Where to learn Spanish on “holidays”

Many students often ask me where can they find a school that offers Spanish courses in Spain or other Spanish speaking countries. This is what it is called learning a language through immersion: you go to the country where the language is spoken, visit a language school everyday in the morning, do cultural activities in the afternoon, live with a family (other accommodation options are of course possible) and practice everyday with the locals. We could call it language holidays, where you improve significantly your language skills in a particular period (usually, at least for a week) through language and cultural immersion. For example, I did it this summer with Chinese, during six weeks, thanks to the scholarship I received from Shanghai Municipality.

So, let’s say that you have a week off or more. And you want to use this time to improve your Spanish (or start with it). What can you do? Where to start looking? How to find a good school? How to choose the city? In this post I am going to provide you with some useful information about schools that offer this language and culture programms in Spain and Latin America. Please note that all schools offer always all levels (from absolute beginners to experienced) and that usually you can join the school every Monday of the year. All the information I am going to share with you was collected by myself in Expolingua Berlin 2018, the must-attend anual event about languages in Berlin (Germany), with more than 150 exhibitors from more than 30 countries.

Spain

Valladolid city

Located in Castilla y León, one hour train-trip away from Madrid, the Spanish of Valladolid represents Castilian Spanish, sharing this pure accent with other cities like Salamanca, Guadalajara or Soria. The population is around 300.000, the perfect size to get in contact with locals and get to know the city pretty well in a relatively short period. On the website www.spanishvalladolid.com you can find all the information about institutes and educational centres in the city, but I would like to recommend you one of them: El Camino del Español.

El Camino del Español school (Valladolid)

It is a private school that offers courses of Spanish and manages the accommodation wishes of the students: living with a Spanish family, in a student residence or in private apartments. For example, if you are an individual traveller you can do a 20 hours per week course (all levels available, from absolute beginners to experienced speakers) for 230€ a week and live with a family for 135€ a week (half board). Anything is possible with El Camino del Español ! The school is also specialized in organizing Spanish for groups, taylor-made programs for groups of all ages (schools, high-school, universities, friends, families, etc.) that combine classes of Spanish and cultural activities such as workshops, excursions, guided tours, nature and all you can imagine. The school offers the possibility of obtaining a scholarship which covers the accommodation cost.

Learn Spanish in Valladolid

Bilbao city

If you want to learn Spanish in the North of Spain, you can choose Bilbao (Basque Country) as your destination (there is where I come from and I can guarantee it is an amazing place!), where you will be able to enjoy culture, surf, amazing gastronomy and beautiful landscapes recently chosen, for example, as filming locations for Game of Thrones. Bilbao has an international airport and it is located 1 hour away from the south of France. At the same time, in Bilbao you can also get in touch with Basque language, which is the oldest living language in Europe. Even if both languages are official in Bilbao (Spanish and Basque) you will experience that daily life in the city is mainly in Spanish, so do not worry at all about difficulties practicing with locals what you have learnt during your classes. Moreover, the accent is one of the clearest in Spain and Basque people are good communicators.

Instituto Hemingway (Bilbao)

Since 1999, Instituto Hemingway is a private school that offers courses of Spanish in the centre of Bilbao, as well as can organize your accommodation and cultural activities. Their website provides all the information you need in many different languages. Take a look and plan your language holidays in Bilbao. For germans, please note that they have the Bildungsurlaub Annerkenung. Instituto Hemingway is an Cervantes Institute-accredited school and can prepare you for the official exams of Spanish language, too.

Learn Spanish in Bilbao.

Quest (Bilbao)

Quest is a travel agency that organizes tailor made programs with Spanish or Basque classes and accommodation. If you decide to learn Basque, it will be an amazing cultural journey. You can visit their Facebook page here.

Learn Basque in Bilbao

Castellón de la Plana city

If you prefer to learn Spanish on the Mediterranean coast with fabulous weather, you can choose Castellón de la Plana (also known as Castellón) for your next stop. The city has a population of 170.000, which makes it very handy and authentic.

Ágil Spanish Institute (Castellón)

Since 1995 Ágil Spanish Institute organizes immersion programs where you can learn Spanish and participate in many cultural activities on the Mediterranean city of Castellón. Ágil Spanish Institute is also a Cervantes Institute-accredited institute and offers DELE and SIELE exams preparations. Arriving to Castellón will be easy from any of the main airports of the area (Valencia, Alicante, Barcelona, Reus or Madrid) and if you don’t feel like doing it by your own the school can organize a transfer for you. Here you can consult all prices and you can see the brochure I got about it in Expolingua Berlin 2018.

