How to learn Spanish at home?

You have probably heard people talking about language lessons not in a classroom setting or not going abroad. Yes, it’s the trend! Traditional language teaching has lost some popularity given the advantages of virtual learning. The first of these advantages is to be able to learn the language — in a relaxing environment — at home, in your office or even in your car. Other advantages involve choosing your own schedule and learning under a customized program that fits your needs. (link here with: 5 good reasons to learn Spanish online)

Self-teaching tools

In recent years, there has been an increase in the use of the internet and other technology for self-teaching purposes. Some of the most popular are: Audio/video courses and CD-ROMs, books, and unlimited resources on the internet. In the first two cases, you normally make the “investment” and work at home. The same happens with the internet; you have access to all these websites that show you the grammar and other skill-specific activities (e.g. speaking, listening, reading, writing).

You can have access to all those and wonder what to do with them, or how to use them. How often?  Who can monitor or tutor me? Well, the first thing to ask is what your purpose for learning the language is… right? The common answer to this question is that you want to be able to communicate ideas, that is, to hold a fluent conversation with a native Spanish speaker or in a Spanish speaking setting… probably. There are many tips for self-language learning, such as: listen to podcasts or audio files, watch TV, read your favorite book, write notes or comments, and so on.

Conversation partner?

Most of the tools mentioned above can help you master the basics of Spanish. However, if your main goal is conversation, you definitely need to go beyond grammar and separate language skills. The key is to use the language in real situations so you feel forced to apply your learning. You need conversation practice. You need a conversation partner. That is when our teachers at CLI play a role. Not only will they help you master the language skills, but they will integrate all of them in the conversation and culture that is intrinsic to a native language speaker.

Our specialized teachers will have the pleasant task of guiding you through the development of your Spanish. They will help you with the separate language skills and also complement with opportunities for real conversation since the ultimate goal of a language learner is to be able to use the language in real contexts.

So, what are you waiting for? Put your Spanish into practice.  Join us at the CLI and get ready to use your Spanish!

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How long does it take to learn Spanish?

There is not one answer for this question, nor magical numbers. To begin, there are many factors that influence your learning of any language, among which we can find your proficiency goals, the type of language you are learning, your motivation to learn it and the number of hours you invest on studying, the modality. Fortunately, all of them can convey in your favor to make you learn in a (relatively) fast and proficient way. Let´s describe these factors separately.

Your goals. How proficient do you want to be?

First of all, you need to know your goals when learning the language. Most learners want to reach an intermediate conversational level; that is, understanding most of what they hear or read and being understood in a conversation with a native speaker. But, how are levels divided here? According to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), language proficiency is divided on a six-point scale, from A1 to C2 (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2), where A1 is for beginner and C2 is for native-like proficiency. So, many people would be fine with a B2 level, which refers to the description above, being an independent language user. So, how long will reaching these levels take you?

Spanish. What experts say

There are some numbers already calculated for this. For example, the US Foreign Service Language Institute established that Spanish is in the group of languages that is “easier” to learn (for native English speakers) than other languages (See our article: 5 good reasons to learn Spanish online). Thus, they estimated a number of 480 classroom hours for Spanish. This means that if you study one hour a day, it will take you around 16 months to achieve an advanced level. Obviously, if you study around 3 hours a day, the number of hours will be reduced to almost half a year, and you can continue play around with time calculations. This takes us to the next factor, the time you invest studying.

Your motivation and time invested

These factors are key to language learning. If you are a motivated student, whichever the reasons are, you will find the time daily to study—or practice—Spanish.   Thus you choose the number of hours at your convenience and can advance as fast as your pace dictates. There have been cases where learners take four to five weeks to reach a conversational level of Spanish, but these people dedicated at least four hours a day and also had some tutoring. So, again, it all depends on you. So, how to do it?

Your modality of studying. What do you need to reach a C level?

