Sunday, September 25, 2011

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed a week in September as National Hispanic Heritage Week. The observance was expanded in 1988 to a month long celebration (September 15 - October 15), honoring our Nation's Hispanic heritage. During this time, America celebrates the culture and traditions of U.S. residents who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico, and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.

September 15 is the starting point for the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively.

National Hispanic Heritage Month provides an opportunity to focus national attention upon the contributions of the Hispanic community to American society. Most of the activities help to spread the word about Hispanic culture and individual and community achievements.

You may wish to view more information on Hispanic Heritage Month at:

You may also wish to visit, the U.S. government's official web portal in Spanish.

The source for this information is Visit this website for more information:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Test Your Reading Comprehension With This Great Resource

The Spanish government provides a very helpful FREE resource for those looking to learn and improve their reading comprehension and writing skills. The monthly online newsletter is called Tecla:

Tecla es una revista electrónica dirigida a profesores y estudiantes de español que publica mensualmente, durante el curso académico, la Consejería de Educación en el Reino Unido e Irlanda.

Consta de tres textos de niveles A, B y C, actividades de comprensión de la lectura y solucionario. Se complementa con la grabación de los textos.

Here's an excerpt from the June 2011 level A text:

Avilés es una ciudad en la costa del norte de España. Está en la Comunidad Autónoma del Principado de Asturias y tiene una población de 84.000 habitantes. En 1970 era una ciudad industrial con grandes fábricas de acero y metales.

En 1981 Avilés fue declarada Zona de Atmósfera Contaminada por la mala calidad del aire. A partir de 1990 comienza la reconversión industrial: se cierran varias factorías y muchos trabajadores pierden su empleo.

Hoy en día Avilés es una ciudad distinta: la regeneración del medio ambiente es un hecho y la ciudad se ve más limpia y atractiva que nunca. Su casco antiguo, declarado Conjunto Histórico-Artístico, está bien conservado y tiene edificios muy bellos.

To read the rest of the text and test your reading comprehension, go here:

If this text is too advanced for you, give our Beginner's section a try:

You should be able to read and understand much of the text in a few weeks!

Happy Learning!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

5 Mistakes to Avoid While Learning Spanish

1. Assuming that Spanish words that look like English words mean the same thing: Words that have the same or similar form in both languages are known as cognates. Since Spanish and English share a large vocabulary derived from Latin, more often than not words that are alike in both languages have similar meanings. But there are plenty of exceptions, and it wouldn't be a bad idea to study these lists of false cognates and partial cognates. You'll find, for example, that embarazada means "pregnant" rather than"embarrassed."

2. Not learning how to use prepositions properly: Prepositionscan be notoriously challenging. It can be helpful to think about the purpose of the prepositions as you learn them, rather than their translations. This will help you avoid mistakes such as pienso acerca de ti for "I'm thinking about you" instead of pienso en ti.

3. Translating idioms word for word: Both languages have their share of idioms, phrases whose meanings cannot readily be determined from the meanings of the individual words. Some idiomstranslate exactly (for example, bajo control means "under control"), but many don't. For example, en el acto is an idiom meaning "on the spot." Translate them word for word and you'll end up with en el sitio and "in the act," both of which are incorrect.

4. Not learning the subjunctive mood: In English, we seldom make a distinction when verbs are in the subjunctive mood. But the subjunctive can't be avoided in Spanish if you wish to do more than state simple facts and ask simple questions.

5. Being afraid to make mistakes: Mistakes are inevitable with learning, and the worst mistake you could make would be to be fearful of using what you know. Remember that no matter how many mistakes you make, wherever you go in the Spanish-speaking worldyour sincere attempts to learn the language will always be appreciated.

Source: Gerald Erichsen, Guide