Easy Spanish with Subtitles Christmas in Madrid, Spain

Is Christmas in Spain so different?three wise men scale

The truth of the matter is that, yes, Christmas is very different in Spain. We can suppose that every country and even region has its own special way of celebrating the principal festivals. Madrid is no exception.

In this video clip, we have made it more accessible by adding subtitles and making it into what you might call easy Spanish. Of course, for anyone who has spent any time learning Spanish they will know that there is no such thing as easy Spanish. Perhaps it would be better to say ‘easier Spanish’. Lol. However, using great self control Cynthia speaks incredibly slowly in this video, so really we could say it was easy Spanish, although we´ll let you be the judges of that.

Torrejón de Ardóz.

Cynthia’s home town is un pueblo called Torrejón de Ardóz. It’s about thirty minutes from the centre of Madrid and is in what is describe as ‘las afueras’ or the outskirts.
Despite being a smallish town, when Christmas rolls around, suddenly biggish things start to happen.

One year, for the entire duration of the Christmas period, there was a big marquee erected that ran shows for the kids and then for the adults every night of the week. Most were free.
In the town centre in ‘la plaza’ there were rides and stalls along with all kinds of Christmassy things.

La Cabalgata.

Apart from having a far longer period for the Christmas celebrations, which are from the 24th of December until the 7th of January, the culmination of the holidays happens on the 5th of January when an enormous parade of floats (called carrozas) make their way through the town centre and into the plaza. There, they deliver the Three Wise Men (los Tres Reyes Magos) so they can begin their work of delivering all of the presents which the children will open the following morning.

Bring an umbrella.

If you go to a Cabalgata with a child, be sure to take an umbrella. Not for the rain, of course. It’s for the thousands of sweeties and chocolates that get thrown into the crowd by the people on the floats. Many parents bring an umbrella and hold it upside down to increase their sweety catching ability.

Las Carrozas y Disfraces.

One of the most impressive parts of the whole event are the themed floats filled with people in fancy dress. These costumes and floats aren’t just thrown together. They have been prepared across many weeks leading up to Christmas and are very impressive.

Disney is always a popular theme and it’s not uncommon to see the plaza filled with Mickey and Minnie mouses after everything is over.

Another interesting theme tends to be men in women’s costumes. Throughout Spain, in virtually every parade you will find men dressed up as women, still sporting the odd beard or full moustache.

Be sure to experience at least one Christmas there.

It’s really worth the effort to arrange to spend one Christmas in Spain. The bigger the city, the more extravagant the celebration. However, even the smaller towns always have something interesting to see.

In our village here in the UK, we have one man dressed as Santa Claus on a trailer who throws sweeties to the kids on Christmas Eve…

Really, we’ve got much to learn from the Spanish on how to celebrate ‘a lo grande’.

Gordon y Cynthia.

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Present Spanish Subjunctive Examples Possibilities 7

Spanish Subjunctive Examples questions scalenumber 7.


It’s all getting a bit blurry.

As I state in the podcast, there comes a time when studying the Spanish Subjunctive when the lines begin to get blurred. It becomes difficult to keep rigid lines around the little families of triggers.


This is because, as you really begin to understand the Spanish subjunctive, you will find that there really is no great difference between one category and another.

The shocking news is that the Subjunctive is really the same thing every time.

In this podcast we talk about possibilities and about expressions like:

It’s possible that… Es posible que…

It’s probable that… Es probable que…

I don’t think that… No creo que…

Just as an aside, when English speakers make the above sentence about thinking, they generally choose the verb PENSAR.

However, many Spanish speakers would choose CREER over PENSAR. Why?

Well, the simplest answer is that it’s quicker! It’s easier to say “Creo que.” than it is to say “Pienso que”. And that’s probably the only reason.

Is a pattern emerging?

Perhaps you are beginning to notice as you look at all of the Spanish subjunctive examples that there are two things that seem to bind many of the triggers together.

These are:

1, Uncertainty.

2, Future events.

This is what all the possibilities refer to. However, as we have explained earlier in this series. This is not always a good way of identifying the subjunctive. The reason for that is for every example you can find to prove this theory, there exists another that literally flies in the face of it.