We all know that nowadays, foreign language learning is not limited to a classroom (Check our article: How to learn Spanish at home). The number of hours above was thought of in a regular classroom setting. Don´t you think that with the current resources on the web it could take shorter to be close to a native speaker? Probably yes. In an idealistic online learning setting—or self-study material—you need a tutor. With the correct tutoring that provides one-on-one attention, you can advance quickly through levels and be able to achieve your goal of using real language.

So let´s say that with intensive practice, meaning this that you are highly motivated, have the right tutor and invest a number of hours daily, you can be fluent at an advanced level in around a year, maybe a little less. All in all, this is only speculation, based on the information above, this is a very individual situation. You should always consider good tutoring and that is what we provide at CLI. Not only are our instructors native speakers of Spanish, but they are also well prepared; they are trained to teach the language and make it easier and more accessible to you in a relaxed and comfortable online environment.

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Which Spanish to learn?

As you know, all languages “sound” different across regions; Spanish is not the exception. Although people notice most differences in “sounds” or accents, there are differences also in grammar, vocabulary, idioms and slangs. There is a small variety of Spanishes around the world, and, of course, they are mutually intelligible, that means the one you choose will be understood in any Spanish speaking country.  Below, we will review some of the differences between them. However, your choice of one will be determined by your needs.

Types of Spanish

First of all, you need to know that there is no standard Spanish, only dialects. That said, in Spanish we have two main divisions: Peninsular Spanish (from Spain) and Latin American Spanish. Each variety has other “mini-divisions”. Peninsular Spanish has three main branches: Castilian, Andalusian and Canary. Latin American Spanish has three main variations as well: Caribbean, Mexican and Argentinian. Again, there is no better Spanish than another; it is all about your interests. Let´s describe some of the main differences between both main types of Spanish.

Main differences

There are some general differences between the Spanish from both continents, such as that the Latin American Spanish has a stronger r and has a relatively clearer pronunciation than Peninsular Spanish. Let us list some of the most known ones in grammar and pronunciation.

Use of vos vs. usted vs. . The singular form of you is , usted and vos. Peninsular Spanish uses the form vos, Latin American Spanish uses the forms usted for formal and for less formal communication. In some parts of Latin America (i.e. Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Costa Rica and some other parts of Central America), they also take the form vos. The only difficult thing for you in the vos form is memorizing the conjugations or endings, but once you start using the language, it will come automatically to you.

Use of vosotros vs ustedes. It is the same case as above but in the plural form. However, consider that in Latin American Spanish, the plural form is always ustedes. In Peninsular Spanish, you can use both. These forms of addressing will depend on who you are addressing, which you will learn as you speak in different groups and situations.

Leísmo. It is the substitution of the direct object pronoun lo/la for le. As in A Juan no le vi ayer (instead of using lo). This normally happens in Peninsular Spanish.

Pronunciation of ce-ci. Often called seseo, refers to the pronunciation of those syllables as with the s sound (emosión). Peninsular Spanish pronounces them as the sound th in English (emothión). This might sound like a lisp to you, but it is not; it is a valid sound.

So, which Spanish will you choose?

So, the differences do not say much to you, right? It is because they are not really important, especially knowing that you can be understood in any country despite the dialectal differences. Nevertheless, here are some tips that can guide you in choosing the variety of Spanish you want to learn. Remember, they are based solely on your interests, not on the fact that one could be better than the other.

  • The main advice is that if you are going to use Spanish in Europe, you should learn Spanish from Spain, and the opposite for Latin America.
  • Some writers say that Latin American Spanish is easier for beginners, even some regions/countries within America (e.g. Central America, Colombia, Ecuador) are easier than others.
  • Your ultimate learning of any type of Spanish will depend on the dedication and time you put into learning the language (see our article on How long does it take to learn Spanish?)

Learning Spanish online gives you lots of advantages and provides opportunities for you to interact with people from different regions across continents, besides learning at your own pace (See our article on How to learn Spanish at home). No matter which Spanish you choose, we, at the CLI, hope that you consider learning Spanish from us keeping in mind that there is no better Spanish than the other, there are only different dialects.

