Do you dream of learning Spanish?

Do you dream of learning Spanish?

You have attended classes trying to learn Spanish for how many years…and yet still not confident enough to speak?

Train your brain to overcome the pain!

If I got over the fear of SPEAKING in Spanish then so can you…

My problem was I thought I sounded really weird when I spoke Spanish. Do you think you sound strange when you speak Spanish?

Well I certainly did!

It was an amazing eye opener for me when I discovered I really didn’t sound as weird to the natives as I thought!

There’s no getting away from the fact that you KNOW you sound really weird when you’re speaking Spanish and that you don’t sound like a native.

But guess what?


I discovered this small, but life-changing fact some years ago when I first arrived in this wonderful country but was still battling with my fear of sounding weird, foreign and yes, silly.

I was working in a part of Spain which had still been relatively undiscovered by British tourism or any international tourism at all ; the Basque Country (Euskadi).

This region of Spain and France comprises a part of the north east corner of Spain and the south west corner of France.

The only English I was speaking then was to the four-year-olds in my class as all friends were Spanish at that time.

Slowly I was able to understand what these lovely people meant when they told me my Spanish was ‘OK’ and they tried to assure me that they got my gist.

Wow! My gist.

I didn’t even get my gist myself because my Spanish sounded so bad to me.

Believe me, I was thrilled with what they said but I wouldn’t believe them for weeks.

They showed me they understood my feeble attempts because, as one Basque friend told me, she already knew lots of Spanish!

They were able to fill in the gaps when necessary and they realised when I was referring to the past even when I was using the Present Tense.

They blanked out the fact I should have used the Subjunctive Tense twice in that last sentence but they still knew what I meant.

They understood me and my abysmal pronunciation because they could work out what I was trying to say because THEY ALREADY KNEW SPANISH.

YOUR brain is not used to these different Spanish sounds you’re obliging it to make but a native Spanish speaker’s brain IS accustomed to Spanish sounds.

You WILL sound foreign, perhaps. But then the fact you are a foreigner is not a secret, is it?

What you don’t sound is WEIRD or FUNNY and definitely not SILLY.

It makes total sense.

Have faith in a native Spanish speaker to be able to decipher your utterances better than even you can yourself.

How to practise pronunciation

So how to you really get over that paralysing fear of sounding ‘funny’ to a native speaker of Spanish or of any other target language?

You know you need to practise more. You will be tired listening to advice on language learning encouraging you to practise more. But how?… and who with?… and when?

Consider how children learn


My daughters embracing Spanish language and culture, at an early age!

Think about how many times a child learning their mother language is going to say a word, probably dozens of times, before they are able to pronounce it correctly enough for even a stranger to understand.

You may not need so many attempts at pronouncing a new word in your target language before it will sound acceptable to another member of your target language audience. That’s great.

The fact is that a native speaker of the language you’re trying to learn will most likely understand a lot of what you try to say, as they will have a context and you may be able to aid understanding by pointing to items, giving facial expressions to help you along.

Your beginning attempts at a new language DO NOT sound as strange to a native speaker of that language as they do to you.

The obstacle for me was that I thought my new language sounded weird.

But that was because my ENGLISH brain was slow at ACCEPTING AS MINE these new sounds I was attempting to utter.

What I had to do was accustom the old grey matter to accept these new noises as being now part of my speech portfolio. I was extending my speech patterns but my brain went into denial.


My brain was actually jealous of my new friend, Spanish. Oh yes, that same old “new kid on the block” syndrome.


Come on, Brain…Let’s be friends!


The perception or fear that your pronunciation or grammar doesn’t sound acceptable or good enough to a native speaker is paralysing to some of us.

It was to me!

If you can relate to this, there is a way to get over this unfounded worry and help you get the confidence you need.

1). Identify 5 or 6 items to focus on in your language learning strategy.

You choose from what you know already to get started.

