Friday, July 29, 2011

SpanglishBaby: Online Community for Raising Bilingual Kids

Bulletin Board at SA Tamarindo
Learning a second language at a young age can be much simpler that later on in life as your brain is more of a blank slate in which to pick up new skills. 

The concept of translation from a native language is not as big of a stumbling block as you are picking up two sets of vocabulary and other language principles for each respective language at the same time. So when we came across SpanglishBaby, we knew it would be a great online community to recommend to our readers. 

Many of our students that travel to the different Spanish schools we offer are already all grown up and have had some or no Spanish education background. However, a growing number of families have been travelling abroad to our programs, so that their children can get an early start at secondary language acquisition and hopefully carry this forward into future learning endeavors. 

Online Communities like SpanglishBaby give parents a support system to nurture the goal of bilingualism in their children and provide a means for them to gain information and tools that are crucial to further their child's learning ability. The Community was created and organized by two Latina mom's who saw the gap in proper resources for parents who want their children to be bilingual.

SpanglishBaby provides these tools through a variety of articles on tools+teaching+venues+topics for language learning, cultural themes, experts to answer your questions, book lists, favorite foods, and a forum for parents to talk among themselves. 

There is much more than just these categories, but the impressive site offers parents a means to know they are not alone and that there are many out there with the same ideals and goals for their children's language learning achievements. We say to Salud! to such great innovators in creating a family friendly environment that supports parents who put forth the tough effort of providing their child the means to learn a second language.

Join the community at and gain invaluable information for your family!

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Making Spanish Instruction Fun for Children

Learning a language at any age can be challenging, but this alone is half the fun. The other half comes from an interesting curriculum and a methodology that holds the attention of the targeted audience. Our Spanish Abroad Family Programs key in on locations where the instructors are apt for teaching children and can hold their attention  through activities, games, and other methods to teach the language.

We recently found this great company called 1-2-3 Spanish Together, that has music cds, which allow children to sing along and become acquainted to the Spanish language through repetition and a playful rhythm. 

Here is a cute video of a child singing "El Conejito Blanco" from their Jump into Spanish CD. While a full Spanish immersion program can provide a fast paced learning environment, supplemental materials that keep your child thinking in Spanish can enhance the learning experience and build on what was learned once you return home. They have a wide selection of songs on 8 different albums for purchase online at: 1-2-3 Spanish Together

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Spanish School in Madrid Overview

We have a special affinity for Madrid due to its big city stature and being the center of Spain both literally and culturally. It also doesn't hurt that we offer one of the best Spanish schools in the world, a stones throw from the world famous Puerta del Sol as well as the Madrid Opera House and Plaza Mayor.

Being in a big city, one might assume the accommodations are more spread out, while this may be the case for host families, the majority of students choose the shared apartments or private studio options. These are relatively affordable in the high rent Capital City, especially given their amazing location within 1-10 minutes walking distance from the front door of the school.

We have provided the full overview for the school below, so that you can see the key highlights of what the program has to offer. View full details at SA MADRID #1 with pricing and other information in the right hand links. Large cities can provide great immersion environments if you stay away from the touristy areas and focus on practicing with locals.

Spanish Abroad School in Madrid

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Studying Abroad Can Change Your Life

Such was the case for our company's President  who started Spanish Abroad Inc. nearly 15 years ago after studying at a Spanish immersion program in Costa Rica for four months. Josh, President of Spanish Vines is another travelling student who chose their path in life while studying abroad in Spain. Here is his story:

Once upon a time

Josh from Spanish Vines
…I studied abroad in Oviedo, Asturias, a beautiful city in Northern Spain. Each Wednesday, I would gather with fellow students for lunch at a small restaurant called La Cata del Milan. La Cata boasts a broad offering of Spanish wines and every time I visited, I would grill the waiters for details about the week's featured vintage. 

After a few weeks of kindly enduring my enthusiasm, I suspect the staff thought to make me someone else's problem and introduced me to Javier, the restaurant's owner. My Spanish was barely coherent at the time, and his English was little better, but our respective visions — and the passion needed to realize them — were instantly recognizable to one another. 

It would not be long after this first meeting that Javier and I would sit together and map out the concept for Spanish Vines. The result is a unique approach that keeps us traveling the diverse regions of Spain, in search of the finest wines this beautiful country has to offer.

