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Learn Spanish Blog

Spanish Learning Updates, Tips, and Tricks

Did you know? Philippines Used To Be a Spanish Speaking Country, Too

by CaptainCode

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November 12th, 2013

As typhoon Haiyan, or Yolanda, as it’s called in the Philippines, has swept through this Asia-Pacific island country, it caused massive destruction with as many as 10000 feared dead. With the prayers and relief coming to the Philippines from all over the world, we thought it would be a good idea to mention something not so many know about.

As Spanish speakers and language learners, we usually keep the list of Spanish speaking countries in mind. Yet, not all of us know that until relatively recently, Philippines used to be a Spanish speaking country, too. Philipino, or Tagalog, one of the two official languages (the second official language is English now), bears a lot of similarities with the Spanish pronunciation and vocabulary.

Spanish was introduced in the Philippines after 1565, when the Spanish Conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi sailed there from Mexico and founded the first Spanish settlement on Cebú. As the colonial rule was established, the first printing press founded and the first books released were in Spanish. In the 17th century, Spanish religious orders founded the first universities in the Philippines, some of which are considered the oldest in Asia (University of Santo Tomás in Manila and the University of San Carlos in Cebú). During colonial rule through Mexico City, Spanish was the language of education, trade, politics and religion, and by the 19th century, it became the country’s primary language, although it was mainly used by the educated Filipinos.

In the 19th century, a Spanish decree introduced a system of public education, creating free public schooling in Spanish. Shortly, this island nation, the Philippines had a prominent group of Spanish-speaking scholars and thought leaders, many of whom participated in the Philippine Revolution and later in the struggle against American occupation. In 1899, the First Philippine Republic established Spanish as the country’s official language, with both the constitution and the anthem written in Spanish. However, the independent republic itself didn’t last long.

As a result of the Spanish-American war, Spain ceded the islands to the United States. Under U.S. rule, the English language began to be promoted instead of Spanish, and the use of Spanish promptly declined. The 1950 census stated that Filipinos who spoke Spanish as a first or second language made up only 6% of the population. And another 40 years later, in 1990, the census reported that the number had dwindled to just 2,500.

Spanish lost its official status in 1987, and was dropped as a college requirement, remaining an optional course. Today, it is a required subject in only some academic institutions, such as the University of Santo Tomás in Manila and the University of San Carlos in Cebú.
Former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, a third-language Spanish speaker, introduced legislation to re-establish the instruction of Spanish in 2009. Today, the language is still spoken by Filipino-Spanish families, mainly concentrated in Metro Manila, Iloílo and Cebú. Yet, despite government promotions of Spanish, less than 0.5% of the population are able to speak Spanish at least proficiently.

While the Spanish language has never been 100% accepted by the Philippines population, it is still reflected in the country’s culture and art, and has contributed a number of words and expressions in Tagalog, Cebuano, and other Philippine languages. Here’s to hopes and prayers for this island nation recovering from the terrible tragedy.


San Augustin Church in Manila, built in the early 17th century

San Augustin Church in Manila, built in the early 17th century

Otra vez: Spanish Idioms

by CaptainCode

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November 11th, 2013

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¡Hola Amigos! Feliz Día de los Veteranos, and let’s start the week with 5 Spanish idioms.

  • English: It’s raining cats and dogs
  • Spanish: Llueve a mares
  • Literal: It rains seas


  • English: Just in case
  • Spanish: Por si las moscas
  • Literal: If the flies (insects)


  • English: To be a piece of cake (to be easy)
  • Spanish: Ser pan comido
  • Literal: To be eaten bread


  • English: We all make mistakes sometimes
  • Spanish: El que tiene boca se equivoca
  • Literal: Who has a mouth makes mistakes


  • English: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
  • Spanish: Vale pájaro en mano que ciento volando
  • Literal: One bird in hand is worth more than a hundred flying


Spanish Irregular Verbs in the Future Tense

by CaptainCode

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November 7th, 2013

How comfortable are you using the future tense in Spanish? Do you remember the irregular verbs? Whether you need to refresh your memory or learn the future tense from zero, this Visual Link Spanish video is here to help:

Even if you are an absolute beginner or just consider learning Spanish – don’t just scroll down. This video gives you an idea of just how accessible Visual Link Spanish lessons are. And you know the extra good news? You can start learning Spanish now for FREE with almost 500 lessons available.

Explore Visual Link Spanish now!

¿Por qué no nos gustan los lunes?

by CaptainCode

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November 4th, 2013

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¡Hola Amigos!
We hope your lunes (Monday) is going great! Make sure you have some Spanish time on your schedule today. And just in case you don’t, we’re bringing you this lesson, with some dialogues (Monday – themed, actually!) and wish you a great week!

Telling Time in Spanish

by CaptainCode

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October 31st, 2013

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Learn how to tell time in Spanish (or freshen up your skills if you already know it) with our video:

And here are some useful expressions and tricks to keep in mind:
• por la mañana – in the morning (no specific time)
• de la mañana: in the morning (specific time)
• por la tarde: in the afternoon (no specific time)
• de la tarde: in the afternoon (specific time)
• por la noche: in the evening or night (no specific time)
• de la noche: in the evening or night (specific time)
• la mañana: morning
• el mañana: tomorrow, future
• mañana por la mañana: tomorrow morning
• pasado mañana: the day after tomorrow
Thailand - Tailandia
• anoche last night
• la noche anterior, anteanoche: the night before last
• el lunes que viene: next Monday
• la semana que viene: next week
• el año que viene: next year
• el lunes pasado: last Monday
• la semana pasada: last week
• el año pasado: last year
• al mediodía: at noon
• a la medianoche: at midnight
• alrededor de: around
• de día: days
• durante el día: during the day
• a tiempo: on time
• en punto: exactly, on-the-dot
• tarde: late
• temprano: early

5 Simple Spanish Idioms

by CaptainCode

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October 30th, 2013

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Experienced language learners know that idioms, or, officially called idiomatic expressions (which some students who have just failed a quiz on the subject, prefer to call ‘idiotic’ expressions, BTW), are a fun way of learning a foreign language.

