Culture


Spanish Comics for Spanish Learners

Have you ever considered comics to improve or learn Spanish?

Well, let me tell you if you haven't, you should. Comics are a great way to access any language because they don't have much text or long sentences and they show the current spoken language.

History of the comic in Spain

The history of the comic in Spain could date back to the XIII century depending on what we consider comic or the Spanish equivalent word: "historieta" (comic strip, cartoon).

Some people would consider the Cantigas de Santa María,  the first comic manifestation as they are an ingenious combination of words, music, and visual art. The are a collection of over four hundred sacred Galician-Portuguese songs composed, according to tradition, by Alfonso X, known as “El Sabio,” King of Castile and León (1252–1284). The Cantigas de Santa María is a monumental achievement in vernacular lyric and book art.

They look like a very old comic, don't they?

But some others believe that the comic or historieta is the cultural product of the modern industrial era and the occidental politics. They affirm that comic was born and evolved in parallel to the written press as the first means of communication to the masses. This is why those search for the first comic manifestation in the press.

So, the first historieta in the Spanish press was by the Spaniard, settled in Cuba, Victor Patricio Landaluze and his "Historia de las desgracias de un hombre afortunado" (1857).

At the beginning of the XX century we have the appearance of children's magazines where we can highlight the magazine TBO (1917), which the one which became so mainstream that ended giving the name to that medium in Spain (el tebeo: 'comic' or 'comic book').

There was the adventure comic (tebeo de aventuras) inspired in the American comic and Hollywood movies, like Chicos.

Around that time, the comic book (cuaderno de aventuras) appeared with the famous "Roberto Alcázar y Pedrin" o "El guerrero del antifaz".

During the post-war period (Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939) comic becomes the most popular medium in the country enjoying its golden age.

It was a cheap read that was consumed by the popular classes and the member of those popular classes would be the ones who would become the professionals of the comics in the following years.

 

Regarding the humoristic comic (tebeo humorístico) we have to mention "Pulgarcito", "Jaimito" and authors like Escobar, Enrich o Ibáñez.

 

All of them are members of the "Escuela Bruguera" which reflects the reality of the country through a nonsensical, exaggerated and grotesque filter (filtro esperpéntico). 

The comic for adults experienced a boom from 1967 until 1986 with terror comic, satire and underground comix. We see protest and a cultural rethink.

The moment of highest splendour will happen after Franco's death which will see the birth of magazines like "El Jueves".

New illustrators will gain success and comics like Paracuellos, Makinavaja or Superlópez will remain in the history of the comic in Spain. 

Comic in Spain today

The comic industry is still quite small in Spain compared with the leadership in Europe of the Franco-Belge comic and the Japanese and North American.

Even though the readers still prefer to read the translations of the Marvel comics or other international publications, the Spanish illustrators are making the most of Internet by using social media, blogs and Tumblr as a way to find their audience.

Some of them have crossed national frontiers and occupy the international stage. To mention just three:

David Aja is a Spanish comic book artist, best known for his work on The Immortal Iron Fist and Hawkeye

Winner of the Eisner Award in 2013 as the "Best Penciller/Inker," and "Best Cover Artist"  and also in 2014 "Best Cover Artist." Hawkeye #11, by Matt Fraction and Aja, won "Best Single Issue (Or One Shot)". 

Ana Galvañ

Emma Rios is a Spanish comics artist, writer, and editor with an international presence in the comics industry. She has worked for some of the largest American comics publishers, including Marvel.

Currently, she is working on several ongoing titles: Mirror with Malaysian artist Hwei Lim and Pretty Deadly with American writer Kelly Sue Deconnick. The latter of which earned Ríos an Eisner award nomination for "Best Penciller/Inker/Artist", her second.

Ana Galvañ is an illustrator and a comic creator.

Her work has appeared in publications coordinated by Fantagraphics, Nobrow, Ultrarradio, Vertigo DC, Off Life, Autsáider, Apa-Apa, Fosfatina and Tik Tok. She was also a participant in Vertigo Quarterly: CMYK #4: Black.

Recently, she has published the fanzine Más allá del arco Iris [Beyond the rainbow] and Luz Verdadera [True Light]. 

Is comic art?

Is comic art or is it literature? Is it both or none of them? 

There is a combination of a script and image that makes it difficult to pinpoint, but also makes it obvious to place it as an art manifestation.

Let's discuss: What is art?

