Tag Archives: spanish

Polyglot Board Game - the fun way to learn languages

Polyglot Board Game is the Fun Way to Learn Languages

Language enthusiasts, if you have ever wondered if a multilingual language learning board game exists, the answer is yes! Polyglot board game was created by Polyglot Inc. of Miami, Florida, in 1987. I don’t know if the company is still active or if they have created other language learning resources, but let’s take a look at this amazing game.

 

Polyglot Board Game

Polyglot Board Game

My game is obviously a bit faded… but at only $14.95, it was a great deal!

From the back of the box: A mind expanding educational game designed to enrich the understanding and knowledge of foreign languages. Play this fast paced exciting game of words and phrases in one or up to six languages. You’ll not only race for the win, but learn new words, phrases and better pronunciation for languages you want to improve or master. Elevate your command of ENGLISH, SPANISH, GERMAN, FRENCH, ITALIAN, and YIDDISH.

 

How to play Polyglot

Instructions are included in all of the languages, except Yiddish (though it could just be missing from my game). Read the instructions in English below. Click on the images to make them larger.

Polyglot Board Game Instructions Polyglot Board Game Instructions 2

 

Polyglot Vocabulary Cards

The two decks of cards include 1,800 words in each of the six languages plus 150 commonly used phrases. Phonetic pronunciation is included for each word and phrase. Even if you don’t have any polyglot friends nearby to play the game with, you can just use the cards to study vocabulary.

White cards are for individual words:

I’m not sure why the Romance languages are split up among German and Yiddish, as I think it’s easier to learn them side-by-side. [Take a look at my Romance languages comparative vocabulary lists if you want to learn several languages together and be able to choose which languages are next to each other.]

Yellow cards are for phrases:

 

The Polyglot Board

And the Tower of Babel board:

Polyglot Board Game board that resembles the Tower of Babel

I bought my Polyglot board game at the International Book Centre in Shelby Township in Michigan back in 2005.

If you’d like your own copy, you are in luck because there are some third-party sellers offering it at Amazon!

Has anyone else ever heard of this game or played it? Know of any other polyglot or multilingual board games?

Teach English in Latin America: Paid and Volunteer Programs

Teach English in Latin America: Paid and Volunteer Programs

 

If you would like to teach English in Latin America so that you can improve your Spanish while getting teaching experience and living abroad, here are some official programs and options for native speakers of English:

Get Paid to Teach English:

If you’d like to teach English in Colombia, the English Teaching Fellowship offers placements in primary/secondary schools or vocational training for young adults. The age limit is 21 to 50, and a Bachelor’s degree plus basic Spanish competency is required. The monthly stipend is 1,500,000 Colombian pesos (around $500) for 25 teaching hours and 15 administrative hours per week. A deposit of $400 is also required, but will be returned once you complete the program. There are many start dates throughout the year (January, March, June), with contracts ranging from 6 to 11 months.

If you’d like to teach English in Chile, the English Open Doors Program began in 2015 thanks to the Educational Reform to provide students in public schools with more opportunities to learn English. Volunteers can be placed almost anywhere in Chile during the fall and spring semesters (March to July and August to November). The age limit is 21 to 35; however, applicants over 35 may be considered on a case-by-case basis. A Bachelor’s degree is required, but knowledge of Spanish is not. The monthly stipend is 70,000 Chilean Pesos (around $100) to cover transportation, supplies, or extra food not provided by the host family. The application is usually available in mid-September, with start dates in March/April and July/August.

The WorldTeach Global Education Fellowship program recently began in Ecuador as part of President Correa’s “It is Time to Teach” initiative. Fellows spend 10 months in the Amazonian and Andean regions of Ecuador, teaching English full-time in public K-12 schools. Airfare and TEFL certification are included, and a professional development project is required in addition to teaching. Fellows live with host families and receive around $150 per month for basic living costs. Applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree and be between the ages of 21 and 74.

There are some schools in Panama that teach classes in English. You can always check the job listings for the Oxford International School or the International School of Panama.

For US citizens, don’t forget that you can apply to any job in Puerto Rico. There are a few English-language international schools, such as Baldwin School and Commonwealth-Parkville School.