We wish Spanish Wines well in bringing some of the best wines of Spain to the United States and can't wait to see their display at our local wine store.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Notes from the Jungle: Chapter 3 Monteverde Zipline

Molly's Adventures in Costa Rica continue with a trip to the Monteverde Cloud Forest: 

Ziplining in Monteverde, Costa Rica
Photo by Beth and Anth
Got back to Tamarindo last night after a jam packed but fun-filled weekend adventure. We left by van at 8:00 AM for Monte Verde. We were just checking into our hostel at 1:30 when the bus arrived to take us to the zip lines. So we left our stuff with the guy in the lobby and jumped in.

Let me preface this by saying this, BY FAR, the most terrifying thing I have ever done. The Monte Verde zip lines are supposedly in the top two most extreme zip lines in the world. 

So first of all there are 13 different cables you zip on. The longest is 2,461 feet long! All of them are above the canopy (rainforest) and you are 450 feet high!! It is a beautiful view if you have enough nerve to look down. You are connected to the cable with one pulley and a separate tether with a carabiner, just in case. 

The first thing they teach you is that your strongest hand should go behind the pulley with your thumb and pointer fingers making a circle so the cable just zips right through with no friction. If you need to slow down you just push down on the cable to brake. But the only time you should do this is when the guy waiting for you on the other end (many times you can't see him from the starting platform) signals that you are coming in too fast. This is where I went wrong. 

The first two zips are quite short from platform to platform through the trees. Then you hit a long and fast one over the open valley of jungle. Little did I know that my automatic response would be to hold tight to the cable and thus slow myself down. I made it all the way up to six feet before the end and a guide had to come out and get me. But still it wasn't that bad. The problem was that the zips got longer and faster and I still wanted to brake all the way through. At one point I managed to stop myself mid-zip about have way through, hanging 450 feet in the air above the trees. Terrified, and without thinking, my right hand joined my left hand holding my tether and I started to zip again but I had no ability to brake so the poor guy at the end had to take me at full speed. 

Everyone else in our group was having a blast and I was pretty close to tears. Between each zip we had to hike up a new ravine to get to the next rickety staircase and then climb to the next precarious platform. Sure didn't help that I am so out of shape. On about the 5th line or so, there was alot of wind so we had to go with a partner. This was a turning point for me. I got to go in front with my friend Jessica's legs around my waist. I got to have both hands on my tethers and she braked on the cable with her right hand for both of us. 

I felt much more secure when I knew I wouldn't accidently halt myself in midair. But there were only two cables that we had to go tandem on. By the time we got to the Tarzan swing (exactly what it sounds like but much higher than any rope swing you have ever imagined) I was a nervous wreck. I barely made it through the next two short zips on my own. The last and longest zip is the Superman. Here you are attached to the cable by your back and your feet so you fly belly down, arms out, like Superman. It started to rain of course, so 7 of my friends, old and new, talked to the guides and they agreed that I didn't have to go Superman and one of the pros would do this last one tandem with me. PHEW!!

I made it through and everyone was very proud of me. Although it was touch and go at points, I am really glad I did it. Don't ever need to do it again!

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

San Fermin Festival: Wooly Bully

The running of the bulls is definitely an experience to be had. Just one week ago today two participants were gored during their efforts to run from the wooly beasts. We present the great hit from the 60's "Wooly Bully" to honor their brave feat in participating in the festivities in Pamplona. Go ahead hit play now, you know you want to.

The song was actually written by a Mexican American out of Houston who gives a quick Spanish lesson in the first verse. Perhaps this was a nod to his Hispanic descent and subsequent longing to run with the bulls or the two could be completely unrelated. You be the judge from the songs lyrics.

Just to keep on track Runners World had a great interview with one of the bulls from the event and learned his great training secrets. To beat the bull, you must know his tricks. Read up at Runner's World so you can practice for next year. 

Photo by Jim Hobbs
The San Fermin Festival is a 9 day affair, so strident sprinting from beastly bovine is just one of the obscene activities that you may endure in the beautiful Basque city. Too bad you missed it this year, we just wanted to rub it in. Plan better and you can combine this experience with a Spanish immersion experience in Pamplona or the stunning coastal Basque town of San Sebastian. You will have to pay for the bus ticket to Pamplona from here or just hoof it.  

