¡Felíz navidad! Spanish Christmas Carols and Audios

Madrid's Retiro Park in the snow
Image: Madrid’s Retiro Park in the snow
 

Queridos Amigos,

¡Felíz navidad! December is here, and Christmas is really starting to get going in Spain! Below we have two of Spain’s greateset Christmas Carols, plus links to all our Christmas related audios.

We also have a special Christmas sale running in our store, and once again 5% of the entire year’s gross Notes in Spanish income will be going to charity – this year we will be supporting ACNUR again, the Spanish division of UNHCR, the UN’s refugee agency.

So, first, perhaps the two most famous Spanish Christmas carols.

Los Peces En El Rio…

Campana Sobre Campana

 Christmas Specials Here On Notes In Spanish

If you would like to know more about Christmas in Spain, and learn some Spanish Christmas vocab and phrases, then we have special Christmas audio for every level:

Inspired Beginners 16 – ¡Feliz Navidad!

Intermediate 12 – Navidad

Advanced 86 – Feliz Navidad

Do take 10 minutes to listen to the audio for your level with the appropriate worksheet (available in our store – with our special sale up to Monday December 12th), and make this a very Spanish Christmas as well!

Happy Christmas to Everyone!

Best wishes from Spain,

Ben y Marina

Classic Spanish Songs, From Chile to Flamenco…

There are so many wonderful Spanish songs in the world that it’s impossible to know where to start. Below are a few of our favourites, please share in the comments the ones that really touch you so that we can all look them up as well! A hint, to get the lyrics for any of these or other songs, just google the song name and the word ‘letra’, which means lyrics 🙂

In past years around Thanksgiving we have sent out this song by Mercedes Sosa, Gracias a La Vida, originally composed by Violeta Parra, the Chilean singer-songwriter.

Another classic Mercedes Sosa interpretation is Todo Cambia, written by Julio Numhauser…

This song below, Berlín by Coque Malla, featuring actress Leonor Watling. became a family favourite last year.

Below is a fantastic performance by Paco de Lucía, this song Luzia from the stunning album by the same name. OK, so you won’t learn much Spanish in this video, but watch the interplay between the musicians, the singer and the incredible dancer – as quintessentially Spanish, or perhaps Andalusian, as you could wish.

Here is a long-term favourite of Marina’s, Sin Embargo by Joaquin Sabina, who is something of a Madrileño Bob Dylan. The intro is sung by Olga Roman, and is pure poetry, “Te quiero más que a mis ojos, te quiero más que a mi vida, más que al aire que respiro, y más que a la madre mía”…

Finally, “Ojalá”, more great poetry from Cuban legend Silvio Rodriguez. Check out the original of this tune, dedicated to his first love, to listen to the words…

…but this live version ‘me pone los pelos de punta’, makes my hair stand on end (the way we’d say ‘give’s me goosebumps’)…

Tell us about your favourite Spanish songs in the comments right here on the blog!

Expensive Spanish Mistake!

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Image – Madrid’s Retiro Park

When our boiler broke the other day (No hot water for showers! No heating just as it gets colder in Madrid!), I (Ben) was left in charge of dealing with the plumber that came round to fix it. He found the problem, and as he was getting to work on fixing it, I remembered to ask how much it was going to cost before he got under way…

Ben: ¿Cuánto nos va a costar entonces?

Plumber: Ciento y pico…

Now, I always understood …y pico to mean, ‘and a little bit’, so in my head I thought, “OK, it’s going to be about 120 or 130 Euros max”, and seeing as we’d paid 110 euros the last time, I said, “Pues adelante” – go for it.

Imagina my surprise when he presented me with a bill for 175 Euros at the end!

Plumber: Pues aquí tienes la factura, son 175 Euros – Well here’s the bill, it’s 175 Euros

Ben: Pero, ¿No habías dicho ciento y pico? – Didn’t you say it was one hundred and a bit?

Plumber: Sí, 175 Euros son ciento y pico. – Yes, 175 Euros is a hundred and something.

