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AlwaysSpanish is Retiring!

After a long awkward silence, here's something to break the ice – all over again. I can totally see why you should be upset to see no action from the Burro for over a month now, but trust me, your wait was all worth it. The news here is that your beloved Burro has just moved into a brand new home – one that's a whole lot richer, swankier, and easier to live in. I'm talking about PeppyBurro. That's the name of the new website! Isn't that cool? At least it tells you all about the Burro's pepped up temperament right off the bat, right? This post is not about Spanish-learning tricks (although I will drop in a couple out of habit, I guess) or grammar lessons. This one's all about our new home!

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?

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: Always Spanish has retired. Please visit the new blog at for all future articles.

22 Things A Smart-Ass Would Do Learning Spanish

We as humans love lists. Whether it’s with learning Spanish or with anything else, lists make our exercises seem more doable and within reach than they actually are. So, when it comes to learning a foreign language where we could use any help available to make it easier, such a list won’t be a bad idea! Taking this philosophy ahead, this article summarizes some of the most important advises for the convenience of those learning Spanish in a numbered list. Needless to say, it is strongly recommended that you keep a hard copy of this list handy for reasonably regular reference. Won’t hurt to put it up on that refrigerator.

Jacket Vs. Hand-Job!

Like all other tongues, the Spanish language too has its own share of regional quirkiness and the one from Mexico, in particular, is no different. In fact, it is this quirkiness of Mexican Spanish that makes it one of most learners’ top favorites amongst all known dialects of Spanish. Let’s explore this quirkiness in something as simple as a “jacket.” We all know it translates to la chaqueta in Spanish. What makes it so special here is that this seemingly innocent word for a piece of clothing has an embarrassing, far-from-innocent, kind of perverted connotation in the streets of Mexico and you must be careful when using it!

Taking A Bath Or Taking A Shower?

Two words one picks up pretty early in their Spanish-learning program are ducharse and bañarse. If you are one of them, you already know what grammar has to say about their meanings – that ducharse means “to shower” and bañarse means “to bathe”. Simple, isn’t it? Unfortunately, you are in for a little bit of disappointment if you spent countless hours cramming up these meanings off the dictionary. Why? Well, because the streets of Latin America have a slightly different way of talking about bathing. This is another of the several classic examples of how the Spanish language has evolved differently in different cultures.

Of Pinky Swears And Middle Fingers

Here’s a classic example of what classrooms and grammar books do to your Spanish. One cannot doubt you must have learned and mugged up the Spanish names for the parts of your body right within the first few weeks of your Spanish learning program. So you know that mano means “hand” and dedos de la mano or deditos means “fingers”. What you don’t know and would have never been taught, however, is the names of each of those deditos in Spanish! It is these practical nuggets of interesting and useful trivia that classroom curriculums often sidestep, thereby giving you a Spanish that is both impractical and often deficient.

A Bird In Hand Is Good Spanish

Picking a simple sentence, especially an interesting proverb or saying, and performing a grammar autopsy on it is perhaps the easiest way of understanding and learning some practical Spanish grammar without feeling monotonous. The grammar and vocabulary one absorbs this way is practically more sustainable as small sentences are better assimilated than larger bodies of work such as novels. Using small, manageable phrases you assimilate key concepts and become better equipped to produce spoken Spanish without mental translation. With this understanding, today, we will attempt to learn some Spanish using an age-old adage.

Pick Your Flick And Acquire Spanish

Every Spanish-fanatic worth his grain would agree that the slowest means of acquiring Spanish is relegating the process to textbooks and whiteboards. Spanish is a language. An alive one at that. So, live it; indulge in it! One can’t stress enough the importance of breathing life into an otherwise highly unproductive regimented style of learning Spanish as institutionalized by the classrooms. So, as stated previously already, silent input for the win here! The advocates of immersive learning all unanimously underscore the importance of Spanish cinema as an extremely effective way of absorbing authentic real-world Spanish.

