A New Home For Our Free Spanish Lessons Online

Here at LightSpeed Spanish we are muy ilusionados to announce a new home for our free Spanish lessons online with the launch of our new web page.

After many months working alongside our compañero Michael Smith in Nueva Jersey, we are very proud to be able to provide our learners with a much improved learning environment in which they can easily and quickly access all of our comprehensive Spanish learning materials, from our audio podcasts, to our video lessons, to our indispensable helpsheets.

On our new website we have distilled our cumulative 25 years of teaching Spanish into bite-sized chunks of learning so that you can move seamlessly through your Spanish language learning journey.

We are determined to help our students see that learning Spanish doesn’t need to be boring or drudgery. That’s why we always aim to keep our lessons light, fun, and most importantly, short and sweet!

So what have we got in store to offer our ‘hungry for learning’ Spanish students? Just look at this!

Free Spanish Lessons on YouTube

Now, with everything at your fingertips and just a click away, you can join LightSpeed Spanish on YouTube and gain access to every new video we upload, as soon as it arrives.

Free Spanish Lessons on iTunes

You can subscribe to LightSpeed Spanish on iTunes and get automatic access to our back-catalogue of Spanish podcasts as well as an automatic feed for every new mp3 that is uploaded to iTunes.

Free Spanish Help on Twitter

You can now find LightSpeed Spanish on Twitter and so, if that is your social network of choice, then we’ll be there with you providing you with links to our latest blogs as well as advice and answers to questions to take your Spanish forward at LightSpeed.

LightSpeed Spanish on Facebook

Our greatest move forward in helping our students has been the LightSpeed Spanish Facebook group which has just about burst its banks with a wealth of students of the Spanish language who join us every day and begin to practice writing and interacting in Spanish with many other like-minded people.

If you like what you see, come and join us now.

So why don’t you come and join us and let us help you to widen your Spanish speaking, reading, writing and listening skills? Whether you are an Absolute Beginner or an Advanced Speaker, our free Spanish lessons online can help you move your abilities to the next level.

Estamos aquí para vosotros (y para ustedes si te gusta el español de América Latina.)

Gordon y Cynthia.

Must-Use Important Spanish Sayings – VERGÜENZA AJENA

veguenza-ajenaLet’s take a look at one of the important Spanish sayings that describes feeling shame or embarrassment but not for oneself; vergüenza ajena,  Who hasn’t felt vergüenza (shame) before? In particular ourselves as language students, as we test our newly acquired Spanish skills only to find out, all too often, that we’ve said something terribly rude, risqué or both! ¡Todos hemos estado allí!  It’s certain that each of us have experienced our personal shame, another of the popular Spanish sayings, which is-“verguenza propia” or, simply “vergüenza”.

But, did you know there’s another type of shame?  One in which you do not feel shame for something you’ve done, but rather shame on behalf of someone else?  To describe this you would use; “vergüenza ajena”.  This vergüenza can be experienced as pure shame or embarrassment, making you laugh or irritated, or it could be experienced as “pena” (pity/sorry) for the other person.

Not sure you’ve ever experienced it? If you’re familiar with Ricky Gervais’s sitcoms you’ll be very familiar with this feeling.  Or if you’ve ever watched one of the programmes in which people clearly think they know how to sing, dance… only to find out they are terrible at it. How did you feel when they were giving their best? Yes! There! You felt vergüenza ajena, or “Spanish shame”!

This is a normal emotion for any human being who feels empathy: you put yourself in their shoes and you can feel it too as it if were happening to you. Check out this funny sketch from Fawlty Towers, another series that causes ‘mucha vergüena ajena’.

So, what does “ajena” mean? Something “ajeno” is something outside of us or something belonging to someone else. It’s the opposite of “propio”, which means your own.

Sentir vergüenza ajena” is a phrase commonly used in the Spanish speaking community, so it’s good to know it exists!

I will show you some examples:

–        El protagonista actuaba tan mal que sentí vergüenza ajena.