Choose 6 words you’d like to get under your belt or choose 6 phrases you know would come in very useful in a conversation such as some sentences introducing yourself

2) Ascertain the appropriate physical situations

These should probably be away ftrom anyone you know, or anyone who cares enough about you to take you straight to the doctor’s when they notice strange behaviour.

3) When you’re in position, you can begin to:


Talking to yourself in the new language will accustom all your audio connections, your mouth muscles battling to handle new positions. After only a few sessions your brain will finally to start accepting this ‘new kid’ into the playground and even end up best of friends with them.

Talk to yourself in your new language:

Ø on your ‘solo’ commute to work morning evening,

Ø while you’re doing the shopping (perhaps not a good idea, too public).

Ø in the shower,

Ø in smidgeons of time you can grab at home/work (maybe not try this at work….err it depends on individual circumstances.)

Ø Be creative and fill in when YOU could find time to talk to yourself

Once you’ve identified WHAT TO DO, and WHERE TO DO IT, you could incorporate this somewhat quirky behaviour into your daily routine.

Oh, did I not mention that this system will not work if it’s performed ONCE a week?

It won’t.

Experiment and make a commitment and stick with it for 7 days.

See how you feel after 7 CONSECUTIVE days of just a few minutes dedicated to your new language.

In 7 days you will have given your dear brain a chance to become familiar with this new friend called Spanish (or the language of your choice).

Brain will come to terms that new friend is not a threat any longer and that you still love Brain dearly.

Brain might even come round to suggesting that you all hang out together someday.

That would be nice. Can I join you?


I hope this has helped you become more confident in you language skills

Please share this with someone you know who is learning a new language.

If you  got this far, you might like to get a free copy of my first-ever e-book in PDF format, a short, handy document comprising of a beginners overview of the Spanish verb SER (to be). Click here for FOCUS ON ‘SER’ : A short summary of the basics of SER to get you started on your Spanish dream!

I would really apreciate some feedback on style and presentation of this little project I’m doing, just for fun.

Please tell me about your language learning NIGHTMARE and let me know how I can help you learn languages, but especially Spanish. You can drop a quick comment in the Comments Section below, or e-mail me directly with your problems on

I really hope this helped…









Gift to celebrate 50 today! No, not me, but my posts on Speak Out in Spanish.

This post is going to be very short today, because I’m out partying.

I’m  celebrating 50 today, a real landmark for many people.

It’s a landmark  for me too, although this is certainly NOT about my age.

I can assure that I am NOT 50!


So why am I celebrating?



If I had my celebration party now, I would want this! Photo Credit

I’m celebrating because, after several months of hard work, this is Post #50 on, this website.

I’m so excited, because I never dreamt I could get so far,  but especially I never dreamt that I would have so many loyal followers, all interested in language learning and in learning Spanish in particular.

I really hope I have helped to motivate some people to start on their fabulous language journey and others to perhaps pick up again where they left off.




Three of my greatest achievments over these last few months, after growing a lovely circle  of new friends, have been

All of these opportunities earned me many more friends and followers who are still loyal to me even now.

But now for the next stage of this weblog for learners of Spanish…….

Some of my follower friends have suggested I put together a few of my more PRACTICAL posts, with an aim to producing a type of Spanish Handbook Series as I go along.

So I wasn’t sure because I don’t know if I can turn this little project I started not long ago into anything bigger, but I thought I would give it a try; “Nothing to lose ” mentality kicking in, I fear!

I’m trying to say that I salvaged the posts I wrote on SER , and have MERGED THEM TOGETHER to make a sort of  E-BOOK.

Click here to receive FREE TRIAL e-book  focusing on verb SER.

I’m not sure if it can work, because it might be too messy and not straight forward enough for those who love traditional Grammar Books.

I would really appreciate it if  you would sign up for this free set of all my posts (7 posts in total) on the verb SER, in a manageble PDF file, and let me know if you think it’s worth me continuing with a further set.

I can send the file once you fill in the form below.


Feedback is the food of motivation, in my world. If you DO give a quick look at this little e-book, and let me know if you think I’m on the right lines with this, I will gladly produce more, on whichever topic you suggest.