The Laziest Way To Conquer Spanish

What’s going to be under discussion today is set to radically and fundamentally change the way you approach the Spanish language as a learner. To most purists, this article should read as nothing short of an academic blasphemy but if you manage to believe what we believe and what’s backed by solid, empirical study, acquiring Spanish or any other language of the world is not for the serious learners. The lazier you are, the easier it gets for you; best if you dig all things that come to you on a platter without any effort whatsoever on your part. Stumped? Bear with us and you’ll soon see the inherent sense in this nonsense.

Learn Spanish In A Sentence

Acquiring Spanish (read Spanish vocabulary) is most efficient when done in context. The importance of color a context lends to any new word or phrase and its role in long-term retention just can’t be stressed enough. In order to illustrate this today, we will pick a very simplistic yet practical idea which will not only help you learn new words but also make it easier for you to absorb some essential Spanish grammar without memorizing a single dead-beat rule from that spooky grammar tome. All this as you also gradually get a fair understanding of some fun and interesting trivia on Latino culture. Three birds, one stone!

Does Messi Speak The Spanish Of The Illiterate?

Most textbooks claiming to teach easy Spanish would have you believe that the letters “y” and “ll” are pronounced the same in this language and that the sound they carry is that of “y” in “yellow” in Latin America and that of “llio” in “bullion” in Spain. But in reality, native Spanish language is far from this simplistic picture. This language was not born with similar-sounding “y” and “ll”; on the contrary, early Spanish mandated that “y” be pronounced as the “j” in “jug” and “ll” be pronounced as “y” in “yellow”. Centuries of permutation and combination meant that this distinction blurred almost completely – almost.

Forget Boring Word-Lists

How many of us have spent countless hours reading and memorizing long lists of uninteresting words in Spanish along with their English meanings and craved for an alternative to this monotonous, highly regimented way of learning Spanish? I bet most of us have. And out of personal experience, I must say this is the least effective way of acquiring new vocabulary in any language, Spanish being no exception. It is just too much work with too little fun, not to mention the risk of forgetting them that still looms large. So much for the hard work and dead-beat monotony of a regimented learning style! So, what’s the alternative?

2 Ways To Weave More Spanish Around You

So long as you desire to build more Spanish around you, there is no dearth of means of doing so. We have discussed several excellent methods of creating a highly immersive environment right where you live without spending a fortune. Today, we will discuss two more ways that can, well, intensify our Spanish immersion endeavors and take us to a whole new level of absorption. In line with our principles of austerity and engagement, these can be implemented for free and can potentially engage you for hours at a stretch, thus injecting more Spanish into you. As said before, Spanish must invade every aspect of your lifestyle.

Che Beyond Guevara

For most of us lesser mortals who don’t have Spanish in our blood, the word, che, stands for Ernesto Guevara of Argentina and little else. However, now that we are learning Spanish with dreams of becoming one of them someday, it is interesting as well as essential to know that che is to the Argentineans what güey is to the Mexicans, a word with no particular meaning yet ubiquitous all over the country, more so than probably any other vernacular expression. If you are in Buenos Aires, you’d hear this word spoken almost twice every minute and this is no exaggeration of this word’s dominance over the Argentinean lifestyle.

23 Local Names For “Bus” In Spanish

From Bogotá to Barcelona and from Guadalajara to Granada, the streets of the Spanish-speaking world are a familiar sight and buses must, undeniably, be the single most prominent fixture in those pictures. Now, buses are everywhere but those in Latin America are strikingly different – strikingly Latino. Here, we’ll see how diversity in Spanish dictates diversity in what these vehicles are called by the locals just as different regions have different Spanish words for “boy”. Clad in psychedelic colors and intriguing graffiti, these are nothing short of Hispanic culture on wheels and are every bit worth capturing on film!

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.