WARNING: Running with Bulls is Dangerous. These are Massive Truck Sized Animals with Sharp Bones Covered in Keratin Projecting from their Heads, which can cause Irreparable Harm to All Portions of your Anatomy. Spanish Abroad does not Condone Exercise Activities, which may Result in Additional Hole Development or Bone Crushing Stompage. 

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Notes from the Jungle: Chapter 2

This is a continuation of the post we put up yesterday as Molly follows up with more details about her Spanish and Surf program in Tamarindo, Costa Rica.

Poco y poco mas mejor!
Tamarindo Beach Surf Courses
Yesterday was another day packed full of classes. Started with surfing from 8:00 to 10:00. The day before I had gone to the super mercado on a break from class to get food for breakfast. 

No matter where you are you can count on coffee and peanut butter toast! Things in the market were pretty expensive. There is supposed to be a cheaper one farther away but I didn't have much time.

So we hit the beach with our boards. I had the same teacher who it turns out is Italian. Success!! I was able to get up to my feet on the board about 5 or 6 times! Not sure I am really enjoying it yet but I love a challenge. Tide was out at the beginning but near the end the waves were getting rougher and rougher as a storm was coming in along with the tide. It's not just the surfing that is tiring. It's the two hours you spend in the water up against the waves and the current.

Tamarindo Spanish Class
After rinsing off and returning our boards, we went to lunch at a nearby cuban sandwich shop. Soooo good! The sauce was just a little spicy which made it delicioso. The owner is named Addy and she is a little woman from Seattle. Too funny. 

Seems so many people decide to move down here to live the life. I bet most of them first came in the summer though - December - May. Apparently it doesn't rain at all during those months.

In Spanish class we worked on the conjugation of irregular verbs in the past tense. It's easy to get overwhelmed with all there is to learn. After class we had dance class where we learned the merengue and the cumbia.

We planned a weekend trip off campus before dinner. We will take a bus Friday morning to Monte Verde where they have the best zip lining through the canopy. The next morning we will take a boat across a lake to Arenal where we can go to the natural hot springs.

After spending Saturday night in a hostel in Arenal we will take a horse back ride to the waterfalls and explore the butterfly gardens and the frog farms. We will take a bus back to our school on Sunday evening. I am REALLY excited to see more of Costa Rica

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Notes from the Jungle: Tamarindo, Costa Rica Chapter 1

One of our students provided us with her first hand account of our Spanish and Surf Program while staying onsite at the student residence in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. 

Soy de San Fransisco pero estoy en una escuela de Espanol y surfear en Playa de Tamarindo! ( Lesson = difference between Ser and Estoy) Here I am on my second morning here and what an adventure. After my change in flight plans I arrived here without a hitch. Luciano met me at the airport and we chatted in Spanish on the hour long drive to Tamarindo. 

Tamarindo Spanish School Building
I have one word for Costa Rica in the rainy season - STICKY ! It is overcast and humid most of the time but quite warm. Take a shower and you feel like you need another one 10 minutes later.

When I got here around 1:00 in the afternoon, they immediately had me take a placement test. I placed into Beginner Level 3. Ten minutes later I was in my first two hour class with no time to unpack or get settled. That's what I get for showing up a day late! My classmates are two girls in their twenties.

We dove right in. The teacher Helyi (LG) is super. She got us to talk and started immediately going into when to use Saber and when to use Conocer and how to conjugate them in the present and past tenses. One of my classmates, Jen, lives here in Tamarindo and teaches English nearby. She is from Florida. Six months after she learned to surf she moved here without knowing anyone. True surf bum. Very sweet but quiet. Jessica is the other girl en mi clase. She is also one of my bunkmates. She is a first grade teacher from Philadelphia. We have 2 hours of class, a short break and then 2 more hours with Marietta, another super teacher. 

We discuss a lot of cultural issues like abortion and the policies of health insurance etc. Interesting.The school looks like a compound of tiled open air huts built into the foliage. I feel like one of the Lost Boys in Peter Pan. The roofs are made of green plastic which makes class difficult during the afternoon downpours. But there are fans throughout and it is really quite comfortable. 