I invite you to a free group call on the 17th January 2018 at 5pm (GMT) / 12pm (EST) / 9am (PST).  RSVP by clicking in the button below if you are interested in participate in this free group call.


International celebrities who speak Spanish

Many are the celebrities of Spanish or Hispanic origin, so it’s only natural that they are fluent in Spanish, but not only native Spanish speakers celebrities are the only ones who speak Spanish. ¡No señor!

There are also many others who have learned the language of Cervantes. Let’s see some names:

Viggo Mortensen

Probably one of my favourite names of this list (and one of the most attractive actors this world has gifted to us) is Viggo Mortensen.

Viggo is a Danish-American actor, author, musician, photographer, poet and painter.

Born in New York, the family moved to Venezuela, then Denmark, and eventually settled in Argentina where he attended primary school and acquired a fluent proficiency in Spanish. He then attended university in New York, earning a bachelor’s degree in Spanish Studies and Politics in 1980.

Afterward, he went to Europe and lived in Spain among other countries.

In 2006, he starred as Captain Diego Alatriste in the Spanish language film Alatriste, based on the series of novels The Adventures of Captain Alatriste, written by the Spanish writer Arturo Pérez-Reverte.

Watch here his interview (in Spanish of course) about the recent movie Captain Fantastic:

Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth is an American actress, singer, and food writer, who is also a fluent Spanish speaker.

Paltrow  is an “adopted daughter” of Talavera de la Reina (Spain), where at 15, she spent a year as an exchange student and learned to speak Spanish. She continues to regularly visit the town and her host family.

Watch her interview explaining how she learned her Spanish:

Ben Affleck

Ben Affleck is an American actor, director, screenwriter, and producer.

When Affleck was 13, he filmed a children’s television program in Mexico and learned to speak Spanish during a year spent traveling around the country with his mother and brother. He spent a few months studying Spanish at the University.

You can hear him answering some questions in Spanish in this interview:

Kobe Bryant

Kobe is an American retired professional basketball player and businessman. He played his entire career with the Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA. Great career but what I personally find more interesting (Spanish teacher bias, probably) is that the Los Angeles Lakers player is fluent in Spanish. He learned the language while traveling with his father as a young child.

He’s Spanish speaking skills are actually pretty good. Listen to this interview in Spanish:

Matt Damon

Matt is not only married to a Spanish-speaking Argentine lady, he is also highly proficient in the language. The actor studied Spanish through an immersion program in Mexico and later put those skills to use as he backpacked through Mexico and Guatemala.

Sure, he is not fluent but he does string sentences correctly… slowly but surely!

David Beckham

David Beckham is an English former professional footballer. This futbol star learned Spanish while playing for Real Madrid.

Watch him saying goodbye to the Real Madrid.

They all speak Spanish. And traveling, working and love are the main reasons why they learned. Those are also the reasons why most of us also catch the language bug.

What are yours?

Share in the comments below, I’d love to hear why you started to learn Spanish.


Learning Spanish with TV shows: Tips and ideas

What can be a better way to learn Spanish than doing it while watching one of your favorite TV shows?

Many of my students keep asking me suggestions about TV shows in Spanish that they could watch to improve their learning and also, and if watching a TV show really helps to improve.

Well, watching a TV show in the target language (that is, the language you are learning) can be really helpful, but can also be fruitless.

Let me explain.

No passive activity is going to give you many results. TV shows, podcasts, music… all these resources give amazing results when used as an addition to your learning routine, besides making the experience a lot more fun!

  1. What’s the purpose?
    1. Serious study approach to this material
    2. Just to spice things up and increase your motivation

Both approaches are valid and very positive, but just have in mind that minimal input brings less results than doing a conscious effort. So if you want to make your Spanish learning more fun and keep your motivations up,  watch a Spanish movie with English subtitles, but if you want to see a big improvement in your Spanish skills, then watch a short TV show adapted to your level while reading the transcripts. And, hey, you can do both!

2. Find a TV show or podcast adapted to your level. Some suggestions:

Yabla has got loads of content for languages learners, includes subtitles and you can even modify the speed!

