Thursday, December 17, 2009

Translation & Interpreting

It's been awhile since I've posted anything about translation or interpreting, so I thought I'd take a break from foreign-language issues, step out of the world of the classroom and into the often invisible world of translation and interpreting, where people live, breathe and work, employing the highest level of language skills possible to the human mind.

If you think that viewing translation and interpreting as such is an exaggeration, consider what Martin Heidegger had to say about language: "Language is the highest and everywhere the foremost of thse assents which we human beings can never articulate solely out of our own means" (quoted in Steiner, G. After Babel, 3rd ed.: Oxford U. Press, 1998, just before chapter one). Heidegger's statement doesn't even begin to deal with the doubling of the mystery of language by introducing a second language, or a third, or a fourth...

First of all, for my general readers, there is a difference between translation and interpreting. I am almost never an interpreter. I am almost always a translator. As the link above explains, translators and interpreters are very different types of people. Being a simultaneous interpreter is like being a blind tightrope walker without a net, who has to run, juggling dishes. Being a translator is like being a hiker -- sometimes the road is steep, other times you have to jog or even run a bit. But the translator has the advantage of being able to take his bearings and if need be, backtrack. Interpreters don't have the advantage of being able to "backspace and delete."

The process of translation is both artful and technical. Our word for "technical" comes from Greek, "tekne," which encompasses both notions. Translation can be viewed as an exacting art or a creative science. Warning: Translating and interpreting are not careers people can suddenly decide to embark on after high school -- unless they are already exceedingly skilled in two languages. Note that I didn't say "bilingual," -- there is too much confusion about what being "bilingual" means.

Finally, I leave you with two articles. One deals with some of the problems of one of the two main branches of translation work: Literary translation. The other is about the alchemical experience of translation -- what translators experience as they work, whether they work in the other main branch -- technical -- or literary.

Your Spanish Grade: Midyear Checkpoint

It's that time between one quarter or semester and the next. You're waiting for your grades. You studied a foreign language this past term as a total beginner, or at least you started from the beginning (again) as an entering college freshman. Naturally, you want to know how you performed. You may have a gnawing feeling that you didn't do too well or you may feel you "aced" the final. However, if you began the term with vague or incorrect ideas about how progress in foreign-language study is measured -- and experienced -- you could be surprised no matter what the grade turns out to be.

The links in this blog will lead you to some interesting, and brief articles relating to this process. Some are written to students, others to teachers and professors, but they all contain valuable insights into the nature of the language learning process.

First, the bad news not many schools or teachers are comfortable talking about: The learning curve for language acquisition is much longer than the academic calendar. Unless you're a whiz and are enrolled in a program that (1) preselects students with a demonstrable talent for language acquisition, (2) is intensive, (3) is total immersion -- 24/7 and (4) lasts for about six months, it is tough to learn a foreign language in college. That's right. It's tough. Going to class isn't nearly enough. Studying a couple of hours every day from the book will probably get you the grade, but not the mastery of the skill.

Next, the good news: It's not impossible. It takes discipline and strategy.

Here are three articles that examine (1) what you should be able to do and (2) what success feels like in your first year of language study.

1. Milestones, Part I.
2. Milestones, Part II.
3. Milestones, Part III.

I encourage students to go abroad for as long as they can afford it -- provided they understand what it means to be in an immersion program. Just because you go abroad does not mean you will be immersed in a language. There are a lot of ways that students -- and even, inadvertently, programs themselves -- can subvert, undermine or undo the immersion process. Read what the differences are between study abroad and immersion.

Learning a foreign language makes a lot of sense, especially right now. There is an old adage that says that the best time to get education is when the job market is poor. It makes sense. You'll be poised for better salaries when the tide turns. Read how foreign-language study is especially good during hard economic times.

If you love the language, you have to love the process of becoming good, no... become excellent at speaking it!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Improve Your Spanish Pronunciation

This blog will point you to a dozen short articles I've written for students and teachers of Spanish. If you are studying Spanish, these one- or two-page articles will offer you practical, valuable tips to help you improve your pronunciation of Spanish. For teachers, it means a few new items in your bag of tricks as you help your students with accent reduction and make them sound more like native speakers of Spanish.