–        The main character acted to badly that I felt ashamed on his behalf.


–        Me dio vergüenza ajena cuando todos se rieron de él.

–        I felt embarrassed on his behalf when they all laughed at him.

Empatía. Qué regalo más bonito para el corazón humano.

Empathy. What a beautiful gift for the human heart!

For more interesting looks at nuances of the Spanish language, why not join us in the LightSpeed Spanish Facebook group?

What Does Hispanic Mean to You?

what-does-hispanic-meanAll of us referred to as “españoles, latinos, hispanos, centroamericanos or sudamericanos” are united by a common language: Spanish. But, as well as the other names, what does Hispanic mean, en reality? Firstly, let’s look at the diversity of the Spanish language.

The Spanish language is the second most spoken language in the world (even more than English), right after Mandarin Chinese. It is spoken in Spain, Spanish America, some parts of USA, in the occidental part of the Sahara, Equatorial Guinea and some parts of the Philippines. Spanish is also one of the most phonetic languages in the world!

As one can imagine, with such a vast expansion, the Spanish language enjoys many different accents along with varied vocabulary and expressions. But which one should you use?

The answer to that question is found in the answers to the following questions:

Where do you spend your holidays?

Which Spanish-speaking country do you enjoy the most?

Where do you own your holiday home?

Where are your Spanish-speaking friends from?

Or, simply, which one is nicer to your ears?

That’s the vocabulary, expressions and accent you need!


So what about the differences between these Spanish-Speaking people:

We have all heard the terms “español latino, hispanos and sudamericanos” but do we know what they refer to?


Latino:  refers to those people from Europe or America whose mother tongue comes from the Latin language. Is it hardly ever used for the French, Portuguese, Italians, Rumanians, Belgians or Swiss, although their language is also derived from Latin.

Hispano/Hispanic: refers to those people born in Hispania (Spain), in Spanish America, or in Spanish America living in the USA. Strictly speaking we could add also Portuguese people, since they were born in “Hispania” although, typically, it is used to refer to people from Spain and Spanish America.

Sudamericano: refers to those people only from South America. Brazilians may or may not want to include themselves in this group. (Another group would be Centroamericanos, which includes Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, Belice, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and El Salvador).

You may hear some people claiming they are not Latinos, but rather Sudamericanos, or that they are not Hispanos, but rather Iberoamericanos. The connotations and ties that some of these terms bring with them could make them appealing or not for different individuals to use.

My advice? It’s probably best to refer to them as Spanish, Mexican, Puerto Rican, etc.

… Cynthia Durán.


How to Learn Spanish in 2014 from LightSpeed Spanish

school scale blog 2014How to Learn Spanish.

Those who massage the truth.

Firstly, for your own sakes, let us be the bearers of the bad news. Despite what you might see awash throughout the internet, the claims that some rather unscrupulous companies make about learning Spanish in three months are to be viewed with extreme caution.

Let us explain what we mean when we say that.

When you decide to embark on your learning journey, you have to be fairly clear about “WHY”  you are choosing to learn Spanish.  This will help you clarify just WHAT LEVEL of Spanish you want to achieve.

Some people believe that if they can order a meal, pass the time of day and buy a beer in Spanish then they are fluent.

Some people believe that if they can talk fluently in Spanish regardless of what it is they are saying (fluently crap) then they have arrived.

Some people believe that fluent means being able to speak in every tense available in Spanish without making a mistake.

And so it is for that reason that  the clear promises made to teach you to become “fluent” in three months, or overnight, or in a weekend, or with 500 words are ambiguous to say the least.

And so, the question for you is: “WHAT DOES FLUENT MEAN?”

Your perception of fluent may not be that of the person next to you and so, it is by knowing for what reason you want to use your Spanish that you will know which course is the right one for you.

How do I choose the right course for me?

These days, there is absolutely no need to shell out lots of cash to start learning Spanish. In fact, we would suggest to you that YOU SHOULD NOT pay large amounts of money to get started.


Because of one simple factor. In every beginners class that we have run, we have found that after ten weeks 75% of the class has given up!