The English Fellow Program through the US Department of State is probably the most well-paid option for Americans (stipend of $30,000 for the 10 month placement), but you do need a Master’s degree to apply and there is no guarantee where you will be placed. They have several assignments all over the world, so you may not even be placed in Latin America.

 

Program Fee plus Monthly Allowance:

Teach Abroad with CIEE offers paid programs to teach English in the Dominican Republic or Chile. Even though you receive a monthly stipend, you also have to pay a $1,900 fee for the Dominican Republic or $2,900 for Chile. The stipend is about $550 for the Dominican Republic and just over $750 for Chile, so you’ll essentially be volunteering for almost half the time. A Bachelor’s degree and upper intermediate Spanish skills are required for both countries, and a TEFL certification is also required for Chile.

CIEE also has a few programs to teach English in Spain if you’re just looking to work in a Spanish-speaking country, but note that the regular program is essentially the same as the free auxiliar de conversación program run by the Spanish government.

 

Pay to Volunteer Programs:

It may seem odd to pay to volunteer, but the fees cover almost everything except your plane ticket and visa. You will usually stay with a host family, be provided with three meals a day, have health insurance, and possibly transportation costs covered. You will have support from the program coordinators if you need help, and some programs offer a TEFL certification as part of the volunteer experience.

CIEE offers a one month volunteer program to teach English in Peru.

World Teach has programs in Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Guyana (which is an English-speaking country so the subjects will be math, science, history, etc.)

Projects Abroad includes programs in Argentina, Belize (English-speaking country), Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Jamaica (English-speaking country), Mexico, and Peru.

 

Check out Go Overseas for more programs and reviews. Remember that you can always study abroad, intern abroad, or volunteer abroad for programs involving conservation, agriculture, archaeology, etc. if you decide that teaching English is not your thing.

 

Also read through Offical Programs to Teach English in Europe if you think you’d rather go across the pond.

 

A Linguistic Analysis of Telenovela Spanish - What are the most frequent phrases in telenovelas?

A Very Informal Corpus Linguistic Analysis of Telenovela Spanish: Pasión y Poder

A Linguistic Analysis of Telenovela Spanish, or How this Nerdy Linguist Spent her Friday Night

Ever since I discovered that Univision started including transcripts of their telenovelas online, I had been wanting to experiment with the free corpus linguistics software AntConc to analyze the most common phrases used in telenovela Spanish. I chose Pasión y Poder because it had the most transcripts still available on the website, even though I rarely watched it. It was a fairly typical telenovela, unlike El Hotel de Los Secretos or Yago, with plenty of fighting and drama and a (mostly) happy ending. Unfortunately Telemundo does not provide transcripts of their telenovelas (which tend to be better) which is a shame since I’d love to analyze the language of La Esclava Blanca, a Colombian telenovela set in the mid 1800’s.

Here’s how I created the corpus and found the most frequent phrases, if you feel inclined to be as nerdy…

How to be a linguistics/telenovela nerd:

  1. Downloading the html files was easy and quick thanks to the DownThemAll add-on for Firefox and the fact that the URL of each episode only differs by the number so I was able to use batch descriptors. (I know webscraping is possible with Python, but my programming knowledge is still pretty basic and I knew that I could get the files with the add-on in about 20 seconds.)
  2. Then I needed to find a way to extract the text from all of the <p> tags – since the transcript was the only text enclosed in these tags in all of the html code – and create text files for each episode. I managed to find some Python/BeautifulSoup code online after an hour of searching that did what I needed, after a couple tweaks, a few tears, and many error messages.
  3. Finally, I loaded the 117 text files into AntConc and played around with the Clusters/N-Grams option and N-Gram Size to find the most frequent phrases between five and ten words.

Most Frequent Phrases in Pasión y Poder

So here are the most frequent phrases used in Pasión y Poder, starting with ten word phrases and ending with five word phrases. Keep in mind that some of the phrases are typically Mexican, and some are overly dramatic because, well, they’re from a telenovela!