Learn Spanish in Castellón

Learn Spanish in Castellon AGIL

Canary Islands

Learning Spanish in the Canary Islands is a great way to enjoy the pleasure of improving your language skills while staying in a well-known holidays destination. The Canary Islands in Spain guarantee 99% great weather all year long because of its eternal springtime weather. The Spanish accent in the Canary Islands is something in between Spanish peninsula accent and Latin American accent.

La Casita de Laura (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria)

Laura is a passionate teacher of Spanish as a second language who offers personalized, practical and flexible Spanish courses combined with a mentoring in cultural activities which will make you immerse into Spanish culture in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The courses are private (1 student) or semi-private (3 to 6 people) and allow you to speak Spanish from the very first day. Laura will help you also to find an accommodation according to your preferences and budget. Take a look at her website at www.lacasitadelaura.com and meet Laura thanks to her presentation video.

Learn Spanish in Gran Canaria. La Casita de Laura.

Learn Spanish in Gran Canaria2. La Casita de Laura.

 

Cantabria

Cantabria is located in the North of Spain, a beautiful green area with more than 200 km. of coastline and beaches, beautiful and authentic villages, elegant cities like Santander (its capital) and an incomparable gate to the Art of the Upper Paleolithic, with 9 of its more than 6.500 caves declared as World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Wow.

The Spanish accent in Cantabria is also very neutral Spanish from Spain which includes a nice gentle melody that you will love. You can fly to Santander airport (in Cantabria) or alternatively to Bilbao (1,5 hour drive) or Madrid (4,5 hours drive).

CIESE (Comillas, Cantabria)

CIESE-Comillas (International Center for Higher Spanish Studies) offers courses of Spanish taught in a context of immersion and it is also accredited by Cervantes Institute. The institute is located in Comillas, a village in Cantabria of about 2500 inhabitants, considered to be a step forward for Catalan Modernisme (Art Nouveau) as well as offering medieval and baroque buildings.

CIESE offers also courses aimed at professionals working in Business, with courses of 30 hours per week (minimum, two weeks) of Spanish for Business Management and Administration, Finance and Banking, Marketing, Economics, Law, etc. Other courses of Spanish are also offered for students and professionals working in health care (nurses, medical practitioners, researchers, hospital administrators).

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IUMP (Santander, Cantabria)

If you prefer to study in the capital city of Cantabria, Santander, you can check the language and culture courses at the IUMP (Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo).

Other in Spain

donQuijote

Since 1986, donQuijote teaches Spanish at all educative levels in many cities of Spain an Latin America. Check donQuijote website to discover its Spanish language and culture courses in Alicante, Granada, Málaga, Marbella, Sevilla, Barcelona, Madrid, Salamanca, Tenerife or Valencia.

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Latin America

Argentina

The lovely country of Argentina offers you a diversity of landscapes and activities, as well as qualified language centers in every region of the country. You can study there one week or more with flexible programs and accredited certificates. Check all the information in the pictures below:

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Guatemala

Founded in 2000, Mundo Spanish school in Guatemala offers Spanish courses of language and culture in Antigua Guatemala, 45 km. away from the capital city of the country. You can check all the information on their website. Their programs include language courses, weekend trips, accommodation with local families, guest house or hotels (you can also live with your teacher!) and the opportunity of volunteering in local projects. Check the brochures below:

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Spanish in Guatemala

Other in Latin America

donQuijote

You can check all Spanish language and culture courses that donQuijote school offers in 20 destinations in the following 12 different countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, México, Perú and Uruguay. donQuijote is specialized in Spanish courses and cultural immersion since 1986.

 

I hope this post helps you to choose your next Spanish language course in a Spanish speaking country. ¡Hasta pronto!

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Shanghai Summer School scholarship at SISU University

The_Logo_of_Shanghai_International_Studies_University

This summer (2018) I have been studying Chinese in Shanghai for six weeks, thanks to the scholarships provided by Shanghai Municipal Government. The Shanghai Summer School scholarship program is hosted by Shanghai International Studies University (SISU) (上海外国语大学) and there is a particular program for Spanish speaking countries, as well as other programs for other countries all over the world.