This is why it really is worth understanding the physical structure of the triggers rather than spending lots of time trying to grasp the more theoretical premise behind its use.

Going forward.

What we suggest is that as you go on learning and more importantly, USING the subjunctive in your spoken and written Spanish, that you aim to gain an understanding of the feeling and intention behind the Spanish subjunctive.

As has been said before, the Subjunctive is a mood (and a mood is a feeling, right?) and as strange as it sounds, you end up feeling it in your guts rather than understanding it in your head. You literally end up getting a gut feel that in any particular sentence the subjunctive should be used.

Once you become comfortable with it, that gut feel will serve you well most of the time. And, of course, sometimes it will lead you completely astray as it does me (Gordon) sometimes.

At the end of the day, learning is more a process and less an end result. So just keep at it and we’ll keep giving you new ways to understand and improve your Spanish.

Saludos, Gordon y Cynthia.

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El Aula – Todavia, Aun or Aún? – Which to use?

Why is Todavia written into the title incorrectly keyboard scalewithout an accent? / Todavía

Firstly, let us apologise for having the word, todavía, in the title without a tilde or accent. We are well aware that our students must be wondering why we are doing that, especially when we are supposed to be teachers.

Well, it’s all about the search engines. If we want the search engines to pick up the word todavia, (and we do!) we must write it without an accent. Why? Because when people are Googling a word they rarely if ever write it with its correct accent.

So, todavia without an accent get searched for 22,000 times a month whilst todavía with its corresponding accent gets written into Google only 1,900 times a month.

It’s only normal that people who are not used to writing with accents or don’t know how to configure their keyboard would write ” todavia” instead of “todavía”. But, we think that it is important to get used to writing with accents and so, we have decided to offer a little tutorial on how to change your keyboard to Spanish.

Firstly, however, we wanted to tell you what is happening in our new project LightSpeed English.

A distinct lack of accents.

When we are writing our blogs and titles for LightSpeed Engish etc. we use the same analysis to see who is searching for what in the Spanish speaking world. The real shock has been that no matter how bad non-spanish speakers are at NOT putting accents on the words, the Spanish speaking world is 100 times worse!

We have crazy results when we try to write something like: “Conversación en inglés.” Google tells us that a few hundred people have searched for that. ‘Strange’ we think. ‘Surely there must be more Spanish speakers interested in hearing English conversations.’

So, then we put into the analysis: “Conversacion in ingles”  (not an accent in sight!) and 100,000 results appear!

This has happened time and again. It seems that the majority of Spanish speakers simply do not use accents in Google. Is it because they can’t be bothered, they aren’t sure about them or it’s faster? We don’t know, but whatever the reason, it’s wrong!

So, in future blogs, if you see a word that should have an accent and doesn’t, you’ll understand why. However, we will always mention it and have the correct version visible.

Come one, guys! Let’s work to get the accents back on the words. It’s what makes Spanish beautiful and it helps pronunciation no end!

How to add accents.

Go to start button (if you have)

Go to Control Panel

Under Clock Region and Language Choose ‘Add a Language’ Win 8

Choose Clock, Region and Language Win 7 or below

Choose Add a Language Win 8

Choose Region and Language Win 7

Choose Add a language Win 8

Choose on the tabs of the box that appears Keyboards and Languages

Scroll down to Spanish and click the box with Spanish Win 8

Click change Keyboards Win 7

Click the Spanish you want. It’s country specific. A good one is Spanish traditional sort. This will give you an icon on your bottom bar. You just click it to change the language of your keyboard. Win 8

Click add on the box. A long list will appear. Scroll down to Spanish and choose the country you want. A good one is Spain traditional sort. Click the plus sign next to the one you want. Click the plus sign next to keyboard.  Click the box Spanish. That’s it. You will have an icon on the bottom bar of your pc and you click it to change between your own language and Spanish.

On an English keyboard, the tildes can be found where the @ sign is. You hit that key first and then the vowel you want. This puts it on top of the vowel. To discover the rest, you need to play around with each key. Open a word document and start to hit each key to see what it does. Then hit each key with the shift button on and you will find the other important keys, too.

