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The Witchcraft Of Spanish Vocabulary

The very first step to conquering a language is to tame its vocabulary. And sadly, that’s the part that puts off most novice learners because memorizing strange-sounding words is too darn boring! A never-ending chant of rote rehearsal and a nervous prayer can see you through an upcoming test, but the process just won’t cut it if your goal is to actually use the language in the street. It’s a mystery how this incredibly inefficient method has survived this long and still continues to be perpetuated by schools and educators around the world. So is there any nirvana around this assault of monotony in our miserable lives? Anything that could make learning foreign words less painful?

Where Do I Begin Learning Spanish: 5 Steps To Get You Started

Over the past few weeks, several readers have written in seeking advice on how to get started with their Spanish learning program. The Internet is a rich source of information and there are more answers on it than one would care to read. Problem is, information out there is far too abundant and far too amorphous for one to even begin comprehending. Same is the case with a question like “how do I start learning Spanish?” A thousand sites present a thousand different solutions ranging from wacky and controversial to conventional and predictable. To pick the right advice from the lot is an ordeal and this post attempts to simplify the process.

My Tryst With Spanish: What Worked And What Didn’t

Do you know how many languages are spoken in India? Well over a hundred! Needless to say, most Indians are bilingual, or even trilingual. And yet when it comes to foreign languages, we mostly wind up with the short end of the stick. So how did I manage to not only choose Spanish but also follow through on that choice? This is my story of how I began my journey with Spanish? There are countless stories of how people around the world have achieved their big and small language learning dreams; this one is mine. I wouldn’t stake a claim to fame for this feat but it certainly does feel good to be able to speak a foreign language finally!

5 Steps To Turning Facebook Into A Spanish Learning Machine

Facebook – don’t we just love to claim how much we hate it and how it’s ruining our daily routine? Feel free to rant but we both know who’s having the last laugh. With close to a billion users and counting, this phenomena is not going anywhere anytime soon. So you have two options: Either use it to share breakfast and cat pictures and make zero positive impact to your life; or turn the tables and make every minute you spend on it count. What do they say about life, lemons, and lemonade? Yes, it’s more than possible to turn Facebook into a solid Spanish-learning machine and make your social media hours productive! Here, we’ll learn how.

6 Spanish Words That Don’t Have A Direct English Translation

Every language has a certain character and that character is what defines it uniquely. What this terribly abstract blabber means is that every language has a portion of its vocabulary that just cannot, perhaps should not, be translated to another language – not word-for-word at least. Try translating spam or serendipity into a language other than English. This is not a defect; rather, if anything, this is what makes every language unique. So, I thought it would be fun to share with you this aspect of the language we’re all here for. And fun it was! By the end of this post, you’ll be left wishing English vocabulary were at least a wee bit richer!




7 Bands No Spanish Learner Must Ignore

There’s no better way to consolidate your knowledge of the Spanish language than Spanish music. It draws emotions into learning thereby serving as an important linguistic anchor in your subconscious. Deep cultural insights notwithstanding, contemporary music exposes you to the limits and flexibilities of Spanish as well as the poetry of its vocabulary, puns, and metaphors. Native speakers love to play with their Spanish and this is not manifested in any other medium as beautifully as in the sheer range and fervor of música Latina. Today this language boasts of a rich array of musical choices for fans of every genre.

Music not only offers you the option to choose your favorite band and make Spanish acquisition more entertaining and less of a rigor, but also gives you the “bragging rights” of being able to sing to your friends in an exotic, alien lingo. So essentially, there seems to be little to lose in giving music a chance to teach you some Spanish. While you are free and urged to build your own list of favorites drawing upon your personal tastes, I am listing down my list of favorites here which you can use as a starting point in case you are as alien to Latino music as I was ten years ago.

Los Enanitos Verdes (Rock; Argentina)


If the Spanish you wish to acquire is that of Argentina, you would do yourself a great favor listening to this band. Not only do they have some of the best acoustics, but also heart-warming lyrics with deep meanings. They are an absolute pleasure to the ears and the lyrics tend to stick to your subconscious for eternity. Though almost everything they have done is a veritable masterpiece, I strongly recommend El Guerrero, Amores Lejanos, Guitarras Blancas, and Lamento Boliviano for the most discerning ears.

Malacates Trebol Shop (Ska/Rock/Pop; Guatemala)


The most dance-inspiring result of fusing Ska with Latino-Rock, Malacates Trebol Shop have probably the shortest of all discographies (only four albums) yet pack a whole world of punch and culture. Their hit single, also my top favorite, Tómame officially represented the 2005 summer campaign for Cerveza Gallo, the most popular beer in all of Central America.

