Friday, November 23, 2012

Idioms / Modismos

A few idioms you might use later:

Es tarde - It is late.
más adelante - later on
llegar tarde - to be late.  Por ejemplo:  No quiero llegar tarde a la fiesta.

 "Más vale tarde que nunca."  Better late than never.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Un pensamiento...

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart. 
    -Nelson Mandela, activist, South African president, Nobel laureate (b. 1918)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

OLLI Classes for Winter, 2013

There are two classes being offered in January at OLLI at SOU, Ashland.  They are both called "refresher" classes because they will be short, only four sessions each, and will give you just a little practice and some new vocabulary and grammar.

The Beginners Class, January 21-31, 9-10:30 a.m., is planned for real beginners.  If you've taken one of my beginners classes, please join us again.  If you took Spanish in high school and never touched it again except at Mexican restaurants, please join us. But,  if you got through some college classes, even 50 years ago, please sign up for the Intermediate class instead.

The Intermediates Class,  January 7-16,  3:30- 5:00 p.m., is intended for students who have some working knowledge of Spanish.  You do not need to know how to conjugate verbs in past and present tenses.  You should have some ability to express yourself in basic ways and be ready to enjoy reviving the knowledge you gained earlier in life (like last summer or 50 years ago.)  It is amazing how much comes back, so give it a try.  Of course, students in my previous intermediate classes are encouraged to join us.  We always have new stories!

Both classes will teach the students who are there at whatever level they may be.  I try to pace the class to meet the needs of all the students, but it is generally more comfortable for everyone if the real beginners do not feel left behind by more advanced students.

If you're not sure where you fit, take a look at the notes under the tab "Current OLLI Classes" on this blog.  Scroll down a ways and read through some notes from both classes and consider how well you understand the vocabulary and stories.  The stories were written by me with help from the classes.  You will not be expected to understand every word nor to produce stories at this level on your own (although I know some of you can!)

If you're still not sure, give me a call or e-mail.  ¡Vamos a hablar español!

Monday, October 29, 2012

El día de los muertos, el 31 de octubre - 2 de noviembre

"La Catrina," possibly the most famous image of Día de los Muertos, by José Guadalupe Posada.

People decorate and visit the cemetery to welcome their loved ones.

Un altar en la casa

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Comprehensible Spanish novels!

I have just posted a list of short Spanish novels, written for students, on the Resources for Students page.  They are available for $6.00 each from or from TPRS Publishing, at  Some are at both sites, others may be found at only one.  They are appropriate for beginning to intermediate students.  Some are written in the past tense, some in the present, and a few are available in both versions under one cover!  Take a look, buy a few, read them and then share with other students.

The SOU Bookstore will be getting some of these for you to buy soon.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Current OLLI beginners' class extended

We have added two more classes to the Fall 2012 Beginners' Class at OLLI in Ashland.  They will be at the same time and place, OLLI Room C, Tuesday and Thursday, 9 - 10:30.  The new dates will be November 6 and 8.  So instead of ending as planned on Nov. 1, our last date will be Nov. 8. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Basic vocabulary

These may not be the words you learn in class, but when you need them, you need them!

el inodoro, el excusado, el retrete - toilet
el lavabo - sink (in a bathroom, for washing hands)
el papel higiénico - toilet paper
el grifo - faucet

Of course, there are euphemisms:  el baño (which means the bath, literally) or los servicios.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Intermediate class continues

One of the words that came up at break time (descanso) was "snack."  I looked it up on and found an amazing variety of expressions, varying by country, time of day, type of food, reason for eating!  ¡Caramba!

So - try one or more of these:
  • el tentempié, 
  • el refrigerio, 
  • una botana, 
  • un bocado, 
  • un bocadillo (which means sandwich in Spain, but the kind with big hunks of bread and a chunk of food inside, not the sliced white bread type, which is called a "sandwich"), 
  • una merienda (en España, a media tarde solamente, antes de la cena)
  • "Please bring a snack to share" - "Favor de traer (Por favor traiga) un platillo (un pequeño plato, un refrigerio, un bocadillo) para compartir."
  • mid-morning snack -- un bocado de media mañana (la hora del bocadillo can mean a mid-morning work break in some places)
  • bedtime snack - picoteo nocturno (España) o merienda nocturna (Puerto Rico)
Fortunately, there is less variety about other foods:
  • cherries - las cerezas
  • cantaloupe - el melón
  • cookies - galletas (dulces)
  • crackers - galletas saladas (salty or savory)
  • strawberries - las fresas
  • raspberries - las frambuesas
  • blackberries - las moras
  • olives - las aceitunas
  • olive tree - el olivo
  • olive oil - aceite de oliva
  • pear - la pera
  • pear tree - el peral
  • apple - la manzana
  • apple tree - el manzano

Monday, July 30, 2012

New class started today!