Learn 13 Bathroom Words In Spanish In Less Than 4 Minutes

Visualization is the least boring means of committing Spanish words to memory. Much has already been spoken about the merits of this methodology. Now, it’s time we put this technique to good use and acquire some new Spanish vocabulary, a task that would have been as mundane as ineffective had it been for traditional old-school methods. While expanding one’s vocabulary is important to learning any language, all good things must ideally begin at home; today we begin with our bathroom. Why bathroom? Because it’s my favorite section of any home – peaceful, calm, solitary, and just perfect for some serious language learning!

15 Spanish Tongue Twisters To Exercise Your Mouth

Think you have just nailed the pronunciation of the Spanish language just by memorizing the small list of pronunciation rules off your Spanish primer? If so, test the depth of your proficiency with some challenging Spanish trabalenguas (tongue twisters) and see where you stand. Chances are, they will stretch your limits beyond horizons not much known before. These tongue twisters should most likely have you in knots even if you happened to be a native speaker of the Spanish language. Just like English or any other language, Spanish is full of such phrases to give the speakers’ tongues more than a fair share of workout.

111 Spanish Slangs From The Streets Of Peru

The Spanish language takes a whole new dimension in the pueblos of Peru where the indigenous tongues, such as Quechua, have had a profound impact on this tongue thereby creating the rich novelty that is Peruvian Spanish. The flavor of Spanish spoken in Peru, just like those spoken in any other culture, is an intricate assortment of jergas (argots) and regional usage, often a far cry from the Spanish taught in schools, colleges, and other language institutions. Here, we have listed out some of the most common words and expressions of this dialect that we have gathered from our many Peruvian friends and the mighty Internet.

Spanish In The Streets – Local Words For “Boy”

During my early days of learning Spanish, I would often wonder if there were any way to understand the various Spanish words for the English word, “boy”. Per my sketchy knowledge of this language at that point in time, niño was one way to refer to a male child. But then, it turns out there is a whole jargon of Spanish colloquialism that represent the regional and cultural variations in the way young men and women are referred to in different parts of the Spanish-speaking world, niño being just one of them. A study of these subtleties make for an interesting insight into how local culture impacts the language on the streets.

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.

7 Sites Spanish Learners Must Bookmark

Out there in the vast expanses of the Internet, there are more free resources available for Spanish learners than can ever be included on any list of any length. While we recognize how important absolute immersion is to one’s language program, it’s almost impossible to ignore the importance of an infinitely rich resource like the Internet. When starting out learning Spanish, we tend to spend a fortune on gathering all sorts of reference materials, such as books, DVDs, courses, etc. for the program. However, today the Internet is brimming with nuggets of Spanish to satisfy the most discernible of learners. Let’s explore.

Bitching In Spanish Like A Latino

Ever reflected on how all of us, as language learners, have secretly fancied being able to unleash the choicest of insults in the target language? I don’t know about you but I know most Spanish learners who have and that includes me. Though, being members of an allegedly civilized society, we might never even need to use any such derogatory words for anyone, it’s fun to learn them and be able to use them anyways. Just remember that while it’s fun knowing them, actually using them should be avoided under all circumstances. Knowledge of such terms is to only serve the purpose of recognizing when someone else is using them.

Whackiest Ways Of Building Spanish Around You

An insane amount of Spanish language input is warranted for any sustainable level of fluency and an insane amount of input calls for insane methods. If your imagination is wild enough, you will see there are more ways of building Spanish around you in your home country than an ignorant expat living in Spain or Mexico could enjoy. This article is all about exploring some of the whackier and unconventional immersion methods. These practices will change your lifestyle in some of the most radical ways but they come with a promise of native-like fluency in the most organic way. The good news is, they are all easy to implement!

Spanish Reading – Aloud Or Silent?

It is the key to learning Spanish painlessly. Immersion is what got you fluent in your native tongue. Not your elementary-grade grammar classes, not your incessant reps memorizing difficult vocabulary, not your neighborhood spelling-bees, and not your grandfather’s ten-pound Merriam-Webster®. None of those could or can ever get you from mute to rattlesnake-fluent in that span of time. Total, unabashed immersion can. Unescapable immersion can. There are some subtle immersion techniques and then there are some crazy ones. Here, we’ll explore one of them – reading. We will discuss how to read for maximum linguistic juice.