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Shanghai Summer School (3S) at SISU – opening ceremony

If you want to learn Chinese language and culture this is a great opportunity to get to know better this fascinating tongue and country. The Shanghai Summer School scholarship at SISU university (3S) combines all you need to live a unique experience in China.

logotipo-universidad-nebrijaIn my case, the scholarship opportunity was communicated to me by Universidad Nebrija, the university where I am studying my Master of Applied Linguistics of Spanish as a foreign language, but I know that not only universities are involved in the process, but also other institutions like Confucius Institute.

In the year of my scholarship, the requirements for application were: having a graduate on high school (with or without Chinese language skills), being over 18 and under 40 years old, having good health and reliable financial support and custody.

I applied for it in March and I received my admission letter (email) at the beginning of May. The dates for the scholarship were: 9th July to 17th August.

In this post I would like to share my experience with you, in case you are interested in applying for this scholarship in the future or you have already received your admission and you want to know more about what to expect about the 3S program hosted by Shanghai International Studies University (SISU).

Accommodation

You might be wondering how accommodation looks like and who will be your roommate. In my year (2018) scholars were hosted at SISU hotel. The location of the hotel is fine: just 1 minute away from metro Station Chifeng Road. If you walk 10 minutes, you will reach the university. SISU University has two campuses. The one for International Studies is called Hongkou Campus, where you will spend your university life (Chinese classes, meeting point for excursions, canteen, library, etc.).

Even if location is fine, I must be honest and say that comfort, cleanliness and service are not a strong point of this hotel. But! good news are that, while we were spending our last days of the scholarship, the hotel started to work on a significant renovation, which I am sure will make your experience better.

–> Do not confuse Sisu Hotel with Sisu Guesthouse: Sisu Guesthouse is inside the campus and it is a proper hotel with good reviews (it’s where students of the summer program without scholarship were hosted).

Your roommate can be anyone who is in a scholarship like you. Please take into account that during my stay at SISU there were three big scholarship groups:

This means that anyone of these groups could be your roommate (if you are a girl, your roommate will be a girl and if you are a boy, your roommate will be a boy). When you check in at the hotel, you can ask to be in the room with a particular person that you might have met in advance. Just tell them the name of the person you want to be with (they might ask you to look it up on a list) or facilitate the room number where this person is already hosted.

The hotel has a laundry room where you can wash your clothes. I recommend you to take with you some soap for hand washing as many people were saying that the washing machines were destroying their clothes.

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Sisu hotel laundry room

The hotel also had a poor kitchen with a full loaded fridge that you could barely use. Some rooms had a little private fridge (but not all rooms!). The renovation of the hotel might take away these private fridges, so do not count with it. Be ready for six weeks of no cooking.

What else? Oh, yeah. On the 2nd. floor of the hotel there is a restaurant some students do not notice during their whole stay. You don’t need to go there (you’ll be probably more interested in exploring the area) but just remember it in case of heavy-rain days (typhoons are frequent in summer and although they consist of more or less intense rain and wind, they can make you end up all wet in a couple of seconds when going out). Do not go late to the restaurant, because at lunch time, I think they close the kitchen around 12:30 and, for dinner, they close around 18:00 (approximately). They have a menu with pictures so do not worry if your Chinese is not good enough.

University, Chinese class and activities

Ten minutes on foot from the hotel, you will find SISU university. As I said before, SISU 上海外国语大学 has two campuses and this one is called Hongkou Campus 虹口校区, which is a nice and small-sized handy campus. The other one (Songjiang Campus 松江校区) is far away. In my year there was not any excursion planned to visit Songjiang Campus, which is actually the main one of SISU, so if you want to visit the main campus, you will probably have to do it on your own.

In Hongkou you have classrooms, a library, a gymnasium, the canteen, the offices for admissions, etc.

Hongkou campus SISU Shanghai

Hongkou Campus (SISU University in Shanghai)

The library is free and to enter you just have to use your green student card. The green student card is not the same as the blue student card they’ll give you during your registration on the first day, but it is a different one you will have to arrange in a different office and costs something around 20 yuan. You also need the green card for the gymnasium, where additionally you will have to pay depending on which sport facilities you want to use and for how long.

During my scholarship our Chinese class took place in building number two (close to the central fountain).

