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Today, some students and two teachers here at Spark Spanish paid a visit to the Plaza de Toros – the bullring.

We were thrilled to go to see it as it’s our last week, so it was good to be able to fit it in. It is the second largest bullring in Spain– after the one in Seville– and there are FREE guided tours on Tuesday mornings.

Inside the Bullring

Inside the main door – Joselito’s quote and a bull’s head

We started by entering through the main door, where you’re greeted by very obviously real bulls’ heads – the souvenirs or ‘recuerdos’ of previous fights.

 Then, you go up the stairs to the seats… and if you’re as lucky as we were, you get to see the bullfighters or ‘matadors’ training.  They use a plastic bull on wheels and aim their spears at them, hittin g the target with precision every time.  Personally, I wouldn’t want to be the bull!

After this, we joined a guide who told us a lot about the history of the bullring; for example, it was opened in 1880, and it can hold over 12,000 spectators.

Girls at bullring

Me, Rachel and Lauren at the Bullring

Unfortunately it was extremely hot, so we didn’t stay for the whole tour, but I would definitely like to go back again to hear more about it.

Here in Spark, we have an Expresión del Día – every day, we learn a new idiomatic phrase and how to use it. These are usually phrases that don’t make any sense when you translate them literally (for example, when you say “Es mi media naranja”, you aren’t actually calling someone an orange!). Learning to use them in context is important! I’ve been here three weeks now, so I’ve learned quite a few of them. In a bid to figure out how to throw them into conversation, I decided to write a story that used all of them. What resulted is a little bit ridiculous, but it was a fun way to learn these new expressions. Enjoy!

Half orange

Media Naranja – the Spanish for “Other Half”

¿Has metido la pata alguna vez? Yo sí he metido la pata. Fue un acontecimiento extraño que ocurrió el mes pasado.

Era lunes por la mañana. Como estaba casi dormida a mi mesa de trabajo, estaba un cero a la izquierda al trabajo y decidí ir a tomar un café para ponerme las pilas. En el camino por la cafeteria, encontré a una compañera que se llama María. La saludé y ella me dio los dos besos. Compré un café en la cafeteria y empecé a volver a mi oficina, cuando vi a María de nuevo. –Y ¿por qué estás andando por los corridos en vez de trabajar?- le pregunté, sonriendo –Y ¡veo que llevas un vestido que debía de haberte costado un ojo de la cara!. Pero ella no río y me dijo unas palabrotas. Seguí andando, intentando de entender lo que había pasado. María y yo no somos uña y carne, pero ¡tampoco nos llevamos como el perro y el gato! Y no creía que había pasado la raya. ¿Por qué esa chica empezó a mirarme por encima del hombro?

Cuando llegué de nuevo a mi oficina, expliqué a mi amigo Manolo lo que había pasado. El estaba tan confundido como yo, y concluyó que a María debe de faltarle un tornillo. Yo le pregunté que haría: volver a hablar con María o hacer la vista gorda. 

–Estás jugando con fuego aquí, chica. –repuso Manolo. –En tu lugar, yo no la harías caso. ¡Es lo que hago con mi media naranja cuando ella se enfada!

De repente, María entró en mi oficina. Me di cuenta de que ella había cambiado de ropa.  -¿Qué has dicho a mi hermana? – me preguntó. -¿Cómo?- repliqué –¡No conozco a tu hermana!.

 Entonces ella se parte de risa y me enteré de que pasaba. ¡Se cae de maduro! María tiene una hermana gemela que también trabaja en nuestro edificio. Como yo estaba muy cansada, ¡no me había dado cuenta de que hablaba con la otra! Las dos son como dos gotas de agua; así que fue un error facil… Así es como metí la pata. Pero María y su hermana me perdonaron, y entonces podía tocar el cielo con las manos porque ¡estaba tan contenta de resolver este misterio! 

twins

¡Se cae de maduro! María tenía una hermana gemela.

