Juegos para practicar español en nivel A1

Games to learn Spanish in level A1

The new way to learn Spanish through playing

Playing is fashionable. It is increasingly common to find playful elements in apparently unrelated contexts (perhaps the clearest examples being the world of marketing and business), and words like gambling or serious games are on everyone’s lips. Teaching foreign languages is an ideal field for the application of some of these approaches, so in this entry we will talk about some games to learn Spanish in level A1.

Is it easy to learn Spanish with games?

We humans like to play. Disciplines such as psychology and anthropology have demonstrated the importance of the recreational dimension in the development of culture. According to the experts, when we play, as when we dedicate ourselves to everything that we are passionate about, time passes without us hardly noticing, because we have entered into a situation of perfect balance. For this to happen, however, a number of conditions need to be met, such as the rules being clear, the difficulty of the challenge we are facing being right and a precise objective being set. If these circumstances are met, there is no doubt that learning Spanish by playing is one of the best ways to do so.

Games to practice Spanish in level A1

Why do you learn Spanish better through playing?

Playing is one of the purest forms of learning that exists, as it basically consists of understanding a series of rules and getting the most out of them. There are many similarities between the playful and the educational process, so the use of games in the learning of second languages is especially appropriate. For example, it is possible to play games alone, and also to learn a language, but it is certainly more satisfying to do so together with others. On the other hand, we learn by solving problem situations, and what is a game if not a big problem that we have to solve in order to be successful? We could also say that, in the two processes we are talking about, participants learn by doing; or that making mistakes is something not only natural, but necessary when it comes to perfecting our skills either as students or players. For all these reasons and others, Cronopios Idiomas strongly recommends the use of games to learn Spanish in level A1.

Some of our favorite games to learn Spanish

Below we show you some of the game titles that we like the most to learn Spanish and that we use the most in our classes:

Game 1 – Dobble

With millions of units sold worldwide, Dobble is undoubtedly one of the most popular card games around. The rules are very simple: participants must quickly find the only image that repeats between two cards with multiple figures and say it out loud before the others. Always according to this premise, there are four different game modes. The fact that it is so easy to understand makes it one of the best games for practising Spanish in level A1 (Games to practice/for practising Spanish in level A1), since with it you can work on your vocabulary and pronunciation almost from the first day of class. Due to its small size and its more than affordable price (around 15 euros), it is also ideal for students to learn Spanish by playing outside the classroom.

Game 2 – Dixit

Another classic, winner of multiple awards, including Game of the Year in 2010. The rules are also very simple: in Dixit, each participant receives a series of cards with quite surreal illustrations (some of them true works of art) that can be interpreted in very different ways. In each round there will be a storyteller, who will have to choose one of his cards and think of a phrase (it can be just one word) inspired by the image that appears on it; this card is then mixed with others, and the rest of the players will have to guess which one of them is the one the storyteller used to build his phrase. But be careful: it is important that it is not too easy or too difficult, because if all the players (or none of them) get it right, all of them will score points except the storyteller. The favourite of the most creative students, Dixit is a point of reference when it comes to learning Spanish with games.

Game 3 – Duplik3

And we end up with what is probably the least known of the three, but has already become one of our favorite games to learn Spanish: Duplik, perfect for practicing description and reviewing contents towards the end of level A1. One of the participants takes a card and describes the image on it as accurately as possible, while the rest try to draw it before time expires. Then the secret requirements of the image are revealed: details that have to appear both in the description and in the drawing (for example, if there is a person: how is his hair, what position is he in, what kind of clothes is he wearing, are his eyes closed or open, is he looking left, right or straight ahead…). For each requirement fulfilled, both the narrator and the cartoonist will earn one point. Don’t worry if the visual arts are not your strong point: in Duplik it’s not the quality of the drawing that matters, but the elements that appear in it, and a scribble can beat a Velázquez painting. That is why, as the manufacturer himself says, it is the drawing game for those who cannot draw.

Reasons to do an Intensive Spanish Course

Reasons to do an Intensive Spanish Course

Learning Spanish is becoming more and more popular these days, as well as combining the learning activity with the experience of living in a Spanish speaking country. So as opposed to say, using an online app or private lessons or just learning from people around you, to get the most out of a stay abroad with the most opportunities for exposure to the language, an Intensive Spanish course is the way to go for the most effective and enjoyable language learning experience. In this article we’ll set out some reasons to do an Intensive Spanish Course.