The first day there was a little placement test to organize students in different levels. In my case, I was at the beginners class because I didn’t know any Chinese (so I was in level “1”) with around 10-15 other students from all over the world. Altogether there were 6 different levels. The class schedule is 8:30-11:50h from Monday to Friday.

3S Shanghai SISU Chinese books

Books are provided by the school during the first day of class. On my level, the Chinese we learnt was the Chinese you NEED to communicate during your stay (greetings, nationalities, how to order in a restaurant, how to buy in a shop, etc.) so it was really useful and interesting. The teaching speed is not slow, so be ready to learn Chinese actively and try to study everyday at least one hour (ideally as much as you can), if you really want to finish your scholarship with real knowledge of the language. As you know, I am a teacher of Spanish as a foreign language, so I think I know what I’m talking about 😉 Both teachers we had were very good and hard worker. At the end of the course you will face a little test where you will evaluate your language skills and you’ll be given a document with your grade and participation in the course.

Chinese class SISU Shanghai summer school

My Chinese class (A.K.A. Ni hao Mading) fellows with our fantastic teacher Biān (边老师) in the middle.

Chinese_class_SISU_summerschool2018

The scholarship’s program not only includes Chinese class in the morning but also lectures and activities in the afternoon: lectures about Chinese economy, about Chinese culture (we had a very interesting one about Tai Chi provided by Tai Chi martial art masters), classes about the art of paper cutting (剪纸), Chinese calligraphy, etc. and many amazing excursions (included in the scholarship). Excursions are always made on private buses and the meeting point was the central fountain of the campus (please be always on time or you will miss some excursions!). In my year we had: city of Suzhou and its beautiful gardens and Grand Canal (on a Saturday), city of Hangzhou including Lonjing tea fields (in the weekend, including overnight), Yu Yuan gardens in Shanghai (one afternoon after class and lunch), Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center, Acrobatics Show, Huangpu river cruise (in the evening/night) and many others. You can see some pictures and a video of our cruise below.

My recommendation is: always be curious and attend all activities. You will learn a lot about China with each of them and also, you can bring to your home country a wonderful art piece like this one I started at the paper cutting class and I finished back at home.

Paper cutting Sisu university 3S scholarship

My own 剪纸 creation!

Transportation in Shanghai

Metro

The metro of Shanghai works very well and it gets you anywhere in the city. The names of the stations are written and announced both in Chinese and English, so it will be very easy also for those of you who do not speak Chinese at the beginning of the scholarship. The ticket machines also have the English version software. It is so easy! Do not be surprised if a transfer between two metro lines require a long walk.

The price of the metro ticket depends on the distance of the journey. For example, traveling from the airpot to Chifeng Road (almost a two-hour trip) costs 7 yuan (less than 1 euro). But that is a long distance. For a trip around the city (let’s say from SISU hotel to the Museum of Shanghai at People’s Square) you will only pay 3 yuan (one way).

You have to validate your ticket when you come in and when you come out. You can buy single tickets or you can buy the Shanghai Public Transportation Card with a deposit of 20 yuan, which you can recharge with, for example, 50 yuan (always multiples of 10 yuan). I think the price of the ticket will be the same as if you buy the single ticket, but it is very convenient, as you can use it for the metro, buses, taxis, tourist buses, long-distance buses, ferries, etc. and it also applies to some buses and taxis in other cities like Suzhou or Hangzhou.

Once you have used all the credit on it, you can simply recharge it again. You can buy this card and recharge it at any metro station. To return it and get back your 20 yuan deposit, you can not do it everywhere. One of the closest places to Chifeng Road would be Zhongshan Park Station, where you will find a Service Center (if I remember well it has a green label) located inside the station but accesible only if you have validated your ticket to come out.

Bus

Sometimes you will need to take a bus to reach a particular area that is better connected with bus than with metro. Use your Shanghai Public Transportation Card and it will be just as easy as in the metro.

Taxi

Taxis are very useful, specially when the metro is not operating (during the night). The prices, of course, depend on the distance (obvious). If you speak good Chinese, tell the driver where you want to go, but if you are not sure about your Chinese skills, always show the driver the written address.

I took a taxi on my first day, to go from Pudong international airport to SISU hotel, and I paid 165 RMB, as the taximeter said.

