How to deal with strong accents in Spanish!

Regional accents are certainly one of the beauties of any language. They are a part of a person’s identity and the community they belong to. They show how rich a culture is because it is in the language that we can see elements of its past, the local customs and the people’s character... 


And a country as culturally diverse as Spain could not be otherwise and you can find completely different accents from North to South, East to West. 


However, as learners of another language, it can be hard to understand people with strong accents and can even make us wonder whether they are in fact speaking the same language!


In Spain, for example, people living in areas where they have their own native language (Catalonia, Basque Country, Galicia, Comunidad Valenciana, The Balearics...) will often find themselves speaking Spanish with the corresponding accent and intonation resembling their own languages...


So no wonder it can initially feel like...

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Why is learning the alphabet so useful?

Typically, in a traditional Spanish course, the alphabet is presented in a mechanical way without explaining how powerful and useful spelling is.

But I would like to show you how handy it is to know the name of the letters in Spanish, especially the ones that are relevant to you, like your name and personal details! If you want to book a table or make an appointment of any type, you’ll need to say at least your name, your surname and perhaps other info like your address. 

And chances are they contain sounds that are unknown to the Spanish ear and therefore difficult to understand unless you spell it out for them. This is particularly true when you are talking on the phone!

But really, knowing the alphabet can assist you in lots of situations. 

For example, many times you may not understand a spoken word, but you can make sense of it when you see it written down as it may be familiar in some way. Perhaps it’s similar to English, another language that you already...

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La nevada de Madrid - Madrid's snowfall!

Last weekend there was a historic snowfall in Madrid and other parts of Spain as storm “Filomena” is making its way through the country. 

And as I was talking to friends and family, I realised that the conversations were full of wonderful expressions of surprise. Here are some of the most commonly used:

¡Qué pasada! - How amazing/incredible!

¡Madre mía! - Oh my goodness!

¡Ostras! - Literally “Oysters!” In Spanish used as an expression of deep surprise.

¡No me lo puedo creer! - I can't believe it!

Have you heard any of these before? They are all very common and natural ways of expressing surprise, amusement, excitement and even shock! 

Incorporating these to your vocabulary will help you sound natural and fluent :)

So, what next? Write these expressions in your "cuaderno" and find an opportunity to use them ASAP!

¡Hasta pronto!


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How to sound more natural in Spanish

I’m pretty sure you want to sound more natural in Spanish. In fact, that´s most learners' end goal: to be fluent and sound natural in Spanish. However, many think of that as a long term goal, once they’ve mastered other parts of the language… 

But, let me tell you that there is really no need to wait. You can start sounding more natural today, whatever your level.

The secret is to incorporate fillers, “conversation helpers” or “muletillas”.

Fillers are called “muletillas” in Spanish… Literally, “little crutches!” I love this term as they indeed help with sounding more fluent and natural and give a sense of smoothness to the conversation.

I remember when Pete started learning Spanish and went to Madrid for the first time… He knew very little, but sounded like he knew so much more by being quite familiar with these 5 muletillas

Let’s take a look at them: 

1. Pues

  • This...
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Helpful Spanish Phrases for Beginners

When I stumbled trying to speak English in the States,  I was desperate to find a new way. I knew it had to be possible...

But I was also TERRIFIED.

My failed attempts to communicate successfully to a number of people had left me totally demoralised (like the time when I was at a bank counter trying to explain that the cash machine had swallowed my bank card, and the lady at the window running out of patience and seeing that the queue behind me had started to build, looked over me and said “next”!)

However, despite the negative experiences, here are some of the things I’ve come to find out and appreciate: 

  • As a foreign speaker you’re always in a more vulnerable position. And that 's ok. Honestly, the best thing that you can do about it is to work on your mindset. And accept that it is only by getting out of your comfort zone that you get to grow, gain insights, get more enjoyment out of life and achieve what you want. Even if things are a bit...
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