International Expressions

One of the most FUN parts of learning another language is learning about different dialects.  As much as each of us  tries to act like the way that we speak our language has some level of “normal,” let’s face it— we all say things that would seem downright GOOFY to someone from another culture. This activity is designed so that students can get a stronger grasp of the differences between the British, Australian, and the United States dialects (including an emphasis on accents from New York).

A lot of formal classes will jump right into explaining different accents using phonetic symbols. A students first introduction to the British dialect would be something like this:

/’hæpi/  /əˈbaʊt/  /ðɪs/   (happy about this). Wonderful, yes?!

While phonetics are important, and great for clarification, I think before touching any of that, students should have memorized a handful of concrete and occasionally hilarious examples of terminology from each culture.  It’s important to build a base and begin tuning the ear before touching phonetics! With that, lets begin looking at the Expressions Activity!


Hold up the card to the student and read the words in the appropriate accent (this will probably require the teacher to do some practice beforehand). The Expressions activity is very engaging for the learner because it works on lots of levels. Students are listening for an accent, while simultaneously learning a new word, and comprehension increases as the students enjoys what their learning! It’s important to repeat the word multiple times and to read the sentence (with an accent!) to your learner as they read the sentence from the card. After providing a few more examples of the word in action, ask the student if they can think of something that applies to the word. For example, ask the student if they can think of something that is “wonky.”


You can also combine words to create short phrases in the same way people do in their dialect! Here are some examples. Here is a video of me doing just that!


How to Adjust the Activity to Your Learner: 

This activity is a good reinforcement for learners of all levels— it will just take a few minor adjustments to put it at the appropriate for your learner.

Obviously the complexity of the sentence that your student can create will vary by their level. A great way to reinforce the uses of the words and the accent of the dialects is to combine words to create short phrases. For example, practice speaking, “Absolutely awesome.” or “quite brilliant.” Again, you want to pay attention to the level of your student to determine how many words should be combined, and the complexity of the phrases to ensure their time learning is as productive as possible.


To give extra emphasis on the uniqueness of the accents, the fonts have been adjusted. The font for the US accent is a bit more rambouxious while the font for the British words are slightly formal.

It’s an absolute ball to do the different accents. I know I sound wonky and my British impression is probably terrible, but it’s too much fun to avoid. As a touch, I wanted to include some expressions from New York…because New Yorkers are hilarious and it’s a city that people all over the world take an interest in.

Common UK Expressions:

is a very good introductory way to show students the differences in how vowels, but it’s also

Students who are less familiar with the different dialects can have the cards read to them—- students with a great level of understanding can define the words and do the impressions themselves.



 Passing Along the Materials:

Cube Games

I’ve been there, and so have many others. Arriving to a Pre-K classroom to see a series of blank two year old faces staring at you. Even though they’re only two to five years old, Pre-K kids can become terrifying if you don’t an activity that keeps their attention. They can start dancing, yelling, crying and terrorizing all at once, and all at the drop of a hat! The Dynamic Dies are designed and guaranteed to get your lesson off on the right note! Each die is designed to be a great 5 to 8 minute warm-up activity for kids in Pre-K classrooms.




Each side of the die includes a different word or picture. It’s important to designate a combination of movement or sound with each side, so that it stays implanted in the memory of the learner! For three to five minutes, the teacher should review what each of the side of the die means, along with the actions that are required for that side of the die, which will vary depending upon the layout of the die. Here is an example:


This die is perfect for reviewing colors! As an added level of kinetic reinforcement, if the blue side lands up then it suggested that the boys of the class jump. If yellow appears, then the girls jump! If purple lands, then the boys and girls jump!

This die is a great way to introduce phrases for classroom management. Phrases like, “stand-up!’ “sit down,” “Stop” and “Go,” are very important for leading activities and utilizing this die as a warm-up is a great way to ensure that the phrases are fresh in the kids minds! It’s important to incorporate a physical motion or gesture with each side as it appears. For example, move your hands upward and ask students to stand when, “Stand- up” lands. Creating gestures is a great method for keeping students attention because it keeps them physically engaged in the activity.



All of the dies used are six sided dies. One, because those were the only foam dies they were selling in the store. Two, because I believe, and I honestly have seen that about six items of material for kids in the Pre-K range is perfect. Not too much, not too little, six fits the Goldilocks Principle for kids and ensures that they’ll get a strong learning experience during the activity.

The die can work for smaller groups of young students, but it is also very good for keeping the attention of bigger groups. Students in the 2- 5 age range enjoy doing not only the actions of each side, but they also enjoy the privilege of being able to throw the die, so this serves as an effective reward! If a student knows the word and required action, then they’ll get to have the fun of throwing the die for that turn! Just remember to make sure kids stay in their seats after the die is thrown—- a lot of them have a tendency to dive on top of the die in an effort to retain its possession.

