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Posts Tagged ‘Spanish Culture’

by CaptainCode

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December 5th, 2013

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Did you know the guitar was invented in Spain? So these people must know a thing or two about music!

Do you like Spanish music? And we do not mean any music and songs in Spanish (although songs in Spanish are just another great way to learn the language). Yet, this time we do not mean Shakira, Marc Anthony or Mariachi – these are great samples of Latin American and Mexican music.

For truly Spanish music, think Flamenco. As traditional and historic and it is, Flamenco is something that you will hear in cafes, bars and in the streets of Spanish cities. There are at least 30 varieties of flamenco in Spain and can be found everywhere. And since the Spainish invented the guitar, these people know their music. The famous Spanish poet Fredrico Garcia Lorca called flamenco one of the greatest inventions of the Spanish people.

Flamenco can be considered much more than music–rather a lifestyle. With so much diversity in Spain the love of flamenco has been a constant throughout and even has roots in France. The beauty of flamenco takes more than just a guitar; the style is tied to the elaborate dancers with castanets and the traditional hand clapping.

The type of flamenco most tourists see is with colorful dresses and music dating back to the 16th century from the region of Andalucía with traces of Moorish and Jewish traditions. But flamenco is not just a style from centuries before. El Camarón de la isla (1950-1992) helped bring about nuevo (new) flamenco with the induction of the electric bass. Camarón is considered a legend in Spain with his image everywhere from car stickers to t-shirts.

After a battle with lung cancer Camarón died. Over 100,000 mourners at the funeral truly showed the world the power his music had on people. Following his death, film director Jaime Chávarrí made a movie of his life which later received several nominations for the prestigious Goya Awards.

Today flamenco is still a huge part of understanding the culture; don’t think that Enrique Iglesias is what Spanish music is all about. Here’s a great example of Flamenco to add some Spanish feel to your day:

by E

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March 8th, 2011

This week’s culture topic in the newsletter is fantastic. I don’t know how I would be able to live in Latin America for too long without being completed dehydrated. I’m fairly picky when it comes to my water. It has to be a certain temperature, so cold that it’s nearly forming an thin ice layer on the top. So if I were to go to Latin America, I would definately ask for ice in my beverages. However, they may be on to something. Not only have we heard from Latinos not to drink cold water, I have also heard from doctors that you shouldn’t drink really cold beverages with a meal. The ice cold temperature that reacts with your meal actually slows down the digestion process and creates a ‘sludge’. The ‘sludge’ then lines the intestinal wall and turns to fat and eventually can lead to cancer. The Japanese drink hot tea with their meals. I may be the only one, but I’m seriously considering a change in beverage with my meals. What do you think?

by E

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March 4th, 2011

Ok, who out there has traveled in South America? I’ve only ever been to Mexico, but whoa! is it nuts?!? The drivers are all over the road and have no concept of keeping distance between the car ahead. I frequently road the bus and the drivers were constantly weaving in and out of lanes. I remember feeling quite nervous that I might never make it home alive. If you ever want to cross the road on foot, BEWARE. Those cars do not slow down for you. They honk giving you sufficient warning that if you do not remove your person from the road, you will be flat as a pancake. At least you get some warning, right? Just to be safe, wait until you can’t see any cars coming before crossing the road.

For those of you who have traveled to Mexico, or South America, what was it like for you? Did you have the same fears for your life? I’d love to know where you went and how easy (or difficult) it was to get around.

by Brandi

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February 7th, 2011

This week we are going to talk about personal space. It may be something that you have not thought about very much, but after today, at least you will know it exists. I am not sure how it is in other parts of the world, (those of you from England, Australia, and so forth, can inform me) but in the U.S. when people talk to each other at social gatherings they probably stand anywhere from three to four feet apart.

In Latin America this can be very different. People for the most part stand closer together when they talk to each other. This is true for both sexes, and the fact that they do this has no hidden or implied meaning at all. They just simply stand closer together when they talk.

This took a little getting used to when I first went to Latin America. The first time it happened, I was standing by someone having a conversation with them and they stood very close to me. I felt just a bit uncomfortable like they were invading my personal space. I took a step backwards and after a few seconds, they unconsciously took a few step towards me, after a minute or so of discomfort, I again casually took a step backwards, and they took another step towards me. I thought the person was either trying to send me a subtle message or was just a bit different. I did not realize that “personal space” was a cultural thing.

The first month or two that I lived in Latin America, the fact that people would stand so close to me when they talked to me initially drove me crazy, but then I gradually got used to it. Now, the personal space issue does not bother me at all because I am accustomed to it.

