Ten Ways to Practice Spanish Over the Summer

Here are ten ideas for practicting your Spanish this summer. They do not require a passport or plane ticket and many are low-cost or free.

Community Center

10. Pick up a copy of El Tiempo Latino or Washington Hispanic.

Both are free and available throughout the DC metro area. Build your vocabulary, read the news from a slightly different perspective and learn about issues of importance to the local Spanish-speaking community.

9. Watch a movie.

Here are a few favorites. Look for them at a NOVA library, on Kanopy, Amazon.com or Netflix:

Relatos salvajes
Pelo malo
Mar adentro
El orfanato
El laberinto del fauno
Voces inocentes
Y tu mamá también
La misma luna
Hable con ella
La lengua de las mariposas
Amores perros
Diarios de motocicleta
Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios
El Norte
Historia oficial
Mi familia
Real Women Have Curves
Caballos salvajes
L’auberge espagnole
Nueve reinas
Lista de espera

8. Keep a daily one-sentence journal in Spanish.

Set aside five minutes a day to write at least one sentence.

7. Join or start a Spanish language Meetup group.

See where other “fanáticos” are meeting up here: http://www.meetup.com/spanish-washington-dc/

6. Subscribe to the Notes in Spanish podcast.

Hosts Ben and Marina entertain as they educate. “Inspired Beginner” through Advanced language lessons available on iTunes and here: http://www.notesinspanish.com/

5. Sign up for a virtual language exchange through The Mixxer

Go to http://www.language-exchanges.org/ for information about matching with a Spanish-speaking student of English.

4. Check out a book of poetry, short stories or a novel in the Spanish literature section (starts with “PQ”) of the Alexandria Library.

Some bilingual editions are available too.

3. Get hooked on “Mi Vida Loca,” a telenovela from BBC.co.uk.


2. Visit a local Spanish-speaking community.

Peruse the grocery stores, bakeries, markets and restaurants in the Chriligua section of Alexandria or Mt. Pleasant, Columbia Heights or Adams Morgan in DC.

1. Take a class at NOVA!

For a complete list of course offerings visit: http://www.nvcc.edu/schedule/crs2183/index.html

Congratulations to SPA 201 Video Award Winners

Spanish 201 students in Prof. Martha Davis’s class presented their top reasons to study Spanish at NOVA. Savanna Sulc’s video, which showed her giving her dog Spanish commands among other entertaining and educational features, was voted “Presentación más convincente” by her classmates. As one student wrote, “Esta presentacion es la mas convincente porque usa otras personas, sus vecinos y otras estudiantes y tambien los animales. Presenta nuevas razones por estudiar espanol, por ejemplo, los beneficios para el cerebro.” Caleb Rivera and Riquell Denham received Honorable Mention for their video.

Prof. Davis looks forward to showcasing her students’ work in her session on interactive student video projects at the 2018 American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP) Conference in Salamanca, Spain this June.

“En abril, aguas mil” and Other Spanish Idioms

Learning idioms is a great way to build vocabulary, use a variety of grammar tenses and the subjunctive mood in short phrases, and expand your knowledge of the target culture while comparing it to your own.

Do you know these?

  1. El hambre es la mejor salsa.
  2. Nunca digas de esa agua no beberé (ni este cura no es mi padre).
  3. Del dicho al hecho hay un gran trecho.
  4. Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres.

Interested to know their origin and meaning? The Centro Virtual Cervantes has information about the usage, origin and equivalents in other languages of these idioms and many more: https://cvc.cervantes.es/lengua/refranero/listado.aspx

(Pictured above: List of Spanish idioms compiled by a SPA 206 student with help from his Bolivian mother. A class favorite was “Al que le quede el guante que se lo chante.” We had to look up “chantar” in www.rae.es., which is typically used in Bolivia and other South American countries.)





SPA 104 Summer Course Offered at NOVA AL

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Are you a beginning student looking for a way to maintain your Spanish skills over the summer? Look no further! SPA 104 (Basic Spoken Spanish II) will be offered at the Alexandria Campus during the first eight-week summer session. The class, taught by Prof. Víctor Oliver, will meet on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6:00-8:55 P.M. May 30th to July 25th. The course number is 18026. ¡Disfruten!