  • A ver, a ver, a ver, a ver, a ver. (A ver is usually translated as let’s see, but I have no idea what a good translation for this many a vers together would be in natural English.)
  • No te metas en lo que no te importa. (Don’t stick your nose where it doesn’t belong./Mind your own business.)
  • No sabes el gusto que me da que… (You don’t know how happy it makes me that…)
    ¿No te das cuenta? ¿No te das cuenta? (Don’t you realize? Don’t you realize?)
  • Esto no se va a quedar así. (This isn’t over. [said as a threat of revenge])
    No me lo tomes a mal, pero… (Don’t take this the wrong way, but…)
  • … lo que te voy a decir. (… what I’m going to tell you.)
    Lo único que quiero es que… (The only thing I want is that…)
    No, eso no va a pasar. (No, that is not going to happen.)
    No tiene nada que ver con… (It has nothing to do with…)
    Lo que pasa es que no…  (What is happening is that … not)
    No te lo voy a perdonar. (I’m not going to forgive you for it.)
    No te voy a permitir que… (I won’t allow you to…)
    Eres el amor de mi vida. (You are the love of my life.)
    No tiene la culpa de nada. (S/he is not guilty of anything.)
    A pesar de todo, lo que… (In spite of everything, what…)
    Creo que lo mejor es que… (I think the best thing is that/to…)
    Lo que me preocupa es que… (What worries me is that…)
    Lo único que espero es que… (The only thing I hope is that…)
  • Todo va a estar bien. (Everything will be fine.)
    Me da mucho gusto que… (I’m very happy that…)
    No voy a dejar que… (I’m not going to let…)
    No, por supuesto que no. (No, of course not.)
    ¿Que fue lo que pasó? (What happened?)
    Sí, lo sé, lo sé. (Yes, I know, I know.)
    Ya me tengo que ir. (I have to go now.)
    No me importa lo que… (I don’t care what…)
    … lo que vas a hacer. (…what you’re going to do.)
    Te pido por favor que… (I am asking you please to…)
    Ya me di cuenta que… (I already realized that…)
    De una vez por todas. (Once and for all.)
    ¿No te das cuenta que…? (Don’t you realize that…?)
    Yo no tengo nada que… (I have nothing that…)
    Y lo peor es que… (And the worst is that…)

Telenovela Battle of Screams and Insults

I was also interested in finding out which words I heard yelled all the time were more frequent:

In the battle suéltame (let go of me) vs. lárgate (get out), the winner is: ¡lárgate! (59 vs. 61)

And in the battle infeliz (fool) vs. desgraciado (bastard), the winner is: ¡infeliz! (74 vs. 69)

However, the winner of them all was ¡No puede ser! (It can’t be!) with a frequency count of 151.

So what have we learned?

To sum up, Telenovela Spanish is hilarious and corpus linguistics is amazing.

If you’d like to learn more about Corpus Linguistics, there is a free MOOC at Futurelearn starting in September and the hands-on exercises in the new textbook Practical Corpus Linguistics will get you started with AntConc, plus there are tutorials on Youtube on how to use this software.

Mexican Slang I Learned By Binge-Watching Telenovelas

Mexican Slang I Learned By Binge-Watching Telenovelas: ¿Quién es Quién?

I’ve recently been binge-watching the Telemundo telenovela ¿Quién es Quién? to learn more Mexican slang. Comedic telenovelas often use tons of informal expressions and slang words compared to the more dramatic ones, but the characters also talk really fast so you’ll most likely need access to the subtitles and the internet to look up words in order to really understand much. I use Wordreference.com and AsíHablamos.com to find definitions. Not all of the following words and phrases are considered slang, but they are words that I never learned from books and thought were useful, especially if they have other meanings in addition to the informal one.

¿Quién es Quién? has now finished its run on Telemundo, but you can watch the episodes online with Spanish subtitles, though they are probably geo-blocked to the US. Episodes 1-61 plus 91 are 45 minutes long, while episodes 62-90 are 90 minutes long. The best way to watch the episodes is through the Telemundo Now website or app, but I believe you need to log in with your cable subscriber. The full episodes are still available on Telemundo’s regular website that doesn’t require you to log in, but beware that episode 27 is actually episode 25 again, and all the 90 minute episodes have the parts out of order – all parts 2 and 3 should actually be the final two parts. I’m not sure when the videos will be removed from the regular site, but they should remain for some time on the Now site. Plus you can always skip around and read English language recaps at El Cohete to get caught up.

