Learning Spanish Online

Hi there! This blog post is going to introduce some of the best ways to learn and improve Spanish through online social media channels. I hope you can try some of these out and learn a lot from them.

Top 5 YouTube Channels to learn Spanish

1. Easyspanish
EasySpanish

This team of teachers record videos with grammar and conversation tips. They take to the streets and ask the Spanish public what they think about various themes. For example, in one of their videos they ask the public what they have in their handbag.

Their videos normally last between 10 and 15 minutes and always have subtitles in both English and Spanish, making it a useful learning tool for students with a high level of Spanish as well as a lower one (there is also a section called “easyeasyspanish” for those with an A1/A2 level).

2. Superholly
SuperHolly

Superholly is an American youtuber who was a Spanish student. Her videos aim to teach people how to sound like a Spanish native. She tells stories about her life in Spanish and always includes idiomatic expressions and tries to explain colloquial phrases.

Her videos normally last around 15 minutes and are always entertaining and very practical. They are particularly useful for those who already speak English, as she sometimes explains harder Spanish grammar points in English.

3. Butterfly Spanish
Butterfly Spanish

ButterflySpanish is a YouTube channel that mainly tries to improve the viewer´s understanding of Spanish grammar. They record their videos in a classroom and always write grammar explanations on a visible whiteboard so that viewers can make notes whilst watching the videos. It is a great channel for those students with a lower level of Spanish (A1/A2), as they normally clarify Spanish grammar points in English.

The videos normally last quite a while (20-30 minutes) and therefore go into detail so that the student takes something away from each video. They record videos on a variety of Spanish grammar points and problems, from the imperfect subjunctive to alcoholic drinks in Spain (which can help you forget about the dreaded subjunctive, of course!)

4. Lirica- Learn Spanish with Music
Lirica - learn Spanish with music

This channel offers a different way of learning- through songs. Each video comes with different grammar and comprehension tasks, as well as an English translation, making it super useful for those who love music and have a good grasp of the English language.

The videos always consist of lyrics to a song and images accompanying the music to maintain the viewer’s attention. They are very short too, so extremely easy to follow!

6. Señor Jordan
Señor Jordan

These YouTube videos are really fun and different! Señor Jordan records songs designed to help you remember verb rules and conjugations, with the lyrics shown on screen in vibrant colours. Each song is followed by an explanation of the points covered and the chance for the viewer to test their knowledge. He also has a pet cartoon monkey and has recorded a series of videos with his little monkey called “Storytelling with el mono”, which are just great!

Have fun learning! 🙂

Los mejores mercados en Madrid

Mercado de San Antón

Siempre me pregunto dónde se puede comer algo típico de Madrid sin pagar demasiado dinero, pero ahora lo sé: ¡en los mercados!

En Madrid hay muchos mercados donde se puede encontrar comida española, pero mi preferido es el Mercado de San Antón.

Este mercado está muy cerca de Inhispania, así que si no tenéis mucha pausa entra las clases de la mañana y las de la tarde, podría ser un buen compromiso.

El Mercado de San Antón tiene tres plantas; la primera está dedicada a la venta de producto perecedero, mientras en la segunda hay más productos que se pueden llevar.

Cuidado con el horario de cierre: la primera planta cierra a las 22:00 horas, mientras que la segunda a medianoche.

De todos modos, la mejor planta para mí es la tercera, donde se encuentra una terraza llamada “La cocina”.

Claro que en la terraza los precios van a ser más caros respecto a las plantas de abajo, pero una vez arriba, merece la pena tomarse una cerveza y mirar la puesta de sol. Si queréis ver qué puestos se pueden encontrar en este mercado, podéis buscarlas aquí: https://www.mercadosananton.com/puestos/

Mercado de San Miguel

Otro mercado donde se pueden comer los platos típicos españoles es el Mercado de San Miguel, muy cerca de la Plaza Mayor. La estructura de este mercado es muy destacable. Este edificio histórico es uno de los principales mercados gastronómicos del mundo, ya que permite a sus visitantes hacer un recorrido por la esencia y los sabores de cada uno de los rincones de España.