First, let's touch on a few themes that the articles explore more deeply. Some are myths, others are exagerations, some are facts that can be misunderstood...

Spanish is spoken faster than English. If you think about this just a little, it is totally undemonstrable. After all, considering how many millions of speakers there are and how many countries they live in, is it possible to say that there one given speed for English -- or even an average speed? The same is true of Spanish. One reason people have this impression is because of the ways in which English and Spanish are both compressed in colloquial speech.

Consider "Whatcha gunna do?" or "Where ya goin'?" As a quick rule of thumb, English crunches consonants together and nearly eliminates many vowels while Spanish joins contiguous vowels between words and can soften many consonants to the point that they are nearly inaudible. So it isn't a case of Spanish being faster; it's a case of the English-speaker's ear not being tuned to listen to where one word would start and another would begin if they were written down.

The best proof that they are spoken at about the same speed is that in broadcast journalism, for both languages, it takes about 1 minute to deliver 16 lines of text (10 point, with 1" margins). Here's a bit of interesting trivia: Once upon a time, in the 17th century, we know that Spanish was spoken faster than today -- on stage, at least. We know this because there are many written accounts of how long certain plays took to perform -- and they were shorter than the time it takes Spanish actors to perform the same plays today.

People from Spain speak with a lisp. This is simply false! This myth is based on a misunderstanding of a couple of facts. Fact 1: In Castilian (the dialect in question), the letter z is always pronounced as the th in the English word thin. Fact 2: The same is true of the letter c, but only when followed by an e or an i. Fact 3: However, the letter s is always an s. In Castilian, the s may sound a bit different than the English s, but it is not a lisp -- in many speakers, it is known as an apical s and sounds almost exactly like one of the sounds in Mandarin. By contrast, the Mexican pronunciation of the letter s is often sharper -- more sibilant -- than that of most US speakers of English.

So, having read a few interesting things about what many English speakers say about Spanish pronunciation, I invite you to take a closer look at more specific features of Spanish. Some of these articles are written to teachers, some to students, but they all have useful information for anyone who wants to understand the sounds of Spanish.

1. How to Practice Spanish Vowel Sounds.
2. Phrases for Practicing Spanish Vowels.
3. Sentences for Practicing Spanish Vowels. -- A little tougher!
4. How Spanish Vowels Join Between Words.
5. How to Get Rid of an American Accent When Pronouncing Spanish Consonants.
6. Teaching the Pronunciation of Spanish Consonants.
7. I can trick you into "trilling" your Rs!
8. Teaching the Spanish Alphabet.
9. Listen to the Sounds of Spanish.
10. Pronunciation and Accent Marks.
11. Using Dictation Improves Listening. Input helps eventual output...
12. Using Recorded Segments to Improve Pronunciation.

Teaching Across the Curriculum in Spanish Classes

Every teacher has heard about the importance of teaching across the curriculum; from K-12 teachers through doctoral dissertation directors, the subject can stir up debate and dissension. On the one hand, this phrase can be seen as just another fad in education, driven by sociopolitical forces by people who may have never taught.

For those who think this way, teaching across the curriculum is sometimes viewed as another way to dumb down the subject that should in focus at any given time. On the other hand, teaching across the curriculum is usually viewed in a positive light since it helps students see the interconnectedness of disciplines and appreciate the application of knowledge.

This posting isn't going to settle any debates. I'm not even sure the debate is genuine. It seems a bit manufactured to me, a bit like the so-called conflict between teaching facts or teaching reasoning skills. What I will do here is provide specific, practical suggestions about how to introduce relevant and useful content into the Spanish classroom that will transfer to other classes that students are taking. The methods I will present are best suited for intermediate (roughly speaking, second-year students). Of course, my suggestions will also work for other languages.