Mexican Slang Vocabulary from ¿Quién es Quién?

aguafiestas – spoilsport, party pooper, wet blanket

andar de parranda – to be out partying; go out on the town

apapachar – to spoil, indulge

babosada – nonsense; stupid thing

baboso – stupid, silly

bajeza – vile deed, nasty thing to do

berrinche – tantrum, fit

billullo – money

bola – lie, fib / ball, marble, scoop of ice cream

bote – jail / container / small boat / bounce / jackpot

bronca – fight, quarrel, scolding

burrada – nonsense / a lot of

callejón sin salida – dead-end; problem without a solution

canijo – untrustworthy / good at sports / weak, sickly, puny

carnal – brother, buddy, pal

chafa – lame, shoddy, cheap

chamba – job, work / fluke, pure chance

chambear – to work

chela – beer

chido – fantastic, cool

chorro – loads, tons / stream, jet

chueco – crooked, dodgy, illegal

chulo – pretty, good-looking

coscolino – playboy, womanizer

cuate – friend, buddy, mate

cursi – sickly sweet, corny

dar carpetazo – to put an end to

despachar – to finish off, bump off

dizque – so-called, supposed

encuerada – stripper; nude

entero – calm, collected, have it together

fanfarrón – show-off

feria – money, change, coins / fair, festival

flojo – slacker, deadbeat, good for nothing

fregada – mess, mix-up

fregar – to mess with, hurt, ruin

fulano – so-and-so, what’s-his-name

gacho – mean, nasty, cruel, unlucky, ugly

gandalla – thug, scoundrel, lowlife

gatada – sly trick

jalarse – to run, hurry, rush, dash

jarabe de pico – sweet talk, verbal persuasion

lana – money

lata – bother, nuisance, hassle / tin, can

matón – thug, brute, bully

méndigo – despicable, terrible, loathsome [not to be confused with mendigo – beggar, panhandler]

menso – stupid, silly, dumb

mono – cute, adorable / overalls / cravings / monkey [not be confused with moño – bow, ribbon / bun (in hair) / sweet bun (pastry)]

morra / morrita – girl

mujeriego – playboy, womanizer

neta – truth

padre – good, great

pelado – lowlife / peel, skin / bare, empty, bald

picaflor – playboy, womanizer

piropo – flirtatious remark

pleito – fight

raite – ride, lift (in car) [this is very American/Northern Mexican Spanish; you can also use aventón]

re- / rete- – very, a lot

ruca – old lady, spinster

tarado – idiot, fool, moron / crazy, loony

tarugada – nonsense, stupid thing

tarugo – stupid (blockhead as a noun)

tener la espina clavada – to be dying to do something

trago – drink, sip, gulp / hard time

trepadora – social climber

 

Reductions in Spanish Speech

‘tá instead of está

‘perate instead of esperate

pa’ instead of para

Estamos? instead of estamos de acuerdo?

 

Phrases and Expressions

¿a poco no? – isn’t it, don’t they, etc. [general tag question]; isn’t that right?

ahueca el ala – beat it; get out of here!

al grano – get to the point

hijole – gosh! wow! jeez!

me lleva – damn it!

me vale gorro – I don’t give a damn!

menos mal – just as well; lucky for me

ni hablar – let’s not even go there/talk about it

ni que ocho cuartos – my foot! yeah right!

o sea – I mean; in other words

vé tú a saber – who knows; your guess is as good as mine

yo qué sé – don’t ask me!

 

Cultural Notes

The emergency number 911 is pronounced nueve once.

When answering phone calls, most characters said si, bueno? or si, diga?

 

¿Quién es Quién? is set in Los Angeles, but was largely filmed in Miami in case you’re wondering why some house doors open outwards (a Florida building code for hurricane safety).