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5 good reasons to learn Spanish online

good reasons learn spanish

There are many reasons why people might consider learning Spanish. Among those, there is the growing globalization of the language—Spanish is in the top three most spoken languages in the world—it is easy to learn and speak quickly, and it will add to your profession and boost you career. But, what is the best way to learn Spanish in a significant way?

Some people speak about immersion, that is, living in a Spanish speaking country where you can use the language and practice it every day, or taking an intensive Spanish class with a very proficient or—even better—a native speaking teacher. However, this is not the case for everyone. Not everybody has the access or the possibility to any of these programs, either due to lack of time or money. Other people talk about online lessons and this is what this article talks about.

So, why learning Spanish online?

We have searched among the reasons to learn Spanish online and have concluded that there are many advantages—besides being in the comfort of your home or office at your own schedule—for the language learner under this modality. Below, we highlight the top 5 reasons within our criteria.

  1. Confidence. People often feel intimidated by learning a second language in front of others. One-on-one online lessons help students gain confidence through the opportunities he is given to practice at his own pace. He does not feel afraid to make mistakes because there are no other students to watch him.
  2. Customized lessons. From using student’s background and needs to going at the student’s own pace, customized lessons is a great advantage of learning online. The teacher observes the student’s progress, plans and guides him according to his needs and goals in the language learning.
  3. Intensive practice. All four language skills can be boosted during an online language lesson. The teacher interacts with the student in a way that provides him with enough opportunities to listen, speak, read and write in Spanish which allows him to practice non-stop and even monitor his grammar.
  4. Access to unlimited resources. Once you are online, the access to resources is unlimited. Using authentic videos, podcasts, readings and even grammar exercises as part of the lesson motivates students and puts them into context for learning a specific topic within the language.
  5. Familiarization with the Spanish culture. A language cannot be taught apart from its culture. Being on the internet opens a window to the Spanish speaking world anywhere. Teachers take advantage of this resource to help students become familiar with the language culture: continents, countries, people, customs, food, etc. so they feel at home when they travel to any of the Spanish speaking countries.The ultimate goal of a language teacher is to have students develop the four linguistic skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. All these—and grammar—can be developed online, making students feel comfortable, at their own pace with intensive practice and unlimited resources. In addition, learning online connects students with the Spanish speaking culture. There is no doubt online learning helps students improve their language skills.
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5 stages of learning Spanish before traveling to South America

5 stages of learning Spanish before traveling to South America

Latin AmericaDo you want to travel to South America? Then, you need to learn the Spanish language. This is the official language spoken in over twenty countries. The Spanish government helps visitors coming into the country to learn the Spanish language. For example, there is an institution called ‘Instituto Cervantes’ located on Eaton Square in London organized by the Spanish government that is involved in promoting and teaching the Spanish language to individuals from all over the world.

The best ways to help you learn Spanish faster and easily are by understanding the first things to learn about the polite words, numbers, and accommodation. Then, label your surroundings, get a local private tutor, get head starts on learning the language, and start making friends before you arrive.

1. The first things to learn

Some basic words you need to learn in the Spanish language are the polite words, numbers, food, and accommodation.

The polite words

You will learn the polite words like

Hello – Hola (Spanish)

Thank you – Gracias

Please – porfavor


Learn words relating to accommodation like

Do you have room for two people? – Tiene una habitación para dos personas? (Spanish)

2. Label your surroundings

You need a good understanding of your surroundings and the addresses for you to enjoy your stay in South America. People may ask you, “De dónde eyes?” which means ‘where are you from?’ or “Quépaísesusted?” what country, are you from?

3. Local private tutor

Look for a local private tutor, if you want to succeed in your quest to learn the Spanish language. Your local or native private teacher will help you understand the basic things you need to learn about the Spanish people, their cultures, and especially, the language.

