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:


guns germs

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



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


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.)

antonio machado

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!



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!



Congratulations, Student Video Award Winners!

For their final project, the students of Humanities 295: Poetry and Prose of Latin America and Spain worked in small groups to film an original adaptation of a piece of literature they have studied this semester. The videos included Acts II and III of Federico García Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba and readings of Pablo Neruda’s poetry in Spanish and English. After the in-class screening of the videos, the class voted for Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Video. Congratulations to all!

best actors

Best Actor: Alan Morris and Best Actress: Kay Wood

best video

Best Video: Act II, The House of Bernarda Alba

Pictured L to R: Adeline Umubyeyi, Kay Wood, Glancy Rosales and Lydia Nure


El Día de los Muertos

Throughout Latin America families honor their deceased relatives on el Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), which is celebrated on two days, November 1st and 2nd. November 1, Día de los Inocentes, is a day dedicated to the memories of children who have died.

The holiday blends Aztec and Catholic traditions. Unlike Halloween, the days are looked on as a celebration of life and respect for the dead. Families will visit cemeteries and place flowers on their relatives’ graves and make other offerings to them, often of their favorite food or other items. Many will spend the night in the cemeteries reminiscing about their loved ones. In Mexico, people will eat calaveras de azúcar (sugar skulls) and pan de muerto (bread of the dead).

Photos by Amy Wopat

ofrendas dia de los muertos 3 dia de los muertos 2 dia de los muertos


New Spanish Course for Spring 2015!

SPA 233: Spanish Civilization & Literature
Course # 56177 (3 Credits)
Tuesdays & Thursdays 11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Expand your knowledge of Spanish literature – from Medieval jarchas and El Cid to costumbrista and feminist short fiction – in its historical context.

Prerequisite: successful completion of SPA 202 or equivalent fluency.

Questions? Contact Prof. Martha Davis at mdavis@nvcc.edu