Even if you are far from being fluent, spicing up your speech with an idiom adds the confidence and charm to your conversation.

Moreover, idioms provide valuable insights into language and culture, or even mindset, if you prefer. Why not learn a few simple Spanish idioms? (more advanced stuff is coming, too!)

English: Look before you leap
Spanish: Antes que te cases, mira lo que haces
Direct translation: Before you marry, look what you do

English: You can’t please everyone
Spanish: Nunca llueve a gusto de todos
Direct translation: It never rains to everyone’s liking

English: You can’t make a silk purse out of a sows ear
Spanish: Aunque la mona se vista de seda, mona se queda
Direct translation: Even if the monkey dresses in silk, she’ll still be a monkey

English: You’re pulling my leg
Spanish: A otro perro con ese hueso
Direct translation: To another dog with that bone

English: Rome was not built in a day
Spanish: No se ganó Zamora en una hora
Direct translation: Zamora was not won in an hour

…And we’re back: with 10 Palabras and Valencian Paella

by CaptainCode

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October 29th, 2013

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¡Hola! As this Visual Link Spanish Blog comes back to life, we kick off our conversation of the Spanish language lovers with something nice and celebratory. And what can be nicer and more celebratory than delicious food? We mean Spanish food, of course! Don’t worry, there’ll be some vocabulary included with our new tradition, the 10 Palabras (words) section.

Seafood paellasmall

As autumn, naturally, makes us crave richer foods, and, contrary to popular stereotypes, autumn is THE seafood season, the choice of the dish we’ll be talking about today is obvious: Seafood Paella!

Just a short history note, the people of Moorish Spain often made casseroles of rice, fish and spices for family gatherings and religious feasts, which made rice a staple food by the 15th century, and the tradition of family gatherings over a huge rice dish is still well and alive –with Paella!

Naturally, on the Mediterranean coast of Valencia, the locals used seafood instead of meat and beans to make Paella. This created the true Spanish Treasure: Valencian Seafood Paella!

With lots of recipe variations being out there, go ahead, get creative and come up with your perfect Seafood Paella!

Before you do that, you will probably need to go grocery shopping. And when you do, imagine that you aren’t in your local food chain store, but in a real Spanish market somewhere in a cozy Valencian village. You would probably find these 10 Palabras useful:

Rice – Arroz
Shrimp – Camarones
Mussels – Mejillones
Lobster – La langosta
Onion – La cebolla
Garlic – El ajo
Tomato – Tomate
Salt – Sal
Paprika – Pimentón
Seasonings – Condimentos

¡Buen provecho!

Spanish Schools

by Jake Beus

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October 30th, 2012

The very best way that you can learn a foreign language is to live in a foreign country and be completely immersed in the language and culture. That is certainly not possible for everyone to do, but for those of you who can afford to do so, we have taken the time to list a few Spanish schools in Spain and Valencia.

We have specifically listed a few Spanish schools in Spain, which will cover the entire country. Or you might have a particular interest in Spanish schools in Valencia, and we have listed a few schools in the Spanish city of Valencia. Wherever you choose to go, you can bet that it will be the opportunity of a lifetime.

The Spanish schools we have listed do a pretty good job of helping you find housing. For the most part, you are able to choose where you want to live. I would suggest that you take the opportunity to live with a host family. That way you won’t be surrounded by others who speak English, and you will be forced to speak Spanish. It’s amazing how much you can learn when you don’t really have any other options.


Spanish Speaking Countries

by taylorpebley

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October 4th, 2012

Spanish is one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world. Did you know there are a total of 21 Spanish speaking countries? Here is a list of those countries and their capitals:

Argentina, Buenos Aires
Bolivia, La Paz, Sucre
Chile, Santiago
Colombia, Bogotá
Costa Rica, San José
Cuba, Havana
Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo
Ecuador, Quito
El Salvador, San Salvador
Equatorial Guinea, Malabo
Guatemala, Guatemala City
Honduras, Tegucigalpa
Mexico, Mexico City
Nicaragua, Managua
Panama, Panama City
Paraguay, Asunción
Peru, Lima
Puerto Rico, San Juan
Spain, Madrid
Uruguay, Montevideo
Venezuela, Caracas

Wouldn’t it be amazing to visit every one of these countries? Check out our new Spanish Speaking Countries page and see which ones you might want to visit. We will be adding new info regularly on each of these countries, so check it out. I’ll admit I’ve only been to one: Mexico. How many Spanish speaking countries have you been to? List them in the comment section!

Free Spanish Video Lesson of the Day – Basic Needs #7

by Dave Clark

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September 14th, 2012

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Hola Amigos, here is Basic Needs #7. In the lesson, you  will learn a little about gender, masculine and feminine in Spanish.

Remember, this lesson is taken from our Visual Link Spanish Level 1 Course.

If you want to see the whole playlist with the Spanish Basic Needs Section on YouTube, go for it!

Enjoy! (¡Disfruten!)

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