Archive for the ‘Spanish Ear Training’ Category

Mexican men should be ugly she said
Filed under (Spanish Ear Training) by marcus @ 12:57 am

Serenades still sometimes happen in Mexico.

We got woken up one night by una serenata under la ventana de nuestra vecina (our neighbor’s window).

My wife thought it was so romantic. A real life vision from the time of sus abuelos (her grandparents).

The girl didn’t seem pleased though. She just stayed inside. She didn’t even show her face in the window. Elena said, “she must be angry with him”.

I guess it was a make-up-for-some-bad-behavior-serenade.

Eventually, our neighbor could resist no more. She came to the window and later opened the door….

The morning music I used to hear was very different to the romantic serenades.

Our apartment backed onto a car wash. The workers in the car wash played Mexican Banda and Norteña music all day long.

And they started early.

If you haven’t heard Mexican Norteña music it might sound offensive to your ears.

The culture of this music in the village dance halls is that anyone can have a go. However, just because someone has the gumption to try singing doesn’t mean they sing well.

In fact, most sing terribly,

Yet, after hearing the songs over and over I started to get used to the sound.

One song in particular “Profundamente” by “El Coyote y Su Banda” grew on me. I really started to like it. I still like it.

Back then I was teaching English to a group of nurses, a tough job but someone had to do it.

I remember one of the girls telling me she didn’t like handsome men like Brad Pitt. According to her, men should be fuerte, fornido y feo. (Strong, hefty and ugly.)

She would probably like El Coyote.

Music is a really good fun way to pick up words.

El Coyote’s nasal voice is a little difficult to understand at times. That’s why I have added a transcript and some hints to help you understand more of El Coyote’s Spanish.

Profundamente transcript

If you find Spanish speakers hard to understand in general, check out Spanish Ear Training. It’s a program especially designed to tune up your ear for understanding fast paced spoken Spanish.

Note: Spanish Ear Training is not a program for beginners. To get the most from the Ear Training, you need a strong foundation in Spanish. If you’d like to know about my path to get you speaking Spanish, click here.

Rant in Spanish like a millionaire
Filed under (Spanish Ear Training) by marcus @ 06:42 am

One of the best and highest paid soccer players in the world is Cristiano Ronaldo from Portugal.

Recently he was complaining that opposition players always hack him down with fouls. According to Ronaldo he gets no protection from the referees while other players are carefully watch after.

Then he added, “por ser rico por ser guapo por ser un gran jugador las personas tienen envidia de mi. No tiene otra explicación”


“For being rich, for being handsome, for being a great player the people are jealous of me. It has no other explanation.”

Well, he’s definitely a great player. And he’s rich, last year Real Madrid paid him more than one million Euros per month. (USD$1.35 million)

Is he really as handsome as he thinks? Judge for yourself here:

Let me know what you think of el galán (the handsome young man).

Click here for a Transcript and Translation of What Ronaldo said.

If you found Ronaldo hard to understand, no te preocupes, don’t be worried. He does have a strong Portuguese accent. Plus he’s definitely in a grumbling mood and as a consequence mumbling his words.

If you find all Spanish speakers hard to understand, check out Spanish Ear Training. It’s a program especially designed to tune up your ear for understanding fast paced spoken Spanish.

Note: Spanish Ear Training is not a program for beginners. To get the most from the ear training, you need a strong foundation in Spanish. If you’d like to know about my path to get you speaking Spanish, click here.

Spanish Quiz
Filed under (Spanish Ear Training) by marcus @ 09:07 am

I’ll bet this tricks you.

Here’s a very quick quiz,

Warning: It’s not as easy as it looks.

In fact, if you get more than 5 out of ten correct, you’ll be doing well.

How many of these very common Spanish phrases do you know? Grab a pen and translate these ten phrases:

  1. cuando mucho
  2. quiere decir
  3. más bien
  4. cómo no
  5. más allá
  6. no tiene que ver
  7. todo el mundo
  8. cuanto antes
  9. costar mucho trabajo
  10. de nuevo

It’s a good bet that you know every individual word on the list, but the meanings of the phrases will surprise you

Let’s see how you did?