En cuanto a los horarios, desde el domingo hasta el jueves es de 10:00a 24:00 horas; mientras el viernes y el sábado el mercado cierra a la 01:00.

Si queréis ver qué puestos se pueden encontrar en este mercado, podéis buscarlas aquí: https://mercadodesanmiguel.es/

Mercado de San Ildefonso

Hay también un tercer mercado en Madrid muy famoso, cerca de la Calle Fuencarral, llamado “Mercado de San Ildefonso”.

Su oferta se basa principalmente en los productos manufacturados y algunos en estado puro, pero siempre listos para tomar en el establecimiento o mientras se sigue el rumbo por la calle principal. Todo ello con el objetivo de ser un break en la jornada de compras, un punto de encuentro en horario after work, una alternativa al menú del día o una parada estratégica para vecinos, turistas y asiduos entre MalasañaChueca y Tribunal. El Mercado de San Ildefonso distribuye sus espacios en tres plantas diferenciadas donde encontramos una amplia variedad de disposiciones y posibilidades.

Complementando los puestos gastronómicos con tres barras, una por cada planta, el mercado cuenta también con dos terrazas, ambas semicubiertas y perfectas para disfrutar de las instalaciones al aire libre, en la mejor de las compañías y con el mejor ambiente de Madrid.

Desde el lunes hasta el jueves, abre a las 13:00 y cierra a la 01:00 horas, el viernes y el sábado abre desde las 12:00 hasta la 01:00, mientras que el domingo abre desde las 12:00 hasta las 00:00.

Si queréis ver que tiendas se pueden encontrar en este mercado, podéis buscarlas aquí:  https://www.mercadodesanildefonso.com/

Culture shock and how to deal with it

What is culture shock?

Travelling is all about new experiences, and discovering the culture of a different country is part of the adventure. However, when you visit a new country it can be difficult to adjust to these cultural differences, whether you´re a few hours from home, or on the other side of the world! Read on to learn about some of the ways you might experience culture shock and how you can overcome it in order to enjoy your stay in Spain!

Food

This is one of the most common forms of culture shock and something that most people experience. Even if you´re keen to try new foods, you will probably miss some things from home and be surprised by what you can´t find in the supermarket. In cities, you will be able to find many ingredients in international food stores, but if you are headed for a more rural location it might be wise to pack anything that you can´t live without in your suitcase.

Spanish food
Language

This might seem obvious, but finding your feet can be challenging if you´re not already proficient in the language when you arrive in a foreign country. Again, in a big city like Madrid you are sure to find someone who speaks your language, but you may still feel isolated for the first few weeks. The only way to really overcome this barrier is to immerse yourself in the language, through classes or language exchanges, but it could be helpful to try and find a network of people who speak your language while you settle in.

Spanish language
Pace of life

This is something which foreigners in Spain tend to struggle with, and it can take a long time to adapt to a new schedule. In Spain, mealtimes tend to be later and longer, which can result in very long days. You may also notice this “no rush” attitude in the relaxed approach to punctuality and the way people take their time in shops and the like. If you come from a fast-paced culture where being on time means arriving early, this can be a difficult adjustment to make. Of course, if you are eating at home, you can choose your mealtimes, but there´s really no way round it if you go to a restaurant, as you are restricted by their hours of service.

Pace of life
Greetings and interactions

The way people greet each other varies greatly between cultures; what is considered normal in one country can be interpreted as an insult in another! In Spain, it is common to greet someone you know with a kiss on each cheek, which might seem very intimate if you are used to a handshake. This is true of interactions in general in Spain – people tend to stand close and it is entirely normal to touch the person you are talking to, on the arm for example. At first this might make you feel uncomfortable, but with time you should get used to this way of communicating.

Greetings in Spanish

Hopefully these tips have given you an idea of the challenges you might face when you arrive in a new country, and how you can deal with them, but the most important thing to remember is that it´s completely normal to feel a little lost at first, this doesn´t mean you won´t soon feel at home!