How to Adapt the Game to Your Learner:

The intensity of the game can be adjusted to the styles of the learners. Also, if a learner is more audio oriented, the words can include a type of chime or spoken rhythm. If they seem to respond more to movement then use more motions!


This die is designed to work in in conjunction with the song, “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.” After singing the song with students, throw the die and review the parts of the body individually.

Passing Materials: Download, print, and tape these sheets onto a six sided dies!


Captura de pantalla 2014-10-24 a la(s) 4.27.04 PM

School Objects

Captura de pantalla 2014-10-24 a la(s) 4.43.41 PM

Cube Game Go!, Stop, Smile

Captura de pantalla 2014-10-24 a la(s) 4.24.54 PM

Parts of the Body

Captura de pantalla 2014-10-24 a la(s) 4.29.29 PM

Farm Animals

Captura de pantalla 2014-10-24 a la(s) 4.28.15 PM

Four quick tips for steady progress in a foreign language:

I’m as scatterbrained as the next person, but I’ve found I can make great strides in another language when I get my brain moving using the following techniques. I certainly didn’t invent any of these strategies, but I can wholeheartedly vouch for their effectiveness. If you want some banging tips for learning a gorgeous foreign language, then read on:

  1. Talk to Yourself: (an intimate process :D)

Block out 30 minutes during the day when you´re by yourself and speak solely in your target language. You can direct it towards a particular topic or just let your mind wander, but it MUST BE IN YOUR TARGET LANGUAGE. The all caps is a little harsh, but it’s important not to break the rule during your language time. Use your vocab list, describe your day or surroundings, and don’t be afraid if it feels or sounds a little goofy, make your brain do work!

2. Keep a Vocabulary List:  

The old tried and true method of keeping a vocabulary list with yourself is still one of the best tools you’ll have in your arsenal for learning new words and phrases.

The strategy of writing down a word’s rote definition and repeating it to yourself can be effective if you’re committed (and you talk to yourself often), but there are other techniques to help deeply engrain words into your long-term memory which include contextual stories, associations between words and humor. Here’s an example of a contextual story:

I had read and wrote down the definition of the word “lixo,” meaning trash in Portuguese, more than a couple of times over the last six months but it never seemed to stick in my brain until a few weeks ago when I saw it in the movie “Central do Brasil.” Captura de pantalla 2015-09-10 a las 5.40.56 PMIn one scene, two woman (roommates) were casually reading through letters that they had received and were determining which ones were trash. They dis-interestingly repeated, “lixo” and tossed the letters to the trashcan as if they were bored French Kings. Seeing it in that context (bored women reading letters) immediately turned on the record button in my brain. “Lixo” is trash, and now I’ll never forget.

Reading a word, speaking it, visualizing it, hearing it spoken by a native speaker, hearing someone tell a funny story that incorporates the word, memorizing a song with the word…the more ways that word has been encoded into your brain, the stronger your recall of that word will be. This all may seem self-explanatory, but I can assure you that many schools all over the world are still teaching people by showering them in words and written language. Before students ever have any words deeply encoded, they’re asked to move on to the material for the next test, which often is not tied to what they were just learning.

Instead of running to new material as quickly as you can (rookie mistake, son!), take your time to deeply encode words and concepts that you are more familiar with. When you spot a word that’s on your vocabulary list in a movie or you hear it in conversation, take a second to say to yourself, “I spotted it!” It’s like going bird watching and finding that beautiful ruffed grouse you were searching for. Take a second to let it soak in.

ruffed-grouse-pastatebird3. Start Simple: (Zone of Proximal Development)

  • Music is an incredible tool for learning another language. It’s an awesome way to encode into your brain some vocabulary as well some different grammatical constructions (past tense, future perfect, etc). Keeping this in mind….

It’s key to find songs that are in your zone of proximal development. Focus on pop songs with clear and simple lyrics. Watch the lyric videos (invaluable) and look up the vocabulary as you see things that you don’t recognize.

If you’re just beginning or even if you’re more intermediate, you can also shamelessly learn some children’s songs to your advantage. Children’s songs are surprisingly effective for learning grammar. I kist watched this video of a guy singing this song cat in Portuguese and picked up some good vocab instantly.


Captura de pantalla 2015-09-10 a las 6.11.04 PM          Watching movies and TV shows can also be very effective. One of my favorite recommendations, especially for beginners, is to watch animated movies in the language your studying. The language used is more basic and most likely much closer to your zone of proximal development. You won’t have to worry about being lost by the storyline, so you’ll be able to focus more of your attentional resources on your target language.

4. Understand Language Learning’s Effect on Your Brain:

Effective language learning can occasionally have an undesirable side effect; it can make you feel tired. After sitting through a rapid-fire dinnertime conversation with your girlfriend’s Argentinian parents, the developing language structures in your brain will most likely be barking. It’s an onslaught of back and forth of sound and communication that can become an exhausting tennis match, where it can become hard to understand anything.