This weekend, four of us students here at Spark Spanish decided to explore the nearby city of Cádiz- ¡y qué buena idea! Cádiz is a beautiful city, with plenty to see and do – and, claro, lots of opportunities to practise Spanish with the locals. It’s also very convenient to get to, as the ferry (el barco o el ferry) only takes about 30 minutes from El Puerto de Santa María.  ¡Qué fácil es llegar allí!

One of the highlights of the trip was visiting the cathedral – la Catédral -, which also features a very high tower – una  torre – from which you can see spectacular views of the city.

Top of Cádiz Cathedral

Our entrada – ticket – into the cathedral also included a tour of ancient archaeological remains, some of which date back to 1000BC.  There was even a preserved portion of rabbit stew! ¡Qué raro!

También, there are many beautiful plazas – squares – and parques – parks – which are well worth a visit. ¡Vale la pena visitarlos!

Claro, doing all these things was not only a great day trip – it also provided us with ‘una buena oportunidad’ – ‘a great opportunity’ – to practise speaking the Spanish we’ve learned so far in our time here at Spark.

In a plaza

Not only that, but it’s amazing how many new words and phrases you learn even outside of class – for example, I learned that ‘caballa’ is not, as I thought, a female horse – it’s actually the word for mackerel!

Of course, la comida – food –  is an important part of Spanish culture also, and we couldn’t leave Cádiz without trying some delicious ‘tapas’ – and, of course, without taking advantage of another golden opportunity to speak Spanish with natives.

Group Photo, Cádiz

We also took the tour bus – like proper ‘guiris’ – which gave a great view of the city from the top deck.  ¡Qué vistas!

All in all, I would definitely recommend a trip to Cádiz to anyone studying here at Spark Spanish – it’s cheap (barato), it’s easy to get around (facil a navigar), and lot of opportunities to practise your Spanish skills.

¡Vale la pena, vamos!

When you’re learning a new language, one of the first things you learn is food vocabulary. Studying Spanish in Spain, we all need a basic understanding of what menus and signs in supermarkets mean, especially in an authentic Spanish town like El Puerto de Santa Maria where the locals definitely dont much English, German or French. However, food can also be the area that leads to most misunderstandings! 

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Quand vous apprenez une nouvelle langue, une des premières choses que vous apprenez est le vocabulaire de la nourriture. En apprenant l’espagnol en Espagne, nous avons tous besoin d’un lexique basique pour comprendre les menus des restaurants et l’affichage dans les supermarchés. Cependant, la nourriture peut aussi être une source quiproquos § La semaine dernière, pour se relaxer après les cours d’espagnol, je suis allée déjeuner avec les autres étudiants à Puerto Sherry en El Puerto de Santa Maria dans un bon restaurant avec vue sur la plage. Le seul problème, c’est que j’ai commandé ce qui semblait être un grand bol de fromage fondu ! Alors oui, j’aime le fromage… mais pas tout seul et certainement pas en aussi grande quantité. Puis, pendant notre voyage à Cadiz, une autre étudiante, Rachel, a commandé ce qu’elle pensait être de la viande de cheval (caballo). Mais elle s’est retrouvée avec un maquereau (caballa) entier dans son assiette ! 

Caballa, Caballo

Les mots sont semblables… mais ils ne signifient PAS la même chose !

Cela me rappelle donc à quel point il est important de comprendre ce que signifie un menu et de savoir ce que l’on commande ! Comme tout bon étudiant, j’aime apprendre de mes erreurs. Voici donc ma liste de vocabulaire et d’explications pour comprendre le menu dans un restaurant espagnol.