In a foreign-language classroom, teachers have always been involved in "integrating" disciplines or "teaching across the curriculum" even when we have not called it that or even been very aware of it. The reason is simple. When we teach a foreign language, we are teaching people how to re-map the world in terms of language. Often, this "rewiring" of a student's mind brings about new perspectives on thought, expression and even cultural or religious values. Bilingual people know this. Monolingual people do not, because they cannot. Monolingualism is a bit like color blindness.

I'd like to offer an idea to teachers who would like to approach teaching across the curriculum in an organized way and, at the same time, introduce information about the Spanish-speaking world. One way to do this is by assigning four students to work in a group to study, then present orally, four different aspects of one country of the Spanish-speaking world.

Since foreign-language classes tend to be too large to be pedagogically effective, most teachers have learned to work around this by dividing the class into small groups who work together, so the suggestions I have will be easy to implement. In addition, since there are so many Spanish-speaking countries and subgroups, you'll never run out of material. So, first, divide the class into as many groups of four as possible.

Next, assign each group a country. For resource material, I can think of no textbook that can beat the online database at LANIC. Next, each student can be assigned or volunteer to investigate one of the following aspects of that country; the links below will give you the details about how I have used this method successfully:

1. Geography
2. History
3. Economy or Politics
4. Arts & Culture

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

For Spanish Teachers and Academic Advisors

Having just posted my grades for the quarter, it seems appropriate to stop and reflect on what went right and what went wrong this past term. It's a time when teachers, like students, catch their breath and regroup.

So, in that spirit and submitted for your consideration, I have written a few articles on subjects that we often face, as teachers and as academic counselors, as we improve our own teaching and advise those who study a foreign language.

These articles are not long, so they're perfect for looking over with your morning coffee during the holidays. I invite your comments and especially encourage you to send me ideas for topics you'd like to see me cover in this blog.

1. Suggestion for a Daily Class Format
2. Working in Pairs: Dialogues!
3. Academic Advising: General Observations about Studying a Foreign Language
4. Academic Advising: What to Do with Your B.A. in a Foreign Language
5. Replicating ourselves: How to become a professor of a foreign language
6. Foreign-Language Teacher Preparation: Let's Start with Your Own Oral Proficiency!
7. How to teach when the lights go out: Let's use our brains more!
8. Suggestion for a Low-Tech, Intensive Grammar Review.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Spanish Dialects

Spanish teachers are often asked about the way Spanish is spoken in different countries. Often, their curiosity is piqued by something they have been told by someone they have met or know who is from a Spanish-speaking country. If that native informant is well travelled or has been otherwise exposed through movies, music, or even the internet, the information they receive generally is accurate, even if it is anecdotal.

Here is a wonderful -- in fact amazing -- short video by Isabel Arraiza, a very talented young woman who accurately imitates a number of Spanish dialects, as well as German, Russian, Hebrew, French and even various types of English!

Returning to Spanish... Spanish is spoken by about 450 million people as a first language, in 21 countries (plus the USA). While it is probably impossible to get all linguists or speakers of Spanish to agree, for argument's sake, it could be said as a starting point, that there are about six major dialect groups in the Spanish language. They are:

1. Castilian -- you know, the one that English speakers think has a lisp!
2. Mexican
3. Central American
4. Andean
5. Caribbean
6. Southern Cone

Which dialect students should decide to imitate is an important decision, but it is often one that is made for them by the dialect of their teacher or teachers, or by a study-abroad experience. It is risky to one's progress in the language try to imitate an accent that few speakers or learners around him or her are using.

Naturally, the most commonly heard dialect of Spanish in most of the USA is Mexican, although, as is well known, Cuban Spanish, a sub-dialect of the Caribbean, predominates in Florida. Likewise, Puerto Rican Spanish, another sub-dialect of the Caribbean, is more commonly heard in New York.

The Spanish Royal Academy recently published a grammar of the Spanish language that took 11 years to complete and which takes into account the varieties of this amazing language. This monumental task was a labor of love for their language in all its forms.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Reviewing the Parts of Speech

A big part of language learning depends on knowing how words are classified according to their general functions. For instance, if a student doesn't know that words that "name" things, people, ideas and so forth are called nouns and that "action words" are called verbs, a lot of time will be wasted in using euphemisms or circumlocutions to explain them.

