosing the lowest bidder! If you want to improve your Spanish in 5 hours or less, you need to make sure you hire a great tutor, not the cheapest one that you can find. Check out my Thumbtack profile for Savvy Spanish and see how things work.

Miércoles Musical (Musical Wednesday): “Es por ti“ by Juanes

Juanes is one of the most famous and successful Latin artists around. He’s originally from Colombia and grew up playing guitar and making music. It seems that he’s always enjoyed great success because his first album won him a Grammy award for Best New Artist in 2000. He’s still going strong and rocking it today. He even came through Denver this year, but I missed it! Next time!

I chose this song “Es por ti” from his second album called Un Día Normal. Can you guess what the title of his album means in English? A Normal Day. That one is pretty easy to translate, right? The good news is that this whole album is pretty easy to translate. I bought this album back in 2004 right after I got home from my semester abroad in Costa Rica. I was so excited because I could easily understand a lot of the words to the songs.

Es por ti” is a really sweet love song. The title means “Because of you” in English. The chorus goes:

Y es por ti… And it’s because of you
Que late mi corazón…..That my heart beats
Y es por ti…  And it’s because of you
Que brillan mis ojos hoy…. That my eyes shine today
Y es por ti… And it’s because of you
Que he vuelto a hablar de amor.   That I’ve spoken of love again
Y es por ti… And it’s because of you
Que calma mi dolor… That calms my pain

Grammar Alert!

Yes, I’m going to go into the grammar of these lyrics, just a little bit. If you don’t want to know, then skip it and just listen to the song!

First, let’s review a grammar term. Pronoun: a word that stands in place of a noun. Examples: he, she, you, they Ejemplos: él, ella, tú, ellos

Now, look at the first line: Es por ti…It’s because of you. Some students might wonder why the word ti is used here instead of tú. Usually, we translate the English word “you” as “tú”, right? No, not always. When we say “It’s because of you”, “you” is a direct object pronoun. Don’t freak out. That just means that it is the word that receives the action of the sentence, not the word that causes the action. In English, we use the pronoun “you” as both the subject pronoun and object pronoun. For example:

You are beautiful.

I want to kiss you.

Can you see the difference between the “you” that is the subject and the “you” that is the object? In Spanish, the pronoun changes like this:

Tú eres bonita.

Quiero besar a ti.

See the difference between tú and ti? They are essentially the same word when translated into English, but they are different in Spanish. There are lots of complicated structures like this that involve pronouns in Spanish. Those pronouns can get pretty tricky in Spanish, but don’t blame Spanish! Part of the problem is that they are complicated in English too! Don’t worry, plenty of the Spanish lessons here will involve pronouns, so you will soon become an expert!

On Your Own

You can find complete lyrics here as well as a great English translation of the entire song. Try listening to the song and reading the lyrics before you scroll down and read the English. See how much you understand correctly!

What do you do at those Spanish meetups?

I am a big fan of Spanish meetups in Denver. Before I decided to become a Spanish tutor and make Spanish a big part of my life, I wanted to keep practicing my Spanish so that I didn’t lose my skills. I started attending Spanish meetups in 2007 when I first moved to Denver. Almost five years later, I can still pinpoint two of my closest friends in Denver who I met through attending Spanish meetups. Not to mention lots of acquaintances, clients and even a couple of dates! 😉

Lots of people ask me, “What do you do at the Spanish meetups?….Just talk?” I answer, “Yes, we talk in Spanish.” Then, I usually get a confused look. Whoever has asked me the question usually seems confused at the notion that I would go to an event just to talk with people in another language. Isn’t that boring? Then, I attempt to explain why this is awesome.

  • Meet other people like you. This is probably the reason that I’ve made so many friends through Spanish meetup. I have a lot in common with many of the other attendees to these events. I learned Spanish through studying in college and traveling/living in another country. Lots of other people at Spanish meetups have had similar experiences in studying Spanish and traveling or living abroad. Or they just have a dream to take a big trip in the near future and want to practice their Spanish skills before they go.
  • Practice your speaking skills. In traditional Spanish classes, you don’t often get the chance to speak. Mostly, you sit and listen while the teacher talks and you have to concentrate to follow along. At Spanish meetup, you finally get the chance to speak. Plus, you don’t have a teacher looking over your shoulder and correcting your grammar.
  • Interact with native Spanish speakers.The events have a full range of Spanish skill levels from beginners to native speakers. Native speakers are really great to speak with if your Spanish ability is at least intermediate level. You can find out a lot about different parts of the world, distinct cultures, and you have an expert to ask any questions that you may have about Spanish.
  • Get Spanish tips. Have you been wondering how to say something in Spanish? This is your chance to ask people who are more knowledgeable than you. People at Spanish meetups are really happy to help you as you learn the language and can always offer answers to your questions.
  • Share travel stories. Another reason why I enjoy Spanish meetups so much is that I get to hear about new places and countries from people who have been there and experienced them. Also, I get the opportunity to talk about traveling to the end of the world and seeing penguins in the wild. ¡Fascinante!
  • Challenge yourself to get out and use your Spanish. You know the saying, “Use it or lose it.” It doesn’t rhyme quite so nicely in Spanish, but it still applies! If you’ve worked hard and studied Spanish, don’t let yourself lose your skills! You have to get out and practice speaking so that you can continue to improve rather than letting your efforts slip away.