SpanishNewsletter Cours d'espagnol SpanishBlog

Plats typiquement espagnols :

La paella Plat espagnol avec du riz jaune, des légumes, des petits pois et des fruits de mer (crevettes, moules et couteaux).
La paella valenciana Idem mais au lieu des fruits de mer, de la viande (souvent du poulet ou du chorizo).
La paella mixta Idem, mais contenant à la fois des fruits de mer et de la viande.
El fideua Pareil que la paella, mais avec des nouilles à la place du riz.
Las tapas (los pinxos) Un éventail de petits plats, avec des fruits de mer, de la viande ou des légumes, souvent servis avec une boisson.
El gazpacho Soupe de tomates, servie froide.
Las patatas bravas Patates frites, généralement en cubes avec une sauce à base d’ail, d’huile, de mayonnaise, de tomates et de piments.
Un revuelto Oeufs brouillés avec en général un autre ingrédient.
Una tortilla española Omelette espagnole avec des pommes de terre et des oignons.
El arroz negro Riz noir – cuisiné avec de l’encre de seiche et de la seiche.
El chorizo
Los churros Bâtons de pâte à beignets, généralement servis avec du sucre ou du chocolat.
Los pinchitos Plat andalou avec des morceaux de porc enfilés sur des brochettes.
El jamón serrano Jambon Serrano – un type de jambon servi cru en tranches très fines, souvent avec du pain ou des légumes.
Paella Valenciana y Paella Mixta

Paella Valenciana (à l’avant) y Paella Mixta (à l’arrière)

Pour lire un menu :

La Entrada / El Primer Plato Entrée
El Plato Principal Plat principal
Platos Fríos Plats froids
Platos Calientes Plats chaufs
La ensalada Salade
El postre Dessert
A la parrilla Au gril
Frito (Frita/Fritos/Fritas) Frits
Al horno Au four
A la brasa A la braise
A la plancha A la plancha
Asado Rôti

 Viande et volaille :

La carne Viande
El pollo Poulet
Una chuleta (de cerdo) Une côtelette de porc
El cordero Agneau
Un biftec Steak
Una hamburguesa Hamburger
El jamón Jambon
La ternera Boeuf
La carne de caballo Cheval
Roast chicken

Pollo asado – Poulet rôti

 Fruits de mer :

Los mariscos Fruits de mer
El pescado Poisson
Las gambas Crevettes roses
La caballa Maquereau
El cangrejo Crabe
Los camarones Crevettes
Los mejillones Moules
El choco Couteaux
El bacalao Cabillaud
El salmón Saumon
Los anchoas Anchois
La langosta Homard
El langostino Langoustine
El pulpo Poulpe
Los ostiones Huîtres

 Légumes :

La lechuga Laitue
La zanahoria Carotte
La cebolla Oignon
El maíz Maïs
La col Chou
Los pimientos (rojo/verde/amarillo) Poivrons (Rouge/Vert/Jaune)
El tomate Tomate
La alcachofa Artichaut
Las judías Haricots verts
Las habichuelas Haricots
El espárrago Asperges
El apio Céléri
El pepino Concombre
El ajo Ail
El champiñon Champignon
El aceituna Olive
Los guisantes Petits pois
La calabaza Potiron / Citrouille
Zanahorias

Les Carottes – Las Zanahorias

Fromage :

El queso Fromage
El manchego Fromage de lait de brebis
El provolone Provolone d’Italie
Parmesano Parmesan
El queso feta Feta
El queso de bola Edam
SpanishNewsletter Cours d'espagnol SpanishBlog
BSB at Plaza de Toros

BSB at Plaza de Toros

¡Hola Chicos! I just want to put some words to this great semana. From the moment we got our hands up and hugged together until this viernes en El Puerto de Santa Maria, I feel more like saying: ¡hasta pronto!

El lunes, we analyzed the grafitti at la Plaza de Toros with our guest and former torero, Heredia. ¿Tenéis alguna duda sobre su punto de vista? La yincana took over y sacamos una fotografía with a famous bullfighter. Smelling los barriles de vino y jerez at Bodega Osborne was the previous step before hugging la estatua de Rafael Alberti. Corrimos por El Castillo de San Marcos y deletreamos Y.O.L.O. Después de comer, disfrutamos de la playa y los chiringuitos.

