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! 🙂

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 año nuevo! I just wanted to wish you all a happy new year. I have spent my winter vacation hanging out on my parents´ ranch in Montana. Check out my pic of the road right by where they live. When I get back to Denver next week, I´m 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! 🙂

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! 

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! 😉 Lo siento!

¿Quién?: Mis amigos y estudiantes quienes hablan español

¿Dónde? Mi casa. (Me puedes mandar un mensaje para mi dirección)

¿Cuándo? El 17 de diciembre, 2011 a las 7 de la noche

¿Qué? ¡Una fiesta de Navidad! Hablamos totalmente en español y disfrutamos comida y bebida de paises que hablan español. Lleva una cosita para compartir. Por ejemplo, vino de España, empanadas, tamales, café de Costa Rica, etc.

Mándame un mensaje si quieres asistir.

Si quieres venir pero estás 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 español.


Listen to me on the radio!

In case you missed it last Thursday, here’s the recording of The Trash Talk Show with Barb Tobias where I was a featured guest last week.

I found this opportunity through a connection that I made on  LinkedIn 4 years ago. She is working with Barb and was looking for women who own small businesses who would want to give their tips on being thrifty. As soon as I saw that, I knew I was a good candidate. I’ve been in grad school for almost 3 years, and I’ve learned a few secrets about saving money!

So, I wound up being feature on the show. I wasn’t too nervous about being recorded and having people listen to me, because I worked at a radio station for awhile right after college. I was an intern for a Spanish language station and would sometimes prank call Spanish-speakers and pretend that I couldn’t speak English. That’s just a little more intense than chatting with a nice woman about shopping! 😉

During the show, I got to talk about Savvy Spanish for a few minutes. I also got to plug my audio program, Travel Savvy Spanish, which is going to be available very soon! After we finished my part, I talked to Barb about being thrifty and the ideas that I’ve used to save money for grad school and starting a business. The best part for me was that Barb was so supportive of me and complimented me various times on being smart with my money.

Who knew that my first job out of college at a radio station would come back around to find me almost 8 years later?

#1 Spanish Tutor in Denver!

I just received an email from Thumbtack.com. I’ve had a profile on Thumbtack since I started tutoring over a year ago, and I’ve gotten a lot of students through that website. Now, Thumbtack has ranked Savvy Spanish as #1 in Denver for Spanish Lessons! And they sent me this awesome little award!

Spanish Lessons, Denver, CO

I feel so honored! 🙂 Thumbtack.com has been a great place for me to find clients and get business, and I’m glad they appreciate me taking advantage of the service that they offer!