I wanted you to know this exists so if you travel to Latin America, for business or pleasure, and the person you are speaking with stands closer to you than normal, you will realize that they aren’t trying to send you any subtle messages, they simply stand closer together when they talk.

To learn more about Speaking Spanish, please visit our website www.spanishprograms.com

by Brandi

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February 2nd, 2011

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  English Spanish
Monday Where is? ¿Dónde está?
Tuesday the hospital el hospital
Wednesday the school la escuela
Thursday the library la biblioteca
Friday Mexico México
Saturday the United States los Estados Unidos
Sunday the traffic light el semáforo
Bonus the corner la esquina

To learn more Spanish words, please visit our website www.spanishprograms.com

by Brandi

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January 31st, 2011

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In Spanish, they have a fun thing with the language. They have what is called the “ito” / “ita” suffix. For those of you like me who have been out of high school or college too long to remember, a suffix is a word ending. In Spanish you should be able to add this suffix to any noun (remember a “noun” is a person, place, or thing). When you add the suffix “ito” or “ita” to a noun, it means “little”.  Just for an example the word “casa” means “house” and the word “casita” means “little house”. The word “gato” means “cat” and the word “gatito” means “little cat”. And finally, the word “papel” means “paper” and the word “papelito” means “little piece of paper”.

As you can see, the “ito” / “ita” ending means “little” and is very useful.  This fun “suffix” or “word ending” also has one other meaning. I had hundreds of experiences that reinforced the meaning, but here is one experience that opened my eyes to the “other” meaning.

Last time I told you about the Silva’s, who are native Spanish speakers from Latin America, and how I ate breakfast and dinner with them just about every day for about 3 months. Well, one morning Mrs. Silva brought in our breakfast as usual. First she brought in fresh baked rolls that she would get at the bakery every morning as well as a delicious breakfast drink. Then she brought in a pan with a few eggs swimming in oil. That is how they would cook fried eggs — they would put two to three inches of oil in a pan and then drop  in the eggs and they seemed to “swim” in the large amount of oil. As she brought in the eggs, she said in Spanish, “Here are your huevitos”. In Spanish, eggs are “huevos” but this time she used the “ito” / “ita” suffix and called them “huevitos”.

As she put the eggs on our plates, I examined them and said, “These aren’t smaller than normal eggs, why do you call them “huevitos”? She looked at me with a strange expression and said “Of course they’re not smaller”. I asked again, “so why do you call them ‘huevitos'”? She answered, in a sort of obvious tone, and told me it was because she had made them with “cariño” which means “caring”. I wanted to make sure I heard her correctly so I asked “So, since you made them with ‘cariño’ you call them ‘huevitos'”? She confirmed what I had said and I found that I was at the beginning of a very  good culture lesson where you make things like “eggs” with “caring”.

I wanted to make sure this was not something that just the Silva family did, so I began to listen more carefully to how others spoke. I began to notice that many people would call their grandmothers “abuelita” instead of “abuela”, even though their grandmothers weren’t necessarily “little”. I learned that “abuelita” is how to say “grandmother” with “cariño” or “caring”.

The word for daughter is “hija” and many parents would call their daughters “hijita” even though they were full grown adults. Obviously they were not calling their daughters “little daughter” but “daughter” with “cariño” or “caring”.

I grew to love this fun “little” cultural and language difference and had a lot of fun with it. I would tease Mrs. Silva in a fun way by adding “ito” or “ita” to everything for the next few days after that experience with the eggs.

So to sum it up, what I learned was that the “ito” / “ita” ending can be used to talk about “little” things, but it is also a term of endearment which shows “cariño” or “caring”.

To learn more about speaking Spanish, please visit our website www.spanishprograms.com

by Brandi

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January 26th, 2011

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  English Spanish
Monday Where is? ¿Dónde est&aacute?
Tuesday Wall Street la calle Wall
Wednesday the park el parque
Thursday the mall el centro comercial
Friday the supermarket el supermercado
Saturday the store la tienda
Sunday the beach la playa
Bonus the movie theater el cine

To learn more Spanish words, please visit our website www.spanishprograms.com

by Brandi

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January 21st, 2011

After last week, you should have a fairly good idea about the importance of food in Latin America. With that in mind, I would like to share an experience that happened to me. I was living in a city called Vista Alegre and almost every evening I would eat with the Silva family. I became good friends with the Silvas and Mrs. Silva became something like a second mother to me.