Good luck, and happy accenting! Oh, and enjoy the videoblog, too.

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El Aula – Trabajar- Using it Well

Trabajar.trabajar scale

In our book, this is a strange verb for many English speaking students of the Spanish language.

The reason that ‘trabajar’ causes so many problems is its ambiguity in English.

Perhaps you’ve noticed that when you say:

I’m going to work.

there is a lack of clarity in the sentence.

Do you mean: I am going to my place of work? or that: I am going to do some work?

Typically, when we say: ‘I am going to work’ we are referring to the noun ‘el trabajo’ and not the verb, ‘trabajar’.

Also, when we actually want to do some work, we often say:

I’m going to do some work now.

However, that isn’t always the case for everyone and so, when we are faced with creating the same sentence in Spanish, strange things begin to occur in our heads.

We know this from experience and from having to help hundreds of our students get things clear in their minds.

Trabajar, El Trabajo y Trabajo yo.

To add confusion to the mix, in Spanish we have three options that are very similar.

We can say:

I work = yo trabajo.

Work (the place of) = el trabajo

To work (action) = trabajar

 The common mistakes

One of the most common mistakes we hear is mixing up el trabajo with trabajar.

Por ejemplo:

Voy al trabajar = I’m going to the to work.

Voy a trabajo = I’m going I work.

The correct way

The right way is the following:

Voy al trabajo. = I’m going to my place of work. (and maybe will do some work)

Voy a trabajar. = I’m going to do some work.


Other valuable ways of using these words are the following:

Voy a estar en EL TRABAJO todo el día. = I’m going to be in my place of work all day.

Voy a trabajar todo el día. = I’m going to work all day.

Trabajo todo el día. = I work/I’m working all day.


When you want to know what someone does for work you can ask:

¿En qué trabajas?= In what do you work?

A similar question with more challenging pronunciation is:

¿A qué te dedicas? = What do you dedicate yourself to?

The second question is handy when it’s not sure that the person you are talking to works a conventional job.

En resumen

That just about covers the broad outline of what we discuss in the videoblog. We hope that that has been of value to you. It may seem like a small word, but, surprisingly, it’s one of the most searched for in Google.


Gordon y Cynthia 🙂

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Spanish Speakers AudioBlog Madrid’s Nightlife

Listening to Spanish Speakersdisco

Here we are again with another listening appreciation and another chance to listen to Spanish speakers. It’s always a challenge to capture everything that a native speaker says.

Invariably, knowing that their audience is made up of students, they start speaking slowly. Then, after what seems like three and a half seconds, they start speaking at the speed of light as though they’ve completely forgotten that we are listening. (And they have).

During all of our interviews with native Spanish speakers at some point we have had to do the internationally known hand signal which involves frantically waving it up and down in the air. Supposedly, this makes people slow down and so we do it in the hope that the interviewee notices that they have lost just about their entire audience. Most times, however, they carry on oblivious!

In this interview between Iván and Cynthia, the theme is going out in Spain, principally in Madrid.  You’ve already met Iván in the other interview with his boyfriend Jorge in which they talk about being gay in Spain.

This time, however, Iván is alone and covers the main things that young people do for fun.

El Botellón

What’s interesting is that they cover the topic of the infamous ‘botellón’. During many, many years, this was a favourite subject for the A level course here in the UK and it seemed that all of the students we coached through their exams had to talk about it.

If you aren’t familiar with it, the ‘botellón’ is a party outdoors for young people. They normally happen in parks  and involve music,  (some people bring guitars or drums) porros, (marijuana joints), and ‘calimocho’ (coke mixed with wine).

These parties have ‘mala fama’ mainly because of the mess that the youngsters leave behind afterwards. However, the ones that I (Gordon) have seen have always seemed quite nice and communal. For young people who have little money, this is a great way to have fun with friends without having to pay the high prices in the bars and clubs.

Fortunately, the Spanish climate permits people to be outside during the evening and so el botellón can happen spontaneously on any night. Although young people in the UK have tried to emulate the Spanish, it has never really taken off given the ‘tiempo fatal’ that we have here.

So, listen in as Iván talks you through his perceptions of the night life in Madrid. Buena suerte.




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