The same is true for the other ways that words can be classified. These classifications are known as the parts of speech. There really aren't many general classifications -- only nine in all:

1. Articles
2. Adjectives
3. Nouns
4. Pronouns
5. Verbs
6. Adverbs
7. Prepositions
8. Conjunctions
9. Interjections

When studying Spanish, you also have to be aware of what are known in English as phrasal verbs, because English takes verbs and radically changes their meaning by changing a following preposition. Just consider the verb get. Add prepositions to it, such as up, on, over, with... and you'll "get" the idea! These each translate into Spanish with a unique verb.

Another problem that English speakers have is managing Spanish's own prepositional usage. The best way is to memorize the preposition or prepositions that can or must follow each verb as you learn them, just as you should do when you learn nouns by preceeding them with the masculine or feminine articles. Sometimes it is easier to learn Spanish nouns when you understand how Latin became Spanish, even if you haven't studied Latin. Additionally, you might find it enlightening to know how the definite articles in Spanish developed from Latin. This is somewhat related to the often asked question of why we say el agua but las aguas.

If you have questions of any kind about learning Spanish, teaching or using Spanish, please post a comment!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Object Pronouns in Spanish

At this point in the school year, many first-year Spanish students, whether highschoolers or college students, are beginning to be introduced to object pronouns. There are a number of sticky widgets that need to be dealt with when learning about object pronouns -- or indeed, pronouns in general.

So, first, what is a pronoun? It's a word that stands in for a noun -- but does that really help most students nowadays?! That's why this link will be helpful.

Whether you're a student or a teacher, I have a handful of short but succinct articles about the different types of pronouns that will help you. First, let's deal with what subject pronouns are and how to teach or learn about them.

Next, let's get to the topic at hand: object pronouns. First, because most language texbooks teach them first, take a look at what direct objects are. Indirect objects are usually taught next, so take a look at this introduction to indirect object pronouns. And, don't forget those interesting reflexive object pronouns.

Finally, the stickiest question of all -- what are the placement rules for when you have double object pronouns?

You are also invited to visit my Spanish learning website. Enjoy the winter break and visit here often! It's going to get interesting in here.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Study a Language -- Learn a Language

Recently, I have been re-examining statements and observations that have been made over the ages about teaching, studying and learning languages. Some come from prefaces to old textbooks, some from the early 1800s and another from the late 1700s; others from classical authors, poets, as well as Medieval and Renaissance philosophers. This blog post is about how to improve vocabulary acquisition -- and leverage it to launch into grammar.

First, it is important to point out that teaching, studying and learning are all very different endeavors. Aquinas, for instance, examines from many angles the question of whether one person can teach another person anything. That he even asks the question strongly suggests that he, as a teacher, had his doubts! Communicating knowledge is what teaching is about, but how that is done is the question. And the type of knowledge, the learner, the circumstance and so forth will greatly impact the answer to that question. To paraphrase Aquinas' conclusion in part, he observes that teachers can only be expected to organize the information and communicate it to their pupils in a language and at a level that they can be reasonably expected to grasp.

A few centuries after Aquinas, another great and influential teacher of Latin came along. His name was Comenius. Professor Pieter Loonen has written a very informative article on Comenius. One of the lessons to be derived from Dr. Loonen's article has to do with how to learn vocabulary, or teach it. Employing the senses, at least one of them, is important. Comenius would have liked picture dictionaries. He also would have approved of having students put new words to use as soon as possible, in meaningful or at least memorable sentences. He would probably not have liked flash cards that only have a word on each side.

Drawing on Comenius, Bacon, Aquinas, treatises on the art of memory, and my own experience, I have one suggestion that it powerful because it harnesses the power of the imagination and is 100% portable!

One really only knows what can be recalled and used. Where language mastery is concerned, if it has to be looked up, it hasn't been learned. This fact suggests that students should not rely too much or for too long on flashcards or even picture dictionaries.

So, I propose a method of creating the picture dictionaries in your head.