1. It’s cost effective. Private lessons are unfortunately expensive, and instead in a group you get more hours for your money. Furthermore, as it is several hours every weekday that you’re doing this, as more of your day is taken up being consistently exposed to the language and concentrated on exercising what you learn, you are really immersed in the language learning experience, and it shows that this is a highly effective way to learn and retain the language.

One on one lessons are for covering specific needs students might have, or if there is a clear goal; for instance preparing for a job interview or preparations for an official language exam such as those required to get into Spanish universities. Another reason might be that a student feels that she/he is not able to get the hang of a particular aspect of the language, such as the verbs past tenses for example.

If the goal is to generally raise your language skills though, then an intensive Spanish course is definitely the best approach, if you have specific requirements then one on one lessons may be more appropriate. At Cronopios we can offer you both intensive courses and one on one lessons, it is possible to take these separately, for instance by taking our Intensive 20 hours course. We also offer a combined package, Intensive 22 hours, which includes 2 hours of one on one lessons per week with one of our teachers. As said, we also offer separate one on one lessons, as well as officially recognised tailor made preparation courses for all the official exams that exist in Spain, DELE, SIELE and the CCSE.

2. You have the all the advantages of group study; participation offers the possibility of interaction with other students, to practice, to make connections, etc. You learn from each other’s mistakes, not just your own. You get to work on practicing realistic situations, not just with the same single person but with different people.

Reasons to do an Intensive Spanish Course

You also get to practice more conversations as this is central to group lessons. You are with people who are at your level, this may be obvious, but you’ll find that these are the people you will at first by far be the most comfortable having conversations with. If speaking Spanish to others is a hurdle for you, then this in particular is a real god-send.

3. The school provides a base, a home away from home, facilities, and helpful staff, for everything that you might need in terms of advice and support. Being new in a country can be quite tough, we see it often that people find being in a new country with a different culture where even English isn’t always widely spoken a bit intense. Doing everything from finding your way, building up a social network, to getting yourself organised in general can be daunting on your own. Instead a language course provides not only the language and the instant contact with others in a similar position to yours but also a daily rhythm, structure as well as content.

4. The school runs a daily activities programme for exploring social and cultural aspects of the city, for instance visiting a museum and then going for a drink with everyone. This is also ideal for practicing your Spanish outside the classroom but still with your classmates. And you will find that not only do you get to know Spanish culture through the teacher, the text book, the social/cultural activities every weekday evening, but also you’ll get exposed to the cultures of your classmates. Typically at Cronopios Idiomas, as we’ve consciously decided not to focus on attracting one type of student only, you will be in a group with people from all over the world.

5. And finally we would say, do it for the memories! Do it for going through personal growth as you experience an intense and full on new life. Do it for the bonds you create with people from all over the world, for the friendships that only occur when you’re living life to the full together with others.

The Cuesta de Moyano book market

The Cuesta de Moyano book market

What is there not to love: with its back against the botanical gardens, little old wooden cabins stuffed to the rafters with books on every theme you can imagine, from 19th century erotic prints to a first edition of Harry Potter in English. Located on a sloping pedestrian street which leads from the Retiro to Atocha station, the Cuesta de Moyano book market, though perhaps not as ancient as the Rastro market in Lavapies, has existed here for a century.

The Cuesta de Moyano book market

You could spend an entire afternoon browsing here, taking your time to just enjoy the quiet atmosphere. Because that’s what this place is all about, a place where little changes, an oasis of tranquillity in the eye of the storm that is Madrid with its traffic and flowing currents of people.

Each of the booths has its speciality, even though most of them have a general literature section as well. Some of the specialities include a focus on Latin American authors whose works cannot be found elsewhere in Spain in booth 17, or booth 27 focusses on books published 50 years ago or more, whereas booth 16 has specialized in books with strange and funny covers. The market also hosts many cultural events, to see what’s on these days, to know more about each booth’s speciality or even to see interviews with the shop owners, see here.

For those in doubt about the ruinous effect of literature, starting from the market you can cross Calle de Alfonso XII and enter the Retiro park through the Puerta del Angel Caido. Here you proceed up the hill to a height of 666 meters above sea level (fact!), which is no coincidence because here you’ll find the only statue of the devil in a European capital, a dramatic statue of Lucifer crowning the so-called fountain of the fallen angel. Find a bench here to sit with your new book and contemplate on the strangeness of life. Whether on your lunch break or after class, the Cuesta de Moyano book market is a little gem of a place less than 5 minutes walk from the school and deserves an unhurried visit.

Ode to a local bar in Madrid

This is our second post on places to go to eat or drink closeby to the school. This is an ode to a local bar in Madrid.