Even after I lay out all the benefits of Spanish meetup, few people are inspired to go with me. Why? Because they are scared. Attending an event with a bunch of people who you don’t know is scary in and of itself. Attending an event with a bunch of people who you don’t know who are speaking a foreign language is even scarier! I can understand being scared, but don’t let that stop you. If we never do anything slightly scary, how do we know that we’re alive? The high that you’ll feel after leaving a Spanish meetup where you were able to hold your own with a group of Spanish-speakers will make your earlier apprehension a distant memory. ¡Si se puede! You can do it!

Understanding the Words to Spanish Songs

“Suave” by Calle 13

I heard about Calle 13 when I lived in Chile in 2006. I downloaded their popular album, “Calle 13” when I got home because the music reminded me of my trip. They are a reggaeton group from Puerto Rico. The lyrics to the songs are fast, and the accent and slang words in Puerto Rico are very different than the Spanish that I’m used to. I didn’t understand most of what they were singing about when I first bought the album and I considered this a good thing. Lots of Reggaeton songs have offensive lyrics that are very sexual and/or derogatory to women. However, I really like the musical style, so most of the time, I prefer to stay in the dark and just enjoy the sounds of the music without trying to understand any lyrics.

However, my blissful ignorance is coming to an end as I get better and better at Spanish. For the last year, I have been speaking, reading, writing or listening to Spanish every day. Suddenly, I find that I understand a lot more of what is being said in Calle 13 songs. Last week I was listening to Calle 13 in my headphones as I worked on some writing. I usually listen to Spanish songs because the lyrics don’t distract me from my thoughts as I’m considering what to write. This time, I kept finding myself stopping my work, listening to the song, and thinking, “Did he just say what I think he said?” Suddenly, I’m learning how to talk dirty in Spanish.

So, I offer you “Suave” by Calle 13. I’m not going to go through and explain everything to you that they’re saying, because that’s not the purpose of my blog. However, you can check out the lyrics for yourself. The video that I’ve posted takes you to a censored version of the song, so if you read the lyrics while listening, you will get an idea of where to look for the….ahem….inappropriate content.

I’d suggest only checking this out for the sake of curiosity. These lyrics are along the lines of English rappers like Lil Wayne. Imagine talking to a lady like Lil Wayne does in his songs. Things will not go well! The same rule applies with Calle 13. You can listen to the song and figure out what he’s talking about, but if you try to actually use these phrases when talking to someone in real life, it’s sure to end badly!

Should you try a Spanish language exchange?

Yes! The end.

Ok, that’s not really all I have to say. Last night I attended an English-Spanish language exchange event called Speakeasy Spanglish. The setup was a bit like speed dating. A native Spanish speaker sat on one side of the table and a native English speaker sat on the other. Both people spoke English for 5 minutes and then switched to speak Spanish for 5 minutes.

This was my second time to attend one of these events and I liked it even more the second time than the first time. I loved it so much that I have created a list to show you that you will love it too!

5 Reasons to Try a Spanish Language Exchange

  1. Get your face away from the computer and start using it to talk to people. Everyone who I spoke with last night agreed that you must speak Spanish with people in the real world in order to really learn the language. Studying online, with books or by listening to music are all helpful activities, but you really need to speak with another human person in order to learn Spanish.
  2. It’s a safe environment to practice a second language. Of course, a big reason why people hesitate to talk to others in Spanish is because they are afraid of making a mistake or looking stupid. Fortunately, at a language exchange event, you don’t have to worry. Everyone is speaking in two languages and everyone knows how difficult learning a new language can be. So, you can take a few risks and try to express a complex idea without fear of ridicule.
  3. You can help others with their English. Imagine if you moved to a foreign country for a job and then struggled to learn the language. I think you’d feel pretty grateful to meet a friendly person who would help you. You can be that friendly person for someone else! Plus, you get to feel like an expert for 5 minutes. It’s pretty awesome. Also, there’s that truism about how helping other people actually makes you happier…
  4. If you have any questions about Spanish, you can ask an expert! I have questions all the time when I encounter different phrases and words in my Spanish lessons. I could go to the library and search for the answers, but instead I just ask my friends at the language exchange!
  5. Make new friends and network. In my experience, people who show up at these kind of events are very interesting. They have either moved to the United States from another country or have traveled to many countries around the world. Either way, these are cool people to meet and include in your network of friends.

There you have it! If you’re in Denver, click the link to the Speakeasy Spanglish Facebook page, like it and then go to the next event. If you’re not in Denver, then ask you friend Google where you can find something similar in your area.