So as a celebratory gift, I’m making a present of this little e-book to you.

gift-wraping Click here to receive FREE TRIAL e-book 

focusing on the verb SER, with lots of practical examples to work with, plus the opportunity to ask me personally about your OWN needs for conversational Spanish. 


I really do count on your feedback, as it gives me the motivation to keep writing about Spanish and languages in general,  trying to help those who really love languages like me, and who want to learn Spanish in particular.


Me, me, me! Let’s get personal. How to talk about yourself in Spanish.

There comes a time when you have to think about yourself more!

In linguistic terms this might mean you have to talk about yourself more!

It’s a proven fact that when learning languages, you remember more vocabulary,  syntax,  and expressions if it all means something to you personally.


There’s no better way to starting off a conversation, than asking someone about themselves. And people will ask, believe me!



Two people talking (Spanish, I bet!)Photo Credit

We have all had to do this sort of thing, on a bus, train, at an event, a wedding, a party, in our native language .

Now you are hoping to strike up a conversation, or at the very least a unit of  communication with a Spanish speaker.

The greatest myth

The greatest myth new language learners believe is that they will seem stupid or silly in the eyes of a native speaker if they don’t speak their ‘target’ language well.

The opposite is probably true! It in fact COULD seem as if you haven’t been bothered to try and learn a few basics! See how bad THAT looks?

Native Spanish speakers will admire you so much for trying to speak in their language.

In fact it will most likely be taken as a sign of respect!



Now is the time to commit a a few phrases to memory so you don’t blank out when you need to put them into action!

Don’t worry about the why and the wherefore in these sentences at the moment.

Just TRUST in the fact they will be very useful at sometime in your linguistic journey.

Below, I have recorded in Spanish a few phrases that I personally could use in MY circumstance, striking up conversation with a native Spanish speaker, here in Spain conversation

Speaking out loud, fill n the blanks with your VERY OWN details if you can.

I have used my own details as way of example.



My name is………(Marie)



There is a high probability that your name is NOT Maria. Please insert YOUR OWN NAME!



I’m… English



[You may not be English and female….so you’ll need to find

a) your nationality, and

b) tailor it to your gender (masculine/ feminine) ]

Note that it’s hard for me to tailor my recordings to your exact requirements, but I can do so easily and make a recording for YOU in your circumstance if you leave me a comment below. 

You’re welcome!


I’m…a teacher


I love my job, but I really understand ALL my readers may not be female teachers. It happens. Please let me know how I can tailor your circumstance to fit this conversation.

For more information on the joy of SOY , see To Be or not To Be………… in Spanish

I’m at home


You could be ANYWHERE! Where are you? Ask me about making this relevant to YOU


I’m well


You may not want to say you are well, of course.

You may want to say you’re ill, or tired or married or divorced. Let me know so I can personalise this for you!

More information on the verb ESTAR on a previous post Are you tired?

I speak …English



You may speak another language or languages. Let me know in comments below which languages you would want to say you speak.  I will make recordings for your personal circumstance.

I live …in Spain


Chances are you may not live in Spain. Let me know what YOU would like to say in your first basic conversation about where you live.


I’ve got…a red car (in Spanish :CAR RED)


You may not have a red car. It might be green. You may not have a car at all.

But you may have a small flat/a big house/ 3 children/ a dog/ 2 cats….I really don’t know yet, till you tell me.

So tell me what exactly  YOU think would be logical for YOU to say in your first, general, chatty conversation with a Spanish speaker.

For more on TENGO, see a previous post I’ve got a small house!

If you don’t want to go public and use the COMMENTS section, the send me an e-mail directly to    and I will be happy to tailor your first Spanish conversations on the lines described above.

This will give you the confidence you need to get started…

I really hope this helps…











They’re going to ban the ‘van’! Spanish for Beginners

So imagine this scenario

There’s a big VAN and it’s parked in your street right outside your front door!

No one knows whose it is.

It’s been there now for 3 weeks and no one in sight.

Right outside your front door, the cheek of it!