This bar will not feature in any guide, it won’t become a lonely planet hotspot or feature in a New York times article entitled something like ‘If you visit only one bar in Madrid’… It’s what might be known in England as your local, or in the US as a diner. But it’s in Spain and as such it is neither of these things, it’s a ‘cutre bar’ and we love it dearly. Newcomers to Spain may be confused by the napkins on the floor, that is until they find out that this is actually a custom, some other countries’ traditional bars have sawdust on the ground, here people throw napkins on the floor. Some, now equipped with the knowledge that this is normal might find themselves still confused, I find it endearing. It makes the place look well used, not flawless and sterile but much frequented and visited daily.

Becoming a regular, it turns out doesn’t require coming there for years, but a week or so before you get greeted when entering, and soon afterwards you don’t even have to order anymore, they’ll know what you want. Without fail this should be a ‘cortado’ (you may know this one by now as the big chains are starting to market it as they’ve run out of new Italian names) and always, a ‘pincho de tortilla.’

You don’t need to pretend to know much about tortillas, nor that our opinion will count for much in the controversial tortilla debates (ok ok, -with- onion, the potato -finely- chopped, and all very lightly fried) but theirs is the best. No, really, it is just the best. At least one of our students goes there every single day for his second breakfast and so eats their tortilla every day of the week, and claims to still relish the moment his break arrives and he can rush over there and tuck in.

Ode to a local bar in Madrid

Another plus for him is that visiting the place so often has resulted in him being able to practice his Spanish in an environment that is now familiar to him, where the people know him and are always patient with his grammar and pronunciation. We always recommend people to use this approach; become a regular somewhere, invariably it proves to be really rewarding!

Restaurante Leyga – Calle Alberto Bosch, 7, 28014, Madrid

Tips for choosing a Spanish school in Madrid

Alright, you are thinking how to choose the best Spanish school in Madrid! You have already shown considerable wisdom in your choice of location, let’s stay on a roll and see some tips for choosing a Spanish school in Madrid. Now you may be wondering why this Spanish school in Madrid would offer advice on choosing schools, and how neutral this advice can be but we’re just going to say straight up this article will definitely contain some subjective opinions; actually, you might as well stop reading now, we are the best.

Tips for choosing a Spanish school in Madrid

 

But seriously, there simply is a whole range of different schools out there, and some may claim to appeal equally well to everyone, but in reality some will be better suited to some than others. We are a school managed by a team of teachers, our main goal is to acquire a fair wage and be happy doing what we love; teaching and managing our own school in the best way. We are not going to make lists of schools, but more specifically what to watch out for, and we will explain where we fit in the picture.

Tips for choosing a Spanish school in Madrid

Accreditated by the Instituto Cervantes

You should check out if the Spanish school is accredited by the Instituto Cervantes. This means that the courses meet the highest standards of quality. This factor is essential, but Keep it in mind that there are a lots of accredited Spanish schools.

Types of People

Some of the schools cater to larger numbers from specific countries, or some of the bigger chains will be geared towards language holidays for teenagers for instance. A good variety is what is generally considered best for learning effectively, and that is what you will find here at Cronopios. If you cannot always continue to converse with classmates in your own language, or if your course group contains people who can’t speak English then this is actually a plus, you will need to use your Spanish when talking to them whether in class or during the after school activities. This might sound daunting, but in fact these people share your level after all, you will find it is easiest to talk to them without feeling self-conscious. When you first realise that you can communicate with the people around you this is a real pleasure.

Size

There is of course a range of sizes, from smaller schools like ourselves with 9 classrooms, to ones that are part of large international chains, offering different languages in locations all over the planet.

Pay attention when doing your research; some of the larger schools act like some hotels do on travel sites, they pushily market themselves, they consistently do very well in search engine scoring but this is the result of a lot of chasing students for reviews, and even offering freebies in exchange for better reviews. In other words, some schools game the system. The fact that they have the best ratings and are at the top of search engine results is, shock horror surprise!, not the result of simply being the best at what they do. Be critical when looking at ratings, just as you would elsewhere.

Price

Perhaps most important to many people, price is unavoidably a major factor in one’s calculations. There are schools out there that come up as the best in search results, and then cost the most, but this is not a real guarantee of the best quality, as explained above. Cronopios consistently offers prices below average for intensive courses because of our commitment to affordable education.

Even though they do not offer intensive courses, the cheapest option is actually to take lessons from the official government language schools. But they have limited capacity and at times the quality can vary. Furthermore, if you do not speak Spanish, actually getting registered can be a challenge as the process is not exactly streamlined and there are no English speakers among the admin staff. All in all though, if you do get a place, and a good teacher then this can definitely be a very good option.

