The Journey and Long Wait
|Your favorite Spanish-learning blog is back in a new swankier avatar!|
Photo credit: PeppyBurro licensed CC BY-SA 2.0
But nothing lasts forever and a few months back I realized it was not going to be practical to continue improving Always Spanish in its current form anymore. Always Spanish had a long and successful run but it had to give way to something better – something way better. The need of the hour was to go back to the drawing board and build something new from ground up. This would be no mean feat but every bit worth the efforts so why not! And this is how PeppyBurro was born. The way Always Spanish is structured, it doesn't leave much room for anything other than blog posts. And learning a new language calls for a whole lot more than just reading posts. A typical learner would need things like dictionaries, conjugation tables, tests, flashcards...the whole shebang. None of this is possible on Always Spanish given its server-side rigidity. This is what makes PeppyBurro a necessary next step.
Work on PeppyBurro started in November of 2015 and although still far from perfect, it's finally ready to start serving you now. That's close to five months! Slow has hell, I know, but I did it all on my own so there's that. Besides, I am no coding ninja so what might take an experienced developer days, took me weeks. But like I said, it's all well worth the efforts because the end results are nothing short of spectacular. The new site is not only faster and roomier but also works infinitely better on mobile devices than its predecessor. They call it being "responsive."
|Fast and functional, not just pretty|
Photo credit: PeppyBurro licensed CC BY-SA 2.0
- Dictionary: This one is nothing to brag about. I mean aren't online Spanish-English dictionaries a dime a dozen already? Of course they are and I won't say PeppyBurro does anything new there. But the headline here is that you have one site giving you both fun blog posts as well as dictionary, all in a single convenient package. So no more firing up Google to figure out what that new word means. Our dictionary draws from Collins® and offers not only meanings but also audio pronunciations as well as a whole bunch of usage examples ensuring you thoroughly wrap your head around the word you're looking up before moving on.
- Conjugator: The myriad verb conjugations of Spanish are notorious for making the language seem harder than it really is. Well, not anymore. Again, not that conjugation tables aren't already available on the Internet but not having to search should be a good thing, right? These conjugation tables can be accessed both independently as well as from the dictionary page.
- Context: Now, this one is big. Merely knowing what a word translates into is often far from enough. What you need is for someone to tell you how the word is actually used out in the wild. That's where the PeppyBurro Contexts come in. Just enter a word and the Burro scrapes through millions of movie subtitles, news articles, and books – all in native Spanish – to bring you example sentences that use that word. Give it a spin, I'm quite positive you'll thoroughly dig it!
- Flashcards: PeppyBurro understands how incredibly useful flashcards are when it comes to memorizing new words which is why it comes with a section entirely dedicated to them. This section lists out dozens of human-curated Anki-ready decks for you to download for free and rev-up your Spanish vocabulary in no time.
- Test: Wouldn't it be great if there were some way for you to see where you stand from time to time? Level testing makes language-learning not only more challenging but also fun. It adds a purpose to your endeavors and gives you a concrete, tangible goal to work toward. PeppyBurro offers a free testing section that lets you answer a bunch of random questions and instantly tells you your proficiency level as measured by DELE and CEFR.
- Movies and Music: Two separate sections for movies and music respectively to show you how entertainment can be leveraged for language learning. No, you can't find whole movies here (that would be copyright violation, no?). What you find in the PeppyBurro movies section is information on what Spanish-language movies to watch, what to look out for while watching them, and most importantly where to buy or rent them. It also provides a trailer for you to get an idea of what you'll be watching in the movie. The music section is a tad more rewarding though. It gives you not only the complete lyrics in Spanish as well as in English, along with tips on what to watch out for while listening that track, but it also lets you actually hear the full track right there!
- Infographics: There aren't many right now as it's just starting out but the list is going to only grow bigger with time. I realized that infographics are no longer fun stuff for kids but can also help adults boost their understanding of complex concepts. This is why PeppyBurro dedicates a section solely to them. Be it grammar or vocabulary, there's something for everything. Right now, it's just a repository of awesome works curated from select other sources but in time, I am going to produce more and more of these in-house so you can have PeppyBurro-branded infographics with the unique PeppyBurro flair.
- Blog: Well, this is still the meat and potatoes of my endeavor. PeppyBurro continues to put the limelight on its blog section because that's where ideas take shape, except that like everything else, the posts are much more sophisticated and broad-ranged now. At PeppyBurro, blog posts are going to be not only about Spanish vocabulary and grammar but also about other things Spanish – Everything Spanish. I am talking culture, lifestyle, slang, food, etc. Everything that defines the Hispanic way of life is going to be there. This is to offer you a sense of 360-degree immersion right in your casa (I mean home; think of it as a big case meant to hold people instead of things). Other changes include, a brand new Facebook-driven commenting engine to make sure you don't have to log in to yet another service just to leave your precious two-cents on our blog.
This is, of course, not all and many other features and services are still in the works. For instance, I am still working on introducing a Spanish-learning podcast but that's going to take a while. Other things on the back-burner right now but inevitable eventually are real-world volunteer-immersion programs in rural Mexico, tailored courses for self-learners based on the PeppyBurro philosophy of shortcuts and innovation, forums, social language-exchange service (like Livemocha), mobile apps, and a lot more. The Burro is ambitious as hell but being alone, needs a lot of time to make those pipe-dreams come true. Until that happens, you're invited to take a tour of the new site and let him know if you like his work!
What the heck is a burro?
In case you didn't notice it yet, burro is Spanish for donkey. And one happens to be our mascot. Why burro? Because nothing says Mexican louder than a burro! And Mexico being the country with more native Spanish-speakers than any other, we had to represent it in our branding in some way or form. Bet that logo makes sense now. Don't worry if burro sounds too hard for you to remember. Just think of one working as a undercover FBI agent. A burro who works for the Bureau! Or think of a tiny one that lives in a burrow, although that would be crazy.
So that would be all for now. Thank you all tons for your patronage and love. PeppyBurro wouldn't be possible without you. Although looking up to a more exciting time over at the new site, it's with a heavy heart that I say farewell to AlwaysSpanish. Still feels sad to be writing this last post for this blog after three long and exciting years. Hope to see you all over at PeppyBurro...can't wait!
P.S.: Oh and just in case you happen to be a subscriber, don't worry about losing your subscription as you're automatically being transferred over to the new feed as we speak. Which means this should be the last email you're receiving from AlwaysSpanish and all future communication will be from PeppyBurro.
So long, friends!