French for Spanish Speakers Courses at California State University Long Beach

French for Spanish Speakers Courses at CSU Long Beach

Did you know that California State University at Long Beach offers French for Spanish speakers courses? They also offer similar courses in Italian for Spanish speakers that emphasize the similarities between these Romance languages. I haven’t heard of other universities (yet) that offer courses like this, though the University of Texas at Austin’s Portuguese courses usually include many students who already learned Spanish and their Tá Falado podcast is designed with Spanish speakers in mind.

Fundamentals of French for Spanish Speakers Course at Cal State Long BeachFundamentals of French for Spanish Speakers course description at Cal State Long Beach

The professors at Cal State Long Beach have also been working with local high school and community colleges to help them develop their own courses. The concept of intercomprehension and taking advantage of the similarities between languages to learn them faster and easier is nothing new in Europe, but I’m always surprised about the few resources available for learning multiple related languages together in the US or for English speakers. I hope more universities, especially Hispanic-serving institutions, follow Cal State’s lead.

Please let us know in the comments if you’ve heard of other schools or universities that offer courses like this!

If you are interested in learning several languages simultaneously, don’t forget to check out our comparative languages resources, including videos for learning French and Spanish together.

Spanish Accents Game by El País

Fun Spanish Accents Game

Play a Spanish Accents Game

Here’s a fun game to see if you can hear the various Spanish accents around the world. El País has a multiple choice quiz where you choose a country depending on which accent you hear in the video.

 

Spanish Accents Game Screenshot

 

I have no problems hearing differences in the accents from Spain, Mexico, and Argentina, but the others are still difficult for me to distinguish. Luckily the videos in the game are actually of people talking about a certain word or expression used in their country, so if you have knowledge of regional vocabulary, you can still figure out what country they are referring to even if you aren’t sure by the sound of the accent alone.

Try it out and see how many you can get!

Learn the Romance Languages Together: Resources You Need

Learn the Romance Languages Together: Resources You Need

If you want to learn the Romance languages together, you need to use resources that compare the languages.

Romance language books written in English

One of the oldest books intended to help you learn the Romance languages together is Comparative Grammar of French, Italian, Spanish & Portuguese Languages by Edwin A. Notley. This book was published in 1868 so it’s in the public domain and you can download a PDF that I created. Since it is so old, however, there are few spellings and words that are no longer used in the contemporary languages, so you will need to augment your study with more recent materials. Some copies show up on amazon.com every once in a while, but at a ridiculous price ($1,500!)

The Loom of Language: An Approach to the Mastery of Many Languages by Frederick Bodmer actually compares four Romance languages (French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese) as well as four Germanic languages (German, Dutch, Swedish and Danish), and offers advice on how to study multiple languages at the same time. Though a bit outdated, it is still my favorite book. You can get a copy at amazon.com for a relatively cheap price. I previously posted a review of this book if you’d like to know more.

Learn the Romance Languages Together - The Loom of Language: An Approach to the Mastery of Many Languages

The Seven Sieves: How to read all the Romance languages right away by EuroCom is a new initiative to promote intercomprehension of Romance languages. You can buy the book in PDF or paperback through Shaker Verlag (site in German) and the paperback through amazon.com.

Another great book is Comparative Practical Grammar of French, Spanish and Italian by O.H. Heatwole. The main drawback is that there are only three languages, and since it’s out of print, it can be a bit difficult to find online. Third-party sellers do sell it on Amazon but it’s usually rather expensive.

Comparative Practical Grammar of French, Spanish and Italian

 

Romance language books not written in English

EuRom5 (2011) is the most recent multilingual book I’ve seen yet. It focuses on learning to read and comprehend five Romance languages. The book is written in French, Italian, Spanish, Catalan and Portuguese (so it is designed for native/advanced users of any of those languages) with texts and audio files available on the website. You can buy it from dicoland.com or hoepli.it for under 30€. Amazon.fr also sells it for 30-40€ and a few copies are available on amazon.com. This book is not quite as “comparative” as the other books in the list since it offers 20 articles in one language with some words glossed in the other 4 languages (i.e. the entire articles are not translated in the other languages). You can also read my summary/review.

