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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?

The Essential Black Friday Spanish Vocabulary

Thanksgiving is over and so is the charade of thanking the almighty for all you have. With that bit out of the way, now's the time to ammo-up for the big loot, better known as the Black Friday. I mean when does one have just enough? That's ridiculous. When the discounts are this big, enough is never enough. So if you're planning to survive the soul-churning stampede, here's a quick lesson on words that could come in handy should you find yourself plundering a store in one of those Latin quarters in town. You never know the store management might just be impressed with your vocabulary enough to offer you a welcome freebie, right?

Show Off Your Spanish Skills This Thanksgiving

This post is for our American friends learning Spanish. Thanksgiving is just around the corner and we just can't wait for the big turkey dinner with friends and family. Now, although the occasion isn't exactly observed by the Spanish-speaking world, a fiesta is a fiesta. Let's face it, Thanksgiving is all about food and so are the Latinos! So, now would be as awesome a time as any to brag about your Spanish before an audience of clueless folks. The millions of Spanish-speakers who call America home enjoy the day as much as you do if not more. And why not! A day off is a day off, after all. And the turkey dinner. So let's dive in and get it over with.

Este, Ese, Aquel – One Trick To Nail'em All

It might sound extremely simplistic at first glance but the demonstratives in Spanish often stump learners well into their programs. The problem is they sound too similar and there's usually no memory hook offered for one to remember them by. Oh and in case you're wondering, demonstratives are words like this, that, those, these, etc. Spanish has three of them – Ese, este, and aquel. English has just two – This and that. That's another problem with Spanish demonstratives – Why three when you can make do with just two? It's like teaching a fourth dimension to non-physicists who can only comprehend three. So what's going on here?

Life After Destinos: Sol Y Viento

Through with Destinos and Extr@ Spanish and raring to step up your Spanish comprehension game? Here's something crafted just for you. It's called Sol y Viento. Sol y Viento is a Spanish learning program seamlessly guised as a feature-length movie. If you liked Destinos for its simplicity and focus on Spanish comprehension, you'll love this one all the more because of how smoothly it challenges you to upgrade your comprehension skills while at the same time doing away with the often redundant recaps and summarization, the only aspects of Destinos that made it a tad too slow to chug along with. Sol y Viento is Destinos on steroids.

Learn Spanish Reading Fairy Tales

This site is an account of my personal experiences with various Spanish acquisition resources and techniques that lie scattered all over the Internet in overwhelming numbers. In the last few posts we have discussed the effectiveness of some of the key immersion techniques that helped me with my Spanish. Today, we’ll elaborate on one of them with a twist. We already know how reading helps build our vocabulary but what to read is often the biggest dilemma someone learning Spanish often faces. This article explains where to find children’s books and fairy tales that are one’s best bets when it comes to learning any language.

Why fairy tales and fables?

Light to read, easy to absorb!
Light to read, easy to absorb!
Photo credit: Jetske19 licensed CC BY-SA 2.0
While I have often talked about how reading Spanish comics, books, novels, or newspapers help create an inexpensive immersion environment for the learners, today I will discuss one of my favorite recommendations when it comes to reading as a rookie learner. What I am referring to are children’s materials, i.e., cartoon shows, short stories, anecdotes, fables, etc. Even better if the reading material is one of the graded classroom readers meant for elementary-school students.

One big reason why these materials are so effective for the uninitiated is the extremely lightweight texture and limited range of vocabulary. These graded readers require the learner to have a very basic knowledge of grammar and a limited vocabulary in order to be understood and enjoyed. They are quick and light to read, easy to understand, and fun to relate and provide one of the most enjoyable means of absorbing the bare essentials of Spanish. The Spanish absorbed this way is more often than not what’s required in day-to-day conversations and for basic survival in a Spanish-only ecosystem. In a nutshell, these readers are the zero-calorie meals of your Spanish diet-plan – light and easy to consume and quick to absorb!