You come home from work, hungry, stressed, tired, and the last thing you need is to have to drive around looking for a parking space at that time of night, in the rain.

You have no option but report this to the police…and they tell you that :

‘THEY’RE GOING TO …BAN…the ‘VAN‘ from parking in front of your door.

                                         VAN (Pronounced almost BAN with a softer ‘b’ sound)

Listen to the audio and repeat in the space provided.


To express the negative i.e., THEY’RE NOT GOING TO… simply add a NO.


Then to make a question ARE THEY GOING…? is simply formed by using a questioning tone…


Here we are looking at the verb IR (TO GO) and the last form (in grammatical terms = 3rd Person, plural) is to say THEY GO ….or THEY’RE GOING. 


The anecdotal story above is a technique to try and attach a story or scene to bring to mind when seaching for a way, in this case to say “They’re going” ,  which in Spanish is VAN and is pronounced ‘ban’ , as in to prohibit or stop something happening. (This technique is called ‘a mnemonic’ , pronounced: “NEMONIC”..

Maybe that was a bit of a tenuous link, but all is fair in love and war…or in other words, we need to grasp onto ANY formula or help memorise a word or phrase in another language.

However, VAN also means ‘THEY GO’ which is just as important!

How cool is Spanish by being able to double up and just have ONE word for so many English words?

So the gist of all this is quite simple….

In English, we choose THEY GO or THEY’RE GOING depending on meaning:

THEY GO….to the shop….. every day/on Mondays/ when it rains…etc., [This suggests  a routine or a regular occurence]

THEY’RE GOING …to the shop ….later/ tomorrow/ on Monday / next week etc., [This suggests a one time occurrence in the FUTURE]

Look how easy in Spanish! SAME WORD= EASY!

VAN a la farmacia     =   THEY GO to the chemist……….as a routine or regular occurence…MANY TIMES, because they’re really ill and have to go often, perhaps]

VAN a la farmacia

VAN a la farmacia    =    THEY’RE GOING to the chemist…as a one-time occurrence in the future = ONCE, because they’re ill today, perhaps]

VAN a la farmacia

See how it’s the same?

Now for a big NO.

NO VAN a la farmacia  = THEY DON’T GO to the chemist (e.g. on Tuesdays because it’s closed, perhaps)



NO VAN a la farmacia

NO VAN a la farmacia = THEY AREN’T GOING to the chemist (e.g.; because it’s raining today)

NO VAN a la farmacia

See how it’s the same? This is so easy you’ll wonder why you hadn’t seen this pattern before!

However, you still need to be a bit inquisitive. So you may need the question form .

DO THEY GO …to the …..chemist/shop/beach/ station or wherever?

                    ¿VAN a la farmacia?


ARE THEY GOING….. to the…chemist……OR/shop/beach/station or wherever?

¿VAN a la farmacia?


Perhaps you are seeing now some patterns emerging. For more on patterns you can always look back on a previous post: Conversation Patterns

This is so exciting, but isn’t over yet.

I have lots more recordings on this same theme which I’ll save for my next post coming soon.

In the meantime, look back over previous posts and especially listen to and repeat the recordings.

You could even take a look at the usefulness of repeating at Repeat, repeat, repeat. 

If there’s anything you think I have missed or something extra I could help you with, leave a comment and I will try to help you personally.

More next time…





Ouch! That really hurts!… or “¡Me duele mucho!”

If anyone has wondered where I have been for the last few weeks, suffice to say that life simply got in the way, so when I was just about to get myself up and  running (forgive the pun here but I don’t get much entertainment at the moment), I literally tripped over a broken drain and fell in the street.

It would have been really embarrassing except that the pain in my wrist, and the thought that I might never write again, helped me overcome the sense of embarrassment.  Perhaps I should have been grateful for that small mercy, but Im not.

I would have preferred the embarrassment.

Instead I cried tears of fury and then frustration as the consequences  of the fall began to dawn.


I had broken my wrist badly in two places and, the day before yesterday, had emergency surgery to insert a lovley, shiny plate and several titanium rods to hold all the broken bits in position.

