Help! I’m stuck :(

Help!  I’m stuck :(


Hola chicos,
Buenos días 🙂

For today’s blog posting I would like to answer a question that was asked in the Blog Survey.

A student says “How do I move up? I’ve been in the same level for almost 2 years and I feel stuck and totally frustrated.”

Unfortunately this was an anonymous question, and if I had more info it would be easier to answer.

If you’ve been in the same level for 2+ years I am going to guess that you’re either in B2, B3 or C1 or that the time that you dedicate to Spanish is sporadic.

If the time you dedicate is sporadic:
It could take years and years to move up if you’re not consistent with your Spanish – 10 minutes a day + class once a week will help you advance. Pretty straight forward.

Assuming that you are stuck in B2, B3 or C1:
This is where many students get stuck. By B2-B3 you are in a really good place with your Spanish. You can travel to any Spanish speaking country and not only get a hotel, food and a cab, but you can also talk to the locals, and not just about the weather. This is a really good place to be and many Language Gurus consider this to be fluency (such as Benny Lewis Benny Lewis – Fluent in 3 months).
So what happens when you get to these levels is that you hit a plateau. It’s actually not unusual to never surpass one of these levels. And why is that? Well, you’re pretty comfortable at this level and you keep doing what you’ve been doing to get to where you are now. After all, it’s worked and gotten you from beginner to intermediate, right?
The issue is, that the higher the level, the more work you need to put in…and the type of work you put in really matters.
If you’re doing DuoLingo past B2, you are reviewing and perfecting, not actually moving forward. To get out of these levels you need to start LIVING a larger portion of your life in Spanish. Here are some tips:
– Read in Spanish – maybe a monthly magazine from cover to cover or a few chapters of a book each week
– Watch tv in Spanish (B2-C1) or movies in Spanish (B3-C1)
– Journal in Spanish, but not about your day, about things you feel strongly about
– Start using your Spanish at EVERY opportunity – there are millions of Spanish speakers in SD, so no excuses
– Switch everything you can to doing it in Spanish – grocery lists, to do lists, your phone, etc.
– Get at least 50% of your news in Spanish
– Listen to the radio, only in Spanish
– Subscribe to a Spanish podcast made for native speakers, not students
– Volunteer somewhere that will allow you to use your Spanish
– Start listening to/reading/watching things made for native speakers, not Spanish language students.
– Make sure that you have a really good handle on all the tenses (critical by the C1-C2 level) – go through every book out there and use what you learn (McGraw Hill has several wonderful ones) – you MUST master the subjunctive!
– And it goes without saying…do the optional homework each week, do the extra optional homework each week, participate in the daily ConversaciĂłn del DĂ­a on Pura Buena Onda’s FaceBook page FaceBook – PBO, and attend our monthly social club events!
– Add a weekly private Spanish class to your schedule

A few more things I want to say about this subject:
1 – Congratulate yourself for getting to this level. Once you hit B2-C1, you’re in a really good place and you really do SPEAK Spanish. You may not be fluent, but you are very capable of taking about most subjects.
2 – Fluency is not necessary for everyone. To me being fluent means that you could attend college or do your entire job in Spanish….so not necessary for most.
3 – Within each level there are really 3 levels – those just coming into the level, those solid in the middle of the level and those at the higher end of the level. So just because you haven’t officially moved up a level, doesn’t mean that you have not advanced within your level.
4 – If fluency is your goal, the only way to get there is to live more of your life in Spanish. That’s it…there’s no secret, just a lifestyle change.

Ok chicos, that’s it for today!

Have a question for our blog?  Ask here!



La tarea opcional: 3 – 8 de abril del 2017

La tarea opcional de esta semana es escribir una descripción de tu primer carro. ¿Qué tipo de carro era? ¿De qué color? ¿Cuántos años tenías cuando lo compraste o lo recibiste? ¿Era nuevo? Etc.

(La tarea extra de la semana * para los que quieran más tarea * es empezar el capítulo 5, The Imperfect Tense, en “Complete Spanish Grammar” de McGraw Hill, de la serie Practice Makes Perfect. Les recomendamos leer las páginas 51 a 54 y hacer los ejercicios 5.1 y 5.4.)

Dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!

Dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!


Hola chicos,
¡Feliz viernes!

Today I want to chat about something I hear all the time, which honestly makes no sense:
“I’m going to stop taking classes for a while because I don’t have much time outside of class to dedicate to my Spanish.”  If anything, this is when you really need to be taking classes.

So here’s the deal.  The best thing you can do when you’re learning a language, is to dedicate as much time to it as possible.  Ideally you are going to class 1-2 x a week + work on your Spanish outside of class for 15+ minutes per day.  This is ideal, but not everyone has that kind of time or dedication.  So what do you do?  You do the best that you can and you accept the outcome.  