I call this method the Solar System Model. It is anchored on nouns since, as was observed by Bacon (and quoted by Loonen), knowledge begins with the proper naming of things:

Let's say you need to learn vocabulary about school. Imagine a book, floating in space. Imagine that it is the name of a planet circling another, larger visual image, in this case, a school building. This school building is the sun in this solar system that deals with school -- a main theme word. Around this sun revolve planets of various sizes: the book we have just imagined, a chair, a table, a pencil, and as many objects one expects to be related to school.

Next, around each of these planets, like moons, revolve the verbs that are most commonly associated with each noun. Around the planet named book, then, revolve the moons named to read, to open, to close, to check out and so forth. Around the planet named pencil will revolve the moons named to write, to erase, to sharpen and to break.

Each major theme, such as school, shopping, food, travel, clothes, etc., becomes a sun at the center of its own solar system.

As students build their imaginary solar systems with a thematic sun at each center, populating them with planets and moons, they will add other features, beginning with how to make the nouns plural, what articles to use with them and article-noun-adjective agreement in gender and number. They'll also add subject-verb agreement as they also expand on the verbs and learn to conjugate them.

Students will find that some solar systems are naturally related to other solar systems and can relate them by visualizing them close to each other in some way. The point is: imagination and visualization are brought into play, creatively and deliberately, to increase memory and thus the ability to recall what one needs when one needs it.

By using this Solar System Model, students will naturally expand from naming things to saying something about them, gradually expanding their knowledge and ability to properly apply the rules of grammar.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

How to Improve Your Pronunciation of Spanish

If you're a high school or college student who is taking Spanish right now and are struggling with pronunciation, this article will give you some practical advice and hints about how to improve your pronunciation.

The most important thing you can do is to listen with your full attention to the sounds of Spanish, as spoken by someone who speaks it well. Remember, some native speakers of English would not be good models for teaching a foreigner, so choose your model carefully. I often recommend that students listen to songs, get the lyrics and sing along -- karaoke style. One website in particular has lyrics and video, and although often I find grammatical or spelling errors, I still recommend it. I also recommend one musical video in particular by Shakira -- not only because is it very artistic, but because the close ups of her face make it possible to see how she pronounces many sounds. This may sound silly, but babies watch mouths when they are learning to speak.

Next, pay close attention to vowels. For practical purposes, Spanish has five -- and they are all pure. It may seem like a simple thing, but English speakers have to reign in the range of vowels in order not to have a bad accent. Here are some clear guidelines, based on the "standard" American pronunciation of the English words in these examples:

The letter A is pronounced as the A in the English word father, never as the A in cat.

The letter E is pronounced almost* like the A in the English word paper, never as the E in meet.

The letter I is pronounced like the EE in the English word meet, never as the I in imitate.

The letter O is prononced almost* like the O in the English word hope, never as the O in office.

The letter U is pronounced like the OO in moon, never as the U in up.

* Avoid the upglide into a final Y (as in they) or final U sound (as in how) in these two English examples.

Finally, Spanish consonants present English speakers with some subtle, but important, problems. The most obvious is the way English speakers tend to explode the consonants P, T and K sounds (the latter being found in que, qui, ca, co and cu).

Practice saying the words Pepe, Carlos and Tomás with your hand an inch in front of your mouth. If you feel air, you're exploding the consonants too much. These sounds should be reigned in, so to speak, so as to tend to sound a bit more like B, D and G, respectively.

The trilled R causes a lot of English speakers trouble. There is a way to trick one's tongue into saying it! First, you have to be aware that when pronouncing even the simple R sound in Spanish, the tongue is not positioned in the same place as in the English name Ralph. It is positioned in the same place as when pronouncing the tt or dd in the English words palmetto or paddle or rattle. Once you figure that out, place a D in between the words EL REY > EL DREY and try practicing that. It will probably take a few tries, but you'll actually feel the difference when it happens.

Lastly, when a word ends in a consonant and the next in a vowel, the consonant "goes over" to the vowel when speaking. Likewise, if one word ends in a vowel and the next begins with one, they will also elide into one syllable, more often than not.