Top 5: Harry

1. ‘Late Motiv’

What better way to immerse yourself in Spanish culture than going to a late night talk show!? ´Late Motiv´ is one of the most popular shows in Spain, and its host Andreu Buenafuente is now a household name. It´s true, there are quite a few cultural references, and the guests definitely don´t hold back on how fast they talk, but you´ll no doubt have a really fun evening whilst learning a lot about the Spanish sense of humor! To be on the show, all you have to do is apply through the show´s website, and if you´re lucky enough to get tickets, they´re completely free!

¿Qué mejor manera de sumergirse en la cultura española que asistir a un programa de entrevistas? ´Late Motiv´ es una de los programas más populares en España, cuyo presentador Andreu Buenafuente ha llegado a ser un personaje súper conocido. Es verdad que hay bastantes referencias culturales, y los entrevistados suelen hablar a toda velocidad, pero no hay duda de que lo pasarás bien ¡mientras aprendiendo mucho del humor español! Para asistir al programa, solo tienes que solicitar una plaza a través del sitio web del programa, y si consigues obtener entradas, ¡son gratis!

Late Motiv

2. Museo Sorolla

Before coming to Madrid, I didn´t know much about Joaquín Sorolla, nor had I seen many of his paintings, so I was pleasantly surprised when I went to the museum that is dedicated to his artwork (which is held in the beautiful house he used to live in!). Sorolla was largely known as an impressionist painter, and his works, I think, are very appealing and easy on the eye. Tickets are only €3, but if you´re a student, you can get in for free.

Antes de venir a Madrid, no conocía mucho de Joaquín Sorolla, ni tampoco había visto muchas de sus pinturas. Por lo tanto, me puse sorprendido cuando visité por primera vez el museo que le está dedicado (¡que se sitúa en su antigua casa bonita!). Sorolla era conocido principalmente como pintor impresionista, y sus obras, en mi opinión, son muy atrayentes y llamativas. Las entradas cuestan solo 3€, pero si eres estudiante, puedes entrar sin pagar.       

Sorolla Museum

3. La Catedral de Justo Gallego

This is perhaps Madrid´s gem that is still waiting to be discovered! In 1961, a monk named Justo Gallego was expelled from his monastery for contracting tuberculosis. Convinced that he was still called to serve God, he set about constructing his very own cathedral from scratch, without any architectural qualifications. All these years later, Justo hasn´t given up on his mission, and at the age of 95 he continues to get up early each morning to carry on building. The result of his efforts is this enormous edifice that, although looking very much unfinished, still retains an astonishing beauty, made even more impressive by that fact that Justo has done pretty much all of the work himself! To get to the cathedral, you can catch a short bus ride towards Mejorada del Campo, which is on the outskirts of Madrid.

¡A lo mejor esto es la joya de Madrid que queda sin descubrir! En 1961, el monje Justo Gallego fue expulsado de su monasterio por haber caído enfermo. Con la certeza de su vocación de servir a Dios, empañó la construcción desde cero de su propia catedral, sin ningunas calificaciones arquitectónicas. Después de todos estos años, Justo no ha abandonado su objetivo, y con 94 años sigue levantándose temprano cada mañana para continuar a construir. El resultado de sus esfuerzas es este edificio enorme que, aunque parece incompleto, aun retiene una belleza extraordinaria, una hazaña aún más impresionante si tenemos en cuenta que Justo ha hecho la mayoría del trabajo solo. Para llegar a la catedral, puedes coger un autobús de 30 minutos hacia Mejorada del Campo, que está en las afueras de Madrid.

Catedral de Justo Gallego

4. La Caja Mágica

If you´re as a big a tennis fan as I am then there are two events that you definitely can´t miss! The Mutua Madrid Open takes place every year in May, whilst for the foreseeable future the Davis Cup (´the world cup of tennis´) will be played in Madrid every November as well. These two tournaments are highly regarded fixtures on the tennis tour, thus attracting some of the biggest players from all around the world. What´s more, ´madrileños´ really know how to provide a great atmosphere (especially when a Spaniard is playing!) so you´re bound to enjoy yourself no matter what.