One of my multilingual books: EuRom5 - Read and Understand Five Romance Languages

Comprendre les langues romanes: Du français à l’espagnol, au portugais, à l’italien & au roumain. Méthode d’intercompréhension by Paul Teyssier (2004) is obviously written in French for French-speakers to learn to comprehend Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and Romanian. A new edition came out in 2012, but I don’t know if/how it is different from the 2004 edition, which is what I bought. Both editions are available via amazon.com or amazon.fr or you can order it from Librairie Portugaise & Brésilienne in Paris for 29€, and they do ship worldwide. I believe translations of this book in the other languages exist, but I’m not sure where to buy them.

One of my multilingual books: Comprendre les langues romanes - Understand the Romance languages

 

Romance language resources at ielanguages.com

If you want to study vocabulary lists to learn the Romance languages, I have many lists available at Romance Languages Vocabulary Lists as well as some verb conjugations. The tables are set up so that English is first, followed by French, Italian, Spanish and then Portuguese. I chose this order due to how similar the languages are to each other. However, this may not be the order that you want to study the Romance languages in. Luckily, you can drag the columns in any order that you like! Simply click on the name of the language in the first column and drag it left or right. You can also hide/show languages that you are not studying or when you want to quickly test your memory. A few topics also have fill-in-the-blank exercises, such as days of the week:

Multilingual vocabulary lists - Days in the Romance languages available at ielanguages.com

Lastly, I’ve been creating videos that teach French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese together. (I have also created a few videos to teach French and Spanish together.) Subscribe to the Youtube channel to be notified when any new videos are available.

I am really interested in finding other books, websites, or videos that help you learn the Romance languages together. Has anyone found other useful resources?

Learn Spanish and Portuguese Together

Learn Spanish and Portuguese at the Same Time

Do you want to learn Spanish and Portuguese at the same time?

Or do you already speak Spanish and want to learn Portuguese?

The latest addition to ielanguages.com is the Foreign Service Institute course From Spanish to Portuguese.

I’ve just finished converting it to HTML, and I’ve included HTML5 audio players – but note that only the Portuguese words and phrases were recorded for the original course. If any Spanish speakers want to add the Spanish recordings, please let me know. I’m also planning on adding English translations of everything for those who are still learning Spanish.

Learn Spanish by Watching Telenovelas

Learn Spanish by Watching Telenovelas

The most entertaining way to learn Spanish

It’s quite easy and fun to learn Spanish by watching telenovelas, fast-paced Spanish-language soap operas that are as ridiculous as they are addictive. Armed with closed captioning, Wordreference, and a few other websites, you can easily learn or improve your Spanish while love/hate-watching soap operas. 

Most of the telenovelas I watch are Mexican or American, since I’m most familiar with the telenovelas broadcast on the US channels Univision and Telemundo. Many other Spanish-speaking countries produce their own telenovelas that you may be able to find on DVD, Youtube, Dailymotion, Viki, etc. However, you are less likely to be able to find closed captioning or subtitles in Spanish and the DVD versions will almost always be edited versions since most telenovelas run for over 100 episodes and that would fill a LOT of DVDs.

The good thing about Univision and Telemundo is that you do not need a cable subscription to watch their telenovelas since you can stream them online if you live in the US or use a VPN to seem like you are in the US. If you do watch on a TV, you should be able to turn on the closed captioning in either Spanish or English – if your TV has the option to change to English, that is. Closed captioning in Spanish is available for the streaming videos, though Univision’s is somewhat unreliable. The site Ark TV also has what appears to be (mostly messy and unreliable) text of the closed captioning for the Univision telenovelas up to September 10, 2015. If you want English language recaps of the four main Univision telenovelas and some discussions of the Telemundo telenovelas, head over to the blog Caray, Caray! so you’ll still be able to follow along with the plot even if you miss or can’t understand some episodes.

There are four telenovelas broadcast every weeknight on Univision, but I don’t have time to watch all of them. I started with Lo Imperdonable (The Unforgiveable) since the scenery is really pretty and I liked the juxtaposition of big city and small town. Some parts were filmed in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosí near the gorgeous Tamul waterfall. Also, Ana Brenda and Ivan Sanchez make the hottest couple ever.

