Tag Archives | spanish

Learning Spanish III

I quickly realized that spending two months in Brazil, while amazing, definitely hurt my Spanish language skills.  Add to that the additional time I spent in the States for Christmas, and I now find myself playing catch-up just to get back to the point I was at in December. It’s amazing how little time it takes to forget so much of what you learned.

Luckily, I’m back in Buenos Aires and have re-enrolled in the University of Buenos Aires’ Español por Extrañeros class, Nivel 3!  So, while I may be the slowest in class, I am getting back into learning again. I also had my first session with my amazing tutor Marco today, so I’m sure my mediocre Spanish will return soon.

Learn 10 Language LessonsWell, today I found a very cool language web site that may also help. It’s called Learn10 and their goal is to help you learn a language 10 words at a time. Every day, they send you ten of the most frequently used words or allow you to input your own (subscription version).  They give you these words via a Flash widget, email, text messages, or their iPhone app.  They show you how these words are used by searching Twitter streams for them, thus providing real-world usage. They also provide tests, pronounciation and the ability to record your own pronunciations (and video) too.  And you can post your results to Facebook and Twitter.  The basic version of the site is free, while the premium version is only $9.95/month and includes a screen saver, competition and history to keep track of your progress.

You can check out their widget below:

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Random Observations: Weeks 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, & 18

Yep, as the title shows, it’s been awhile since we’ve posted any of our random observations. Why you may ask?  I think it’s a combination of having too much work to do as well as becoming more familiar with our surroundings.  It’s amazing how quickly one adapts to their surroundings and things you once thought of as strange become commonplace. 

So, what are some of the things that we haven’t quite adapted to and still notice? Well…

  • Now that it’s summer, we’ve been constantly battling the mosquitos here. In NYC, mosquitos never seemed to be a problem, but here they must have ample breeding ground because we have them all the time. It doesn’t help that screen windows don’t seem to exist here either.  We’re about to make a trip to Easy (like Home Depot) to see about buying some screen and trying to rig something up.
  • There’s still dog poop all over the sidewalks. The summer heat makes it even more enjoyable.
  • Driving is still insane here – taxi drivers are crazy, lanes in the road are not observed, stop signs are simply “suggestions to stop,” and pedestrians never have the right of way.

And, we have noticed some new things too:

  • It's Candy HereHalls are just another candy here, and not something that you only take when you’re not feeling well. Our Spanish tutor offered us some “dulces” (sweets) the other day and proceeded to pull out a pack of Halls.  They’re also sold in all the kioscos and come in a  lot of varieties.  I suppose this is much better for the Halls company as they can sell a lot more here.
  • My Spanish has improved a lot in the 4+ months we’ve been here (although I did originally think that at this point I would be much better than I am now, but that’s another story). Anyhow, the issue now isn’t knowing the right word to use, it’s how to pronounce it. I still can’t believe that it often takes me several tries to properly pronounce a word and the people I’m talking to still can’t figure out what I mean. It’s not like it’s that far off!  I would think that they could infer what I mean, but nope, that doesn’t seem to happen much.
  • Breaking a $100 peso bill here is always a real pain.  The $100 peso bill is worth about U$S 30, but breaking it is about the same as trying to buy a pack of gum with a U$S 100 bill back home. The stange thing is that $100 peso bills are the most common bills to get at the ATM. We’ve now reached the point where whenever we buy something over $50 pesos, we try to use a $100 peso bill if we have it just so we can hoard the smaller bills we receive back. We also use them whenever we go to the grocery store or a larger store, because small merchants hate breaking them.
  • I always wondered what the motorcycle helmet laws were here, and luckily, Michele and Tom’s Blog answered my question. It turns out that the law requires that you have a helmet on your person when riding a motorcycle. This means that it does not have to be on your head, so you quite often see people with the helmet half on their head, hanging on their arm, etc.

Ok, that’s all for now, but we promise we’ll try and post more frequently.

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¿Qué Hora Es?

Marco, our Spanish tutor, sent us this video today and what do you know, I can actually understand all of it!  I’m not sure what he’s trying to say about how our lessons are going, but the video is pretty funny.

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