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Native Speaker Blog – Spanish Listening Comprehension – Opinions

elena scaleSpanish Listening Comprehension

Going forward we will be adding various audio and video blogs of Native Spanish Speakers so that you can practice your Spanish listening comprehension.

It’s so important to become accustomed to hearing many different kinds of voices and styles of talking.  If you have been listening to our podcasts it’s likely that you will be familiar with the sound of our voice and the way we speak Spanish.

The next step is to listen to as many other people as possible. For that reason we are going to keep adding blogs of the people we have done interviews with. And what’s more we will be having the same people talking in various interviews.

Why?

Just listening to one interview will not allow you to really capture the speaking style of that person. However, if you can hear them speaking in various different situations on different subjects, then you will be able to get accustomed to their voice.

In this audio blog, we have Elena again, Cynthia’s sister in an interview made in Spain outside the family villa, our future home!

What is she talking about?

I did a range of interviews about Spanish people’s opinions of the British. I wanted to understand what perceptions they had of the British and whether they were real or simply founded ideas taken from films or antiquated stories.

Before you listen, it’s worth knowing that the opinion of many British people is that Spanish people are lazy, that they always put things off until “mañana” and that they all have a siesta every day.

This is an old idea that still exists today and has very little bearing on the truth.

Some real perceptions.

One thing that did come out of all the interviews was the idea the Spanish have that British people drink a lot! Who can blame them when their only frame of reference is having seen the millions of tourists that go to the coast of Spain each year to drink themselves into a stupor whilst burning themselves to oblivion.

Thankfully, not all British people are into that kind of thing.

They can be critical of themselves.

In this Spanish listening comprehension you will also hear Elena talking about what she doesn’t like about her own country. Spanish people love their country and are very proud of their cultural heritage. However, their love isn’t blind and they are aware of the faults within their own society.

Listen in as Elena talk you through her own opinions of both the Spanish and the British.

 

Gordon 🙂

Video for This Spanish Lesson

Audio for This Spanish Lesson

Native Speaker Blog – The Crisis in Spain – Subtitled

The Crisis / La Crisiscrisis

In this interview which was recorded in 2009, José Luis gives his impression of the Crisis in Spain and he talks about what he perceives will be the future for Spain.

The fact is that, although things seemed quite grave in 2009, they are nothing compared to what is happening now. The entire country is in problems and to such a degree that even the government workers are struggling to get paid sometimes.

It was only a few years ago that the people in the south of Spain took the law into their own hands and broke into a Mercadona store taking food out to give to the people who literally had nothing to eat.

There was mass media focussed placed on this event with people asking if they really should have broken the law and whether it was a warranted action.

What do you think? Would you steal to feed your friends and family?

Politics and the politicians.

Now, in Spain, there exists a total lack of confidence in the government and the politicians. Clearly, there always has been a level of dissatisfaction regarding the performance of the government, but now, talking to the people everywhere, you can really get their sense of frustration and mistrust in the leaders.

It doesn’t help that terrible scandals come to light almost daily of politicians being caught with “las manos en la masa”, or “red handed” as we say, after having stashed away money that certainly wasn’t their own.

The king also got into hot water recently when it came to light that he had repeatedly spent time in Africa hunting and killing endangered animals. The issue was split between the fact he was hunting animals, (the Spanish are great animal lovers) and that someone was paying for these trips, and it wasn’t the king.

To save face, the king was obliged to apologise live on national TV, saying that he was sorry and that it wouldn’t happen again.

Hit on all sides.

The issue with the crisis is that it is affecting the Spanish each and every way. Prices are soaring, income is reducing, the government, in a state of panic, is cutting services and state aid, unemployment is at an all time high and many thousands of people are having to rely on charity for their food and clothing.

It’s all a bit of a mess, really. Even José, a few years after this video, was suddenly made redundant and hasn’t been able to find employment since.

Listen in as he explains just what is going on regarding the crisis.

Video for This Spanish Lesson

Audio for This Spanish Lesson

El Aula – Quedar Quedarse Encontrar Encontrarse – Knowing the Difference

Quedar and Quedarse.meeting

We have made this particular videoblog especially with you all, our students, in mind. It seems that there is a great confusion regarding which verb to use when you want to meet with friends or “meet up”.

The verb ENCONTRARSE tends to be the most popular to use, yet, as you listen into the blog you’ll see that that’s not really the best one to use.

In fact, QUEDAR is the one with tends to be mostly used in Spain and in many other countries.

What is the difference?

Let’s look at ENCONTRAR first.  Encontrar literally means ‘to find’. So, imagine that you had lost something and then you found it. You would say:

¡Ya lo he encontrado! = I’ve found it, now.

So, if you were to say:

Ayer encontré a Jorge. 

You would be saying that you literally found Jorge. (You had lost him for some time.)

 

Now let’s look at ENCONTRARSE. We all know that SE on the end of a verb means ONESELF. So, this verb means to FIND ONESELF.

So, imagine you were to say:

Esta mañana me encontré con Pati. 

You would be saying that you ‘found yourself´ with Pati which in other words would be: “I bumped into”. In this sense, it’s more of a chance meeting than something organised.

The Exception

As always, there are exceptions. For example, if you and a group of people were going on ‘una excursión’ whilst on holiday, you may well hear the guide telling everyone to “encontrarse en la recepción a las nueve.”

We tend to hear this used more in situations like this, and not in the more intimate, meet-up situations that we have with friends and family.

Quedar

This is an interesting verb and a fairly versatile one at that. Here are some of the uses:

Quedamos en tomar un café a las once de la mañana. = We agreed to to meet up to have a coffee at eleven in the morning.