4. Get a headstart on learning the language

You need to condition your mind on learning the new language if it is different from the languages you learned at school. Register for an intensive language course anywhere it is offered. The Spanish government is organizing an institution in Eaton London called ‘Instituto Cervantes’, responsible for the promotion of the teaching and learning of the Spanish language everywhere in the world. The teachers are native speakers ready to educate you on the rudiments and basics of the language. There is also Elegant International College in London, where you can undergo a 12-week course on the Spanish language. Learning the language will help you when you want to shop, open a bank account, and rent a house. Furthermore, you can buy some language learning applications like duolingo, Roselta stone, or Spanish learning videos like videoEle, hire a private teacher, and buy a language-learning book.

Learn to listen in Spanish

If you want to learn to speak Spanish successfully, you must learn to listen in Spanish. The more you listen to the native speakers as they speak the better you get to understand the language. Listen more if you want to learn better. Therefore, listen for the words you know as the natives and others speak Spanish.

5. Start making friends before you arrive

For you to adapt to a new culture, learn a new language, and acclimatize to the weather conditions of the new place, you need to start making friends with people from such places. They will help and teach you about their cultures, the types of foods they eat, religions, and languages spoken in such a place. You will begin to learn all these things from your friends even before you arrive there. The communication could be through e-mails, Facebook, MeetUp, and other media channels that will help you to chat with these people on a regular basis before you arrive in such a country. You can discuss local sports teams and social clubs.

Author’s Bio

Eldon Mirjah is the creator of Gritty Spanish, www.grittyspanish.com. Gritty Spanish is a course that’s entirely based on informal learning – where students get to grips with the language through urban stories – featuring the eccentric, the bizarre and the real-life. This is a form of learning that is defined by storytelling.

Posted by mikebastin in Learning Spanish, 0 comments
10 Books to Read Before You Visit the Dominican Republic

10 Books to Read Before You Visit the Dominican Republic

Dominican beaches are only the beginning…

Chances are, you’ve already grabbed the sunscreen. So here’s a little knowledge to pack alongside. Guns! Money! Intrigue! Baseball! There’s always been a lot more to the Dominican Republic than you may think. Use this short reading list, compiled by Cabarete Language Institute, to paint you a fuller picture of the balmy island state.

1. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot DiazWinner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle, the story of Oscar Wao – a sweet and friendly Dominican-American nerd, is mostly loved by all. But let’s keep it real; this book is out there. With references ranging from the Dominican concept of Fuku (a curse) to Dr. Who, there are few people on this planet who will get every inside joke, pun and literary trick in this book. (I suppose these are the books that win the fiction awards, right?)

Even if you only get half of what this story is about and the various references, it is worth the read. Not only do you get to step into the world of a dorky Dominican growing up in New Jersey in the 1980’s, but the book also travels back in time telling the story of Oscar’s mom and grandfather in the Trujillo era – a defining time in contemporary Dominican history.

2. Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa

Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas LlosaIf you are looking for a colorful yet dark read about Rafael Trujillo – the brutal yet iconic dictator that ruled the Dominican Republic from 1930 until his assassination in May 1961, read Vargas’s account of El Jefe’s life and murder.

This is fictionalized history at its best with three stories woven throughout the novel, including the gripping account of how the assassination of Trujillo by former loyalist was planned and eventually carried out.

The interwoven story of sex and power will not only bring out the raging feminist in you, but might even shed some light on how contemporary Dominican men tend to treat women.

3. In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez

In the Time of Butterflies by Julia AlvarezSet during the last days of the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic, three young sisters, members of a conservative, pious Catholic family, who had become committed to the revolutionary overthrow of the regime, were ambushed and assassinated as they drove back from visiting their jailed husbands.

Thus martyred, the Mirabal sisters have become mythical figures in their country, where they are known as Las Mariposas (the butterflies), from their underground code names. Alvarez, a Dominican-American, has fictionalized their story in a narrative that starts slowly but builds to a gripping intensity. Each of the girls–Patria, Minerva and Maria Terese (Mate) Mirabal–speaks in her own voice, beginning from their childhood in the 1940s; their surviving sister, Dede, frames the narrative with her own tale of suffering and dedication to their memory.