Your world is filled with wonderful free resources

Fairytales are the easiest reads for new Spanish learners
Fairytales are the easiest reads for new Spanish learners
Photo credit: GettysGirl4260 licensed CC BY-SA 2.0
So where can we find good-quality resources for children’s Spanish? Since I am a big fan of all things free, I would talk about only online resources. In case you are willing to spill some dough, you have everything you can imagine on sites like Amazon® and Flipkart® if not your local bookstore. In fact, Amazon would easily beat your neighborhood bookstore when it comes to variety and maybe even pricing. If you own a Kindle® (Amazon’s® e-book reader), things just couldn’t get any easier given the quick and effortless downloads and inexpensive titles.

Now coming back to free resources, there are quite a few hidden gems online that could satisfy the most discerning of readers. No matter how rapidly you devour, you can never run out of titles with such websites offering you countless options in portable document format (PDF). Depending on your preference, you could either print them off your computer and enjoy the feeling of reading off a real book, or you could just read them right off your tablet or computer screen if you are not too fussy about the screen’s glare. Personally, I prefer the idea of printing them because learning Spanish should be as stress-free as it gets and not having to expose my eyes to the computer screen’s radiation for extended periods of time is one less thing to worry about.

Best free online resources – I strongly urge all Spanish enthusiasts to check out this one and bookmark it without fail. With hundreds of digitized children’s books in Spanish available for you to devour for free, there couldn’t be a better treat for those who wish to just drown themselves in Spanish. – This site is a visual delight for Spanish learners. Dozens of videos, animated versions of common children’s stories in several languages including Spanish can be found here. All videos come with subtitles to make viewing less stressful. – This is where one can find plenty of fairy tales and fables written by brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, in English, Dutch, Danish, Italian, German, French, and Spanish. Needless to say, you need to select the first option in the list of languages if you are a Spanish learner.

No matter what you read, read often
No matter what you read, read often!
Photo credit: Harald Groven licensed CC BY-SA 2.0 – This one shares an uncanny resemblance to in format and presentation with the only difference being that the writer on this site is Hans Christian Andersen. This site too has stories in half a dozen languages including, of course, Spanish. Both GrimmStories and AndersenStories offer the incredibly useful option to print your favorite stories as PDF. Most traditional readers who are not terribly fond of reading off the glare of their screens should find this option quite handy.

There are many more sources tucked away in the riches of the Internet still wanting to be discovered. While the sites listed above will more than quench your thirst for reading, you can surely scavenge the Web for richer or better resources and share your findings with our community here. No matter what you read, the trick is to read often and read regularly. Even if you find opening the dictionary way too often annoying, don’t give up. Given you stay consistent, you will soon notice a significant drop in the number of times you have to look up something in the dictionary for every story. It has worked for me and for many more all over the world who are learning Spanish on their own.

The BIG RED BOOK of super quick Spanish vocabulary using mnemonics and other unconventional memory shortcuts is out and ready to make Spanish accessible and fun once again. 1,442 pages packed to the brim to help you nail difficult Spanish words @ THE SPEED OF THOUGHT.
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Master Spanish, one post at a time
Join thousands of language wizards who receive several game-changing tips to ace Spanish in their inbox each week. You‘ll get no less than two exhaustive articles every week that will teach you how to learn, memorize, and get ahead of your Spanish game without so much as lifting a finger. Mnemonics, motivational ideas, immersion tricks, free resources – we have it all covered!

HOUSE RULES: We love comments that add value to our discussions and help build a healthy community of Spanish-lovers around them. Please keep’em coming; feel free to speak your mind. Everything’s welcome unless you’re spamming or trolling (refer to our Comment Policy). You’re also welcome to share links to relevant resources but no annoying; sales pitches please! So, let’s get talking, shall we?

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  2. Hi, i found a great site to learn Spanish online: Easy Spanish Lessons

  3. I would like to mention my great experience with Busuu. It's language learning program for children. Everyone interested should try it out!

  4. I tried codys cuentos; yup they're great. That is where I learned ¡Que travioso! jejeje

  5. Another great site:

  6. Cody's Cuentos link goes to a hame security site.

  7. Thanks for pointing out the link-break, Tere! Looks like the site owner has decided to let go of their domain to someone else for whatever reasons which is unfortunate. I did try Googling to see if they have moved to some new domain but it seems they have shut down completely with even their iTunes page (they used to have a podcast series out there) gone. This is truly unfortunate as Cody's Cuentos was a mighty rich resource for us learners.

    Anyways, thanks for pointing it out again; I have removed the reference to the defunct site now.


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