So here, we see that it can be used (and is used very often) as a way of saying that you are going to meet up, or you did meet up with someone.

¿En que quedamos, entonces? = So, what’s the plan/what are we agreeing to?

When you’re  finalising plans, this is often the question.

No (me) queda mucho. = There’s not much left (for me).

Quedar also means ‘to remain’ So, you can use it to talk about what’s left.

Quedarse

This is used to talk about staying somewhere, like in a hotel or a house.

Me quedé dos noches en la casa de mi amiga. = I stayed in my friend’s house for two nights. 

So, that should give you an overview of these verbs. Now you can join us in the blog to here them explained in more detail and see how we use them.

Saludos,

Gordon y Cynthia

Video for This Spanish Lesson

Audio for This Spanish Lesson

Early Intermediate Podcast 30 – Spanish Test of Your Listening Skills

Spanish Test.highland-cow scale_1280

We are calling this podcast a Spanish test because it brings together much of what we have covered up to now in the 30 previous podcasts of this level.

If you have been paying attention (which we know you have, jeje) you should be able to follow along with us as we talk about our recent trip up to Scotland and the adventures we got ourselves into.

Personally, however, I (Gordon) would be more than happy for you to NOT hear the last part of the tale that Cynthia tells about when we arrived back from Scotland, cold and weary. It doesn’t make for pretty listening and makes me blush every time!

Some Important Advice.

As you listen to this Spanish test of your listening skills, you may well say to yourself:

I can understand  all of that, and yet, I could never say it like that!

And, of course, you are right. However, you must understand that this is NOT bad news. It doesn’t mean that your Spanish is in ‘problemas’ or that you haven’t been working hard enough.

In fact, you can be happy to know that it’s completely normal. It happens to EVERYONE.

Perhaps you’ve heard us talk about the PARETO rule that can be applied to your Spanish learning.

The rule is that you should be able to understand about 80% of your level and say about 20% of what you can understand.

Compare yourself to a baby.

You can see this 80/20 rule in children all the time. Little toddlers understand much of what you are saying to them. (If they are anything like Sebastián, our two year old son, then many times they choose to completely ignore it!)

Yet, they are not able to say the same words themselves. They say part words, they mispronounce, they point, they scream. In fact, they do anything they can to communicate even when they don’t have the words.

The self same thing applies to you. You are only a short way through your learning journey and so you are like a child that always has better listening abilities than speaking ones.

That doesn’t mean it will always be like that. ¡Qué va! As time progresses, so will your spoken Spanish and the gap will close on your speaking  compared to your understanding.

Let me tell you one thing, however, when I listen in English to a very intelligent speaker, I can understand everything he says, yet I couldn’t speak like he can (nor would I want to sometimes).

Language is like that.

So, enjoy your Spanish test and check to see if I’m right about the 80/20 rule!

Saludos,

Gordon 🙂

Video for This Spanish Lesson

Audio for This Spanish Lesson

 

 

Spanish Blog Spanish Listening Test Elena in England

This is great Spanish Listening Test.cute scale

Elena has spent a good few months in England now and, as a native Spanish speaker from Madrid in Spain, she offers her opinions and perceptions on what it is like to live and work in England.

Pharmacist in Spanish, waitress in English.

Elena is ‘licenciada’ in pharmacy and despite being fully qualified in Spain to work as a pharmacist, she was forced to come to England to find work. Spain is still currently in the depths of ‘la crisis’ with little hope of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel for some time yet.

Because of her grammatically strong yet inexperienced English, Elena could only manage to find work in a restaurant. That said, within the first week of actively searching for a job, she secured one as a waitress.  In Spain, even restaurant jobs are very hard to find these days.

A recent story emerged about a job vacancy that was advertised in Madrid, and although it was nothing fancy at all, they received over 20, 000 applications.

The language barrier

One of the issues of not having strong English skills is that, without even doing it consciously, people make assumptions about someone’s intelligence based on their language skills. As you will hear in this Spanish listening test with Elena, this is very much what happened to her.

When we hear someone speaking our language badly, we automatically think that they do not have a very good education. This isn’t our fault, nor is it the fault of the speaker, it’s just a fact of life.

So, unfortunately for Elena, because she wasn’t able to express herself very well in English, she began to notice that she was being treated in a somewhat condescending way, sometimes bordering on disrespectful.

English is the key

Fortunately, Elena has been able to quickly build on her English skills and has began to pursue pharmaceutical work in the area. Despite what she says in the interview, which took place around two months ago, she has since found herself a boyfriend (José from Tenerife) who works as a chef in the UK and so, Elena doesn’t intend to move back to Spain in the near future.

I recall  working in a Spanish restaurant in our local area about 6 years ago when my business collapsed and we found ourselves in a bit of a bad financial state. In the kitchen the entire staff was Polish.  All of them had degrees and were teachers, scientists and things of that nature, and yet they were all there in the kitchen.

The only thing they all had in common was that their English was very poor. And, that was why they were in the kitchen and not teaching or discovering things in laboratories.

As Elena is finding out, to be taken seriously, having a good command of the native language is key to progressing and securing a good job.

The same applies to us

Surprisingly, there are still a lot of Brits who go off to find work in Spain with only a handful of Spanish words in their pocket. Needless to say, most of them end up coming back to the UK with tales of how nothing worked out for them. Perhaps, if they had worked more on their Spanish, they might have had quite a different experience.

Enjoy this Spanish listening test. Three out of five stars for difficulty.

Video for This Spanish Lesson

Audio for This Spanish Lesson