Again, be wary, there are private schools which offer bargain bin prices on their courses but these will often be of low quality, will not deliver on promises such as the number of teaching hours per week, or employ teachers under exploitative conditions, which takes us to our next consideration:

A fair deal

You might be surprised to find this aspect listed here, but if you consider the effect some aspects of tourism and travel on have on Madrid and its people it actually makes sense. Spanish language courses are a hugely lucrative business and yet the Spanish as a foreign language teachers sector is rife with bad working conditions. In other words, your teachers are actually quite likely to be working for near minimum wage, without decent contracts and are generally expected to work unpaid over hours if they want to keep their jobs. This school, Cronopios Idiomas, was specifically created as a teacher’s cooperative, it was founded by our teachers a few years ago because of these specific inequalities and injustices in the language school sector in Madrid and Spain in general.

How to choose the best Spanish school

If you want to be careful about choosing a Spanish school in Madrid you will have found that it isn’t always easy. First of all read the reviews written by students. Once you find yourself here in Madrid you might find it easier to make choices by visiting some of the schools, or asking around at one of the language exchange evenings that take place on every weekday in bars across the city.

Take a literary Chill Pill in Madrid

Alright…. You’ve made it to Madrid, you’ve started Spanish classes at Cronopios Idiomas and love reading books? No worries, take a literary chill pill in Madrid and imagine a bookshop where the books are free. Ok, now imagine one where they are as good as free. Tuuulibreria is just that; a small chain of charity bookshops where you can walk away with however many books you can pick up with one hand for any amount that you’re willing to pay for them.

Of course, they hope you will make a decent donation but the idea is clearly that you give what you can or what you think is fair for the books you’ve chosen. Now certainly the material available will range slightly in quality but for instance I’ve walked out with a couple of big Spanish dictionaries for a tiny fraction of the price they would cost elsewhere.

As the teachers here will tell you, reading Spanish at the right level for you can be an encouraging way to get ahead with your comprehension. If you need something easy to start with but don’t want to splash out, then there’s a large section of childrens and teen literature for whatever level you might find yourself at, more Harry Potter than you can shake a broomstick at. If you’re tired of practicing your Spanish all the time, they do have a well-stocked English language section as well as a music and dvd section.

Maybe you’re really wiped out after a day of intensive learning and one of the school’s social/cultural activities in the evening, and just want to veg out and want to watch a series instead. This is also a learning recommendation here; start with something you know and which has easy dialogue dubbed into Spanish, such as Friends for instance, which I’ve seen box sets of in the shop.

There are several branches across the city, each with its own character. The one in Lavapies is more tidy and ordered, whereas the one in barrio Salamanca has a very big selection but is a little messier and requires a bit more time to delve through the piles of books you’ll find there. Each of the shops has a comfy chair or two to sink into and the shelves and everything are made out of old pallets in a creative way, these places really have a DIY esthetic. Once you’ve dropped by, you can sit back with your new find, and relax in the knowledge that good and affordable lit is always close at hand.

Lavapies: Calle de Embajadores, 11

Salamanca: Calle de Padilla, 78

Chamberi: Calle Covarrubias, 38

Spanish Republican romanticism

So you’ve come to Spain, and are looking for some of that Spanish Republican romanticism? You’ve read Orwell and Hemingway and now want to feel a bit what they felt, but you’re on your lunch break from Spanish classes at Cronopios Idiomas? Then El Alambique Taberna (calle Fúcar 7) is one really good place to go, first and foremost for the hearty food and wine. But also in terms of atmosphere this bistro has got so much going for it, photos from the republican era, lots of Flamenco paraphenelia, to poetry randomly tacked to the walls.

In terms of the food, try the berenjenas con salmorejo (pictured), and the revuelta con morcilla. The former is breaded aubergine with, well, what is basically a cold soup but is put into service here as a sauce and it works beautifully! Salmorejo could be described as gazpacho’s heartier sister. It’s also a soup which must be served chilled, also has peppers as one of its main ingredients, but is creamier and less sharp.

Berenjenas con salmorejo

Berenjenas con salmorejo

The revuelta, which is scrambled eggs with morcilla is made subtle with something called hierba buena which takes what could be quite a heavy dish and gives it a lighter twist. I don’t want to use hyperboles, but it can’t be denied, it really is very good!

The atmosphere can be described as follows: The place consists of two rooms, a bar area and in behind a small dining room. The former is filled up with a beautiful chaos of ‘objets trouvé’, old radios, tin cocoa cans, a tiny organ that apparently plays the internationale. The latter is decorated with many framed pictures, 30ies festival posters, black and white portrait photos, you get the idea.