This series is designed specifically to language learners. It’s similar to “Friends” in that the story revolves around a group of friends living in Barcelona. An American guy, Sam, comes to stay with the two girls, Ana and Lola, and the series is about the group and Sam’s attempts to learn Spanish. His mistakes often lead to pretty ridiculous misunderstandings, as anyone learning a language will surely understand… 😉

The Spanish characters correct Sam as he makes mistakes and there are recaps every now and then that go over the language Sam is learning. The series is very entertaining and perfect for elementary to intermediate level students, as it has Spanish subtitles and the characters speak slowly and clearly.

Web series are a new and interesting option to watch independent series. Normally, episodes last around 10 minutes. “Malviviendo” is good for learning Spanish slang related to drugs and relationships (which is some of the most popularly-used slang). The characters talk pretty quickly, so this show is suitable for more advanced learners.

This show is about five Spaniards trying to start a new life in the UK. The episodes are focused on their experiences learning English and finding housing, jobs and new friends, while while trying to keep in touch with their loved ones back in Spain.

This TV show is perfect for beginners, since it will help you to develop your comprehension skills. It is particularly useful because each episode has dialogues in Spanish and English. The show also has English subtitles when the characters are speaking in Spanish and vice versa.

Les Luthiers (French for musical instrument makers) are a very well-known Latin American music and comedy group. These guys are a class act, and their numerous Spanish TV shows are full of refined humor and musical skits. Hence their name, they play a homemade instrument each episode, in homage to their fictional character, Johann Sebastian Mastropiero. Sadly, Mastropiero lacks any real musical talent.

These shows are best for intermediate and advanced learners. The comedians speak slowly and very clearly. They’re perfect for learning vocabulary related to music, history and social aspects of modern and older times.

So, now you can pick and choose the show suitable to your level.

The next step is watching it… with a pen and a notebook in hand to note the new words and expressions that might appear.
Don’t hesitate in stopping the video and taking notes, listening again and again until you catch the words. However, I don’t advice trying to get everything all the time as it will make you frustrated and tired. Getting the general idea is the main goal.

 

Let me know in the comments what is your experience watching TV shows, or if you have any other suggestions to add to the list. Looking forward to your comments!


Talk about wine in Spanish

I like wine. Yes, I can`t deny it. I also know I am not the only one. So, if you are a bit like me, you will enjoy this post very much.

In every country I have traveled, what I want to do is to soak in their culture, talk to locals, visit museums, walk around and see how the people are dressed, go inside a bookshop and see what are the bestsellers and top 5 book advices, watch national cinema and read the newspapers, watch television (that’s a great way to learn about the culture of that particular country!), eat in local restaurants (not this McDonalds kind of place) and learn about their gastronomy (or lack of it), drink coffee or tea and learn about how the people prefer to enjoy their warm drinks, seating, on the go, straight or with many different options… Also alcoholic drinks, beers, wines and spirits are also part of the culture.

These are just examples about how to learn about culture. Wine is just one of them, but for me, it’s a very enjoyable one.

As a Spaniard from the north of Spain, from a medium sized city called Burgos from the region Castille y Leon, roasted lamb (‘cordero asado’) , black pudding (‘morcilla’) and wine from the wine region of Ribera del Duero are the things I grew up with.

As I said, I love wine, red (tinto) and white (blanco) are my favourites, not so keen in the rosé (rosado) and sparkling wine (vino espumoso).

There are so many wine regions and appellations (‘denominación de origen’) in Spain! From the extremely well known Rioja in the north, with their best known Tempranillo grape (‘uva’) used in the tintos. Valdepeñas in the south, Jumilla, Toro or Jerez (Sherry) to mention just a few. And what about the white wines like Verdejo or Albariño!

And then, once you have your glass of vino in hand, there is the smell, the colour, the texture, the taste…

Enology (‘enología’) is a science, the science of wine making, a sommelier (‘sumiller’) is the wine waiter and a wine taster (‘catador’) is the professional taster. They know everything there is to know about wine. But we, common people, wine drinkers (always with moderation!) also have some practical knowledge about wine, sometimes we just need the words to say that the smell of our wine is fruity (‘afrutado’) or spicy (‘especiado’), or the flavour is thick (‘espeso’)… And what about the defects? When our vino is acidic (‘acido’) or plonk (‘peleón’).

Words, and more words… the language.

The wine, so important for certain cultures that we have proverbs about it: Con pan y con vino se anda el camino (With bread and wine, one walks the path) or Al pan pan, y al vino vino (to call a spade a spade).

Spanish wine intertwined with Spanish culture, culture and wine through language.

Spanish language.

