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 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! 🙂 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!

Movies in Spanish: Y Tu Mamá También

Y Tu Mamá También

Actors: Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna, Maribel Verdú

Director: Alfonso Cuarón

Movie location: Mexico

Movie Genre: Comedy/Drama

Type of Spanish: Mexican

Swearing and Slang: ¡Mucho!

Netflix Instant Streaming: Yes

Family Friendly: No. Rated R

Last night I watched Y Tu Mamá También for the 3rd time. I am proud to say that I understood a lot more Spanish without reading the subtitles than I did when I last watched it in 2008. However, I was less pleased than I expected to be able to understand so much because it seemed that every other word was either swearing or talking about something foul. The teacher in me is still conditioned to glare at students who swear in Spanish at school, so the reflex was strong throughout this entire movie and took away from my enjoyment a bit.

I struggle with whether or not to recommend this movie to people who are learning Spanish. So, instead of recommending it or not, I’ll lay out a few pros and cons and you can decide for yourself if you’d like to watch it.

Pro: The movie takes place in Mexico, so the Spanish that you hear throughout is very similar to what you hear around you if you live in the United States. You can read the English subtitles and listen to learn new words and phrases.

Con: There is lots of swearing in this movie, so be careful with using any new phrases that you pick up by listening!

Pro: It’s a type of coming-of-age story that involves a road trip. Always a good formula for a plot.

Con: The young guys who are the main characters (Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna) annoyed me! They were jerks most of the time and didn’t have many redeeming qualities.

Pro: There is a lot of nudity and sex. If you enjoy movies like this, then you’ll like Y Tu Mamá También.

Con: There is a lot of nudity and sex. If this offends you, or there are kids around, then definitely skip this movie.


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 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!