I can not tell you anything about companies like Uber or similar, because I did not use them, but I know they exist and are cheaper than a taxi, as you can expect.

Money

Outside the main gate of the university (go out and then go right, it’s one minute walking) there is a bank where you can change your cash into Chinese RMB or yuan. They charge nothing and they guarantee the best rate available. If you want to save commissions and get the best change available, bring cash to China and change there (if you change money in your home country or in the currency exchange offices at the airport you will loose money).

You can also open a bank account and get a card (I am not sure but I would say it is a debit card) for only five euros, if I am not mistaken.

You will see that Chinese people pay everything using the app Wechat which is not only the instant messaging Chinese app (there is no Whatsapp or Telegram in China, at least during the time of my stay) but also the mobile payment app in China. I am not sure if you can link up an international credit card with the app, but try! Of course you will be able to linking it if your card is Chinese.

Food

During my stay, we were provided with food tickets (so the scholarship includes also food) that you could use at the university canteen. There is also a halal SISU-canteen two minutes away from Hongkou campus. The canteens do not offer western food so be ready to eat Chinese dishes! On the second floor you will find more choices than on the first one (first floor in China means zero floor, by the way).

SISU university hongkou campus canteen

Canteen at SISU University (of course Hongkou Campus)

The canteen university is not really bad but the problem is that eating there three times a day during six weeks can be really annoying. We were told that students of previous years were sometimes provided with cash. Of course that would have been much better, so you can change restaurant and administrate the budget your way. I hope you are luckier than me and you can diversify a little.

And… what about coffee or tea? Nor coffee neither tea will be provided at the canteen.

hot water supply in a bus station in China

Hot water dispenser in a station

There are two or three coffee shops in the campus as well as outside of it, where you can get good to go coffee for European prices. If you want to save some money though, buy instant coffee at the supermarket (you can also buy individual nescafe sachets at any convenience store), buy a thermo bottle and use the hot water dispensers you can find at the library or some other buildings to prepare your coffee. The same about tea. Actually you will see that all Chinese students and teachers bring along a thermo bottle with tea leaves that they refill during the day thanks to the hot water dispensers I have already mentioned. You will also find them in train or bus stations (see picture).

Other restaurants in the area

I will tell you only about my two favorite restaurants, so you have the chance to discover your own and share them with us in the comments below!

On one hand, there are very good restaurants at Hongkou Plaza mall. [Good restaurants in a mall?? Yes. In the European countries I’ve been living (Spain, Germany and Italy) it is not easy to think that there is a good restaurant inside a shopping mall. Well, in Shanghai you have to leave your prejudices behind]. Thanks to my Chinese teacher in Shanghai, I got to know this restaurant (Thank you, teacher! You were such a great help! 谢谢 老师 ). One station away from Chifeng Road station there is Hongkou Stadium station (metro, yellow line). Once you get off, follow the path as you would like to change to line 8 and just after you cross a hanging walkway (around 1 minute after you got off) you will see a way out of the metro (where you validate your ticket). WOW! You are already inside the mall. If I remember well, you are directly on the second floor. (Or maybe on the 4th?). Now, go find Grandma’s kitchen restaurant. Part of the menu has pictures. You can order your favorite Chinese dishes because they will probably have it! And do not forget Shanghai’s specialty xiaolongbao 小笼包 (see picture on the right and admire these little steamed bun delicacy). A dinner for a group of four, for example, should cost something between 40 and 60 yuan per person. And! if you go on your birthday they will play for you the birthday song and I would say they give you something for free (maybe a sweet), but I am not 100% sure.

If you are looking for halal food, everyone recommends Yē lî xiā lì Uyghur restaurant (Xinjiang cuisine, which is predominantly halal). Also at Hongkou Plaza (5th floor, I think).

On the other hand, just behind Chifeng Road station (Guangji Rd., let’s say “the street behind the KFC”) there is an amazing Chinese simple place for Wonton (in mandarin they say huntun 馄饨). I got to know this place thanks to an Argentinian friend! (Thank you! This tip was not a boludez at all ;)). You’ll be able to find this restaurant it if you retain the following image on the left (the restaurant on the left where there is a woman coming out).

Amazing fresh hand made huntun 馄饨 for a great price. I used to order the vegetable small huntun 小馄饨 in soup (picture on the right), with 25 units (important information for vegetarians: I am not sure if they had a very little amount of meat so if your Chinese is good enough, ask!). As you can see in the picture, the price is 8 yuan. Something like 1 euro.