And this is just an aperitif. If you enjoyed reading this, you will probably enjoy much more what is going to happen in some cities around Europe, Glasgow being the first one of the list.

So make a note in your appointment book: Glasgow, the 20th of February. Three hours of learning about Spanish wine and vocabulary to talk about it, appellations, including a tasting (‘cata’) of different Spanish wines, and we will also talk about different options of wine vacations since there are many wineries (‘bodegas’) offering really good plans for all of you lovers of all things Spanish! The workshop will be carried out in English mainly but there will be chances to practice some Spanish speaking and listening as well.

You can get more information here: http://spanishworkshops.net or go ahead and book the tickets here:  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/spanish-wine-workshop-tickets-15011053465

If you are into this way of learning Spanish culture and language, I suggest you subscribe in the newsletter below or in the workshops page to get updates about the cities where these workshops will be hold.

Hope to see you there! 🙂


Humor, movies, songs and lots of Spanish: “Mucha Guasa”

Last week, a friend and I launched Mucha Guasa (‘Much Banter’) an educational page intending to teach Spanish in a fun way.

A daily video of my friend singing or performing a line from a song or a movie translated into Spanish, which you, my dear Spanish lovers / learners can try to guess which movie or song he is performing.

Accompanying those highly entertaining videos, and contributing to the educational side, it’s me explaining some grammar point or idiom appearing in the translation.

Fun? Lots. Here is just an example of him singing.

Learning? Of course! So far, we have seen the use of the intensifier “demasiado / demasiada”, the “future simple”, the use of “ya” and “ya no” and the use of “como” as an adverb of manner, and we only launched last Wednesday!

Like us and start having fun while learning Spanish for free every day.


Lover’s day: useful vocabulary and expressions in Spanish for Valentine’s Day

Spanish VocabularyThe 14th of February is Valentine’s Day so in today’s post I will show you some useful vocabulary and expressions related with this “loving” subject.

We call this day El Día de los Enamorados or San Valentín in Spanish.

What do we do in this day when we are love someone or we have a crush on someone? Well, we mainly offer a present, like chocolates, or send a card.

♥ Hacer un regalo

♥ Bombones

♥ Mandar una tarjeta

Our heart (‘corazón’) beats fast when we are close to our sweetheart (‘cariño’), doesn’t it?

We get romantic and we show our love with kisses and hugs and we might even whisper “I love you!” to our sweetheart’s ear.

♥ Ponerse romántico

♥ Beso

♥ Abrazo

♥ ¡Te quiero! ♥

Ah, love! What a wonderful thing! I’ll write down some verbs about this great emotion:

♥ El amor

♥ Estar enamorado (‘to be in love’)

♥ Enamorarse (‘to fall in love’)

♥ Gustar alguien / estar colado por alguien (‘to have a crush on someone’)

Let’s talk about relationships and the steps in the process of starting a relationship with someone:

1. First, one gathers all their courage and ask the person one like out.☞ Pedir a alguien que salga contigo.

– ¡Juan me ha pedido que salga con él!!!
– Juan asked me out!!!

2. If everything goes well and we get a yes, we start going out with that person. ☞ Salir con alguien.

– Estoy saliendo con Juan desde hace dos años.
– I’m going out with Juan for two years.

3. We like to hold hands when we go for a walk. ☞ Darse la mano / Ir de la mano.

– Me encanta ir de la mano con mi novio.
– I love holding hands with my boyfriend.

4. Sometimes, for some reason, we like to play hard to get. ☞ Hacerse el duro / la dura, hacerse desear por la otra persona.

– Ana todavía no ha aceptado mi invitación a cenar, creo que se está haciendo la dura.
– Ana hasn’t accepted my invitation to dinner yet, I think she’s playing hard to get.

5. Once we are in the relationship we go through different stages:

– Ir en serio (‘go steady’)

– Irse a vivir con alguien (‘move in with someone’), vivir juntos (live together).

6. However, love not always lasts and sometimes the relationships end. Here there are some expressions:

Dejar a alguien (‘to leave someone’)

–  Romper (‘to break up)

Darse un tiempo (‘to be on a break)

– Engañar a alguien / poner los cuernos (‘to cheat on someone’)

– Superar (‘to get over someone’)

– Romper el corazón / Tener el corazón roto (‘to break your heart / to be broken hearted’)

 

♥ ¡Feliz Día de los Enamorados! ♥