Monday, 11 February 2013

A personal appeal - Students wanted

I apologise, in advance, if you clicked in, today, expecting another serving of Spanish learning advice but, this time, it's my turn to ask for help.
Not for me, but for my struggling Spanish teacher.

As you may have read in previous posts, I take weekly lessons via SecondLife, in a virtual 3D classroom, with a teacher who has over 22 years experience teaching Spanish as a second language.

Her SecondLife avatar is called XimenaModotti Carami, but I usually just call her Ximena.
She's been teaching in SL for a little over 3 years, and I've been taking lessons with her for over 2 years.

In real life, she's a lady called Eunice Ruiz and she lives in Mexico. She has been teaching, both privately, and in various language schools for, as I said, over 22 yrs.

There is a long-standing tradition in her home town of Cuernavaca, of foreign students, primarily from the U.S. travelling to Mexico, and spending several weeks, living with local families, and attending school each day (the main schools she has worked for are ASLI and Encuentros). It's an immersive environment.

Unfortunately, due to the foreign perception of central Mexico as being dangerous, and the U.S. government advising travellers not to visit (despite the fact that, in October last year, there were more murders in Chicago than in Ciudad Juarez, and they haven't advised people not to travel to Chicago!) the number of students has droppped dramatically.

Ximena has attempted to recreate an immersive environment in SecondLife, with slideshows, videos, music and cultural lessons which you would not normally find outside a classroom, certainly not in your own home.

Here's a couple of videos, showing snippets from a recent lesson.
Firstly, greeting each other at the beginning of a lesson. The wider camera angle gives an impression of the environment.

Secondly, Ximena introduces a new concept, using the projector screen, then passes me a notecard, with exercises to practice in class.

What she  really needs now are more students. Many of the Spanish teachers in her town are having to leave teaching and find other employment. She is a dedicated teacher who is working hard to provide quality tuition at a fraction of the usual cost of one-to-one lessons.
I recently saw a local advertisement for Spanish lessons at FOUR TIMES what I currently pay.

So, if you've been hesitating, if you are currently studying on your own with audio or video lessons, if you're a beginner, or you need to  refresh your forgotten Spanish from school, or you need some specialist training, be it in business, legal, medical, aeronautic or religious vocabulary, contact Ximena now, and ask about a free trial lesson in SecondLife.
It will give you a no-risk chance to sample the environment, and her methods, and it will give her an idea of your current skill level, if you decide to proceed.

I, personally, cannot begin to express how much her tuition has helped develop my Spanish but I owe it to her to spread the word and encourage other people to try it for themselves.

Contact details and weblinks below.
Tell her Chas sent you.
See you in Class!

Email Ximena at
See her SecondLife profile
Here's her Blogger page
And her Real Life LinkedIn profile
I believe she's also on FaceBook but, as I don't use FB, I can't give you a link.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

More music(al) lessons

OK,OK. I'll try and make this the last song-based post for a while, but I just think that music is such a great way of remembering lessons in Spanish, and having fun, away from the classroom, at the same time. So, this time, I have two videos for you.
The first song, I've mentioned before. It's 'Ven a mi', which is a translation of the brilliant 'Stay with me', by Shakespeare's Sister, performed by Il Divo (going to see them, again, in April.Can't wait)

I'm using this song to illustrate what my Teacher refers to as 'Clausulas Ambiguas' or Ambiguous Clauses.
This is a rather tricky characteristic of the Subjunctive (yes, THAT again!)
The Clause referred to is actually a single word in this case. It's 'cuando'.

As you know, the Subjunctive is used often in cases of negation or doubt, and it's the second of those which applies here.
In the video, you'll hear . .
'Cuando el te HAGA sufrir, y te ROMPA el corazón'
instead of
 'Cuando el te HACE sufrir'
'Cuando no PUEDAS sonreír y MUERAS de dolor'
instead of
'Cuando no PUEDES sonreír y MUERES de dolor'

So why are we using the subjunctive here?
It all hangs on the meaning of the word 'Cuando' - 'When'
In this case it means 'if and when' or 'in the event that', suggesting that the events spoken about may or may not actually occur.

This is different to, say, following instructions for boiling an egg, which might say 'cuando hierve al agua', where the verb 'hervir' (to boil) remains in the indicative, because the water IS going to boil, once you begin to heat it, as opposed to 'Lo haré cuando HIERVA el Océano Antártico' (I'll do it when the Antarctic Ocean boils - i.e. Never!)

The same fine distinction affects the word 'Aunque' - 'Although', when it is used in the sense of 'Even if'
So 'Viene aunque no está feliz ' - 'he's coming, although he's not happy'
'Aunque no ESTES conmigo, siempre estarás en mi mente' - 'even if you are not with me, you'll always be in my mind''

Right on to the next video.
This one's by Gloria Estefan from the excellent album 'Mí Tierra', and is called 'Hablemos el mismo idioma' (remember in a recent post, I mentioned the construction 'Let it...', using 'Que' followed by a verb in the subjunctive?
Well this another way of doing it, using the imperative, so 'Hablemos' reads 'LET US speak'

Nothing too taxing in this video.
I was just listening to the song a few days ago, and had an odd thought.
If I ran a competition to identify lines from songs, which illustrated, or contained reminders of, as many facets of Spanish grammar as possible, there's a line in this song which would be in the top ten.

Towards the end, the chorus goes 'Hablemos el mismo idioma, da me la mano, mi hermano'

For me, there are four important points in the one line.

First, as already mentioned, 'hablEmos' illustrates how the last vowel in the verb switches from A to E, or vice-versa, when using the imperative (or Subjunctive)

Second 'el mismo idioma' illustrates the exception to the 'nouns ending in 'A' are feminine' rule, reminding us that words ending in 'ama' are from Greek roots, and are masculine - like 'el programa'

Third, and Fourth 'da me la mano' shows how the previously mentioned vowel 'switch' doesn't actually happen in the imperative, in the positive 'tu' form (and you also drop the 's')
Otherwise, you'd say 'des me la mano'.
Note, however, that, in the negative command, it does, so
'no me des la mano' -don't give me your hand'

A couple more examples
With 'llamar' - to call
'llama me' - 'no me llames'
With 'tocar' -to touch
'Toca me' - 'no me toques'
With 'mirar' - to look
'mira me' - 'no me mires'

And, finally, another exception 'LA mano', a noun ending in 'O' which is feminine.

And that's why I keep going on about songs. If you learn the chorus, you'll never forget it.
So, if the content of the post has been a little heavy, just enjoy the videos!!