For those who believe me and don’t need photographic evidence, please look away.

Fot the rest, here is the x-ray of the result. Amazing what they can do!


I suppose I have to count my blessings, but I’m still busy counting titanium rods at the moment.

I’m fortunately still able to type, one-handed and very slowly and I’m finding it very difficult to add many pictures to this little post

Oh yes, but what has this got to do with Spanish?

Well, as this all happened in Spanish in Spain, it’s only right that I take the opportunity to use ths unfortunate incident to practice a bit of  ‘Emergency Room’ vocabulary.

This is an abridged version of the conversation I had at the Emergency department to days ago (with a few added extras). Just in case.

¿Dónde está el hospital, por favor?    Where is the hospital, please?

Quiero ir a URGENCIAS.     I want to go to EMERGENCIES.

Tengo seguro médico.        I have medical insurance.

No tengo seguro médico.    I haven’t got medical insurance.

Puedo pagar.                        I can pay.

Quiero ver a un médico.    I want to see a doctor

¿Cuánto es ver a un médico?   How much is it to see a doctor

El médico:”¿Qué le pasa?”         The doctor: “What happened?” or “What’s wrong?”

¿Cómo?                                                                                How?

¿Cuándo?                                                                          When?

“¿Dónde le duele? “                                                 Where does it hurt”

¿Le duele?                                                                         Does this hurt?

ME DUELE …..MUCHO                                          IT HURTS….VERY MUCH!

Vamos a sacar una radiografía.                     We’re going to take an x-ray

Vamos a hacer un análisis de sangre.         We’re going to take a blood test.

La muñeca está rota.                                      Your wrist is broken.

El tobillo está roto.                                          Your ankle is broken.

La pierna está rota.                                           Your leg is broken.

Tiene un esguince de la muñeca.                    You have a sprained wrist.

Tiene un esguince del tobillo.                         You have a sprained ankle.

 Necesita un vendaje.                                       You need a bandage.

Necesita una escayola.                                    You need a plaster cast.

Vaya a la farmacia con esta receta.              Go to the chemist with this prescription.

Tome la medicación en esta receta.            Take the medication in this prescription.

Tome las pastillas en esta receta.                 Take the tablets in this prescription.



Un seguro                                             Insurance

Un seguro médico                               Medical insurance                            

Doler…… Me duele…… ¿Le duele?                         To hurt……It hurts me……Does it hurt you?.

Sacar una radiografía                                     To take an x-ray

Hacer un análisis de sangre                           To have a blood test

La muñeca                                                       The wrist

El tobillo                                                           The ankle

La pierna                                                         The leg

Rota                                                                   Broken (for feminine nouns)                                                            

Roto                                                               Broken (for masculine nouns)

Un Esguince                                                        A sprain        

Un Vendaje                                                         A bandage

Una Escayola                                                     A plaster cast

Tomar medicación                                        To take medication

Una Receta                                                      A prescription

Las Pastillas                                                    The tablets


Grammatical point    FORMAL ‘USTED’ FORM OF VERB

A  Spanish doctor will ALWAYS address a patient using the formal ‘USTED’ form of the verb, as will all other health professionals; nurses, carers, hospital workers, phamacists, etc.

See examples above:  Tiene = (Usted) tiene

Necesita= (Usted) necesita

Imperative (!)              Above used for doctor’s ORDERS (!)

Vaya= Vaya (Usted)             Go (!)  (For more articles on verb IR (to go) see HERE) 

Tome= Tome (Usted)         Take(!) (medicine)


I really do hope NO ONE needs to use any of that EMERGENCY vocabulary and phrases………

but I hope it might help in the future if ever needed.

Well, that was really tiring, all one-handed.

Anyone want to try their hand at translating the following from Spanish to English, leaving your translation in comments box below?

Es muy lento escribir con una mano

Estoy muy cansada ahora.