Alvarez captures the terrorized atmosphere of a police state, in which people live under the sword of terrible fear and atrocities cannot be acknowledged. As the sisters’ energetic fervor turns to anguish, Alvarez conveys their courage and their desperation, and the full impact of their tragedy. (From Publishers Weekly)

4. The Last Voyage of Columbus by Martin Dugard

The Last Voyage of ColumbusComplete name: The Last Voyage of Columbus: Being the Epic Tale of the Great Captain’s Fourth Expedition, Including Accounts of Swordfight, Mutiny, Shipwreck, Gold, War, Hurricane, and Discovery

Here you can read the swashbuckling adventures of Columbus as told by Martin Dugard – the dude who writes all those Killing Books with Bill O’Reilly.  You know, Killing Jesus, Killing Hitler, Killing Kennedy, Killing Yo Mamma, Killing Yo Yo Ma, etc.

What is with all this killing stuff anyway Bill? One guy who definitely did a lot of killing was Columbus. Killed all the Taino’s that were literately chilling out in Quisqueya before those Spanish-Italian-Portuguese mofo’s sailed across the ocean to satisfy their gold lust. Honestly, I have not even read this book, but I suspect the book somehow glorifies Columbus, not really my scene.

Don’t read about Columbus. Read about the real hero of the colonial times Bartolomé de las Casas, perhaps the first human rights activist ever. Bartolomé de Las Casas was the first and fiercest critic of Spanish colonialism in the New World. An early traveler to the Americas who sailed on one of Columbus’s voyages, Las Casas was so horrified by the wholesale massacre he witnessed that he dedicated his life to protecting the indigenous community.

He wrote A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies in 1542, a shocking catalog of mass slaughter, torture, and slavery, which showed that the evangelizing vision of Columbus had descended into genocide. The book was dedicated to Philip II to alert the Castillian Crown to these atrocities and demand that the indigenous people be entitled to the fundamental rights of humankind. Power to the people!

5. Caribbean: A Novel James by A. Michener

Caribbean: A Novel by James A MichenerMichener. ‘nuf said.

6. The Dominican Republic: A National History by Frank Moya Pons

Not exactly light reading but the authoritative academic history of the Dominican Republic from pre-history to the modern democratic era.

7. Why the Cocks Fight: Dominicans, Haitians, and the Struggle for Hispaniola by Michele Wucker

I have not read this one yet, but I hear it is quite good with crucial insights into Dominican-Haitian relations.

8, 9 and 10 Honorable mentions for books on Haiti.

While my heart naturally holds a soft spot for the Dominican Republic, here are a few of my favorite reads on Haiti.

Farewell, Fred Voodoo: A Letter from Haiti by Amy Wilentz.  Anything the highly-acclaimed American journalist covering Haiti writes is worth checking out, including her blog. Her latest book as of this post is Farewell, Fred Voodoo: a letter from Haiti that chronicles the post-earthquake Haiti and the many Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and other actors trying to sort out the chronic misery that is so much of Haitian life. While she paints a pretty bleak picture of the futility of so much of the Haitian rescue and rebuilding effort, her conversations with celebrities like Paul Farmer and Sean Penn are quite entertaining and elucidating. Mr. Penn spent months living in a tent getting down and dirty in the relief effort and is now Ambassador at large for Haiti. Kudos to you Sean.

The Harvard-educated Dr. Paul Farmer is another hero in Haiti, and his work is well chronicled in the moving book Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder

A bit on the fringe is the wicked indictment of the whole “Republic of NGOs” as Haiti is known in certain circles as portrayed in the fast read Travesty in Haiti: A true account of Christian missions, orphanages, fraud, food aid and drug trafficking by Timothy T. Schwartz.  What can I say, when you learn about the community devoted to helping Haitians you will laugh, you will cry.

These books will now doubt wet your appetite for traveling to the Dominican Republic. When you decide to come to the DR, make sure you visit Cabarete and come by Cabarete Language Institute for a free Spanish class. Mention code BOOKDR to get your free class.

Posted by mikebastin in Dominican History, 1 comment
5 Reasons Studying Spanish in the Dominican Republic is fun!