So, Marina, after getting over her surprise that I’d paid 65 Euros more than the last time to fix the boiler, explained that ciento y pico means anywhere between 100 and 200.

Mil y pico would be anywhere between 1000 and 2000. As the plumber pointed out, ciento y pico means ‘100 and something’, not, as I’d understood it, ‘100 and a bit’.

I felt pretty annoyed that I’d gone so long using y pico in the wrong way, but quite delighted to have learned (the hard way!) what it really means at last. Still it could have been worse, it was a ciento y pico mistake, and not a mil y pico mistake!

Let us know in the comments below if you’ve had any ‘put your foot in it’ Spanish mistakes in your Spanish learning life!

Remember, our Spanish audios and worksheets are full of Real Spanish to help you avoid mistakes like this!

A New Spanish Word, after 18 years!

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Deep in the basement of Madrid’s beautiful old Mercado Vallehermoso, where fruit stalls are being replaced by cool eateries, I found this notice on the back of the toilet door. Can you guess which word I’d never heard after 18 years living in Spain?

Pulcritud! Who can be the first to look it up and give a definition in the comments? And feel free to leave your favourite new word too!

Tener Mano Izquierda and Other Untranslatable Spanish Words and Phrases

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Today I was talking to a Spanish friend about parenting, and I said “Hay que tener mucha mano izquierda”. He asked how you directly translate Tener mano izquierda in English and I said… I don’t know!

Tener mano izquierda means to handle a difficult situation, or person, with skill, astutely, in a clever, wily, roundabout way. If a child doesn’t want to do something and just telling them to do it doesn’t work, then maybe you can come up with a clever, roundabout way of getting them to do what you want. That is to “Tener mano izquierda” and there is no direct translation!

Below is a list of a few of our favourite real Spanish words or phrases that have no simple, direct translation in English, do you know any more?

Estrenar – To use something or wear something for the first time, e.g. “estrenar un coche” – to drive a new car for the first time, or “estrenar un vestido nuevo” – to wear a new dress for the first time.

Madrugar – to get up very early in the morning. “Hoy he madrugado mucho para estudiar antes de ir a trabajar” – today I got up really early to study before going to work.

La sobremesa – time after a meal spent sitting around the table chatting, often for a very long time. “Después de la comida tuvimos una sobremesa fantástica” – after the meal we had a fantastic time sitting around chatting.

Un ligón – somebody who is always flirting with others or getting dates all the time. “Cuidado con ese chico, es un ligón” – watch out for that guy, he’s a real flirt.

Empalagoso – food that is ridiculously rich and sweet. “Esta tarta es demasiado empalagosa para mi, no puedo con ella” – that cake is too ridiculously sweet for me, I can’t deal with it.

Desfogarse – To let out all your energies, to let off steam by running around a lot, e.g. “Los niños tienen que desfogarse un poquito, diles que vayan al jardín un ratito” – the kids need to let off a bit of steam, tell them to go out to the garden for a while.

Futbolísticamente – used in post-match analysis or the football press, meaning ‘in footballing terms’, e.g. “futbolísticamente hablando, no hay nada perfecto” – in footballing terms, nothing is perfect.

Un tuerto – A one-eyed person. There is a typical Spanish phrase, “Un tuerto es rey en el país de los ciegos”, which literally translates as ‘a one-eyed man is king in the country of the blind’, and means that someone that doesn’t know much about something still looks very clever when surrounded by people that know even less! Sometimes used ironically when someone is trying to be clever but clearly doesn’t know very much.

Trasnochar – To stay up all night, for example partying or studying, and not go to bed until the next day. “He trasnochado cuando tenia que haberme ido a la cama pronto” – I stayed up all night when I should have gone to bed early.

Remember, our Spanish audios and worksheets are full of Real Spanish like this, it’s our speciality!

Our Secret Real Spanish Supply

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Hola!

There is a huge wealth of real Spanish in our free special reports archive, and there’s a good chance you haven’t seen it yet!

Zero to Fluent in Spanish in 9 months, Conversation Starters, 11 Cool People Phrases in Spanish – these plus 8 more super useful PDF’s can be found right here (all free!)

