Saturday, February 28, 2015

El Gran Debate del Vestido y Starbucks Lovers

I have been captivated by the "Great Dress Debate" lately.  The more I look at the original photograph, the better I can see it either way - it's obviously blue and black . . . until it's not, and then it's obviously white and gold.  Very very interesting optical illusion.  In case you have managed to miss this debate, you can read about it here on CNN.

If you watch the television show Brain Games (recommended!) then you are used to these sorts of color illusions.  I'm always stunned to learn that the color I thought was yellow was actually brown or something like that.  I mention it because these sorts of discussions can be had with Spanish students - even ones at the very beginning of their language journey.

The following is not really a funny, since there is no humor value in it that I'm aware of.  But I put it together with the thought that it might make Spanish 1 and 2 students smile.

On Monday, I will be sharing this with my students and talking a little about illusions - optical as well as auditory.  For example, Taylor Swift has a song out right now called "Blank Space."  It is a catchy song and I enjoy singing along every time it comes on the radio.  I'm good at knowing all the lyrics to all the songs, so I was surprised today to learn that I had the words all wrong.  I thought Taylor was saying "I get along with Starbucks lovers" at one point, and apparently I'm not the only one that heard it that way.  This article at Metro Lyrics addresses the same issue.  Taylor is actually saying "I got a long list of ex lovers."  My daughter told me this today and I looked at her like she was crazy, but then I listened to the song again and, sure enough, it is as clear as a bell - long list of ex lovers.

When I was in Mexico for the first time (still an intermediate language learner at that time) I kept hearing people talking about chicken, or so I thought, in serious conversations.  Discussions about relationships shouldn't involve chicken.  News anchors shouldn't mention chicken when talking about foreign policy . . . .  It turns out the word I was hearing was apoyo - not pollo.  Things like this happen to us all the time - even in our own language (Starbucks lovers), so I hope my students will be gentle with themselves and their listening comprehension when they see how easily our ears and eyes can be fooled.

Hasta pronto amigos (y aficcionados de Starbucks),


Monday, February 23, 2015


I think this Oso obsession of mine may never end . . . but I saw this picture today and I just couldn't stop myself.

The original artwork is by Mikaela Puranen and is available for purchase, along with a lot of other great stuff on her website

As my principal says on the morning announcements ever morning, "Make it a great day, or not.  The choice is yours."

Hasta pronto,


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Más Osos

Thanks for the comments and emails, amigos.  I am very inspired to create more oso art because of all the support and ideas I've gotten.

Delicioso seemed like an obvious one, but it took me awhile to find the perfect picture.  I didn't want a honey pot with English - or worse, improperly spelled English (hunny).  These little strawberries did the trick nicely.

Then I figured I would tackle generoso but, let me tell you, it is not easy to find a generous bear out there.  On the other hand, I found quite a few greedy bears.  So, in the interim, here is "poco generoso" which will allow us to explain to students how poco + adjective works.

Poco is one of those words that we learn in the first days of Spanish 1 (as a noun).  
-- ¿Hablas español?
-- Un poco.
But the word is more complex than most students realize and it can take a long time to learn how to use it correctly.  Interestingly, when it is used as an adverb paired with an adjective, it translates as "not very" or even "not at all". 

And, with that, I'm out for the evening.  I am poco energética tonight.  I have a cold that just won't release its grip on me, so I'm off to bed.

Hasta pronto,


Sunday, February 15, 2015


Students and amigos keep suggesting more osos . . .

What can I do?

Estudioso, gracioso, and talentoso.  I hope you enjoy them! 

Hasta pronto,


Friday, February 13, 2015

Ataque De Las Tarjetas De San Valentín

Give your students some artistic freedom and they will shock and amaze you!  Look at the following picture - evidence that students have ideas and inspiration that are beyond anything you might be thinking about when you create an assignment.  (Yes, that's me being victimized by the "face-eating" valentine.)  :-)

From looking at this, you might think that this was a waste of class time, but I assure you there was a Spanish project behind this image.  There was a rubric, there was a process, there were guidelines, and there were examples given.  And still my student managed to come up with this . . . and I absolutely love it!

Inside this (admittedly unorthodox) valentine card, there is a message in correct Spanish that uses a verb of volition, an example of the subjunctive, and several descriptive adjectives from recent vocabulary lists.  It never would have occurred to me to create a card like this - and that is one of the things I love best about my students.  They are an unending source of amazement and joy for me.

This student and I have a similar sense of humor and an appreciation for the absurd.  (My husband and I celebrated a zombie themed Valentine's Day a few years ago, as a case in point.)