Jason_Sudeikis2-1200In my earlier days with Spanish, I recognized that if I was stuck in a long conversation I was more likely to become tired and eventually make an ass of myself.

Having your ship derided by a giant wave of complicated conversation has happened to me more times than I can count. At this point my Spanish brain has the muscle to stay in most common social interactions for a couple of hours straight, but back in the dark days of my early language development I needed a boost. Thankfully, I came up with something. frisbee2My strategy became to always carry a Frisbee with me and when my brain became tired, I would just pull it out, “Wow, look, a Frisbee!! Let’s throw it!” (no one can ever reject throwing a frisbee, the damn things are delightful.) After throwing for 15-20 minutes I usually felt recharged. This worked extremely well, but I never really understood why until I studied a little bit about the human brain.

Left Frontal Pic          The left pre-frontal cortex is the part of your brain that will be working the hardest as you are speaking, listening, writing and reading in another language. This is the part of the brain that chiefly consolidates spoken and written language.

The right pre-frontal cortex is the part of the brain that sees form and movement, and deals with visual and spatial processing. If you overload either side of your frontal cortex, you’re going to get tired. Imagine trying to keep up with a non-stop movie in a foreign language that lasts 100 minutes. Your left pre-frontal cortex is going to churning! Now imagine watching a moving collage for 20 minutes and trying to understand the patterns of how the forms are changing. Now your right-prefrontal cortex will want some time to relax.

Learning language is obviously going to be more demanding on the left pre-frontal cortex, so what you want to do is balance the information your brain is receiving. Holding a direct, 90 minute conversation with someone will be tiring, but watching a game of soccer together could leave your brain still feeling fresh, because you’re associating words with movement. Trying to read and translate a long poem in Spanish will tire the left pre-frontal cortex quickly, but reading a comic in Spanish can provide you the linguistic stimulation along with the form and picture to stimulate your right frontal cortex to give your left frontal cortex some time for buffering.

I know some teachers may gasp at the idea of reading a comic over translating a poem but hell…. Some things really do work better than others for learning languages.



With whatever language learning you’re doing, you can really boil it all down to two steps.

  • You set yourself up well with information that is in your zone of proximal development. Not too easy, not too hard and try to limit information overload.
  • Get into it, enjoy it and make your language brain do work.

It’s not always going to be perfect— sometimes you will be overwhelmed but don’t worry. It’s all part of the process.

Hope you enjoyed the post!

Hello everybody! Today I want to talk about Duolingo, the revolutionary service that was founded in 2011 that provides its free online language learning software to millions of users all over the world. It’s become obscenely popular over a short period of time due to its free nature and easy-to-use interface, becoming the most downloaded education app in Google Play in 2013 and 2014. If you mention the name of Duolingo to someone who is currently using the software, you’ll likely hear a cascade of compliments, “I’ve been learning Italian with Duolingo before I go abroad,” “I’ve learned a lot!” “What a godsend!” As the tagline on the website states, “Learn a language for free. Forever.”


Duolingo does a wonderful job of hooking learners in to the software and giving them incentives to keep using it. Learners take a 10 minute diagnostic test and then are placed into a lesson that the software evaluates as being optimal for the learner. Learners receive a subject such as, “animals,” “prepositions,” or “verbs 3,” and they then begin taking short lessons. The lessons are always a relatively simple 20-30 question stroll, involving the construction of short sentences or filling in the blank questions pertaining to the vocabulary. The lessons also include some basic listening exercises with the speaking voice being that of a computer generated bot (although a sexy voice for a bot if I do say so myself!). After completing a lesson, learners are rewarded with little red jewels known as “lingots” that can be redeemed for digital prizes. They then get the viscerally satisfying experience of seeing their XP bar fill up, and are subsequently presented a bar graph of their progress in the program.


Between all the experience points, the bright red lingots, the daily notification reminder emails, and the Green owl mascot, Duolingo can cast a powerful spell on learners, convincing them that they’ve learned more than they actually have. Many users , including myself, have fallen under this spell. “Wow, I’m already level 5! If I reach level 8 before my trip to Spain, I’m sure I’ll be ready!” (LOUD BUZZER). I paid the price hard on my first trip to Spain, and made a fool of myself many a time. After a 10 days in Spain I accepted a weekend trip to the beach with my intercultural exchange partner and his 3 friends (none of them spoke English). What ensued was 2 days and 2 nights of not understanding anyone or having any idea of what the hell was happening. I could scratch my way into a conversation here and there, but for the most part I was lost on the desolate island of my own silly and inane thoughts. The desolation led to me drinking too much and vomiting everywhere at the end of night 2 (this is my cautionary tale!).

gustave Earning-lingots-on-Duolingo

All it took was some pixelated rewards and I became strongly convinced of my progress before my trip to Spain, committing the deadly language learning sin of overlooking some of the fundamental skills that the program (by design) can’t possibly provide. Below I’ve listed the necessary skills for language acquisition, and I’ve also included some awesome educational programs that can be of even greater assistance on your language journey (buckle up!).