Don't forget: there is no substitute for consistent practice accompanied by attentive listening. Don't give up.

Oh, and you might enjoy this website too, for practice with some poetry in Castillian. Both sound and text may be found here.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Jump Start Your Study of Spanish Before School Starts

This blog is dedicated to all the recent high school graduates who are about to become incoming freshmen.

Did you study Spanish in high school? My experience tells me that most of you, if your school had a foreign-language requirement, did take Spanish.

Let's explore some of the reasons why you may have chosen Spanish, starting with the two most common lame ones.

Lame reason #1: "Spanish is the easy language."

First of all, "easy" is a very relative term. Yes, for English speakers, it's easier than Mandarin or Russian. But if you want to actually speak it and not have a ridiculously foreign (American) accent, it will take serious work. The same must be said of the need to study grammar, just as you would trigonometry.

Bottom line: If you want to speak any language correctly, it takes hard work and attention to details. Be a perfectionist.

Lame reason #2: "Spanish is pronounced just as it's written."

Not true. English and Spanish use the same Latin-based alphabet, but many of the sound values of the letters are quite different. Instead of the approximately 14 different vowel sounds for the five written vowels, Spanish has, practically speaking, only five. You'd think it would be easier to have fewer vowel sounds but English speakers continue to pronounce many vowels as they would if they were found in similar looking English words -- and the result is a horrible accent. By the way, Spanish also has one letter that's unique: ñ.

At a local level, you may have chosen Spanish because you heard the teacher was easy or didn't give a lot of homework. On the other hand, if you're interested enough to be reading this blog, it's more likely that you took Spanish for the right reasons. You may have heard the teacher was tough and gave a lot of homework, and that students in his or her class actually learned something.

Right reason #1: "Spanish is useful in any career in the USA."

This is a no-brainer nowadays, but twenty-five years ago, teachers of Spanish had to extole the virtues of law enforcement or becoming a customs agent. Not so now. Medicine, education, law, sales, accounting, advertising.... So, knowing Spanish -- and I mean really knowing it -- will boost your earning power.

Right reason #2: "In the USA, Spanish is the most commonly spoken language other than English, so knowing Spanish will increase my ability to engage in useful social networking."

So true, so obvious, I almost didn't think it necessary to point it out. Knowing any language offers economic and cultural advantages but, to put it in business terms, knowing Spanish in the USA has more immediate "return on investment" (ROI).

You may be struggling with Spanish, but your struggle can be won. Your efforts can pay off, but the efforts have to be serious and sustained. Some of the toughest aspects of Spanish include the pronoun system, the more complex verb system and the subjunctive. They need not be obstacles any more. Click on the images of the books on this blog posting and go directly to Amazon where you can read the reviews and purchase these very economical books. Teachers -- you can use them in conjunction with any textbook and their exercises make great supplemental lessons or take-home assignments.

You'll also find a link to a posting I did in which I explain my rationale for these books. You might want to pass this along.

Finally, I'd love to hear from you. I invite you to post comments, explore my previous blogs.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

It's Summer: Learn Spanish!

Now that school is out, it might be a good time to brush off a New Year's resolution about learning another language.

Many people ask me how to get started learning Spanish. Even if you know practically nothing beyond hola, buenos días and how to count to ten, you can use those three simple things to build up a workable and immediately useful bank of phrases. You can learn the rest of the numbers in a very short time, along with days of the week and months. Armed only with that set of related linguistic data, you'll be able to give your phone number, understand schedules, prices, make appointments and more.

Knowing basic greetings is at least an icebreaker and lets the other person know that you are willing to step outside your comfort zone of language and culture -- bridging a divide that many people don't even try to cross.

But if you want to get serious about really learning Spanish and you're just beginning, I recommend Rosetta Stone. You can find my review here. But there comes a time when you'll actually need to go face-to-face with another person and begin meaningful exchanges. That's why I've developed my online program.