Make sure you’ve got them all!

Finally, a quick reminder…

To celebrate this beautiful time of year, until midnight on Monday June 6th, you can get 25% off any of the products in our store with the coupon code: spring16

Just head to our store now, select the product you’d like, and use the special spring16 code to get the discount.

Hasta Pronto, y gracias,

Ben y Marina

Notes in Spanish Spring Special Sale

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Queridos amigos,

We’ve got a cool Spanish phrase for you, and news of our spring sale.

Once again it’s been a wonderful rainy spring so far in Madrid, full of wild flowers. Here is one of our favourite phrases that we often hear at this time of year:

Hasta el 40 de mayo no te quites el sayo – Don’t take your raincoat off until May 40th!

This wonderful phrase, straight from the streets of Madrid means that until May 40th, so about June 10th, don’t bet on nice weather, it can still be cold… but after June 10th, watch out! ¡Va a hacer muchísimo calor!

To celebrate this beautiful time of year, until midnight on Monday June 6th, you can get 25% off any of the products in our store with the coupon code: spring16

Just head to our store now, select the product you’d like, and use the special spring16 code to get the discount.

Hasta Pronto, y gracias,

Ben y Marina

Mas feliz que un regaliz – Spanish Happiness Phrases

Happiness Phrases

The following phrases can all be used in Spain (there may be variations in South/Latin America) to say that you, or someone else, are really happy:

Más feliz que un regaliz (literally, happier than liquorice)

Más feliz que una perdiz (literally, happier than a partridge)

Más contento que un niño con zapatos nuevos (happier than a child with new shoes)

e.g. ¿Cómo estás? … ¡Estoy más feliz que un regaliz!

Another favourite of ours:

Está como un pez en el agua – She’s really having a great time, she’s in her element, (literally ‘like a fish in water’. It’s strange that in English we say ‘like a fish out of water’ to mean the exact opposite!)

And if you just want to keep things simple, there’s no easier phrase in the world than:

Estoy super contento/a 🙂

¡Que seáis muy felices! – May you all be very happy!

– Ben y Marina

ACNUR Campaign – Thanks again for your support

Dear friends,

First of all, ¡Feliz Año Nuevo! Happy New Year!

We wanted to start the year by thanking everyone that supported our end of 2014 campaign, whereby we donated all sales from 16.12.14 until 1.1.2015 to ACNUR, the Spanish division of UNHCR (the UN’s refugee agency).

We were able to raise 4,697 Euros for their Africa campaign, which states “1€ = 1 dia mas de vida”.

Running this campaign led to a huge amount of feedback from listeners, many with ideas about the nature and notion of charity, and how best to efficiently send support to those that need it.

A full analysis of these ideas, the results of this campaign, and what Notes in Spanish will do going forward, can be found on another of our sites:

http://beinghappiness.com/on-charity/

Many thanks again, we’ll be in touch very soon and wish you a very happy, Spanish-packed 2015.

Ben y Marina

NIS and Un dia mas de vida

Dear friends,

We are immensely grateful to everyone who has continued to learn Spanish with us this year.

We are incredibly lucky to be able to continue to make a living from this business that we started nearly 9 years ago, and a few days ago we passed the sales figure we need to cover our cost of living for a year. So we’ve decided to donate the rest of the year’s sales (from 16.12.14 until 1.1.2015) to ACNUR, the Spanish division of UNHCR, the UN’s refugee agency.

Their Africa campaign states “1€ = 1 dia mas de vida” – “One euro means one more day alive”, for the 1.2 million refugees in Africa who are currently at risk of dying of hunger.

The number of causes vying for everyone’s attention these days can be mind boggling, and personally we find it impossible sometimes to know who to help. In the end we think that any help sent to any good cause is better than being lost in indecision. This Christmas we’ve decided to help ACNUR, so all proceeds from any sales made for the rest of this year in the Notes in Spanish store will go to their Africa campaign:

http://www.hambreafrica.org/dias-contados

Thanks for learning Spanish with us, and have a really wonderful Christmas.

Ben y Marina

UPDATE: The results of this campaign can be found here