Spanish in Spain and Texas

Looking to practice your Spanish online? Check out these Web sites:

-Aveteca from Spain’s renowned Instituto Cervantes provides listening, reading, speaking and writing activities organized by level using the Common European Framework of Reference for Language: http://cvc.cervantes.es/ensenanza/actividades_ave/aveteca.htm

-University of Texas’s Spanish in Texas video clips http://www.coerll.utexas.edu/spintx/ and its related Grammar in Context exercises http://grammar.spanishintexas.org/ provide authentic input of immigrant and heritage speakers in the Lone Star State.

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Los empeños de una casa

On Saturday, February 28, Spanish 102 honors students attended GALA Theatre’s production of Los empeños de una casa. The seventeenth-century play was written – in verse! – by Mexican nun, poet and feminist Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. The students enjoyed the music, humor and the twist that GALA gave the original comedy by setting it in 1940s Mexico.

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Photo by Martha Davis

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“Una sorjuana,” the 200 peso bill, which features Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz’s portrait.

 

Memories of the Spanish Civil War

Students at the College of William and Mary, under the direction of Prof. Cate-Arries, have collected testimonies of family members whose relatives were killed during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and Franco dictatorship (1939-1975). Please visit http://francoswar.blogs.wm.edu/ to learn more about the project and read amazing stories of loss, survival and memory.

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Watching the Sky
by Robert Capa

 

 

Cuba: Things to Do

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Professor Davis’s Spanish 102 class was fortunate to have Professor Jim Baer share his experiences from a 2012 sabbatical trip to Cuba with them today. He spoke about the history of Protestant churches in the island and much more. Prof. Baer believes that changes in U.S.-Cuba relations will be gradual.

Nevertheless, here is a list to keep in mind if/when you can visit Cuba: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/8-places-see-congress-lifts-cuba-travel-ban/

Spanish-Related Happenings in DC

From the Kennedy Center to the National Gallery of Art, there are some fun and exciting arts events in Washington, DC in the upcoming weeks.

If you haven’t visited the El Greco exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, there is still time. The Greek-Spanish master’s seven paintings are on view until February 16.  http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/exhibitions/2014/el-greco-400-anniversary.html

GALA Theatre’s production of Sor Juan Inés de la Cruz’s Los empeños de una casa begins this weekend and runs through March 1. http://www.galatheatre.org/galita.php?cmd=loadEvent&id=178

In March The Kennedy Center is hosting a festival highlighting the arts from Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries. http://www.kennedy-center.org/festivals/iberia

Enjoy!

 

 

2,000 Words

On Friday, January 23, the Alexandria Campus’s World Languages faculty attended a presentation at the Foreign Service Institute about a new language training program for State Department security officers stationed at high-risk embassies. All of the classes are conducted in the target language, such as Arabic or French, and all the activities are operation-centered. Rather than vocabulary lists, the course syllabi are based on the language’s 2,000 most frequently used words.

How many of the top words do you know in Spanish? Probably more than you think! Check out these lists: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Wiktionary:Frequency_lists#Spanish

 

Resolve to Read More “Libros” in 2015

Twelve months ago, I suggested resolving to read more books in 2014 (http://blogs.nvcc.edu/espanol/2014/01/11/resolve-to-read-more-libros-in-2014/). This year I thought I would write a follow-up post with some suggested titles for 2015. Please look for them in NOVA’s libraries. If you can, consider buying one or more of them from a bookstore. A local independent bookstore, such as Busboys and Poets, Politics and Prose or Kramer Books and Afterwards, would especially appreciate your business.

The following list is a compilation of books that I have mentioned in one class or another, many more than once. Some were originally written in English, some in Spanish. Hopefully there is something for everyone. Here they are, in no particular order:

Non-fiction

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Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, Jared Diamond

1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus, Charles C Mann

My Beloved World, Sonia Sotomayor

Diaries of Christopher Columbus

Illustrated Diary of Frida Kahlo

Fiction

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Querido Diego, te abraza Quiela, Elena Poniatowska

The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz

Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories, Sandra Cisneros

Don Quixote por Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (For a good English translation, read Edith Grossman’s.)

Como agua para chocolate, Laura Esquivel

La vida es sueño, Calderón de la Barca

Cien años de soledad, Gabriel García Márquez (his novellas and short stories are great too)

La casa de los espíritus, Isabel Allende

El cuarto de atrás, Carmen Martín Gaite

Poets

Richard Blanco

Antonio Machado

Juan Ramón Jiménez

Federico García Lorca (Don’t miss his famous plays: La casa de Bernarda Alba, Yerma, and Bodas de Sangre.)

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Bilingualism Benefits the Brain

Here’s a podcast from the Diane Rehm Show about the benefits of bilingualism on the brain. Perhaps it is not surprising to know that the greater your fluency in a second language, the greater the benefit. A bilingual brain works harder and is stronger and it is never too late to reap the benefits. Sign up for a language course today!

http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2014-12-16/the_latest_research_on_bilingualism_and_the_brain

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Working to Live or Living to Work?

This is a very interesting article about work-life balance in Spain from the Spanish newspaper, El País. It reminds me of when I was living and working as an English teacher in Spain soon after graduating from college. I was told many times how Americans “vivís para trabajar” while Spaniards “trabajamos para vivir.” I wasn’t sure if that was true or not nor which culture had the right answer. I knew that the American economy was strong and that the Spanish way of life was very agreeable. If we could just combine the two…

Nevertheless, the author finds that Spaniards suffer from greater stress and insufficient sleep when compared to their neighbors in Western Europe. This author shows how taking pride in your professional life has positive outcomes for both the individual and the country. I also learned why Spain is not in the same time zone as Portugal and the UK. Read on to learn more!

http://politica.elpais.com/politica/2014/12/12/actualidad/1418384868_352633.html