5 Reasons Studying Spanish in the Dominican Republic is fun!

There are plenty of reasons you’ll want to come study Spanish in the Dominican Republic. Today we’ll give you 5.

Island Latin Music

Merengue DancingThe Dominican Republic, or as it sometimes called locally: Quisqueya – which means “mother of all lands” in the extinct language of the Tainos, is the place where the Spanish first settled in the New World. It was during this settlement that the Spaniards took Taino wives and forced Africans to work the lands.

While a historical humanitarian tragedy, the resulting mixes of the three cultures produced a variety of infectious grooves centered around dance parties that can start early Saturday and last through Sunday night.

At these fiestas, you can find the warmest people on earth. Come to the Dominican Republic and live the rhythm of the Latin culture by dancing Merengue with Los Hermanos Rosario, Juan Luis Guerra, Eddy Herrera, Rubby PerezChichí Peralta, Ramón Orlando, Las chicas del Can, and many others. After a Spanish class immerse yourself in the Latin music with its lively rhythm dancing Bachata in a colmado, bar or discothèque.

Show off your salsa moves on the many dance clubs on the beach, twerk to your favorite Reggaeton at the local car wash or just dance on the seashore to the drummer’s beat until sunrise. Discover these Caribbean beats yourself and make learning Spanish fun and festive.

Joyful and colorful cultural celebrations, festivals, and shows

Dominican Republic Jazz FestivalWitness of one of the major celebrations in any Spanish speaking country: the sparkling and exuberant Dominican Carnivals which start sometime in January and end with the major Carnival party the week before Lent.

After Lent is Semana Santa (Holy Week) where you can practice your Spanish with any of the many Dominicans that flock to the beach during this time.

In November, you can attend the Dominican Republic Jazz Festival that is held every year in Sosua, Cabarete and Puerto Plata in the north part of the island.  This festival brings musicians from the US, the DR and other Caribbean islands with variety of Caribbean and international Jazz sounds.

There are many other shows that you can see throughout the country such as the Dominican Republic Bachata Festival, the Corona Sunset Electronic Musical Festival in Cap Cana, Concerts of the Villa de Santo Domingo and unique Afro-Caribbean shows like Kandela in the Altos de Chavon’s amphitheater; a Dominican icon where Frank Sinatra performed!

Beautiful beaches and a perfect sunny weather most of the time

Cabarete KiteboardingCabarete, on the north coast of the Dominican Republic, is the hip place for The Masters of the Ocean contest. Kitesurfing, windsurfing and surfing international events are held here all year round as well.

Do not worry if you’re a beginner or don’t know how to surf as the Cabarete warm waters are perfect even for first-timers. Ride the waves in the mornings or in the late afternoons, before or after your Spanish lessons.

The fun doesn’t stop there! You can have a life experience by observing the marine mammals such as the humpback whales mating in the Samana Peninsula or by swimming with the dolphins or sharks in the Ocean World Park, having a Catamaran boat trip sensation, sailing, or deep sea fishing! These are activities that you have to experience at least once in your life!

Plenty of outdoor adventures and different attractions

Canyoning Dominican RepublicLand activities? Of course. In the Dominican you can paraglide, river-raft, ride horses, go on an ATV 4-wheel excursion, rent a motorcycle or go zip-lining. On the North Coast enjoy beautiful sightseeing in the Mountain Isabel de Torres and arrive to “Christ the Redeemer” by riding the unique cable car in the Caribbean!

You can also visit the Sosúa Synagogue and museum.

For something entirely different, explore one of the thirty caves of the El Choco National Park. This zone has a formation of rocks more than 5 million years old!

Good services at affordable prices

With eight international airports all around the island, you will have an easy access to a wide variety of comfortable accommodations at affordable prices.

Stock up on rum and cigars at fantastic prices and if you like jewelry look for the semi-precious stones, Amber and Larimar only found in the beautiful Dominican Republic.

When it is time for eating, you can choose among hundreds of restaurants where you can taste delicious fresh seafood dishes and also traditional ones like Mangú. All the traditional Dominican cuisine is a mixture of the Spanish, African, and indigenous Taino with local herbs and spices. As you can see the Dominican Republic has it all.