Even if you're already pretty good at Spanish -- let's say you're an intermediate-level speaker -- you will benefit from conversational practice with my online program. The average person does not know much about his or her native language -- and can't explain or model proper speech in ways that teach the language to non-natives, that's why I encourage you to take a look at my face-to-face program.

Then again, maybe you're just planning a vacation to Mexico -- my phrasebook will come in handy!

If you're wondering about studying in Mexico, I personally endorse The Language Immersion School in Veracruz, Mexico.

If you are a serious student of the language and want to get a taste of its classical literature, take a look -- and even listen to my recitations of Góngora's Fábula de Polifemo y Galatea and Pablo Neruda's Oda a la bella desnuda.

Whatever your plans for the summer, I encourage you to include Spanish in them!

Of course, I'm an advocate of learning Spanish simply because it is the majority language of the Western Hemisphere.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Spanish Live Via Skype

Come to my website and learn Spanish face-to-face. Whether you're a high school or college student in need of tutoring in Spanish, an adult seriously pursuing a life-long goal of mastering Spanish, an executive or other professional who needs to learn Spanish for professional reasons, this site is for you.

For years, it has been my dream to be able to teach one-on-one to serious students, by-passing the inhuman and dehumanizing confines of brick-and-mortar institutions. Technology has finally caught up with that vision.

I hope to hear from you soon!

My background in executive education, as a professor of Spanish for international business now comes to you live, over the internet, via Skype - provided you have a high-speed connection.

Finally, serious students of Spanish will greatly benefit from my three books for intermediate to advanced students. Just click on the images to go directly to Amazon, read the rave reviews and -- buy them!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Have Fun with Spanish

I've been too serious for the past year. I guess because I get frustrated with students who don't take Spanish class seriously. But hey, I only really teach the front row anyway. The rest are there subsidizing everyone else's education.

So this blog post is for the students I love or ever have ... kinda like Willy Nelson singing To All the Girls I've Loved Before.

So, what are some cool and fun sites for Spanish students to explore? I'm thinking of people old enough to read this blog and maybe old enough to recognize Willy's song.

One of my favorites, and an award-winning site is an Argentine site about the tango. It's awesome. It has the music, the lyrics, history of the tango (the dance form Argentina is known for) and even a huge dictionary of Lunfardo, the dialect of Argentina. The site even has video of various types.

I have two others for wine lovers. One is in Spain and the other in Chile. They are good for getting acquainted with the types of vocabularies you might need if you love wine, order wine, are in the wine business... you name it, if it's wine you love and Spanish you're learning or practicing, you'll really dig these sites.

Do you like Latin pop music? If you do, go to this great site for music, with lyrics. Now and then, the lyrics are printed in a sort of pop shorthand that reminds me of text messaging, so don't go there for spelling lessons! When searching an artist, do so by first name, not last.

Serious students and even business people will appreciate the LANIC site. Just go there; it will speak for itself.

And then, I have to say, try my poetry site. Don't forget to check out my three grammar books (see the links upper right?). And best of all, I'm online with a website to teach Spanish live in full streaming audio visual via Skype!

Enjoy Spanish. It has long been a world language whose influence, culturally, economically and politically has been great, but now it is growing exponentially.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Online Resource for Learning and Teaching Spanish

Interested in online language-learning resources? Are you looking for understandable and well articulated explanations about Spanish grammar? Perhaps you're a teacher or even a homeschooler in search of tips for effective teaching of certain difficult concepts -- even experienced teachers can use a new trick. If so, you'll love what I've put together at BrightHub. The philosophy of its creators is to provide expert opinions about programs, products and so forth.

Starting more than a year ago, I have had a lot of latitude for creating teaching and learning aids based on my experience. Frequently, textbook explanations are shallow, even timid -- but I like to explain grammar by teaching the concept and following up with examples. All the examples in all the lesson plans or mini lessons are translated. Each item is printable and most fit on one 8.5 X 11 page.

I'd love to have you use them. Just open the link above and scroll down. Check in often too, since more are on their way and much work is being done to organize and cross reference them. I invite suggestions for other articles too, whether you are a student, a teacher, a parent or an administrator of a Spanish language program.