Al día siguiente, por las calles de El Puerto de Santa María, we visited el mundo gitano. An experience that ended con lenguas azules. After the Spanish class, comenzó la locura por las fuentes de agua at the Alcazar de Jerez de la Frontera. Temperature rising and estrellas with eight sides everywhere.

Ed led the band at la Maestranza con la canción ‘Hey, Soul Sister’! Un Miércoles con lots of comfortable and interesting preguntas. In the Catedral we discovered where Cristobal Colón is nowadays and, from la Giralda, vimos toda la ciudad de Sevilla. ¡Starbucks fue la respuesta al calor! Francesco nos ayudó a ingresar al Alcazar de Sevilla and we saw pavos reales y muchos diseños. Walking in the sun was una excusa para visitar the mother of all fuentes de agua en la Plaza de España.

After celebrating with sus familias españolas por la noche, el jueves ayudamos a una señora andaluza de camino al río Guadalete. En Cádiz, compartimos la vista panorámica desde la Torre Tavira, hicimos compras y disfrutamos de la playa. También, nos deleitamos con el discurso de Gregorio antes de la cena. What an intense espectáculo flamenco! ¿Podéis encontrar algunas palabras para describirlo?

BSB at Plaza de Toros

BSB at Plaza de Toros

Hopefully, you experienced a culturally different week with your host family around El Puerto de Santa Maria and are ready to go de vuelta a casa!

I loved to get to know each one of you! Muchas gracias for sharing such a beautiful time! Keep doing círculos. ¡Un gran abrazo!

Nicolas Argentato
Homestay Chaperone
nico.argentato@sparklanguages.com

Una visita a La Bodega del Cabellero y Castillo San Marcos

Ancient wine, Christopher Columbus, Arabic designs and even a few ghost stories. This is what was on offer to students studying Spanish at Spark on last week’s Español en Acción event. Last Wednesday night, a group of eight students visited a local bodega (a winery producing El Puerto de Santa María’s famous sherry), followed by a tour of the Castillo San Marcos.

 We met our guide Veronica in the beautiful gardens of the bodega. Speaking in very clear Spanish, she led us through some enormous, cathedral-esque barns containing hundreds of vats of wine. We learned how the sherry is stored, with the oldest wine on the bottom of the towering stacks of vats and the youngest on the top. We were also led into the bottling room (crossing through a deserted corridor which was once a street), where a huge machine bottles and corks the wine. The lights kept flickering on and off, which just seemed to emphasise how old the buildings were!

Inside the bodega

Just some of the vats of wine in the bodega!

Then we walked back towards the Castillo San Marcos, one of El Puerto’s oldest buildings. This castle dates from the 10th century and used to be a mosque. It’s famous for being the home of Christopher Columbus between two of his voyages and for being the place where the first ever modern map of the world was drawn up by Juan de la Cosa in 1500. We spent a few minutes examining the replica map on the wall outside and posing for pictures with a very haughty-looking statue of Juan, before heading inside the thick outer walls of the castle. The Castillo is like something out of a film with towers and battlements and a huge bunch of keys to lock it. Inside the main hall, we were met by a mix of styles – amongst the European medieval style, there was an Arabic quibla – a wall covered in colourful lambskin that formed part of the original mosque. This wall, Veronica told us, was covered over in 1243 and not discovered again until the 1940s.

 Veronica then showed us a wall with gargoyles carved into it. She thinks that they were carved inside the building (rather than outside) to try to expel evil spirits, because apparently the castle is haunted! And not just haunted by one ghost, but by several niños y mujeres que cantan. Right after receiving this chilling piece of information, we had to climb up a very tall tower, with a very narrow and steep staircase… in the dark! It was worth it in the end though.

