Friday, June 13, 2008

Closing of

...and the opening of!

I'm a bit tired because of the way Blogger works, so therefore I decided to move everything to a new blog running on Wordpress (the system I always liked). The address will be (already working).

Unfortunately I was not able to move the comments (I'll continue trying this), so at the moment only the posts are on the new blog. In a few days I'll add some redirects to the new site, if everything works out. Otherwise this blog will continue to exist as an archive, but comments will be closed. Of course, a brand new comment system comes with the new blog.

Also, in a few days the feedburner feed will be updated, so there is no need to do it yourself.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Rapping all day long

I'm still here, happily doing my daily SRS reps, watching telenovelas (no, they're not just for chicas or mujeres) and listening music. Listening A LOT of music, each and every day, for hours and hours. To be honest: I just can't listen to audiobooks or podcasts while commuting. I like reading newspapers, or just staring out of the window while sitting in the train or bus. Not thinking about anything.

So, podcasts are no real option, nor are audiobooks. I have to think too much, and I just want to relax. And music simply helps me to relax, especially Spanish music. I've written more regarding this a while ago, and in the meanwhile I've listened hours and hours to reggaeton, bachata, rock, (latin)rap and more. The last few weeks I've been discovering Spanish rap. At first I was just enjoying the beats and lyrics, so far I could understand them. But then something cool happened.

I have the weird ability to listen to a CD for weeks and weeks, hours and hours per day. And the cool thing is that even after three weeks a CD doesn't bore me. It takes at least 4 - 5 weeks before a CD really starts to bore me. This way I can absorb the lyrics, giving me some new neat vocab to work with, but it also helps me understanding something said at 500 miles per minute. For example: there are quite some natives in the classes I attend, and after school we often continue to speak Spanish, but mostly they speak at 500 miles per minute which was quite difficult for me. Was difficult for me, because now I can understand them without a problem. Sure, sometimes I need a second or two before I fully understand what they've just said, but I can understand it. All because of rap and reggaeton.

Another neat thing that happened is that is influenced my pronounciation. So far I developed an Iberian accent which I really like. I had to work hard to get this accent, but eventually I developed one. It's a pity I didn't find out earlier how music can help to build your accent. For example: I got a CD with some cool reggaeton. As common in parts of Latin-America some singers pronounced the jota as a 'h' - hota. After a while I began saying things like muher, hente, caha, etc., etc. Now, this is something I didn't want to happen because of my Iberian accent.

It took some effort not using it anymore, but it proves that music strongly influences your pronounciation. Instead, I'm listening rap now, from Spain. And it really helps with my pronounciation, both maintaining and building it to perfection.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Learning materials provided by the Spanish state

Well, not exactly. But they ARE offering their television programs over the internet from now on. For free, gratis, gratuito. Some days ago I was reading the web edition of El País, like I do once in a while, when I came across this article. I appears that RTVE changed their website and added a feature which ables people from all over the world (yes, not only Spain, like a lot of Spanish television stations tend to do) to watch the programs broadcast the last 7 days.

In the past they only offered a 24 hour news service (which they still offer, but frankly: it's dull as ****), where you now can watch telenovelas and more. Fullscreen, good quality, YouTube-like (you MUST love YouTube. So get your *** over to, now!

Oh, besides, I'm still terribly busy with school. I'm still here, checking comments and answering them when possible or needed. Just give me some time and stick around.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Why rolling your R

As you probably noticed, there have been less posts the last few weeks. It's not because I don't want to write, it's simply that I don't have time. Unfortunately, this will continue to be for about a month, but I'll try to publish at least one post per week.

Studies are going really well and I'm getting more and more fluent in Spanish which really feels good. I'm a bit of a perfecionist and this works both ways; I'm getting fluent faster and I'm getting better than I could've imagined. For example, last week someone asked me why I spent so much time perfecting my accent and pronounciation. "Isn't getting understood most important?" Well, of course getting understood it most important, but I want to get beyond that. Mainly because I want to move to Spain one day, I'm perfecting my Iberian Spanish pronounciation (I know, there isn't one pronounciation, but there are some standards). Although some people don't seem to find this very important, I do find it important and I'm willing to invest some serious time in this.

Similar to this my uncle also asked me this week why a rolled R is so important in Spanish. My first reaction was: 'A non-rolled R just sounds weird', and this includes not using a 'flap' for non-rolled R's. Again, I spent some serious hours tackling the rolled R and as soon as I mastered it, it gave a boost to my learning progress. Also, when you eventually 'master' Spanish - but have a poor pronounciation - people will almost always listen to that instead of what you're actually saying, some might even hate it so much that they don't like to talk with you (happened to me).

So, is pronounciation important? YES! I would say. And why wouldn't you concentrate on your R's (both rolled and flapped), c/s/z, uve's, etc., etc.? It only takes a little bit of extra energy when starting with Spanish, but the advantages are HUGE.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Preparing for tests

Doing your daily Anki sentences, listening music, watching Spanish television, etc., etc. It's great to do that every day, but frankly: it's only for your general studying, to get better in Spanish in general. But what if you have to prepare for Spanish tests, either in high school or in college? How do you prepare for, let's say, the vocabulary part? This can be rough, especially if you don't know where to start.

On an average, people try to jam vocabulary lists in their head using brute-force learning. Reading words over and over again, saying them out loud. Some people in my class do this, and even I did it. With no success. But now I pass the vocabulary tests with almost straight A's. And it's quite easy AND fun because I know I'll pass the next test.

So what do I do? It's simple: I use Anki for my vocabulary training. The book we use in school is called Gente 2, and the vocabulary in the tests comes from the stories in that book. Every test we need to know the vocabulary in 4 of the 11 chapters bij heart. Therefore I read the chapters, and each and every word I encouter that I don't know, I write down. Actually, I add it to Anki, something like this.

noun/verb (infinitive)

Sentence where the word is in

[Show answer]

translation of noun/verb in this context

So I write down the noun (in the gender it appeared in the sentence, but that's actually not that important overall) or the verb (the infinitive, to make things clear). Then I put the sentence in which I found the unknown word under. The other side of the card only contains the translation of the unknown word as I know what the rest of the sentence means.

Where my daily sentences give me the opportunity to practice grammar, this method helps me concentrating more on the unknown word. Because the use of a word differs, I put the sentence under it which also helps remembering the word better. It works great like this, and it's also a relaxed way of learning as the most work is reading the stories and looking up the definitions. After that you can reach your goal with 20 - 30 minutes of studying every day, beginning two weeks in advance.

But what if you have to learn word lists for school? Only adding the words doesn't help much, because the words won't stick that good. Try finding sentences where the word is used in. The Wordreference website is a great source for sentences like that, although a good dictionary can help aswell.