Si eres tan apasionado de tenis como yo, ¡hay dos eventos que no puedes perder! El Mutua Madrid Open tiene lugar cada año en mayo, mientras por ahora la Copa Davis (el mundial de tenis) se disputa en Madrid cada noviembre. Estos dos torneos son muy apreciados, así atraen algunos de los mejores jugadores de todo el mundo. Es más, los madrileños saben cómo proporcionar un ambiente electrizante (¡sobre todo cuando juegue un español!), por eso  sin duda lo vas a pasar bien.

Caja Mágica

5. MISKI RESTOBAR

This café/bar is one of my favourite places to chill and/or work in Madrid. They do awesome brunches, great coffee, all the while providing a really cozy setting just to spend a few hours away from the hustle and bustle of the city. What´s better, as it opened only fairly recently, it doesn´t become as crowded as some other, more well-known establishments.

Este café/bar es uno de mis lugares favoritos para descansar y/o trabajar en Madrid. Hacen un ´brunch´ increíble, el café fenomenal, todo el tiempo proporcionando un ambiente acogedor para matar el tiempo lejos del ajetreo de la ciudad. Aún mejor, dada su apertura bastante reciente, no se hace tan concurrido como otros establecimientos más conocidos.

Miski Restobar

Do you know the history behind some of Madrid´s most famous monuments?

Puerta de Alcalá

The Puerta de Alcalá, located in the middle of Plaza de la Independencia, next to the Retiro Park, is one of Madrid´s most iconic landmarks. You´ve surely walked past it before, but do you know how it got there?

The arch, completed in 1778, was commissioned by Carlos III to replace another from the 16th century. You might think that the king would have chosen a Spanish architect to design such an important monument, but the architect, Francesco Sabatini, was actually Italian. 

Although it has similarities with the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, it predates both of them and was in fact the first triumphal arch to be built after the fall of the Roman Empire.

The origin of the arch´s name is simple – it was located on the route to Alcalá de Henares – however not everything about the monument is so easily explained. You might have noticed that the two sides of the arch are decorated differently, but have you ever wondered why? Some people say that Sabatini sent the king several designs, and that he was unable to choose between them. Others claim that the king accidentally approved both of them, and as the architect didn´t dare point out his mistake, he decided to combine the two!

Puerta del Sol

The Puerta del Sol is arguably the most touristic place in Madrid, and even if you aren´t keen on the crowds, it´s almost impossible to visit the city without passing through here at least once!

To understand the origins of this landmark, you have to go all the way back to the 16th century, when difficult conditions caused many people to turn against the monarchy. For this reason, even though Madrid was not the capital of Spain at this time, the city was fortified with a huge wall to protect the royal guard. 

Whereas nowadays Sol is emblematic of the centre of Madrid, it did not even originally form part of the city but was one of the access gates in the city walls.

There are various explanations for the name “Puerta del Sol”; according to some sources, an image of the sun king was painted on the gate, while others attribute the name to the fact that the gate faced East, towards the rising sun.

The plaza as we know it today was originally meant to be a large rectangle, however eventually a semicircular design was decided upon which would preserve the buildings on the straight side, including the Casa de Correos.

Plaza Mayor

The Plaza Mayor is one of the most popular places to visit in Madrid, but there is much more to this destination than meets the eye. Known as Plaza del Arrabal in the 15th century, when it hosted the city´s main market, the square has had various names since 1812 (Plaza de la Constitución, Plaza Real, Plaza de la República), and has only been known as Plaza Mayor since the end of the Civil War.  

The Plaza Mayor has a more dramatic history than you might expect, having survived three big fires. The first, in 1631, engulfed the Casa de la Carnicería, lasting three days, destroying over fifty buildings, and causing three deaths.

In 1672, a lantern caught fire in the portico of the Casa de la Panadería, leaving only the cellar and the ground floor standing. The restoration of the building took sixteen months, and today you can see a plaque in the building which commemorates this event.

The third and most destructive of the fires took place in 1790. It began in the Portal de Paños, and destroyed a third of the square´s perimeter. The fire lasted nine days; as there was not enough water in the surrounding wells, the only way to put it out was to pull down surrounding buildings to block the progress of the flames!

Now you know the secret history of three of Madrid´s most famous monuments, you´ll never look at them in the same way again!