Tamarindo School Residence
My apartment is in the building that houses the surfing school. It has two bedrooms that I share with 4 other women. We have a full kitchen and living room which is great but we are so busy we spend very little time here. It is clean and we are very happy here.

Yesterday, my first morning, I had surfing class from 8:00-10:00. Pretty tiring. Lucas my teacher is bald with earrings and tattoos. He is very encouraging but I am afraid I am a disappointment. I kept paddling out but I never managed to get up on my feet with a wave. I did however ride a few waves on my knees which was fun. 

I am reminded of my first day training for the triathlon where I couldn't manage to stay on the bike. Lucas will soon learn that I don't give up easily. My roommates and I had lunch at a little "soda" across the road. Breaded chicken cutlets with rice and beans and fried plantains. It was yummy. Then it was time to do homework and get ready for another 4 hours of class. At 5:00 we had yoga which comes with surfing program. By 6:00 I was dripping with sweat and feeling completely exhausted. 

Surfing in Tamarindo
The first night we had gone to a disco to celebrate the birthday of Remco, a student from Holland. So last night we just walked up to a falafel shop and then hung out in the apartment studying and chatting.It rains everyday starting around 12:00. 

Yesterday it rained all night. I forgot my rain jacket so I am going to look for a cheap pancho today. I slipped and fell in the mud on the way home from dinner but no harm. The other students are all friendly and fun. 

There are many families with little ones too. Most of them are staying off campus with host families. Not much time for contemplation. On the go from sun up to sun down. Might opt out of the surfing program next week so I can have mornings off.

Special Thanks to Molly for Sharing her experience!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Another Side of Chile: Viña del Mar

Our Spanish school in Santiago, Chile now has a sister school in Viña del Mar, which is right by Valparaiso on the Pacific Coast. This is a quick jaunt by bus and can easily be combined with your studies in the capital. Just let us know that you would like to combine the to locations and we can set up the registration by phone. 

Here is a great promotional video for Viña del Mar that will give you a good feel for the city and some insight on things to do in the surrounding environment for great excursions. With having long stretching Pacific Coast up and down South America, it is only natural that you have an opportunity to live and study in one of these beautiful cities of Chile.

Perhaps you will not understand everything the speaker is saying just yet, but with a little practice in the real world along with the course work you will not have any problems following such narration. Of course the pictures do a lot of explaining on their own.

The pricing for the school in Viña del Mar is actually $40 less per week including the same course and accommodations options when compared to the Spanish programs in Santiago This will come at a fairly decent savings for studying Spanish in Chile. Contact Spanish Abroad at 1-888-722-7623 to discuss the program with a customer representative or to book your next Spanish immersion in Chile.

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Dogs Can Teach Spanish Too!

There are many ways to learn Spanish and different people have their best methods that fit them well. Start of your week out right with a quick Spanish lesson from Fido and Sandy This is a cute video giving some basic lessons from a kind lady covering her two doggies daily activities.

The video gives a fast primer on some verbs and basic vocabulary. While limited in scope, this can be a fun way to learn and the visual aids can really help many understand the subject with staring at boring diagrams. Real world applications can many times help solidify concepts better than something read out of a book. 

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Friday, July 8, 2011

Flying Solo While Studying Abroad

Around 9 out of 10 students that utilize our services to study Spanish abroad do so on there own. So don't fret if you are worrying about someone holding the camera to get a shot of you standing in front of the Prado or Standing on the Equator.

While flying solo can bring much anxiety to some, this independence can bring a lot of confidence for those that have never traveled without a buddy or family member.

Our programs make this dynamic much more comfortable for venturing out alone, as the other students at the various Spanish schools are also in the same boat. 

We receive families, couples, or friends coming as a group, but the majority are teens, college students, or professionals who have the need to learn Spanish and don't have someone else in their lives with an immediate concern with gaining this skill. However, you can gain new friends rather quickly at a Spanish school. Students are in a foreign country and most likely have not visited the major sites to see and want to meet up with other people to do things together. 

You may talk about various trips or landmarks you want to go to during breaks or after classes are done. Most schools have a variety of activities scheduled each week so that you can not only learn about the culture, but also get to know other students at the school for this vary purpose. Many times students will gain friends through the outside community as well, whether it be other foreigners travelling, but not taking classes, or locals that you meet at a cafe or other location in passing. 

