25 nov. 2009

Spanish dictionary update

Today's update to the Spanish dictionary brings additions and improvements to just over 1,100 entries in the dictionary.

3 nov. 2009

Update to the "Vocabularium" software

A small update to the Vocabularium Spanish vocabulary podcast software is now available for free download. For those not familiar with the software, it allows you to create vocabulary learning podcasts, relying on English and Spanish voices being installed on your computer (some free and good quality low-cost options are suggested: see the section on Spanish voice options for more details).

The software runs on Windows, Linux, Solaris and Mac OS. This update adds a new vocabulary topic (on school subjects). A few minor bugs have also been fixed.

Note that to save podcasts in MP3 format, you'll also require a plugin called LAME. See the aforementioned page for details of how to obtain LAME free of charge for your system. On Windows, the Vocabularium software can actually install LAME for you: follow the instructions that appear when you first run the program.

2 nov. 2009

Spanish dictionary update

Today's update adds various new entries to both the Spanish-English and English-Spanish sides of the dictionary. As with many updates, the new entries include both commonly-consulted everyday words, plus a number of technical terms.

25 oct. 2009

Spanish dictionary update

Today's update to the Spanish dictionary adds a number of new entries and improvements to existing entries. Various commonly-referenced entries in the English-Spanish side of the dictionary have also been improved.

3 jul. 2009

Spanish dictionary update

Today's update to the Spanish dictionary adds various new words and terms and improves the definitions of various common words.

Users of the dictionary may also be interested in an article I published a few weeks ago on improving your Spanish reading and dictionary skills.

25 jun. 2009

Spanish chemistry terms

In what will be a new series on Spanish technical vocabulary, a new section has been added to the Spanish vocabulary section of the site giving various instances of Spanish chemistry terminology.

The page starts with Spanish terms for various basic concepts such as atom, molecule, ion, bond. Then the names of different types of chemical and functional groups is given (the Spanish terms for aldehyde, ketone, ester etc).

The section on the Spanish names of chemical elements gives a list of common elements, some of which have traditional names which have undergone sound changes and are thus more difficult to predict (e.g. iron, derived from the Latin ferrum, is nowadays hierro in Spanish; sulphur is azufre). However, the names of many other elements can actually be dervied from a few simple rules, such as the fact that the ending -ium is practically always -io in Spanish.

A final section looks at how to describe chemical reactions in Spanish, including terms for different types of reaction and a few useful terms for describing chemical formulae.

19 jun. 2009

Spanish dictionary update

Well, after a slight hiatus while I caught up on some translation projects, the site's Spanish dictionary has been updated to include various new words and phrases. Notable words include patochada, the official Spanish word for "constructing a duck house at the public's expense", plus various medical terms (yes, I've been watching too many episodes of House recently).

Some new sections to both the Spanish and English grammar sections are also in the pipeline. Watch this space...

21 may. 2009

Book review: Correct your Spanish Blunders

Beginner to intermediate level Spanish students (or those teaching Spanish at high school level) will be interested in the review of Correct your Spanish Blunders (McGraw-Hill) now available on the Español-Inglés site. As with its French counterpart, the book takes a particularly straightforward, practical approach to Spanish grammar that some students will welcome. It's probably fair to say that the book assumes that the reader has a small amount of previous knowledge of Spanish and basic grammar terms such as verb, tense etc. But with that in mind, the book covers most of the grammar you're likely to need at high school level in a compact, no-nonesense way.

As mentioned in the review, the main caveat is that more advanced students will be looking for something a little more in-depth, such as Butt & Benjamin's New Reference Grammar of Modern Spanish, which covers more advanced topics such as regional and stylistic variation in Spanish, use of literary forms such as the future subjunctive, more detailed treatment of Spanish pronominal verbs, and in general a more "discursive" approach to grammar.

For many students, though, Correct your Spanish Blunders will hit the nail on the head in terms of providing just enough detail in just the right way. See the review for more details.

Spanish pronunciation and rhythm

Users of the Español-Inglés site may be interested in an article I wrote recently entitled Improve your Spanish pronunciation: Getting the rhythm. The article looks in particular at how Spanish speakers divide their speech into syllables. The rhythm of speech can be an important factor in making it easier to understand. The article looks at some subtle cases that you may not have considered, for example, that the Spanish word usual is generally pronounced in two syllables, whereas its English counterpart generally has three.

15 may. 2009

Grammar section: Spanish object pronouns

You may be interested in a recently added grammar section looking at Spanish object pronouns. As in related languages such as French and Italian, Spanish has a system of so-called clitic pronouns. When the object of a verb is a pronoun (the equivalent of English me, him etc), then that pronoun generally occurs as a kind of prefix to the verb.

For example, the Spanish for he/she saw is vio. To say he saw me (or she...), the Spanish would be me vio. The Spanish for me is coincidentally spelt the same as English. Note that the Spanish word me comes before the verb vio.