The take away from all of this?  As long as students are doing the Spanish and they are not doing anything inappropriate (or dangerous), give them freedom to be creative.  If we teachers can resist the temptation to micromanage, the results can be spectacular.

Hasta pronto,


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Bésame Mucho

¡Feliz Día de San Valentín!

I love Valentine's Day - not because it's a day about sweethearts, but because it doesn't have to be about that only.  Years ago, I decided to expand the idea of Valentine's Day to include all the people in my life that I love - my family, my friends, and my students.

My husband is included in that list too, of course.  He and I have a reservation at a Mexican restaurant for Saturday and, as is our custom, we will exchange video games and high end electronics.  No joke!  I always remind him not to be swayed by the guilt trip diamond and chocolate commercials out there.  (And there is one teddy bear company out there with an offensive commercial that I don't think they showed to any women before they aired it.  I certainly don't want anything from them!)

Anyway . . . back to Spanish - that is what the blog is about, after all.  I put together a Bésame Mucho activity to add to Friday's lesson.  While I was working on it, I did a little research and discovered some fun facts that you might want to share with your students. 
  • It is the most recorded Spanish song of all time. 
  • It was written by Consuelo Velazquez when she was so young that she had never actually been kissed.
  • The topics of loss and distance in the song touched a strong chord with people during World War II when boyfriends and husbands were being shipped away to Japan and Germany - though Miss Velazquez didn't have that in mind when she wrote it.
Interesting, isn't it?  

Here is the activity sheet with a cloze practice, a link to the original song online, and a few discussion questions.  You might need to help your students with the history of the song.  I put a few present perfect sentences in there that might be stumbling blocks for beginners.

And here is a shout-out to my adult student David W who sang this song to his wife on their golden wedding anniversary.  Both he and his wife are students of mine in a continuing education class at our local community college.  Bien hecho, David.  ¡Muy romántico!

Hasta pronto,


Wednesday, February 11, 2015


There might be no end to my oso posts, amigos.  A reader here, imsotired, left me a comment yesterday about these being "fabuloso" and I knew that I had to make a fabuloso too - if I could find the right image to start.

Needless to say, this is the perfect image for a fabulOSO.

Easy enough for Spanish I students to get the joke! 

Hasta pronto, amigos.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Subjunctive Notes

My Spanish III students have a big subjunctive test coming up on Friday and they wanted to have all their notes in one document to make it easier for them to study.

Unlike the the Subjunctive Tri-fold which I posted a long time ago, this differs a little.  These notes just focus on how to form the subjunctive - not when to use it.  Stem-changers (curse them!) are included.  There is also no mention of command forms.  This is just subjunctive conjugation.

Once students have studied all the various ways to use subjunctive and are also familiar with command forms, that is when you will want to bring out the tri-fold.

Click here or on the image below to download the blank notes for your students to fill in.  Provide scaffolding, amigos.  They will need help to make sure their notes are correct.  You don't want them studying the wrong thing!

Click here or on the image below to download the answer key for the notes.  You can give this to absent students or post it on the wall for students to check their work when they are done.

And, in case you want to edit the document, here is a DOC version of it.  Please don't edit out my Creative Commons statement.

¡Ojalá que sea útil!

Hasta pronto,


Monday, February 9, 2015

Perezoso y Cariñoso

My students loved the furiOSO so I couldn't resist and I had to add a perezOSO and a cariñOSO to the list.

And, since it is almost Valentine's Day, the cariñOSO is especially timely!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Murió En Un Accidente

What was going on with the Super Bowl commercials last Sunday?  Most of them were heavy, tragic, heart-wrenching, or just plain bad.  I'm not a sports person at all, but I decided to mix it up last Sunday by actually putting on the game (in the background) so I would be able to participate in conversation the following day.  But wow . . .

I think the commercial that was the worst aguafiestas of all was the Nationwide "I died from an accident" commercial.  It started off kind of cute then took a radical turn for heartbreaking.  If you want to watch it, here is the link.  Get your tissue box ready.

Nationwide Commercial

So now that I've contextualized this, you can understand the humor in this chiste gráfico.  I'm not a terrible person - I promise.  I was just poking fun at the commercial.  Share it with your students and I guarantee you'll get laughs and lots of discussion.  Mine fell out of their chairs yesterday when I showed it.

Ha ha!  Take that, Nationwide!  You are now a meme.

Obviously be careful about this one.  Don't show it to immature classes or to folks who have had a recent tragedy.  That would go over terribly.

And, because I was asked, here is a version in English too:

I hope you have a great week that is filled with homework and completely bereft  of accidents, amigos.

Hasta pronto,