This social dynamic may prove more daunting for women as they may feel guarded from unwanted advances or not being at ease with the social norms of a given location. Machismo or other cultural differences may play a factor in putting women at unease while travelling abroad. Cat calls can be common in many locations where we offer our programs, but for the most part have no ill intention. 

We have many women that travel on their own to all of our locations with no safety issues reported. While travel is never 100% safe for any location, some simple street smarts, avoiding certain "areas" of town, and not walking alone at night or in un-populated areas can go a long way to stay safe. Due to the common bond of independent travel, these rules to go by are reinforced by meeting other people at your chosen Spanish school.

If you want to read more on this topic, check out Trust and the solo female traveller This blogger touches on her experience of travelling in India alone as a woman. She gives her tips on how to hold yourself when walking around on your own and other good advice to consider. While she is not learning Spanish nor had a built in support system with a Spanish program, her commentary gives food for thought on the subject. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Spanish Immersion Not So Far Abroad

Puerto Rico has become one of our hottest location due to it close proximity to the mainland, affordable flights, and modern amenities as a U.S. territory. Spanish is definitely the language utilized by locals while many speak English as well. We have had a surge of students travelling there this year and not needing a passport could be just one of the many reason for choosing this beautiful island location for your Spanish program. 

Our school is located in the Capital of San Juan and a full overview from our catalog is provided below, so you can see the key details of the location and program. The standard course is just $270 per week which includes 3 group classes per day from 9AM to 12PM. Private instruction can be added to this program for $25 per hour. Host family accommodations with Breakfast and Dinner provided can be arranged for $260 per week. View full details and register for a program at Spanish Abroad in San Juan

Spanish Abroad San Juan Spanish School

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Celebrate Valencia with La Tienda Spanish Foods

Valencia is not just a city, but also an entire province of Spain that makes up the central Eastern Coast of Spain. The rich traditions of this region can certainly be reflected in the diverse foods that come from the area. Paella is one of the more obvious dishes that is very well known as a Spanish recipe, however Valencia is known as the birthplace of this eclectic rice and seafood based meal that features several of the fresh tasty ingredients you can find locally. 

The Paella origins are not lost on the U.S. Based online Spanish Food Store La Tienda, which features many of the ingredients and kitchen tools needed to make a world class Paella. Many of these items currently have a 10% discount during the month of July to celebrate the Province of Valencia and its many unique food products and kitchen implements.

La Tienda offers full Pallea kits including the pan, Bomba rice, one gram of Saffron, Piquillo peppers, Pimenton (smoked paprika), pallea spoon, olive oil, and recipe book. All you need are the fresh ingredients to make a complete meal and a little finesse with much practice to create a masterful Paella.

In addition to this token Spanish dish, they have many fine tastes of Valencia with wine, Chufa Nuts for Spanish Horchata, Marcona Almonds, varieties of Turron, Bitter Valencia Orange Preserve, and much more. The discounted sale rates will last till July 31st, so start your window shopping now and let the taste buds do the purchasing at La Tienda.

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Friday, July 1, 2011

New Spanish School in Cadiz, Spain

We sent some of our first students to Cadiz this year through our Junior Spanish Programs in Spain. The new Spanish school opened late last year to adults and kicked of their opening with a great celebration. Here are some photos from the event.

The school will have the same curriculum and direction as our Spanish school in Sevilla, which opened the Coastal Cadiz location to offer students a different region of Spanish for their full immersion programs. The school features adult courses year round in their modern facilities as well as a teen program during during peak Summer months. 

We are already getting great feed from those teens that kicked off the Summer session and we are excited to be offering the adult courses to our students. Feel free to contact Spanish Abroad, Inc. if you are interested in this beautiful location and we will be happy to arrange a program for you. 

The pricing and accommodation options are commiserate with our Sevilla Option #2 school. We did not hesitate to jump on board when we heard of the new location in Cadiz, as we knew that with one of the best schools in Spain, they would bring the same expertise to this beach city. 

Spaniards certainly know how to celebrate and there was a great turn out of fresh faces. No amenities were spared at the world class Spanish school and it offers a great location in the city center of Cadiz. The Teen Summer program in Cadiz is still ongoing and while space is limited, there are some spots open for courses and host family accommodations. Come visit the Costa de la Luz and see a wild side of Spain. 

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