Monthly Archives: October 2012

Halloween in Germany

These days Halloween is celebrated similarly in Germany to Britain and the United States. Some children go trick or treating (“Süßes oder Saures!”), people dress up in costumes and decorate a pumpkin (Kürbis).
The 1st November is ‘Allerheiligen’ (All Saints’ Day) and the 2nd November is ‘Allerseelen’ (All Souls’ Day). In some (predominantly Catholic) parts of Germany, Austria and Switzerland, November 1st is a Bank Holiday.
On 11th November, Germans celebrate Martinstag (St. Martin’s Day), which has much in common with Halloween. People dress up in costumes and there is often a lantern parade, usually led by children who have made their paper lanterns at school. Sometimes the lantern procession will end with a ‘Martinsfeuer’ (a bonfire). Read on for some Halloween related vocabulary in German. Continue reading

Halloween in France

The French have celebrated ‘Toussaint’ (All Saints) at the beginning of November for centuries, but only recently has Halloween begun to gain popularity in France. These days, French people celebrate Halloween by dressing up in costumes and going to Halloween parties with friends and family. Trick or treating is also becoming more common. Many French people do not like Halloween, however, as they see it as a corporate, American holiday, and they prefer to avoid it. Read on to find out how French people celebrate All Saints’ Day and to learn some Halloween related words in French: Continue reading

Useful Spanish phrases for your next visit to Mexico City (Nice photos included!)

Hola, my name is José Lira, I live in Monterrey, México and this is my first guest post here at Viva Language Services (and I am very happy about that!). I was born in México but my accent (and thus my writing) leans toward American English because I lived there for some time, so please pardon any “English sacrileges” I might throw your way. Let’s just have fun and learn some Spanish together!
Today I would like to share a few things that caught my attention last time I visited Mexico City and use those situations to practice a few useful Spanish phrases you might use in a similar scenario. Who knows, you might learn something or you might buy a plane ticket by the end of this post. Let’s get started! Continue reading

Popular Spanish podcasts – improve listening and pronunciation

As well as being able to speak a language one of the most important and useful skills when learning any language is to be able to listen to and understand native speakers. It is widely known that Spanish people are amongst the fastest speakers in the world therefore it takes a lot of practice to be able to get the grasp of what they are saying. The best way to improve your listening skills is to listen to as many different native speakers as possible as often as you can. People that listen to Spanish audio for just a few minutes a day notice a big difference after a short time. You will also find that your pronunciation will gradually improve. This article will give you some links to some excellent audio and podcasts you can download today. Continue reading

Expressing your likes and dislikes in Spanish: Me gusta(n) / (I like)

The verb “to like” in Spanish is “gustar” and it works differently to most verbs. You also need a pronoun at the beginning to say who likes it. It works backwards, so really you are saying ” X pleases me” – “Me gusta X“.

you like: te gusta
he/she likes: le gusta
we like: nos gusta
you (all) like: os gusta
they like: les gusta

* Add “n” to “gusta” if the thing that you like or dislike is plural.

Me gusta el queso: I like cheese.
Me gustan las aceitunas: I like olives.

* If you are using a verb, use the singular “gusta”.

Me gusta nadar.: I like to swim.

Read on for different ways to express what you like or dislike in Spanish: Continue reading

How to ask for someone’s opinion and give your opinion in Spanish

A useful part of knowing a language and interacting with Spanish people is being able to ask someone’s opinion and also to give your own views. Spanish people are very opinionated and love having a real discussion on any subject whatsoever; from politics and “la crisis” to food, the weather and the local supermarket prices. You may often think they are having a huge argument from their raised voices and the way they throw their arms around, however this is normally just a healthy discussion. If you want to get involved in discussions with locals, it would be a good idea to learn some of the question and answer phrases in this article. Continue reading

¿Cómo eres? – What are you like?

Here are some adjectives to describe personality in English and Spanish: (Aquí tienen algunos adjetivos para describir la personalidad en inglés y español):

[Use -o endings to describe men/boys and -a endings to describe women/girls. Those that end in -e stay the same:]

funny: gracioso/a
happy: feliz (generally) / contento/a (about something in particular – short term)
honest: honrado/a / honesto/a
friendly: simpático/a or: amable
sensible: sensato/a
sensitive: sensible Continue reading

Why do Spanish people have two surnames?

You have probably noticed that in countries where Spanish is spoken, native Spanish people have about four different names and you may have wondered why this is. The custom of having more than one surname originates from the Arabic influence in Spain between 711 and 1492 AD. It may seem a complicated way of naming and there are variations as to how it works but basically the rule is simple: Continue reading