Come to learn Spanish with Cabarete Language Institute here and you will have a life experience that will never forget!

Posted by mikebastin in Activities, 0 comments
Free Resources for Learning Spanish

Free Resources for Learning Spanish

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Learn Spanish for free? As the Director of Marketing for Cabarete Language Institute, I often take Spanish classes at CLI. This is the best way to learn a language; however I do not always have time for a class and I enjoy leaning on my own. Here is a list of 10 free resources I use to compliment my Spanish studies.

1. Duolingo for iPad, Android and Web

• Google Play’s “Best of the Best” 2013.

• “Far and away the best free language-learning app.” —The Wall Street Journal

•It’s free, for real. No fees, no ads, no gimmicks.

•It’s fun. Lose hearts for answering incorrectly, advance by completing bite-sized lessons, and track your progress

•It won’t replace your teacher at CLI, but if you only have ten minutes a day to study it’s better than nothing.


2. Destinos – 1980’s Program from University of Illinois and PBS

An introduction to Spanish told in a telenovela style filmed in multiple Spanish speaking countries.

Good to watch at night when you are too tired to actually study and the 80’s clothes and hairstyles make for a good laugh.


3. BBC Spanish Language Portal

More than just news in Spanish, a portal on Spanish language activities. Check out their seemingly impossible crossword puzzles and brain scrambling games.


4. 100 Most Common Spanish Verbs

Around week two of Cabarete Langue Institute’s Intensive Spanish course you will be presented with irregular stem changing verbs. This happens in the present tenses with –ar, er, and –ir ending verbs. The vowel can go from e to ie, o to ue, or e to i. (pensar > yo pienso, seguir> yo sigo, etc.). To quote our Spanish text book The Ultimate Spanish Review and Practice: “You cannot predict from the infinitive which verbs will have a stem change and which will not….It is therefore necessary to memorize the verbs that have a stem change.” This is very true. So do yourself a favor and master the 100 Most Common Spanish Verbs and you will be able to say just about anything.


5. Conjuverb for Ipad and Iphone

Conjuverb is a verb conjugator for iPad and iPhone that allows you to quickly look up any conjugated Spanish verb and see the English translation. It also will display the full conjugation of any Spanish verb. A fully customizable built in Flash Card module is great for self-testing. You can chose from a group of the most commonly used Spanish verbs or create your own list and you can chose which conjugations to work on. http://conjuverb.com/

6. Verbix.com on Web

A handy website to check verb conjugations:



7. Wordreference.com

Master a single word:


8. Spanish English Dictionary Freemium for iPad and iPod:

A free Spanish English offline dictionary for your iPad or Iphone. It’s free for the basic edition which is sufficient for most students and includes a phrasebook, verb conjugator and vocabulary quizzes. Unlike a lot of dictionary or verb apps this one works fully offline, which means you do not need to be connected to the Internet to look up a word.

App Store Link

9. Google Translate

Google translate does a decent job translating simple sentences. Forget about putting in an entire document and expecting a well translated document to come out but it can be used as a tool for practicing the art of writing in Spanish.


10. Dominican Republic Trip

The best free resource for learning Spanish is to come to the Dominican Republic and just walk around and talk to the people. Folks here are very friendly, so come on down for a visit and remember to visit CLI for some person-to-person language instruction.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Posted by mikebastin in Learning Spanish
3 Mistakes Spanish Learners Make and How to Avoid Them

3 Mistakes Spanish Learners Make and How to Avoid Them

The language learning process is full of many a pitfall, and if you are a native English speaker trying to pick up on Spanish, you have undoubtedly encountered your fair share already. Of course, you probably understand the importance of knowing a language like Spanish, one of world’s top three most important languages. And as nations like the U.S. become increasingly globalized and multilingual you know that having one more language under your belt will definitely benefit you both persquonally and business-wise.