Voy a dormir

Buenas noches













VAIS: Conjugation of verb IR in Spanish for Beginners


One curious thing in English grammar is that there is no distinction between talking one-to-one with a person and asking “Are you going to the shop?” or talking to two or more people and asking the same question: “Are you going to the shop?”

In many languages there is a BIG DIFFERENCE in these two terms.

A conceptual difference.

But not in English…

I have taught  English as a foreign language  to people from differing linguistic backgrounds and some are quite confused by this unusual grammar point. But this is what makes language so interesting, all these little idiosyncracies!

So you think you are confused by Spanish grammar?

Guess what?

Spanish people are also very confused by ENGLISH grammar.




Take a moment to feel some sympathy for the poor Spaniards when they discover that, grammatically, there is no difference addressing one person in the intimacy of your own home or addressing a group of friends when you’re out on the town one evening.

“How can that be possible?” they ask.

But that’s why we love languages so much, right?


It’s a funny old verb IR in Spanish. 

This post is looking into what is known grammatically as the SECOND PERSON PLURAL  of the verb TO GO = YOU GO or YOU ARE GOING or YOU’RE GOING..

A few weeks ago I wrote an article about addressing ONE person, THE SECOND PERSON SINGULAR   Spanish for Beginners: ¿A dónde vas?

Now it’s time to broaden our social network and address two, three or twenty and more. (THIS MEANS SECOND PERSON PLURAL)


Now start looking at the verb itself

Click on the audio link and repeat all the sentences recorded. Get used to hearing yourself making ‘funny noises’; also known as “speaking another language”.




VAIS is a bit like English ‘ice’ but with a soft ‘B’ in front (BICE). A soft ‘B’ sound for the ‘V‘ is Spanish.

VAIS means :


(speaking to more than ONE person)



(speaking to more than ONE person)



(speaking to more than ONE person)


Repeat the audio link again and as many times as you like/want/need. You choose. The more the merrier!

That was so easy!

Now for the questions.

For this you simply add an inquisitive intonation to the exact same word. This is so much easier than making questions in English.

Remember how lucky you are to be learning Spanish and NOT English as a foreing language!


With a ‘question’ voice, this now means, speaking to more than one person:

   DO YOU GO?  (e.g. …to work at nine?)


ARE YOU GOING? (e.g. to work tomorrow?)

How easy is that? VERY EASY!


Listen now to a native Spanish speaker (my daughter!) using VAIS in real sentences. Repeat after the first sentence, wait to hear her again and then repeat again to accustom yourself and readjust.

See this post about the benefits of repeating ALOUD your new language: Repeat, repeat, repeat…


La tienda = the shop   A la tienda = to the shop

VAIS a la tienda 

You (people) go the shop


You (people) are going to the shop

La fiesta = the party      A la fiesta = to the party


VAIS a la fiesta


You (people) go the party


You (people) are going to the party

La playa = the beach     A la playa = to the beach

VAIS a la playa

You (people) go the beach


You (people) are going to the beach


La casa de Jane = The house of Jane (Jane’s house)

A la casa de Jane = to Jane’s house

VAIS  a la casa de Jane

You (people) go Jane’s house


You (people) are going to Jane’s house

La estación = the station    A la estación = to the station


VAIS  a la estación

You (people) go the station


You (people) are going to the station

La plaza = the square ( in town where people meet)

A la plaza = to the square

VAIS a la plaza

You (people) go the square


You (people) are going to the square

Now for a couple of examples using masculine nouns where A LA changes to AL 

For more about his see How to say ‘To The’ in Spanish: A la or Al ?

El aeropuerto = the airport    Al aeropuerto = to the airport

VAIS al aeropuerto

You (people) go the airport


You (people) are going to the airport

El campo = the countryside       Al campo = to the countryside


VAIS al campo

You (people) go the countryside


You (people) are going to the countryside

El supermercado= the supermarket


Al supermercado= to the supermarket

VAIS al supermercado

You (people) go the supermercado


You (people) are going to the supermercado



Remember by putting on an inquisitive tone, all the sentences above will translate to questions.

It couldn’t be more simple.