Remember your target is to get more than five out of ten correct.

So, if you get 6 or more correct, bien hecho (well done).

Ok, you didn’t peek right?

Read the rest of this entry »

An Unknown Comprehension Killer
Filed under (Spanish Ear Training) by marcus @ 06:25 pm

“You can know every word in a sentence and still not understand”

That’s what the coordinator said to me when I was teaching English in Mexico to post graduate students.

You know what…

She was right, it can happen.

But she believed lack of comprehension was always about grammar and I believed it almost always about words.

You see, if you don’t understand a written sentence, it’s almost always because you don’t know a word. And if you know all the words in the sentence but you still don’t understand, 9 times out of 10 it’s still about the words.

More often than not, it’s not the grammar that stumps you, at least not the grammar that is usually taught.

Let me explain…

It’s the way words are combined to create different meanings that’s often the comprehension killer.

These are called collocations and they are one of the biggest stumbling blocks to comprehension, yet, they are almost never taught.

Let me show you what I mean.

Do you know the meanings of these words? mucho, bien, más, cuando, dar, quiere, cada, como, luz, decir, no, una, si, vez, caer, cuánto, tener, de, que

Most of the words look very familiar right?

How many do you know?

I expect you know at least 10-15 of those words, probably more.

What if we put the words together, do you know the meanings of these word combinations?

cuando mucho
cada cuánto?
dar a luz
tiene que
caer bien
como no
cómo si
de una vez
quiere decir
más bien

Here’s a tip: the meanings are very different from the individual words.

If you don’t know the combined meaning you’ll get confused about what people are saying to you.

Spanish will seem faster than it really is.

Here is an easy solution to building you mental database of collocations.

All you have to do is have someone point them out to you, then learn them as
you would individual words.

If you learn them so well that you recognize instantly, you’ll
make a big improvement to your ear for Spanish.

So, what did those combinations mean?

It may surprise you…

cuando mucho – at the most
cada cuánto? – how often?
dar a luz – to give birth to
tiene que – have to/has to (you should know this one)
caer bien – to be fond of/to like
cómo no – why not, of course
como si – as if
de una vez – once and for all
quiere decir – mean/means
más bien – rather/instead


Some combinations seem to have nothing to do with the individual words.

Could collocations be more important to understanding Spanish than they are given credit for?

Is it possible that this is more important than the usual grammar…

I believe so…

Let me tell you how I got a handle on the most important collocations.

When I was learning Spanish and kept seeing or hearing a collocation, I’d find its meaning and make a flashcard. I’d put the Spanish collocation on one side, the English meaning on the other. I also used to also make up a mnemonic to help me remember.

Then, next time I read or heard it again, it would spark my memory. I’d have a feeling of familiarity with the meaning. It only took me one or two times of hearing or reading it for it to sink in. After that, I would remember the meaning of many of the collocations forever, especially the more frequently used ones.

Here’s the bad news.

I used to make the cards with Rolodex cards. Then, I would carry some and store the rest in a plastic box.

You know where this is going right?


Spring cleaning

“I guess I’m done with these cards? I know the meanings now”.


How helpful they would have been to share with you

Not all is lost though. For the last year I have been busy cataloging collocations.
Actively listening for the most universal (all regions) and the most commonly used ones to share with my students.

I’m going to put the most common ones into a PDF and share them with you, gratis of course.

It’ll help you build a solid database of the most common collocations and improve your understanding of Spanish.

Over the coming months, I’ll be sharing more extensive information on this and 6 other ways you can build your comprehension of Spanish.

If you signed up for my Spanish Ear Training information, look for emails about the reports. If not, you can join the update list for my here.

Also, I’ll be soon opening a Spanish Ear Training Coaching Program for just a few people. We’ll have even more details of these hidden secrets to comprehending more Spanish. Plus, members will have access to step by step methods to actively build their understanding of Spanish every month.

I’ll have more details on the program shortly.

Please leave your comments.

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