What is also interesting to see is here the mix of anti establishment vibe going hand in hand with good music and good food. One of the other themes, apart from Spanish republicanism is clearly flamenco culture. And not so much the mainstream kind for the tourists but the gutsy kind that still comes out of the often arduous life experience of Gitano (gypsie) people. You will find this place to be practically a shrine of sorts for flamenco heroes like Cameron de la Isla.

To sum up, many a satisfying caña have been drunk here by the author! It’s the kind of place you find yourself starting off with a drink and a tapa or two and end up spending the evening and eating your fill. If you’re a Spanish Republican romantic worth her salt, then Alambique is the place for you.

Nuestra escuela está rodeada de arte

Our school is surrounded by art

We are lucky enough to find our school located right in the middle of the so called Triangulo del Arte, or golden triangle of art. Yes, it’s a bit of a touristy name, but you have to admit it has a catchy ring to it. The reason the triangle has been given this name is that the three most important museums of the city are a few minutes from each other (and from Cronopios Idiomas): Prado Museum, Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemisza.

To start off with, if you’re taking afternoon classes at Cronopios Idiomas and you come out thinking ‘I could really do with seeing some of the greatest works of art in the world for free, and I want to walk less than 200 meters!’, well then you’re in luck because the Prado museum, which hosts paintings by the likes of Francisco Goya, Hieronymus Bosch, Rubens, Titian, Velázquez, Rafael, Albrecht Duerer and so on, opens its doors to visitors for free every weekday between 6 and 8 pm.

If you’ve seen all the 1500 works of art the building houses, or if you want to see some world class modern and contemporary art instead, with a tiny bit more effort you can walk to the Reina Sofia museum in 5 minutes where you can completely sate yourself on its collections of two of the masters of 20th century Spanish art, Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso, with as highlight Picasso’s overwhelming work Guernica. Free entrance is possible on mondays between 7 and 9 pm, as well as from Wednesdays to Saturdays at the same hours.

Not enough you say? More masterpieces spanning the 14th to the 20th century? More Impressionism, as you won’t find that in the other two museums, with works from Monet, Renoir, Gauguin, Cézanne, and Vincent van Gogh? Well your luck still hasn’t run out, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, a couple of minutes further north from the Prado has all this and over a thousand other works as well. Here also there are hours when entrance is free, better for those taking morning classes; on mondays between 12 and 4 pm.

And, in addition to these three temples of art, we also have very close to us other cultural centers that we recommend our students to visit. For instance, the school finds itself directly facing the lovely Retiro park, which houses the Palacio de Velázquez and Palacio de Cristal where you can find temporary modern art exhibitions which are always accessible without charge. I could go on and tell you how cool the Tabacalera in Lavapies is for instance, but you get the point, if you think learning a language should go hand in hand with discovering culture then here you’re exactly in the right place!

Our school is surrounded by art

The almond trees begin to blossom

When spring approaches and the sunlight feels warmer, the almond trees begin to blossom. In Madrid you can enjoy this natural phenomenon at the Quinta de los Molinos Park. This park is in the northeast of the city and can be reached by Metro (line 5: Suanzes station).

In addition to the almond trees, there are many other plant species such as olive trees, pines and eucalyptus. The park has two areas: a romantic style garden and an agricultural area. The park is also home for buildings of cultural interest.

 

Working conditions for SFL teachers

SFL teachers undergo tremendous stress: they love their job and take the preparation of their classes very seriously; however, the working conditions for SFL teachers are bad in most schools. Students usually don’t feel this tension: the teachers are very professional and they want the best for their students. But who is responsible for this situation?

The answer is pretty obvious: the schools’ owners must be able to run a business model that guarantees gainful employment for its workers and a good service for its customers. Apparently, many schools don’t accomplish this: we know it because the teachers at Cronopios Idiomas have worked in other schools before and also because many SFL teachers say so. Students can learn about their teachers’ working conditions if they ask them directly.

Our school has got a commitment to guarantee high-quality lessons and good working conditions. At Cronopios Idiomas the teachers have time to prepare their lessons and don’t have to participate in after-school activities; we all receive equal pay, well above the collective bargaining agreement; our recruitment policy forces us to sign permanent contracts as soon as possible; and our working schedule always takes into account the balance of family and work life and the workers’ rest periods. Once they have been working with us for more than two years, the employees can become partners and participate in the assemblies were decisions are made in order to keep building a different school altogether.