Spanish Trips Through Comic Strips

Comics are often more interesting and engaging than dry textbooks or novels. Their illustrative graphic format provides for an incredibly engaging and stress-free Spanish language absorption environment as inexpensively as it gets. This important feature makes comics an important immersion tool for Spanish learners. Most of us have devoured scores of comic books as kids totally unaware of their contribution to our acquisition of English. Most of us who are learning Spanish remain oblivious of the fact that Spanish has an equally rich arsenal of legendary comic characters that can more than enrich our learning experience!

Use Twitter, Learn Better

An insane amount of input in Spanish is your ticket to fluency and one of the simplest ways of going into an immersion overdrive is right under your nose: The social network! You heard that right. Total immersion means just that. Total. Absolute. What a waste, in that case, to still be using services like Twitter® and Facebook® in English when they are all available in Spanish without any compromise whatsoever in functionality! If your goal is to eventually speak the Spanish language like you were born with it, spare nothing. Not even your social life. Spanish must invade every aspect of your lifestyle no matter what.

Top 25 Telenovelas From 5 Spanish-Speaking Countries

When it comes to nailing the Spanish language, it’s no secret that television is the most entertaining way to maximize immersion and, consequently, Spanish acquisition. While they can be excessively clichéd and predictive, telenovelas are still no less powerful when it comes to delivering a healthy dose of concentrated, authentic, native Spanish. However, the biggest challenge most if not all rookie Spanish-learners face with this method lies in knowing where and how to get started and what shows to pick for maximum juice. These are the questions we will explore in this article and see how learning can also be entertaining.

Flash Your Cards And Absorb Spanish

Easy Spanish is no myth. Much has been discussed, both here and elsewhere, about how total immersion accelerates your acquisition of Spanish. There’s one incredibly effective tool that we have skipped thus far and that’s what this article is all about: Spaced Repetition System or SRS. When it comes to nailing the alien Spanish vocabulary SRS is one of the best tools that can augment your regular immersion setup. What it does is slowly but surely wean you away from dictionaries and help you focus more on the insane amount of input you are drawing from the immersion-cocoon you have so painstakingly woven around yourself.

Spanish Everyday, Spanish Everywhere

Welcome to yet another post on Spanish language immersion. Your visit here indicate that you are a lazy yet serious learner of this beautiful language and I am hoping you are making reasonable progress in your endeavor. Uncanny as it sounds, being able to communicate in Spanish as comfortably as native speakers doesn’t have to be as frustratingly difficult as them academicians would have us believe. I have always advocated total immersion as the only route to the Holy Grail of native-level proficiency. The benefits of immersion are applicable to Spanish as much as they do to any other language including our native tongue.

Streets Of Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is a tiny but no less culturally significant Spanish-speaking country and, like every other Hispanic society, has its own jargon of street Spanish, the Boricua Spanish. Here, we’ll attempt to learn a bit of this lingo, primarily for fun. Usually, this kind of jargon is considered to add little value to one’s Spanish-learning program as knowledge of a bunch of slang words is rarely seen as an appropriate achievement. What this knowledge does, however, is add to the fun element in your learning. And we don’t really need to discuss the importance of fun in something that’s otherwise a monotonous enterprise.

Spanish Vs. Spanish

There is Spanish. And then there is Latin-American Spanish. Like any other organic language, Spanish is a living organism with a soul and mind of its own. A number of factors have driven its evolution and such consistent evolution over time has meant that today’s Spanish is as diverse and rich, as English or French, if not more. The Spanish dialects of Latin America were influenced, enriched, and shaped in all aspects, i.e., grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation, by the hundreds of indigenous Indian languages spoken in the region for centuries. Here, we explore some of the lexical differences between the two realms.