A group of intermediate students gathered today to continue learning Spanish.  We discussed what we did during vacation and told a short story about a Spanish princess and French prince, both escaping "la vida loca" in their home countries by living in Ashland.

See the notes and a similar story at the "Current Class" tab.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

El mole poblano

¿Qué es el mole poblano?  Y ¿por qué se llama así?  Lee este artículo del Spanish Institute of Puebla "¡Este es mi mero mole!"  y después busca un buen restaurante para probarlo. 
PictureSpanish Institute of Puebla tiene mucha información interesante y útil para ayudarte a aprender español.  Explora su sitio web (

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

¿Ballenas en el desierto del Perú?

Geologists are finding fossils of whales miles from the coast.  They are buried in the sands of the desert near Ocucaje, south of Lima, north of Nazca.  Read more.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Another trail to Machu Picchu

Another trail parallel to the traditional trail from Cusco to near Machu Picchu has been discovered recently.  These "trails" were constructed more like roads and you can still walk on them in many places throughout the ancient Inca empire.  Read the story:

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

New class coming up!

After several students requested more classes, I will be offering an intensive week of Spanish lessons for intermediate students.

Join us the week of July 30 - August 3, 2012 --  Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 3:00-5:00 pm each day.
Tuition: $60 per student for the series.  Location to be determined - but it will be in Ashland.

Please sign up by sending me an e-mail at

 or call me, (get number from OLLI) even if you already sent me an e-mail.  I need to know how many students are really planning and able to attend this session.

Thanks for your interest and ideas!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Continuing classes?

If you would like to continue studying Spanish as a follow-up to the OLLI class that just finished up today, Friday, 29 June, please leave me a comment here or write to  Gracias.

Is "helicopteriza" a real word? But, we do understand!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

New OLLI class has started

Take a look at the "Current OLLI Class" page to see the latest information, palabras del día, and cuentos.  I've also started a new Canciones / Songs /Música page.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Se rompió un violonchelo Stradivarius en el Palacio Real

Las noticias desde España, el 7 de mayo de 2012 (07/05/2012)

(Can you read this news article? It could make a great story.  ¿Por qué se cayó?)

COSTOSO. Según la prensa española, cayó de una mesa durante una sesión fotográfica (Wikipedia/Licencia de Documentación Libre GNU).
Un violonchelo Stradivarius del Palacio Real de Madrid se rompió  accidentalmente, informó el lunes Patrimonio Nacional de España.

La causa del accidente no se hizo pública. Patrimonio Nacional, dependiente de la presidencia del Gobierno, declinó comentar los reportes de prensa que apuntaban a que el chelo cayó de una mesa durante una sesión fotográfica hace tres semanas.

El daño al instrumento del siglo XVII fue sustancial. La pieza que une el cuello con el cuerpo del chelo —conocida técnicamente como vástago— se rompió y quedó separada del resto del instrumento.

Patrimonio Nacional no precisó el valor de este violenchelo, que según expertos ronda los 20 millones de dólares.

se rompió - was broken (it broke itself)
no se hizo - was not made (did not make itself)
daño - damage
une - unites
quedó - remained
según - according to
ronda - is about 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

El tiempo entre costuras / The Time in Between, un libro estupendo

I just finished reading this book en español by María Dueñas, a Spanish writer and professor, and cannot recommend it highly enough.  It has been translated into English, so choose which version you prefer.  As Mario Vargas Llosa says, "una novela maravillosa, con intriga, amor, misterio y ternura."  It takes you from pre-Civil War Madrid to Tangier and Tetuán in the Spanish Protectorate of Marruecos, back to Madrid and on.  Don't want to give anything away, but I just couldn't stop telling anyone and everyone how great this book is, even before I finished it.  (Reading it also taught me several new words in Spanish!)  Beautifully written, great story, wonderful characters...Read it!

Monday, May 7, 2012

¿Celebraste el Cinco de Mayo? ¿Por qué?

           ¿Por qué se celebra el Cinco de Mayo?

Primeramente, NO marca la Independencia de México.  La Independencia se celebra el 16 de septiembre.