The Surprising Benefits of Being a Beginner

What is it to be a beginner? Is it something we get to leave behind? And if not, then how might the attitude of being a beginner help us as we learn?

El adiós de Anisa (B2-C2)

Ana's latest story takes place during the final moments of Moorish Spain - in 1492 - a time when the world was changing fast. Written for students at advanced levels, it follows the exile of a young woman named Anisa, her hopes for her family of birth, but also the love she has found with her new kin.

Ana has crafted the story to reflect the time in which it is set, using words and expressions that trace the origins of Spanish we use today (if you look closely you'll see where of the terms ustedes and ojalá come from).

A beautiful story for anyone with an interest in the history of the Spanish language and in this pivotal point in the history of Spain.

La máquina de escribir (B2/C1)

Read a story about a spooky Spanish typewriter, forgotten for decades and passed down through generations. What mysteries does it keep leaving? And what secrets has it kept throughout its life? Ana Ruiz has created another gothic tale, this one for the B2/C1 level. It's great for vocabulary, verb tenses, adjectives you've never seen before, history, and of course, a bit of suspense.

Write like Cervantes! Thou hast seen nothing yet ... (B2-C1)

Miguel de Cervantes was known to capture the human condition like no other - perhaps personified most poignantly through his famous creation, Don Quijote. Cervantes died 400 years ago, on April 23, 1616, leaving behind a most influential literary legacy.

Well here we have tried something in class. To commemorate this day (which is UNESCO World Book and Copyright Day), some of our advanced students have written an autorretrato (self-portrait) in the style of Cervantes for a class exercise.

To get an idea - Imagine describing yourself in the language of William Shakespeare (Cervante's English counterpart), who happened to died in the same year. (Some say even the same day. But that depends which calendar you're looking at!) This task is aimed at the higher levels - those studying either B2 or C1.

Receta de escalivada (B1/B2)

Escalivada is a very traditional Spanish dish prepared along the Mediterranean coast of Murcia, Valencia, Catalonia, as well as in Aragón. It consists of roasted red peppers, eggplant, onion, tomato, zucchini, and any other veggie on hand. The name comes from the Catalan verb "escalivar" meaning to cook in ashes.

This recipe is not only healthy and delicious - it will also help you understand the tú form of the Imperative! Enjoy!

Cenicienta - una versión feminista (Cinderella - a feminist version) (B1-C1)

What if Cinderella never needed Prince Charming after all?

Lynne Ellis, a long-term, advanced student of El Patio entered her twist on a traditional fairytale for our Short Story Competition. Cinderella is re-imagined as a strong, independent, educated woman who escapes the clutches of slavery!

El Encuentro - The Encounter (B1/B2)

Ever met someones eyes in a bar and thought "Where do I know you from?" Perhaps you've never met at all... Sometimes people just have one of those faces... Or perhaps you've known this person all along.

A short story for levels Upper Intermediate and Advanced (B1/B2) with help in the uses of "se" in all its forms.

Spanish Idioms - they "Crack us Up"! (A2-B2)

Idioms are often strange and unusual - yet sometimes the perfect way to express ourselves. Have you ever actually seen it "rain cats and dogs"? … in Spanish we'd say "llueve a cántaros" (it's raining buckets). Idioms are a great way to enter into a culture's unique way of thinking, a way to "get to the point". It really pays to learn one or two - you are so going to impress your Hispanic friends if you throw one in at the right moment. Read Ben Wright-Smith's amusing article with his illustrations - which "hit the nail on the head"!

Direct Object Pronouns - Told through Banksy's Street Art! (A1-C1)

This is a tricky one, but don't lose heart! Direct Object Pronouns are short little words used to help make phrases easier to say and more interesting to hear! It, her, him, them (to name a few) all make our lives easier. But learning when and where to use them in Spanish can be frustrating! To ease you into it, we've matched photos of some of Banksy's best artwork with the examples, think of them as a memory aid!

False Friends - False Cognates (A1-B2)

Spanish and English words can be very similar and following familiar patterns often helps us to learn Spanish. However, we need to be careful because within these patterns lurk false friends ...

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