Lo Imperdonable

These people are too pretty to be real.

I have an intense love/hate relationship with this telenovela because there are quite a few things that piss me off about the storylines, like “Hey, I just met you and this is crazy but I think you’re responsible for my brother’s suicide so marry me maybe (so I can treat you like crap),” slut-shaming of adult women who may or may not be virgins (who cares?!), and the child abuse of a 17 year old girl. The most offensive thing about this telenovela may just be the horribly miscast 48 year-old Sergio Sendel in a role where the character is supposedly in his late 20’s. Yet I cannot stop watching!

Cascada de Tamul @ Tanchachin, SLP, Mexico

Yes, this is a real place in Mexico.

The other Univision telenovelas that I catch from time to time are:

Muchacha italiana viene a casarse (Italian girl comes to get married) – If you like Italy and want to learn a tiny bit of Italian with Spanish, check out this telenovela that has already aired in Mexico but started in the US last month. There are a whopping 176 episodes overall, but Univision is cutting out a lot of scenes for the US broadcast in order to shorten it. Two of the main characters are Italian and frequently code-switch between Italian and Spanish, so it can be a tiny bit confusing for beginning Spanish learners.

Antes Muerta que Lichita (I’d rather be dead than be Lichita) – If comedies are more your thing, I’d check out this adorable telenovela. Supposedly, it is NOT an Ugly Betty remake but there are quite a few similarities so far. Comedies tend to have much faster speech, however, with more slang and informal language so even with closed captioning, I have trouble following some conversations. There is also a hilarious telenovela-within-a-telenovela that basically exists to makes fun of telenovelas, available only on Univision’s website, called Corazón Enamorado. There are no subtitles for this webnovela though, and the main character speaks with an American accent, which you’d think would make it easier for English speakers to understand her Spanish but I actually find it harder.

Antes Muerta Que Lichita

Totally not Ugly Betty, you guys…

Some telenovelas that recently ended are still available on Univision’s website if you feel like binge-watching 100 hours or more. You can also buy edited version of telenovelas on DVD (usually between 12 and 15 hours total), but they only come with English subtitles. But at least you don’t have to sit through the filler scenes with minor characters that you don’t care about!

I mostly watch comedies, so I definitely recommend Pour Ella Soy EvaLos Tontas No Van al Cielo, and La Fea Más Bella (the Mexican Ugly Betty) – which coincidentally all star Jaime Camil as the male lead. (You should also check out the American and mostly English-language series Jane the Virgin in which he is currently playing an exaggerated version of himself, a Mexican telenovela star.)

Lastly, not a comedy, but a drama about drug-trafficking that was filmed in both Mexico and Spain, La Reina del Sur is also highly recommended by many people, although I have only seen a few episodes. You can buy the DVD set, which includes all 63 unedited episodes (42 hours!), but there are NO subtitles at all.  Supposedly there are English subtitles on the hard to find and expensive Blu-Ray version, however. Luckily, Telemundo still has 15-20 minute versions of the episodes on their Youtube account, with Spanish subtitles.

Previously on ielanguages.com blog: Ugly Betty Adaptations and Other Telenovelas for Language Learning

MexicoX MOOCs

Free Spanish MOOCs at MéxicoX

Learn Spanish with MéxicoX Courses

If you are learning Spanish and/or want to improve your level of comprehension, check out the free Spanish MOOCs at MéxicoX by the Secretaría de Educación Publica. A few courses just started on Monday, September 21, with more starting in a week or two. There are many subjects available, ranging from science to education, as well as some courses concentrating on Mexico such as México multicultural; Literatura y cultura tradicional de México; México, sus grandes retos y oportunidades; and De México al mundo, los ingredientes (which looks delicious, btw.)

About half of these courses are also available through EdX, or you can create an account on MéxicoX’s platform which is powered by Open EdX. Most importantly, the courses I’ve checked out so far do have transcripts of the videos so you can read while you listen.