Things to do in the area

  1. Do not miss Lu Xun park 鲁迅公园 and its museum. It is a great place to run away from the stress of the city and learn about this famous writer. if you go early in the morning or late in the afternoon, you will see many Chinese retired people exercising. You will find this park just in front of the main gate of SISU (five minutes walking distance). It is for free.

  2. Go bowling with your friends. There is a big bowling alley in E Jiangwan Road (if you walk from SISU to Hongkou Stadium you will see it, on the lefthand side, 7 minutes-walk). One of you should understand some Chinese. The prices are different depending on the day and the time: Friday evening is more expensive than a working day in the afternoon, for example.
  3. Go to sing songs to a karaoke! There is a Karaoke (or, like Chinese say: “KTV“) inside Hongkou Plaza mall. I think you can bring your own drinks and snacks, by the way. If you don’t go during peak hours (I mean, for example if you go from 17 to 20h from Monday to Thursday) you will probably need no reservation, but always try to book it in advance. I went there with a group of 8 people, on a Tuesday at 17h and we paid around 20 yuan each.

Things to do in Shanghaishanghai bookstore

I will not focus here on the must-do excursions that you can find on every tourist guide book about Shanghai (museums, etc.) just because of that: because you can find better information somewhere else!

Still, I would recommend you to visit Fuzhou Road (3 minutes away from People’s Squaremetro station) and its bookshops:

1) There is a very big one, all about Chinese books, called (I think) Shanghai bookstore (see picture on the right).

shanghai foreign language bookstore

2) There is the Shanghai Foreign Language bookstore SBT, with many books about China (History, cuisine, etc.) in English (that is the interesting part) as well as many foreign books.

Both bookshops have from 4 to 6 floors so take your time and enjoy. In both of them you will find HSK test preparation books and in the Shanghai bookstore I also found bilingual books to read in Chinese and English at the same time!

Apart from the bookshops, if you want to see the famous skyline of Shanghai from a great viewpoint, I would recommend to you the Bar Rouge (very expensive, but free on Thursdays!) or the Captain Hostel (which I discovered thanks to the person behind bacalaolaqueaoblog, 谢谢, Ra!) where there is a rooftop with a bar and views (expensive but with a more relaxed atmosphere).

shanghai skyline captain hostel

View from Captain Hostel terrace

Weather

As my scholarship took place in summer, the weather was VERY hot and VERY humid. Be ready for temperatures from 31 to 40 Celsius and 80-90% humidity. The first days are the worst, as you have to get used to the weather, but it will get better, I promise! Avoid being outside in the time after lunch (enjoy the library and study Chinese! It is a fresh and quite place).

It is possible that you face some rain, because summer is the typhoon period, so bring an umbrella with you or, even better, a rain jacket. Here you can find a video I made about Ampil Typhoon, that modestly stroke Shanghai on 22th July 2018.

Supermarket

You will find little convenience stores and fruit shops all around the district. Summer is the time for water melon or peach, so enjoy!

There is a big hypermarket (name: Carrefour) 10 minutes away from Sisu Hotel (Yutian Road with Quyand Road) and another one at Hongkou Plaza mall. Carrefour has food, drinks, a section of imported food (good one if you have any cravings of your home country), household appliances and household items (plates, bowls, thermo bottles, etc.).

Water

Tap water is not drinkable so you will have to drink bottled water. At the reception of the hotel you can ask for a water dispenser for your room and a big bottle of water. They will bring it to your room (not extra cost will be charged for the transportation) and the price is better than buying big carafes at the convenience store. I think the price for the big bottle was 14 yuan.

 

and… I think that’s all!

I would like to take the occasion to send warm regards to all the nice people I met during Shanghai summer school scholarship at SISU university, in case you guys read this! Specially to my wonderful roommate and to my Chinese class fellow students and teachers (Ni hao Mading!).

ENJOY YOUR STAY, LEARN CHINESE AND MAKE NEW FRIENDS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD!

If you have further questions, let me know by leaving a reply below.

 

 

 

‘Me alegra’ VS. ‘me alegro’

Hello there!

Many students ask me about the difference in Spanish language between ‘me alegra’ and ‘me alegro’. I am going to give you -I hope- a very easy explanation using some analogies.

