TEDx — Una playlist de TEDx en español: 5 talks in Spanish

¡Hola! Happy Monday! To start the week off right, we’re bringing you 5 TEDx Talks in Spanish from speakers from all over the world. From a talk discussing the difficulties of living under the shadow of famous drug lord father to another explaining the realities of being a transgendered woman in Colombia, we have 5 talks that will truly give you a wider view of the world.

TEACHERS: Did you know it’s possible to create a virtual lesson from a TEDx Talk? At TED-Ed you can quickly flip any of these talks. Check out these questions we whipped up for Manfred Meiners’ talk and find out more about how to make your own TED-Ed lessons.

via TEDx — Una playlist de TEDx en español: 5 talks in Spanish.

In jokes

One of the best things about learning a new language is that you start to become privy to a whole new set of in-jokes.

It’s taken me a while, but now I can have a chuckle at a few memes in Spanish. Sometimes I get them, sometimes I don’t. Here are some that I understand.

I guess high brow humour comes with high fluency…???





How can you use memes to study? You can try and come up with your own memes, be careful with that one though… some things just don’t translate!

Besos comediantes x

Greek and Spanish sound similar?

Have you ever wondered what your native tongue sounds like to people who can’t speak it? I had actually never thought about it. Which is why my jaw dropped when I came across this video a while back. How surreal that you will never truly know that experience of hearing your native language as a foreigner would.

Watching this made me question, what does Greek sound like to other people? After all, I wouldn’t know, I’ve been speaking Greek since I was a child. I asked a friend of mine who recently returned back to Australia from Santorini (she only speaks English). Funnily enough, she said Greek sounded very much like Spanish to her, and sometimes a little bit balkan. Funny because Spanish is obviously what I’m learning and I had always looked at Greek and Spanish as being quite separate. After all, Spanish is a Romance language. Greek is not. Greek is a unique branch within the Indo-European languages.

But then one thing made me stop looking at them as so different and start looking at their similarities. It was this word/phrase:

Aunque (Spanish) – pronounced a-oon-keh

Αν και (Greek) –  pronounced ahn-keh

Please excuse my attempts at writing out pronunciations and remember I’m sounding these out in my Aussie accent too – I need a linguistics degree!

Both of them mean ‘even though’ and sound almost exactly the same when a native pronounces them.  It was one of those things where you don’t catch on to the similarity for ages because you’re picturing the spelling of both phrases in your head and your mind is showing you two different scripts. You don’t click until you actually say both words out aloud to yourself.

Obviously I know that due to Spain and Greece’s geographic proximity to each other and because of long Latin/Greek histories, there are bound to be cognates and borrowed words. But it just never occurred to me that both languages might sound similar in any way.

What does Greek sound like to you? What does English sound like to you? Does English sound a bit more whispery, with more abrupt stops? What does Spanish sound like to you?

The more I speak in both Greek and Spanish, the more I hear some similarities in vowel pronunciation and cadence. I’m going to look further into why this might be, but until then, here are some Greek/Spanish cognates I just tabled up for the rare person out that might be interested in these dualities.

Screen Shot 2013-06-14 at 10.00.43 PM

Besos (‘filakia’ in Greek…nope, not even remotely similar)

5 Moments of joy that can only be experienced by bilinguals

Writing these down before I forget some of the funny moments I’ve had…

  1. That awkward moment when someone says something offensive about you in another language, without realising that you understand them. That even more awkward moment when you retort back in said language.
  2. Walking into a shop with your sister, and being able to talk about how ugly a dress is without the shopkeeper knowing (girls, you will definitely understand this one).
  3. The moment when someone assumes you’re a local and gives you a discount.
  4. The ability to trick potential lovers into thinking you’re exotic.
  5. Finally having something interesting to say about yourself in those awkward “getting to know you” games at work……: “I speak two languages”!!!


So, how’s your Spanish going, are you fluent yet?

Lately, I’ve been getting this question: “So, how’s your Spanish going, are you fluent yet?”. It makes me crazy! Of course I’m not fluent. I feel like yelling “I’ve only been learning for less than 9 months, what do you expect buddy? Do you know how may hours and how much dedication it takes to LEARN….ANOTHER…LANGUAGE?”

ahhh out of breath…

Okay so I am probably getting a bit too emotional/defensive/I might be crazy! But it does make me think, am I a slow learner? Then I have to stop and remind myself about the gravity of what I’m trying to achieve here.

I decided to write myself a little list of motivators, to help me keep things in perspective:

> Learning a language at University, where learning is structured, you are provided with the resources you need and conversation practice is factored in for you, takes three years.

> Learning a language at High School (where again, learning is structured for you) takes six years.

> Think about how a baby learns their first language (and how long it takes). They need years of their parents guidance on language through being corrected when they make a language mistake, being told the same sayings over and over again, being read books every night, having songs repetitively sung to them. Even as an adult learner, you will need to go through a similar process.

> Think about all the processes that you’ve learned in order to read, understand and pronounce a simple sentence like: “Dónde se puede comprar una bicicleta (Where can I buy a bike)?”; you’ve learned processes regarding sentence structure, tense, verb conjugation, infinitives, pronouns and vowel and consonant sounds just to name a few.

> You will forever be learning Spanish, just like you are forever learning English. Every little bit you do counts. Don’t treat this like a diet. If you don’t study for a week, or even for a month, don’t give up, just pick up where you left off.

Have patience.

This post is not about justifying, it’s also not about telling people you can’t learn a language in under a year (in fact I’m sure many people have done it in the space of a few months).

It’s just about stepping back and recognising your achievements sometimes.

It’s about giving yourself a pat on the back, not waiting until you can speak Spanish perfectly.

It’s about recognising that this not an impossible undertaking, but it is a complex one and a big commitment.


I’m having a real don’t give up moment.

Besos mateys!

5 mnemonic devices for reading Chinese characters

One, two, a few:

Not directly Spanish related, but a great reminder of the power of word association and mnemonic devices!

Originally posted on TED Blog:

ShaoLanHsueh-at-TED2013To an outsider, the Chinese language “seems to be as impenetrable as the Great Wall of China,” says ShaoLan Hsueh in today’s talk, given at TED2013. Hsueh’s mission over the past few years has been to break down that barrier, making reading and writing in Chinese accessible to people who didn’t grow up doing it.

[ted_talkteaser id=1736]Her solution? A method she calls “Chineasy.” To achieve basic literacy, Hsueh says, you need only know 1,000 characters, and the top 200 allow you to comprehend 40 percent of basic literature. Chineasy involves pairing characters with facial expressions, body movements and images that conjure up words in English.

In her talk, Hsueh moves through eight foundational characters, describing mnemonic devices and showing artful depictions. “Open your mouth as wide as possible until it’s square,” she says. Are you doing it? Voila, the character for mouth: 口. Hsueh shows a…

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