Even with firm language goals in mind, it can become frustrating to feel like you are consistently dealing with the same mistakes and problems as you struggle to learn Spanish. It’s all too easy to give up on your language learning objectives when it seems that your progress is hampered by learning barriers. But remember: all students of a foreign tongue struggle with these at some point or another during the process. So before you throw in the towel, check out these 3 common Spanish mistakes and how to avoid them:

  1. To be vs. To have

One of the biggest challenges for Spanish learners is perhaps acquiring the initial skills to navigate around the terms “to be” and “to have”. In English we use “to be” to indicate things like age (“I am 25 years old”) while in Spanish “to have”/ “tener” is utilized instead (“Yo tengo 25 años”). Although this latter phrase translates literally to mean “I have 25 years”, the key is to not think of it in English terms. When you use literal translations from Spanish to English, the struggle to grasp the concepts becomes exponentially harder. Instead, commit to thinking fully in Spanish. Accept that these are language nuances you must learn and refuse to allow your mind to try to ‘logically’ translate and make sense of them in English. Doing so will lead to faster fluency.

  1. Tú vs. Usted

With many different titles for different societal stratums, Spanish is definitely a more formal language than English which constrains itself to the use of a few proper titles. One way in which Spanish exhibits itself as a formal tongue is through the use of “tú” vs. “usted”. If you’ve been studying Spanish for some time, you know that “tú” is the “you” term used for close friends or informal acquaintances while “usted” is reserved for those older or those you don’t know very well. Most Spanish learners start out using primarily “tú”, making it all too easy to forget that “usted” is also a vital part of the language. The key is to learn these two “you” terms side by side, forcing your brain to consider beforehand who you’re speaking to and which one is applicable. This way your mind is trained from the start to think this through and you won’t run the risk of offending anyone with the informal term when you should be using formal.

  1. Embarrassed vs. Embarazado/a

Our brains love to make associations between similar sounding words, causing us to believe that if they sound the same, they must mean the same thing. As a result, false cognates are one of the biggest and most difficult pitfalls to avoid for Spanish language learners. One key example is the use of the word “embarazado/a” to say you’re embarrassed. Yes, the two do sound the same, but unfortunately if you say “Estoy embarazado” you’re merely announcing to the world that you’re pregnant, which will surely be the cause of even more embarrassment than before. However, these situations are avoidable if you take the time to memorize which are the most common cognate errors. Then practice, practice, practice to cement these skills and make sure you don’t stick your foot in your mouth in the future.

Katie Collom writes on behalf of Language Trainers Online, a foreign language tutoring service specializing in group and one-on-one classes via Skype. Check out their language level tests and other free, online resources on their website or send them a quick inquiry for more information about their personalized course packages.

Posted by mikebastin in Learning Spanish
Cabarete Language Institute (CLI) Hosts First Open Spanish Class for Everyone in Dominican Republic

Cabarete Language Institute (CLI) Hosts First Open Spanish Class for Everyone in Dominican Republic

On Thursday March 12, 2015 CLI created and gave a Spanish Course to all of Cabarete at the Cabarete Social Club. Participants were greeted with a smile and a name tag which was later used to win prizes at the end of the class.

The event was introduced and presented by Isaac Trujillo, CLI Director, along with Violeta Castro, lead teacher at CLI.

The class was designed so it would fit any level of Spanish proficiency giving anyone from beginner to advanced a means to participate in a fun and interactive class.

The subjects taken into consideration ranged from why anyone should learn Spanish and most importantly why people spending time in Cabarete should learn Spanish.

One interesting component was Spanish: What you know and didn’t know you knew which showed how to figure out which English words had Latin roots and could be quickly turned into a Spanish word.

That was followed up a few games where strangers were paired off and quickly learned to talk about where they are from and what they like to do.

The last activity of the night was the raffle. Third and Second prizes were 3 hours of one to one Spanish Instruction and the First prize was a 15-hour course of one to one Spanish Instruction.

The lovely young and talented CLI teacher Hasnae selected the lucky winners.

First Prize went to Franklin from Colorado and, second prize to Alex from Russia and Third prize to Natalia from Russia.


Posted by mikebastin in Speaking CLI