Imagine investing 100’s of dollars, pounds, euros or whatever your currency is only to find after a few weeks that it just isn’t for you.

Far better to start off with the vast amount of free material out there.

But if I invest money won’t it make me more motivated?

If our experience is anything to go by, this is not the case at the beginning. We have seen many students who have invested a lot of money in books and more books and CD’s and anything else and after all that, they have given up without having even opened most of their material.

So what should I do to motivate myself?

This is easy. The biggest motivator for you is the time that you have invested in learning Spanish. The secret of how to learn Spanish is to invest as much time as you can in it. What happens is this: THE MORE TIME YOU INVEST; THE LESS LIKELY YOU ARE TO GIVE IT UP.

Time is our most precious asset and when we invest a lot of it in one area of our lives, we expect payback.

So, where should I start?

You start at the beginning. There are so many options but our suggestion is to choose the free ones. Here at LightSpeed Spanish we offer free video podcasts that help you through a step by step process of learning, from basics all the way through to Advanced. Our podcasts have been produced based on our years of teaching experience and follow a logical sequence using real Spanish in day to day situations.

Of course, we would never say that you should only use our materials. There is a wealth of material out there and we celebrate this fact as it helps us even more to help you. If you have an Android phone, there are some great Apps that help you work daily on your vocabulary and sentence construction.

When should I start?

There is no time like the present! To really get your Spanish moving, all you need do is to go to the very first beginner’s podcast of ours and start to work your way through. Repeat them, skip them, go back and watch again, if you have doubts, ask us. Study daily, become a little obsessed, get passionate and just do it!

We will be with you at every step of the way. Come and join us on our Facebook page and join an ever growing group of enthusiastic students who will show you how to learn Spanish in 2014.

Buena suerte, Gordon y Cynthia 🙂



El Aula – Spanish Preterite and Imperfect When to Use Them (2 of 3)

date scale aula pret imperfHow do I know when to use the Spanish Preterite and Imperfect?

This is probably one of the most asked questions by every student of the Spanish language that is faced with the daunting task of talking in the past.

One of the hurdles that everyone has to overcome, no matter which part of Spanish grammar they are studying, is that usually these kind of questions have no short answer.

Normally, we are loaded down by a whole host of rules and regulations that we have to consider before we can even get a word out of our mouths.

Native speakers have it easy.

Native Spanish speakers do not have this problem. In fact, they are blissfully ignorant of all of the rules we have to learn to enable us to get it right. That’s because they have learnt by ear, which is how we learnt our own maternal language.

We, sadly, don’t have that luxury and are obliged to mechanically work through the rights and wrongs without the benefit of being able to say: It just sounds right. or That sounds terrible.

What I have aimed to do in this podcast is to distil all of these rules into a simplistic way of thinking that, if used correctly, will allow you to get it right at least 8 times out of 10.

Just like all learning, the more you study and listen to native speakers talk, the easier it will be to simply go with your intuition when it comes to choosing the between the Spanish preterite and imperfect.

Time and effort sorts everything out for you. However, in the mean time, by watching this video or listening to this podcast a good few times, it will give you the foundation you need to steer you in the right direction and will allow you to build on a solid understanding.

How do I clear up my confusions?

I’ve always found that when I am confused about a particular grammar point, I make mistake after mistake without ever understanding why or knowing if I have it right or not.

The answer, for me, has always been to ask, read up on it, use the Internet, go on a chat room and ask someone, ask my teacher or anything else that might help me clear the confusion up.

This is one of the great benefits of one to one classes. We have seen so many of our students really begin to surge forward once they begin one to one classes with us on Skype.

Be careful who you ask!

If you are able to, we suggest that you find a teacher to help you. Be careful not to ask people who have no idea of their own grammar rules (this is the majority…so beware). I did this a lot and it caused me even more confusion.

We hope this podcast helps you in your learning journey.

Gordon 🙂

Video for This Spanish Lesson

Audio for This Spanish Lesson