Día de los Santos Inocentes – “Day of the Holy Saints” (Spain’s “April Fool’s Day”)

December 28th is a religious holiday in Spanish-speaking countries. During this day they play practical jokes similar to those on April Fool’s Day on 1st April. It originates from the killing of innocent children by King Herod around the time of the birth of Jesus, hence the name “Santos Inocentes”, (Holy Innocents) as they were too young and innocent to have done anything wrong. Although it stems from a religious festival on the Catholic calendar, nowadays the religious meaning has almost been forgotten and it is more widely known as a day of pranks and practical jokes. Continue reading

How is Christmas celebrated in Spain?

Having spent several Christmases and New Years in Spain, the first thing I noticed is that the celebrations are much more traditional and religious compared to the more commercialised Christmases in England and the US. Spanish people are more family oriented so there is a greater emphasis on spending time with the family and less on present giving and materialism. The celebrations last longer too, (almost a month!) as they also celebrate “Los Reyes” (The King’s Day) on 6th January. Here is what to expect from a typical Spanish Christmas: Continue reading

Spanish eating customs

Spanish people adore their food and you often hear them discussing recipes, ingredients and meals they have recently eaten or prepared. For Spanish people, eating is a social occasion, not just to conquer hunger. Their mealtimes differ to ours, largely due to the climate and their working hours. Here is a description of the various meals that exist in a typical day for a Spaniard: Continue reading

What makes a good language tutor? – And why VLS has the edge!

I am proud to say that one of the GCSE Spanish students that I have been tutoring has been predicted an A* and all of his friends go to him for help in school! This is down to his hard work, talent and my teaching methods which have been perfected over time. How do you know that you have a good language tutor? Here are some guidelines as to what makes a good tutor: Continue reading

Ser and Estar simplified!

Many of my students, including the more advanced learners, struggle with the two verbs meaning “to be” in Spanish and when to use each one. The topic of “Ser versus Estar” is clearly difficult given that whole chapters and even books have been written on the subject! Ser and Estar is a tricky matter especially considering that even Spanish people argue amongst themselves as to which verb should be used in certain contexts. Here are the main uses of each verb: Continue reading

Para or Por?

This is one of the tricky areas of Spanish grammar which confuses most people! The reason being is that both can mean “for”, however they can mean different things in different contexts. I will outline below the key uses of “para” and “por” with examples to help you remember when to use each one: Continue reading