For some more examples and practice of these Spanish object pronouns placed before the verb, see the above link.

29 abr. 2009

Coming soon: UK-specific site

A UK-specific version of this site, at http://www.spanish-dictionary.co.uk/, will offer an interface to the Spanish dictionary and certain other UK-targeted versions of the Spanish resources available on the Español-Inglés site. UK-based users may therefore wish to bookmark the UK version of the site.

27 abr. 2009

Spanish dictionary update

Today's update to the Spanish dictionary adds various new words and example translations. And yes, I've you been wondering what is the Spanish for swine flu, now's your chance to find out...

12 abr. 2009

Update to Vocabularium

Version 0.03 of the Vocabularium podcast software now adds MP3 encoding support for Linux and Mac OS. It also adds a new vocabulary topic on The Human Body.

You can download the latest version of the software via the abovementioned link (entry on Freshmeat for this software), or directly via the Vocabularium home page.

9 abr. 2009

Vocab podcast tool: minor bugfix and MacOS support

A bugfix is included in the latest version of the free vocabulary podcast software available from the Español-Inglés site. The software now supports MacOS, although (as with Linux), only WAV format is supported at present on non-Windows platforms. Podcasts can of course be converted to other formats such as MP3 or Ogg Vorbis using a separate tool.

30 mar. 2009

Vocabulary podcast creation tool

The first version of this new tool allows you to create Spanish vocabulary podcasts from your computer. The podcasts are designed to help you to learn and reinforce your Spanish vocab on a variety of topics. The software has been tested under Windows XP, Windows Vista and Linux. Support will shortly be added to Mac OS.

The tool itself is currently available for download free of charge. It requires English and Spanish voices to be installed on your machine, and the link above gives more information on where to get these.

The vocabulary is taken from the Spanish phrases section of the web site, although it has been modified slightly for the podcast software.

3 mar. 2009

Encuesta

En la página principal del diccionario inglés-español, hacemos una encuesta en que le preguntamos a cada usuario de habla español cual es su nivel de inglés. Para responder a la pregunta, haz clic en el campo que dice "Selecciona un nivel" para escoger una de las cinco opciones.

En una próxima versión del diccionario, usaremos los resultados de esta encuesta anónima para mejorar la presentación del diccionario y para proporcionarle a cada usuario información que corresponda mejor a su nivel de aprendizaje.

Por tu participación en esta encuesta, muchísimas gracias. NC

1 mar. 2009

New vocabulary and games

A new vocabulary section on the human body in Spanish gives the Spanish words for various parts of the body, organised by area of the body (face and neck, upper body and hands, lower body, internal organs).

Also available in the Spanish crosswords section of the site are a couple of new games based on the following themes:
  • Spanish animals crossword, available in basic and advanced variants (the basic version has vocabulary typically required for GCSE/SAT level Spanish; the advanced version will be of interest to learners going beyond that level)
  • Spanish food crossword, which includes various Spanish names of meat, seafood and other types of food (taken from the food section of the Spanish vocabulary section).

23 feb. 2009

New vocabulary topic: animals

Some new pages of vocabulary have been added to the Spanish words and phrases section of the web site. The pages deal with the topic of Spanish words for animals, and for convenience are split into:
As ever, the sections attempt to include common geographical variations that occur in the use of words for animals among Spanish speakers. However, if you come from a Spanish-speaking country where a different word is used for one of the animals listed (or indeed, if you want to suggest that another animal be added to the list), please leave an appropriate comment on this blog entry.

If you're learning the Spanish words for animals, you may also be interested in the vocabulary section on Spanish words for pets, which also includes a few useful phrases for describing your pet.

14 feb. 2009

Updates/corrections

A few updates to the site:
  • Improvements to the Spanish dictionary entries for several common verb forms such as tengo. (Unlike many dictionaries, the Español-Inglés site's dictionary actually treats some of these forms specially, and includes some common phrases with those declined forms as well as a redirection to the base form such as the infinitive.)
  • Various other new words and phrases have also been added to the dictionary.
  • A few additional entries in the list of Mexican Spanish words.
  • Some additions to the page on Spanish pronunciation, in particular the description of the Spanish ñ sound.

7 feb. 2009

More dictionary updates!

The latest updates to the Spanish dictionary add various new words and expand on the entries for various commonly referenced Spanish words.

2 feb. 2009

Spanish dictionary: update

The site's Spanish dictinary has been updated with various corrections and new entries. Various of the new words added are from the fields of science and technology.

22 ene. 2009

The Pequeño Larousse Ilustrado: using a monolingual dictionary

Students that have reached a medium to advanced level of study may be interested in a Spanish monolingual dictionary such as the Pequeño Larousse Ilustrado reviewed on this site. In the review, we look at the virtues and pitfalls of a monolingual dictionary for language learning, and one or two subtle language features to look out for in the dictionary definitions.