Castillo San Marcos

The castle by night

 After we came back down, we stayed in the castle for sherry-tasting. Veronica poured us  out small amounts two different sherries and three liquors. The weirdest one tasted like After-Eight sweets.   I found all of them very strong, but then again, I don’t usually drink! Funnily enough, no-one could handle a sixth one…

It was a really enjoyable evening that helped consolidate the Spanish we’ve been learning all week. I learned some new words – bota (vat), corcho (cork), duende (spirit, of the haunting variety),  and almenas (battlements). Learning Spanish in Spain isn’t all hard work!

Recently, two of us here at Spark Spanish decided to try our hand at horse-riding in the sunset.

Me with my horse Piruja

The sunset in El Puerto de Santa María is definitely worth a view, especially on horseback.
We travelled by car to an equestrian centre in El Puerto de Santa María, and from there, we were brought to one of El Puerto’s five beautiful beaches, where we saddled up and off we went!

There were eight riders in total, and a variety of nationalities, which meant that the common language was Spanish – the perfect chance to put our learning into practice!

This gave us a great opportunity to practise Spanish in a natural and dynamic way – even if one of my most-used phrases was ‘voy a caer!’ or ‘I’m going to fall!’. You forget your nerves about speaking Spanish – or any language – when you’re trying, unsuccessfully, to persuade your horse to stop! The Spanish instructors were really nice and made us feel at ease about both participating and speaking Spanish.

Horse-riding, July 4th

Group of 8 riders

Horse-riding is only one of an array of activities offered as extras to the students here at Spark, and it was a lovely way to relax after an intense but enjoyable day of learning and working.

Our odyssey to get to Spark!

(This post was written by mi amiga Christina McCarthy)

OUR ARRIVAL AT SPARK – Nuestra Llegada

 Today is our 3rd day studying Spanish in Spain here at Spark, and we’re loving every minute of it! ¡Qué bueno es! From the classes to the social and cultural program, we’ve been given so many opportunities to speak Spanish in a very natural way, just what you want when learning a language.

In order to get to the beautiful El Puerto de Santa María, where Spark is located, we had to fly into Sevilla and spend a night there, ¡lo que era una experience muy buena! Pero… ¡que viaje tuvimos desde Sevilla!

As we’re both students, the cheapest travel option is the one we opted for. That is, take a bus (un autobus), then a tram (una tranvía) and then a train (un tren) to get to Spark. All fairly straightforward…

 Until…

My friend and I discovered we had to navigate through the streets of Sevilla – which are very beautiful, but which are built more for carts and horses than for suitcases and slightly confused ‘guiris’ or ‘foreigners’. This was made more complicated by the fact that one of us is ‘ciega’ (blind), and therefore is reliant on the other for direction. ¡Qué complicado!

All was going well until we realised we were on the wrong side of the road for the bus – which was about to leave on the opposite side! Another thing we learned about Sevilla – which, thankfully, hasn’t been a problem here in and around Spark Spanish – is that the pavements (las aceras) are very uneven … especially if you fall over them, as I did, taking my large ‘maleta’ or ‘suitcase’ with me and losing a shoe in the process. ¡Qué vergúenza!

Gracías a Dios – Thank God – we managed the rest of the journey unscathed, though it involved a lot of running as we very nearly missed the train. ¡Por poco perdimos el tren!

It was a relief to arrive at Sparkville, the cultural residence, where we were greeted by a warm and friendly atmosphere – and could put down our awkward suitcases. We’re really looking forward to a great learning experience here at Spark, with lots of fun activities too! ¡Vamos!

Having arrived at Spark on Sunday, I was keen to attend the Welcoming Drinks on Sunday night. All of the students and staff at Spark went out together to get to know everyone before our Spanish course began on Monday. We went to a local tapas bar in time to watch the Euro 2012 final, where Spain and Italy competed for the trophy. Although we all come from different countries, we were all happy to cheer for the Spanish team.