One night Mrs. Silva made us pig’s feet for dinner. As always, she beamed a smile from ear to ear as she presented the food to us. This time, she left our food and went into a separate room while we ate with her children. This was the first time I had ever in my life eaten pig’s feet and they looked a little bit like mushy gelatin. I put a fork full in my mouth and tried to swallow but could not. The texture was a little bit too slimy and I gagged as I tried to swallow it down. I felt horrible because I had been able to eat all of the different foods up to that point. I then took a bite of bread, took another bite of the pigs feet and tried to chase it down with a ton of water. Again I just gagged. I tried a couple of different techniques to swallow the pig’s feet but without much success; I then began to worry. I physically could not eat the pig’s feet, but at the same time, I could not offend dear Mrs. Silva.

I sat in this dilemma for quite some time until I devised what seemed to be an perfectly ingenious plan. I put the pigs feet inside of my rolls, rolled them up in a napkin and then planned to take them back to my apartment to secretly dispose of them for good. I made the children think I was going to take them back to my apartment to eat later as a midnight snack. Everything seemed to be going well and I had the packages securely tucked away into a bag. Then Mrs. Silva returned and one of the children instantly, and in a tattle-tale sort of voice said, “Mom, he put the pigs feet in a napkin and is going to throw them away outside!”

I was truly devastated. Mrs. Silva was instantly hurt and offended that I was going to do this with her food. I tried to explain that I was going to take them back to my apartment, but the more I explained, the worse I made it. Finally, I left after saying “sorry” (“lo siento”) about twenty times and Mrs. Silva looking like she may burst into tears at any moment.

The worst part was that I had to go to her home every morning and evening for the next two months to have breakfast and dinner there. It took me about two months of apologizing to finally get on her good side once again.

As you can see, food and mealtime in Latin America is a very important part of life. If someone invites you to dinner at their home in Latin America, here is what I might suggest; if you have a strong stomach, go for it, you will enjoy the experience and be culturally enriched. If you do not have a strong stomach, tell them that you would love to but won’t be able to make it.

To learn more about speaking Spanish, please visit our website www.spanishprograms.com

by Brandi

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January 19th, 2011

  English Spanish
Monday I’m going to (Yo) Voy a
Tuesday He is going to (El) Va a
Wednesday She is going to (Ella) Va a
Thursday You are going to (Usted) Va a
Friday to practice practicar
Saturday the day after tomorrow pasado mañana
Sunday next week la próxima semana
Bonus next month el próximo mes

To learn more spanish words, please visit our website www.spanishprograms.com

by Brandi

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January 14th, 2011

There is quite a cultural difference between the attitude towards mealtime and food in Latin America and the attitude found in the United States. Food is a major part of life in Latin America. It is not just food that is so important but the ritual of eating and sharing food with others that has deeper meaning.

Before I get too deep into mealtime, let me say that the food in Latin America might not be exactly what we in America picture it to be, especially in South America where most people have never heard of tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and other typical “Mexican/American” dishes. I lived for a while in South America and had the opportunity to eat many different types of delicious food. I ate a lot of beans, rice, and fish, but I also had many exotic foods such as guinea pig, cow stomach, pig’s feet, and many other unrecognizable meats that I did not dare ask what they really were as I ate them.

On a similar note, I had a friend who has recently returned from a trip to Mexico. He had an “exciting” train ride around Mexico and could not wait for his first meal of authentic “Mexican food” – the kind he was used to eating in America. He was very disappointed to learn that the “Mexican food” in Mexico is very different from the Americanized version of Mexican food he was accustomed to in the U.S.

Now back to the general attitude towards mealtime in Latin America. In many smaller pueblos (lower income areas), people do not have enough money to purchase pre-prepared, processed, or even canned foods. Many women make absolutely everything from scratch and spend hours in the kitchen every day providing meals for their families.

Just about every meal I had in Latin America was prepared by a native Spanish speaking woman. When they would prepare food, they were not just preparing a meal but it was almost as if they put an emotional part of themselves into the food they gave us. As a result, it was always expected that we eat every bit of our food or they may be offended.

After just about every meal, they would always ask if I wanted more. If I said, “No thanks, I’m full”, they would be deeply hurt and act as if I were rejecting them as well as their family. I quickly learned my response should be, “Yes, I’d like just a little bit more since I am almost full”. They would then beam with joy and come back, sometimes, with an even bigger serving than before. Needless to say, mealtime often took a lot longer than expected to eat the many servings of food that was brought out.

Moral of the Story: If you want a great cultural experience, try eating at the home of a Latin American family. However, remember that you must eat everything that is served. Never use the excuse of being full or that you have an allergy to something; it does not work and will almost always make the person feel bad. If you are not an adventurous eater, I recommend staying home and stick to eating Top Ramen™.

To learn more about speaking Spanish, please visit our website www.spanishprograms.com

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