  • ‘Me alegra’ works like ‘me gusta’: It works just the same way than “GUSTAR”, “ENCANTAR”, “FALTAR”, etc.

Example: Me alegra tu visita.

Something makes me happy. In this case, your visit MAKES me happy. It also works with plural if that something that makes me happy is plural: Tus canciones me alegran (Your songs make me happy).

–> Of course you can use it for all persons: (a mí) me alegra(n), (a tí) te alegra(n), (a él/ella/usted) le alegra(n), (a nosotros) nos alegra(n), (a vosotros) os alegra(n), (a ellos/ellas/ustedes) les alegra(n).
–> german_flag In German, the translation would be: Es freut mich.(Etwas produziert Freude auf mich). The example would be translated as “Deine Lieder freuen mich“.
–> Grammar: in the example “Tus canciones me alegran” we can see that “tus canciones” is the subject, and “alegrar” is working as a transitive verb.
  • ‘Me alegro’ works like ‘Me llamo’: the verb is simply reflexive.

Example: A conversation between two friends:

–  (Amigo 1) ¡He conseguido trabajo!

– (Amigo 2) ¡Me alegro!¡Yuhu!

The infinitive is “alegrarse”, just the same way as “llamarse”, so we need to use it with the reflexive pronoun (me, te, se, nos, os, se) + conjugation of the other part of the verb (alegro, alegras, alegra, alegramos, alegráis, alegran), so we will have:

–> Me alegro, te alegras, se alegra, nos alegramos, os alegráis, se alegran.
–> You can add extra information after “Me alegro” to explain why you are happy about: Me alegro por + sustantivo (Me alegro por tu nuevo trabajo), o Me alegro de que + frase subordinada (Me alegro de que tengas un nuevo trabajo).
–> german_flag In German, the translation would be: Ich freue mich (auch reflexiv auf Deutsch, oder?)
–> Grammar: as I said before, in this case we are having a reflexive use of the verb.

I hope this was useful. If you have any questions, let me know.

🙂

Learn Spanish with songs

Do you like music? Would you like to learn Spanish while listening to music? Sometimes students ask me if there is any website to practice Spanish with music. Well, there are some!

As an example, you can try to use lyricstraining.com

How to use lyricstraining.com without registration?

  1. Go to the website.
  2. On the top right of the site, find the word “Idioma” and choose Spanish. You can also practice other languages that you will find on that list.Learn Spanish with music
  3. You can now search a particular song if you click on “Buscar”. If you don’t have any specific song in mind, you can click on “Géneros” to see the available songs for each category. In my case, I am going to click on “Indie”, which should content songs in Spanish of independent bands.Spanish songs lyrics learn
  4. Now the different available songs will display on the screen. If you want to order them by artist name, click on “Ordenar: Más Nuevas” and select “Artista”. lyricstraining order
  5. I am going to select the song “Dinero” of the band “Los Punsetes”. I click in the song and after that, I see a new page where I must select my “Modo de Juego”. I will choose “Principiante”.elige modo juego learn Spanish with songs
  6. A blue screen with a “play” sign will appear. But right after we click on that “play”, we will be invited to register. Well, you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to. How? Just click on “Quizás en otro momento”.lyricstraining learn Spanish no registration
  7. After clicking on “Quizás en otro momento” your song will start playing and you will visualize it as Karaoke, so you can practice your Spanish while reading and singing lyrics. Some of the words will appear as “****”. That means you can fill in the gaps as well! Such a great way to learn Spanish with songs, isn’t it?lyricstraining punsetes practice Spanish

I hope this post is useful. Now you can learn Spanish with songs!

Have fun! Viel Spaß!

Double consonants in Spanish

Unlike other languages, in Spanish only 4 consonants can appear doubled up: C, R, L, N. You can remember it using the word “CaRoLiNa“.

Examples:

  • With CC: elección, dirección, acción, protección, diccionario.
  • With RR: perro, carretera, correo, barrio.
  • With LL: llave, silla, collar, amarillo.
  • With NN: connotación, perenne.

Other words like pizza or puzzle don’t attend this rule because they are loan words.

I will take advantage of this post to share with you a very famous Spanish song: CAROLINA. Band: M Clan (from Madrid, Spain). I am not a fan of this band but I think it could help you to remember about the use of double consonants in Spanish. Have fun!