Watching the match here in Spain was not like watching it in Ireland! The Spanish commentators are far more passionate that any others I’ve ever heard – they speak at a dizzying pace, they gasp, sigh and shout when their team scores and they make the match far more exciting. Listening to them was a good test of my Spanish listening skills, and confirmed that I’d made the right decision to come to learn Spanish in Spain!  The Spaniards in the bar were very excited too, jumping and screaming for their team. I’ve never seen so many people wearing red and yellow!

Welcoming Drinks 1/7

Spark Welcomg Drinks, 1/7

And when the final whistle was blown and Spain lifted the cup for the second time in row, the Spanish people began their celebrations. As we walked back to the Spark residence, we were passed by car after car zooming down the roads with giant Spanish flags hanging out their windows, sounding the car horns, and with some very happy Spaniards singing and cheering inside them. The car horns continued long into the night.

It was a great event to start off our experience learning Spanish in Spain! Not only did we learn to listen to some very fast football commentary, but we also learned the words to some Spanish football songs and some new vocabulary such as “marcar” (to score), “árbitro” (referee) and “ganadores” (winners). I can already tell that my stay in El Puerto de Santa María is going to be a great one!

Nuestra Llegada a Spark

(This blog was written by Christina McCarthy)

OUR ARRIVAl AT SPARK – Nuestra Llegada

 

Today is our 3rd day studying Spanish inSpain here at Spark,  and we’re loving every minute of it! ¡Qué bueno es! From the classes to the social and cultural program, we’ve been given so many opportunities to speak Spanish in a very natural way, just what you want when learning  a language. 

 In order to get to the beautiful El Puerto de Santa María, where Spark is located, we had to fly into Sevilla and spend a night there.  Lo que era una experience muy Buena!

 Pero… ¡que viaje tuvimos desde Sevilla!

As we’re both students, the cheapest travel option is the one we opted for.  That is,   take a bus (un autobus), then a tram (una tranvía) and then a train (un tren) to get to Spark.  All fairly straightforward…

 Until…

 My friend and I discovered we had to navigate through the streets of Sevilla – which are very beautiful, but which are built more for carts and horses than for suitcases and slightly confused ‘guiris’ or ‘foreigners’.

 This was made more complicated by the fact that one of us is ‘ciega’ (blind), and therefore is reliant on the other for direction. ¡Qué complicado! 

 All was going well until we realised we were on the wrong side of the road for the bus – which was about to leave on the opposite side!

 Another thing we learned about Sevilla – which, thankfully, hasn’t been a problem here in and around Spark Spanish – is that the pavements (las aceras) are very uneven … especially if you fall over them, as I did, taking my  large  ‘maleta’ or ‘suitcase’ with me and losing a shoe in the process. ¡Qué vergúenza!

 Gracías a Dios – Thank God – we managed the rest of the journey unscathed, though it involved a lot of running as we very nearly missed the train. ¡Por poco perdimos el tren!

 It was a relief to arrive at Sparkville, the cultural residence, where we were greeted by a warm and friendly atmosphere – and could put down our awkward suitcases. 

 We’re really looking forward to a great learning experience here at Spark, with lots of fun activities too! ¡Vamos!

Europees kampioenschap

Spaans Leren

Europees kampioenschap 2012 kijken tijdens een Spaanse taalcursus in Spanje is een super ervaring. Mijn Spaanse taalvakantie is heel gezellig geworden in El Puerto de Santa Maria dichtbij Cadiz . Brightsparkspanish is de talenschool om te zijn als je een voetbal fan bent die graag alle wedstrijden wil zien van de EK. Als iedereen klaar is met hun Spaanse cursussen verzamelen we allemaal in de gemeenschappelijke ruimte om EK wedstrijden te kijken. De Spaanse programma zijn aangepast tijdens de EK om alle voetbal fans blij te maken. Mij hebben ze in ieder geval heel blij gemaakt. Spaans leren in het buitenland en EK kijken is de beste combinatie om een Spaanse taalvakantie door te brengen.

Spaanse Cursussen Spaans in SpanjeSpaanse Cursussen