I started studying Italian about 2 months ago.  I have been wanting to do so for 5+ years now, but never jumped in because I am the busiest person I know.  Every year I decided that “next year, when I have more time…” I would get started.  Now I look back and think that if I had started 5 years ago, I would be at an intermediate level by now.  But I didn’t start because I couldn’t dedicate much time to it.  This year I finally came to my senses and realized that even if I move at a snail’s pace, I’d rather inch forward than be at a complete stand still.  Some weeks I am able to practice daily with either Octavi, my Italian grammar book, my writing exercises, DuoLingo, Busuu, News in Slow Italian, etc.  Other weeks I do nothing outside of class.  Zero.  BUT, my class is a priority.  As long as I am maintaining or moving forward, I’m happy.  Going backwards and losing what I have learned seems silly to me.

So the next time you’re thinking about not doing ANYTHING because you can’t give EVERYTHING, remember that this is not a race; maintaining and moving forward is 100% better than going backwards.


La tarea opcional para el 3/27 – 4/1/17

La tarea opcional de esta semana es hacer una lista de 10 cosas que hiciste en algún momento de tu vida, siempre contándonos cuántos años tenías.  Por ejemplo:  Me mudé a los EE.UU. cuando tenía 10 años.  Cuando tenía 18 años compré mi primer auto.  Tenía 34 años cuando me casé.

(La tarea extra de la semana * para los que quieran más tarea * es seguir con el capítulo 17, Nouns & Articles, en “Complete Spanish Grammar” de McGraw Hill, de la serie Practice Makes Perfect.  Les recomendamos leer las páginas 211 a 215 y hacer los ejercicios 17.14 y 17.17.)


How do you use the verb “soler?”

How do you use the verb “soler?”

¡Hola a todos! Rejoice, Octavi is back!

Today I’m in charge of the blog because a student asked about a verb that is mainly used in Spain. That verb is “soler”. Did you know about it? Do you want to know how to use it? If that’s the case, go to class! No, I’m joking, let’s see how it works 🙂

Stephany from B3 asks:   How to use the verb soler. I see it in a lot of books I read, and when I look it up in word reference it says usually/normally, and that seems to be how it is used in the sentences I see it in. However, that doesn’t seem like a verb to me, so I find it confusing. Also I never see it without another verb (usually in the infinitive) so I’d just like some more insight on this, how to conjugate it, etc.  In the book I am reading now: “SolĂ­a levantarme temprano, entusiasmado… Thanks!

In the past it was used always in the imperfect tense, and it is exactly like the English “I used to, you used to, he or she used to…” etc.
For example: Cuando era niño solía jugar a tenis (when I was a kid I used to play tennis).
Another one: Mi padre solía levantarse a las 5 de la mañana (my dad used to wake up at 5 in the morning).

The difference with the English expression is that in Spanish it can also be used in the present tense, like this: Yo suelo tomar una cerveza después del trabajo (I usually drink a beer after work).
Another example: Nosotros solemos caminar por el parque (we normally walk in the park).

As you can see, in the present tense it is similar to saying normally or usually + the verb.
This is how we conjugate it:
Present tense: yo suelo, tĂş sueles, Ă©l/ella suele, nosotros solemos, ellos/ellas suelen
Imperfect tense: yo solĂ­a, tĂş solĂ­as, Ă©l/ella solĂ­a, nosotros solĂ­amos, ellos/ellas solĂ­an.

I hope you understood how we use this verb. Again, it is mainly used in Spain and seems to be a verb only older people use nowadays in Latin America. Bear that in mind 🙂 Have a good weekend and ¡Hasta la próxima!


Have a question you would like answered in the blog?  Question for the Blog

La tarea opcional para 3/20-3/25/17

La tarea opcional de esta semana es traer 3 expresiones con la palabra “dar”, con 3 ejemplos.  Si buscan en, pueden encontrar miles.

(La tarea extra de la semana * para los que quieran más tarea * es seguir con el capítulo 17 (Nouns & Articles) en “Complete Spanish Grammar” de McGraw Hill, de la serie Practice Makes Perfect.  Les recomendamos leer las páginas 209 a 211 y hacer los ejercicios 17.11 y 17.13.)


Private or group classes?

Private or group classes?

I often get asked if it’s better to take private classes or group classes.  My answer varies depending on the situation.

If you’re taking a traditional class, based on bookwork I would definitely say private classes are better.

However, if you are taking Spanish immersion conversation classes like the ones that we offer at Pura Buena Onda, both have their advantages.

The advantage of a private class is that 100% of the time is dedicated to you and the class can be tailored to suit your needs.  This may help you accomplish your goals faster.

The advantage of a group class is that you will talk about things that would have never occurred to you and you will end up with a broader vocabulary.  You also have the advantage of learning from others in a fun, social setting, with the possibility of meeting lifelong friends with similar interests.

The truth is that they both have their advantages.  To get the best of both worlds you can certainly combine them by taking both a group class and a private class or switching class types from time to time!