En el tiempo de las mariposas

The DC premiere of En el tiempo de las mariposas (In the Time of the Butterflies) is coming soon. The play, which is based on the novel by Julia Álvarez, will be performed from April 12-May 13 at Teatro GALA in Columbia Heights. Like the book, the play is a fictional account of the real-life story of the Mirabal sisters who – until their brutal murders – fought General Rafael Trujillo’s regime in the Dominican Republic using the code name “butterflies.”

Tickets, which are regularly priced at $45, are available to students, anyone under 30 years of age, members of the military and senior citizens for $30. English speakers are recommended to sit in rows E through H in order to read the surtitles comfortably.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit http://en.galatheatre.org

Kennedy Center Artes de Cuba Festival Coming May 8-20

The Kennedy Center invites you to the upcoming festival, Artes de Cuba: From the Island to the World, which will be presented from May 8-20, 2018, and will showcase the artistic richness of the island and its artists.

The two-week International Festival will be an unprecedented offering of the world’s most gifted Cuban artists from the island and the Diaspora, bringing together over 400 artists in more than 50 performances and events covering music, dance, theater, visual art, film and more.

Tickets are available at the Kennedy Center Box Office
Or charge by phone (202) 467-4600 Toll-free (800) 444-1324

Order online at kennedy-center.org/CUBA
Groups call (202) 416-8400
For complete festival information, visit KENNEDY-CENTER.ORG/CUBA

Screening of the Spanish Film “Julieta” Wednesday, April 4 at Duncan Library

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The Friends of Duncan Library, located at 2501 Commonwealth Avenue in Alexandria, is sponsoring monthly film screenings as part of their “A Year of Great Art House Films” program. April’s selection is Julieta, the 2016 Spanish film directed by Pedro Almodóvar and based on tales from Canadian writer Alice Munro’s short story collection Runaway. Julieta is a gripping film about a chance encounter that causes a woman to reflect on the tragic circumstances surrounding the disappearance of her daughter. The film will be screened in Duncan Library’s meeting room on Wednesday, April 4th from 6:30-8:30 PM.  

Runaway (PR9199.3.M8 R86 2004) is available for check-out at the NOVA Alexandria Library.

Notes in Spanish Podcast

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Notes in Spanish has been previously mentioned in this blog as a fun way to expand your knowledge of the Spanish language and culture of Spain while strengthening your oral comprehension skills. Did you know that Ben and Marina also host a podcast? Available wherever you get podcasts (such as iTunes), there is a level for everyone: “Inspired Beginners”, “Intermediate, “Advanced” and “Notes in Spanish Gold.”

Photo courtesy of Notes in Spanish Facebook page, which features many similarly beautiful pictures from throughout Spain.

Volunteer Opportunities at Casa Chirilagua

Are you looking for a way to give back while connecting with the local Spanish-speaking community and perhaps also using your Spanish language skills? Casa Chirilagua, located in the Arlandria section of Alexandria, seeks English-speaking and bilingual volunteers to serve as youth mentors in their after-school and summer programs, to teach computer classes in Spanish and to tutor adults in Spanish literacy.

Please visit http://casachirilagua.org for more information.

Middlebury College Summer Language Schools

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Are you looking for a way to enhance your Spanish skills over the summer? Middlebury College offer its Spanish Language School  – or Escuela Española – students the benefits of an immersion experience without leaving the U.S.

At the Escuela Española, which began in 1917, students live on the Middlebury campus in Vermont and pledge to speak exclusively Spanish in the dorms, at meals and during classes and co-curricular activities. Leading professors and guest speakers from around the Spanish-speaking world convene at the Escuela to instruct and guide students in their language journey. Students are placed in one of five levels of Spanish courses, ranging from beginning to advanced, based on their placement exam scores.

The dates of the seven-week undergraduate program are June 29 – August 17, 2018. The  cost for tuition, room and board is $9,610. Need-based financial aid is available.

For details, please visit http://www.middlebury.edu/ls

You may also contact Prof. Martha Davis, Middlebury Escuela Española alumna, at mdavis@nvcc.edu with general questions about the program.