Tutoring Spanish #6 ‘e’ vs ‘i’ sound

We started by looking at an essay.

Mis mañanas Típicas

Singular/plural and masculine/feminine have to all match up.

Looked a bit at reflexive verbs, such as ‘me visto’ for getting dressed.

Spent some time on the pronunciation in the Luis Miguel song and the flow of the words.

Something to focus on for pronunciation is ‘e’ vs ‘i’. Me, te, le vs mi, ti, etc.

Read a bit in Calvin and Hobbes in Spanish, comprehension is getting better.

Could be good to listen to another podcast.

Also made some progress working on rolling the ‘r’. It’s similar in some ways to a saxophone reed. Your mouth should not be too open. Good to sustain the sound and then add it into words with it. Can take a bit of practice. Was glad to see it’s improving.

Protected: Pronunciation Correction 1, Listening Exercise #1

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Listening Exercise #3, Electricity and Circuits (Much more challenging)

If the first two listening exercises seemed very easy for you, here’s a harder exercise. It’s a lesson I did about physics, electricity and circuits.

This video is at my normal speaking pace.

Go ahead and listen if you’re up for a challenge. You can try part of it or all of it.

How do you say “I speak Chinese” in Chinese?

Since you’re asking this question, I’m going to assume you don’t speak much Chinese. And since you asked how to “say”, I will give you some pinyin instead of just the characters.

I would say this


“Wǒ huì shuō zhōngwén”

You could say this


“wǒ huì shuō hànyǔ”

Check out Taizhi Lu‘s answer here for some more detail about the differences. Better explanation that I would give.

“How far do Chinese Skill and Hello Chinese get you in Mandarin Chinese?”

I have used both, got farther with Chinese Skill (got it first).

That depends on how much time you spend using them and how deep you go. Will those apps alone make you fluent in Mandarin? No. But can they teach you quite a bit? Yes.

I had heard the phrase  谢谢 (Xièxiè) long before I started learning Chinese. Could I be understood at that point if I said it? Yes. However, my pronunciation really wasn’t very good. I spent quite a while practicing it with feedback from a Chinese person and learned to keep my teeth closed and have my tongue positioned in a certain way and it got better.

Likewise, you can probably learn many of the phrases from the apps to a certain level. How high that level is depends on how deliberate and intent you are with your practice. In the end though, for your pronunciation, you are relying on your own ears when using the apps.

Even if you know what you are trying to say, the other person may not.

It can help a lot more with pronunciation to get feedback from a native speaker.

So you can listen quite a bit and learn some written language with the apps and even develop your speaking by copying what you hear.

You probably want to think about the apps as one of the tools you use when learning the language.

Tutoring Spanish #5 Listening to a song

We started by listening to ‘Historia de un Amor’ sang by Luis Miguel. We got through three lines completely.

The sound you had the most trouble with was the ‘v’ sound in the beginning of ‘verte’.

We looked at the library card instructions. One word that was difficult to pronounce was devuelvan.

In general, be aware of pronouncing words as you should in Spanish not as they would be in English. Words like ‘con’.

Talked a bit about the structure of verbs in the future tense since they came up in the song. Learn more of the song and say the words along with the singer and/or sing if you want. It will be good to work on the flow and rhythm of how you speak Spanish.

English Listening Exercise #2| My drawing of a butterfly

February 5, 2013

Youtube Version

Youku Version

English Listening Exercise #1| My drawing of a cat

Youtube Version

Youku Version

(23 seconds)


Try listening and writing down what you hear. Enter your name and email address here. Then send me an email with what you heard.

Tutoring Spanish #4

We started with the Calvin & Hobbes book in Spanish, ‘No Me Gusta Tu Cara’.

The word cara looks a bit like carro, but has a very different meaning.

We looked through a number of the comic strips and connected the words to the illustrations sometimes to figure them out.

Some new words,

cielo, estilo, lejos, caliente, espalda

We also listened to the choruses of some songs in Spanish.

It would be good if you picked a song in Spanish you like, we can work on learning the words.

Talked a bit about some cities in California and how to pronounce them, including Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Los Angeles.

Three new verbs for today, saber, pensar and crear.

“What does the transition into understanding a language look/feel like?”

I have tried learning a language before (Danish) before, but got only so far then stopped. Everytime I pick it up again, I start from the beginning. This has allowed me to develop a very sound understanding of some basic sentences. Will this eventually happen for the entire language?

(From Quora)

My response:

You probably don’t actually start from the beginning, it just feels like that since you have forgotten quite a bit. But likely, you do remember some things and some things will come back more easily.

Chinese is the language that I speak at the lowest level, so it’s probably most similar to your Danish.

Basically, I started learning words and phrases and I would recognize things here and there. As I worked on it consistently, I would understand more and more. I would be able to understand the meaning of simple statements. But there would often be words that I did not understand.

Sometimes that would make me want to learn those words, unless they were very uncommon.

With Spanish, I probably understand about 95% of what I hear. So I understand most things. And I do try to keep learning more words.

In between Chinese and Spanish is German for me. I understand quite a bit, but my level has decreased substantially in the years it has been since I was in Germany.

Much better not to stop practicing completely if possible!