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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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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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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How to make a Spanish Omelette / Tortilla Española

Spanish Omelette / Tortilla Españolaeggsscaleagriculture-scale






The tortilla española stands alongside la paella as one of the most traditional and talked about Spanish  dishes that exists to date.

Also known as Spanish omelette, it is a dish made from  the base of potatoes, onions and eggs with additional ingredients added according to preference.

¡A que está rica!

The most unusual thing about the Spanish omelette, in my opinion, (Gordon) is the taste. What I mean by that is that despite the very simple ingredients and the short preparation time, it is absolutely delicious.

Now, you must understand, before we go any further forward, that I don’t mean delicious in the Spanish sense of the word. The Spanish, as great food fanatics, do tend to refer to everything as delicioso, riquísimo, divino, para morirse (to die for) etc.

As a Brit, I cannot bring myself to exude to such an excessive degree about food. (as it’s just not the done thing…stiff upper lip and all that.) However, when it comes to a freshly prepared, still warm Spanish omelette, I go slightly weak at the knees.

Hot or Cold?

Here we have another interesting question. Do you eat the tortilla hot or cold? The answer is: Whatever way you like!

Mainly, in Spain however, it’s eaten cold. In fact, steaming hot food isn’t in great demand in Spain. They seem to prefer their food to be cold or if it is a hot dish, to be templado/tepid.

Thus, the Spanish omelette is most times served cold. If you go into any Spanish bar worth its salt, you will find a tortilla waiting to be served to the customers. It’s a fundamental part of “la cocina española” and is a must to try for anyone visiting Spain.

Sauces…¿dónde están?

Sauces are not very popular in Spain and most times, the tortilla is eaten on its own or as they say, “a palo seco”.  Also, another very popular way of enjoying the great flavour is to squash a generous slice of Spanish omelette inside a baguette. It’s called, as you might imagine, “un bocadillo de tortilla” and it is delicious. (If a little dry without some additional sauce or accompanied by whopping cup of tea.)

The nicest sauce in my opinion to slather on top of a tortilla is mayonnaise. It seems to be a match, as I see it, made in heaven. Especially if the tortilla is still warm.

And, now I’m really hungry after talking about the wonderful Spanish omelette. Watch Mercedes make it on the video and then have a go yourself. You really can’t go wrong. And you’re sure to love it!


Buen provecho.

Gordon 🙂

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Native Spanish Speakers Attitudes to the British with José Antonio

Another of our Native Spanish Speakers.hamburger scale

José Antonio is an interesting guy from the heart of Spain in Guadalajara. In this interview he talks about his opinion of the British as well as other European people. As a truck driver, his experience of British food seems to have been limited to the layby cafés and Greasy Joes’ That said, he still has quite a positive opinion of them.

That apart, this is probably a great time to tell his story, albeit a sad one. At the time of the interview, José was a truck driver who delivered fresh fruit and vegetables from Spain to the UK and Germany as well as other countries. He owned his own enormous lorry and travelled through Europe with his wife who had also gotten her heavy goods vehicle licence so that they could travel together on the long journeys.

Their business was going from strength to strength and they had invested in a new truck which cost pretty much what a house might cost to buy. Life seemed like it couldn’t get better.

Terrible News.

Then one day, as José went to invoice the company that contracted his services he discovered that the company had gone bust. It had simply closed its doors the night before and disappeared. Worse still, they owed him many thousands of pounds.

This left José and his family in a terrible state. Their income had stopped suddenly, all of their resources had been invested in the business and the bank was asking for money. The company that owed him what was around three months salary was limited and so would offer nothing toward the outstanding payment.

What made matters worse was that right at that moment Spain was caught in the beginnings of the crisis and the financial climate  was on a severe downturn. There were no jobs to fall back on.

In the space of six months, they went from having a wonderful lifestyle to not knowing when the next euro would come through the door.

Getting By.

Right now, they live very much from day to day. Their two sons fall in and out of sporadic work and José’s wife has managed to secure a job as a cleaner.  Unlike here in the UK, the support in Spain for people in José’s situation is minimal and as a family they have had to make some significant changes in their life to cope with these events.

Despite everything, José remains chipper and upbeat about the future. He has many extra skills and does servicing of cars and any other handyman jobs that come his way. Personally, I admire his fortitude and dogged perseverance. He has even, in times of need, had to live off the land and find his food (in the shape of four legged running creatures) out in the countryside.

Their family are great friends of ours and we really hope that life picks up for them soon and that the Spanish economy gets back on its feet tan pronto como sea posible.

In the mean time, enjoy this native speakers interview with José Antonio and if you struggle a little, that will be because he’s down in our book as 3 stars out of 5 for difficulty.

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