Do you use a monolingual dictionary in your Spanish studies? Do you use the Pequeño Larousse or did you opt for a different dictionary? How useful do you find it? As ever, we'd be interested to hear your comments and experiences.

20 ene. 2009

Using the on-line Spanish exercises


Various of the pages in the Spanish grammar section of the web site contain on-line grammar exercises that are designed to help you make sure that the information you are learning is "sinking in", or simply as a refresher if you're already familiar with the material. Particularly if the grammar point in question is new, it is worth spending a few minutes doing the corresponding exercise, as this will help the point in question to become part of your "active knowledge".

Note that to learn grammar and vocabulary effectively, most learners will have more success if they have a variety of experiences with that grammar or vocabulary: so your strategy for learning Spanish needs to encompass a variety of activities such as on-line exercises, "active" reading (where you're needing to look a small percentage of words up in a dictionary), creating a video diary or blog in Spanish etc. So the on-line exercises in the grammar section should be seen as part of this strategy, but you should also be actively looking for the examples of the grammar points you've learnt while reading, for example.

Now back to the exercises. There are essentially two ways in which you do most of the grammar exercises on the site:
  • for working privately or in small groups, you can fill in the exercise directly on the page
  • for larger groups, or when working with a whiteboard, you can use the exercise in full screen mode
In full screen mode, the question and answer are shown in a large font, and an on-screen keyboard appears below the exercise which will function as a touch-screen keyboard when using an interactive whiteboard. (Note that if you are looking for other Spanish activities to use on a interactive whiteboard, you may like to check out the Spanish wordsearch games and Spanish crossword games also available on the site.)

Private/small group use: filling in on the page

In this mode, you see ten questions at a time (1). To the right of each question, you fill in the answer (2). When you press ENTER (or TAB) inside one of the question boxes, that question will be "marked", and you'll start the next question. If you get the question wrong, you can go back. To type accents, you can either use one of the standard ways of typing accents, or you can use the accent buttons at the bottom of the exercise (3).

Vocabulary used in exercises

Note that the exercises will generally expect particular vocabulary to be used. If a word list isn't explicitly given on the page, then which word to use should be obvious from the type of exercise. (In the example -ar verb exercise pictured, if we're asked for a form of the verb meaning "to drink", this obviously would not be beber, as the latter is not an -ar verb!) However, if you're not sure which word to use, then most exercises have a vocabulary button (4), which will give you the list of vocabulary used by the exercise in question.

Full-screen/whiteboard mode

To use the exercises on a whiteboard (or with a large group), access the full screen mode (5). In this mode, questions are displayed one at a time, in large font, and the on-screen keyboard can is used to type the answer. In this mode, an overall numeric score is kept as follows:

  • 3 points for an answer correct on the first attempt
  • 2 points for an answer correct on the second attempt
  • 1 point for an answer correct on the third attempt
Comments about the exercises are always welcome and can be left on this blog entry. Please contact the author if you wish to use these or similar exercises in your own web page.

15 ene. 2009

Recordings in Spanish Pronunciation section

Various recordings have been added to the section Spanish Pronunciation. If you haven't seen this section, you may wish to check it out: it presents a basic overview of the typical pronunciation of the various sounds/letters of Spanish, with some tips on how native speakers tend to pronounce the various sounds, and how they often differ from English.

13 ene. 2009

Difficult Spanish words and 'falsos amigos'

The site's section on difficult Spanish words looks at various items of Spanish vocabulary that can cause trouble for English-speaking learners (and sometimes foreign learners in general) because either they look similar to another Spanish word with different meaning, or because they wrongly lull the reader into thinking that they have a particular meaning.

For example, the Spanish word actual, generally carrying the meaning of current, presentday, would virtually never be translated by the English word actual. A carpeta in Spanish is a folder: nothing to do with carpets! Various books for Spanish learners give lists of similar words, sometimes referred to as falsos amigos or "false friends".

However, a problem with the typical list of falsos amigos is that many of these words sometimes can actually carry the meaning of their English counterpart. Many textbooks that give a simple list actually present a misleadingly pessimistic view! So in our treatment of tricky Spanish words on the Español-Inglés site, instead of a simple list of words, we try to give an explanation of how the word in question is used, comparing and contrasting it with the use of its apparent English counterpart.

Comments and suggestions for new falsos amigos or otherwise additions to the section are always welcome and can be left on this blog entry.

1 ene. 2009

Spanish wordsearches/crosswords in PDF format

Firstly, let me offer all users of the Español-Inglés site most hearty Felicidades for 2009!

The first new content of the year is some freely-downloadable Spanish crosswords and wordsearches, available in the new Spanish worksheets section of the web site. The activities are downloadable as PDF files, so you should be able to print them out from any machine that has a PDF reader installed.

The wordsearches and crosswords are organised into various themes, chosen from the basic Spanish section of the web site. Each PDF file includes several activities on the chosen theme, of varying levels of difficulty (small/medium/large grid size). Watch this space for further topics.