Amparanoia (Latin/Reggae/Rock; Spain)


A delight for Spanish learners for her clarity, Amparo Sánchez (the lead singer and founder) has the rich bluesy voice that rings in your head for years even if you listen to her just once. While the band’s debut album, El Poder de Machín was bright and exuberant with a heavy Latin influence, their 2002 album, Somos Viento was a more acoustic blend of Cuban and Reggae forms. Amparo’s lyrics offer social critiques drawn from daily life and this is what makes this band ideal for anyone aspiring to acquire Spanish organically and rapidly.

Chavela Vargas (Ranchera; Mexico)


Chavela Vargas: La voz áspera de la ternura
Chavela Vargas: La voz áspera de la ternura
photo credit: Raúl Serrano licensed CC BY-SA 2.0
Isabel Vargas Liza (popular as Chavela Vargas), died on August 5, 2012 but left behind her haunting voice that won her the title, La voz áspera de la ternura (The rough voice of tenderness). She came to Mexico from Costa Rica at the age of 14, dressed as a man toting a gun in her tequilla-drenched youth, and enjoyed a short, steamy romance with Frida Kahlo; Chavela Vargas lived the romance of her signature red jorongo-clad songs. Her music is way more than a Spanish-learning resource; it is a cultural cornerstone for those who wish to live Latino and not just speak Spanish.

Cultura Profética (Reggae; Puerto Rico)


One of the best representation of the legendary Carribean sound, complete with touches of Ska, Jazz, and the quintessential Afro beats, and Funk, Cultura Profética have the fresh and chilled sound that’s just perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon study. Their lyrics used to draw heavily on socio-political issues (until La Dulzura, where the emphasis is on romance) which is great for those whose dream Spanish is Puerto Rican Spanish.

Lucha Reyes (Música Criolla; Peru)


Luchila J Sarsines Reyes is La Morena de Oro del Perú (Peru’s Black Woman of Gold) and is perhaps the most definitive voice of Peru one can ever afford to hear. She was symbol of Peruvian nationalism and this nationalist pride and heartbreaking love can clearly be heard in her legendary lyrics. The genre, Música Criolla draws heavy influences from indigenous and African roots and has a lush and romantic character. A brilliant starting point for Spanish enthusiasts is her self-titled album.

When most of North America celebrates Halloween, Peru observes the Día de la Canción Criolla (Day of the Creole Song) marking Lucha’s death anniversary. Today, Lucha is to Peru what Pelé is to Brazil.

Manu Chao is a close friend of Amparo Sánchez
Manu Chao is a close friend of Amparo Sánchez
Photo credit: Luis Tamayo licensed CC BY-SA 2.0

Manu Chao (Reggae/Son/Salsa/Pop; France)


With Basque and Galician roots, Manu Chao is a French singer who sings in many languages including Spanish. His Spanish numbers are excellent for Spanish learners due to their complex grammatical constructs, rich Latin American colloquial jargon, and the transparent rendition of the Hispanosphere’s socio-political landscape. Other than being one of the most accessible window to the Latino culture, Manu Chao’s songs are too ubiquitous to be ignored; his is a familiar voice in any bar or club anyplace in the Spanish-speaking world. A close friend and some-time collaborator of Spain’s Amparo Sánchez, Manu Chao is an absolute must-have on any Hispanophile’s iPod.

Already keen on starting with your own collection of Latin music? Check out our section on learning Spanish through music – the possibilities are endless!

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6 comments

  1. I was curious if you ever considered changing the page layout of your blog?

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your feedback, Anonymous. Honestly, no, I never considered this thus far but now that you have pointed it out, I sure will. You should see more multimedia in my future posts that should make the reading more engaging. Feel free to check out the last couple of posts to see some embedded videos!

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  3. Thanks for your feedback, Anonymous. Honestly, no, I never considered this thus far but now that you have pointed it out, I sure will. You should see more images in my future posts that should make the reading more engaging.

    ReplyDelete
  4. El articulo titulado “siete bandas aprende de español debe ignorar” es muy
    interesante porque yo aprecio y toco música. La primera banda Enanitos Verdes es muy interesante. Me gusta
    su canción titulado “Lamento Boliviano.” Ellos sonido similar a las bandas de Estados
    Unidos. Mi banda favorita de la lista es Malacates Trébol Shop. Ellos son
    buenos músicos. Me gusta el canción
    titulado “Nunca Me Faltes Tu.” Me gusta el uso de los cuernos.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Gracias por tu comentario, Owen. Su español es impecable. Es compañero estudiante o hablante nativo? Malacates son una de mis principales favoritos también! Nos puede recomendar sus canciones preferidas por ellos?

    ReplyDelete

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