You need to train your ear:

As everyone knows, Duolingo is spoken by a bot. Not a living breathing human, or even a recording of a living breathing human… it’s a bot! Good Lawd!

Training your ear is one of the most difficult, and also one of the most rewarding parts of learning a language. Between accents, lisps, intonation differences, and different states of emotion, each person communicates uniquely. As you train your ear and learn accents, you’ll begin to be able to pinpoint the commonalities and the differences between the dialects of different people. From urban, to uptown, downtown, old school, new school, north, south, east, west, and other divisions that exist uniquely to that culture; you’ll start to learn and understand personalities that you didn’t even know existed before. To me, this is one of the most amazing and rewarding parts of learning another language, and a damn bot can’t provide that for you! (My apologies to any computer intelligences that are reading this).

Solutions:   A great service I found for training your ear is It provides clips of varying difficulty spoken by native speakers from all over the world including Spanish, French, German, Chinese, Italian, and English. It also provides direct subtitles of what the people are saying, including the ‘Uhmsss,’ and pauses. Being able to associate what you’re reading with what you’re hearing (and knowing what country that person is from) is instrumental in developing your ear.


For learners who want to learn Portuguese, I recommend Semantica-Portuguese, which has a webseries and also provides a direct translation of the conversations.

You need to train the muscles of your mouth.

Duolingo does not effectively train the muscles in your mouth for rapidly communicating information. When speaking another language, you’re going to be put on the spot, and you’re going to have to spit out information as fast as you can. Many times the greatest limiting factor isn’t your knowledge of what to say, it’s being able to fluidly say it.

            Duolingo does a decent job of passing the words into your explicit or “Declarative Memory.” This means that you can declare the facts of the language such as ‘Oso’ means Bear. You might also know how to say, “Él esta grande!” (He is big!). But when there’s a giant bear in front of you and the time comes for you to alert your friend, you might struggle to say “El oso está grande!” This is because contorting the muscles of your mouth to fluidly say that phrase has not yet become automatic.


            You will need to make the task of speaking another language become part of your implicit or “procedural memory.” Procedural memory is your brain’s ability to do things automatically such as tying your shoe or chomping on some Big League Chew.

Solutions:  This is an unpopular answer, because this service most likely isn’t free (unless your girlfriend speaks the language), but you need to have a tutor. Make sure that your tutor forces you to speak as much as possible in that language. When you start speaking a phrase that feels like a tongue twister, that’s awesome!! Keep speaking it until it no longer feels so goofy, and you’re speech fluidity will have just leveled up (sorry, no lingots this time).

It’s also important to stop yourself as often as possible and describe your surroundings in your target language. Describe your bench, the field in front of you, the Philly Fanatic, whatever. Speaking as often as possible will certainly help you. Grab a dictionary for translations to help you out. The best one I’ve found is at


Duolingo doesn’t provide you with any culture and/or unique perspectives that you will encounter abroad:

Duolingo is structurally designed to be a template to introduce basic grammar structures for as many languages as possible. This means that it isn’t designed to teach any culture at all— besides the owl and the “lingots,” the app is about as sterile as a doctor’s office, or the walls of the post 9/11 American high school I attended.

As a learner of a language, it’s important to seek culture, because:

1. It’s fascinating, surprising, and in many ways studying another culture can help you learn more about the one you grew up in. I didn’t realize this until I travelled abroad, but America has an awesome diversity of sports for people to choose from. You can play racquetball, soccer, hockey, rugby, football, cricket, two-hand-touch, Frisbee, basketball, lacross, and there’s even a handful of wacky sports like dodgeball, and street basketball that have become nationally popular for periods of time. In my experiences in Spain and Chile the choices are much slimmer, usually boiling down to soccer, basketball, and rugby.


Americans and their absolutely crazy sports. I’ve spent many a afternoon watching Slam Ball on Spike TV.

2.  The words that people use are very often intimately tied to other parts of their culture. In Portuguese, there are a myriad of terms to say you’re good or bad at playing soccer. In Spanish, people sweet talk to each other with terms that would seem utterly cheesy in English… but work brilliantly in Spanish. In English, Americans’ strongly digital lifestyles are reflected in online lingo. An example of this is that my brother has bluntly said to me the letters STFW in response to one of my questions. STFW is short for “search the fucking web.”


Different cultures also have many unique styles of music, dance, television programs, sensibilities, types of humor…. it’s a lot of fun to see what is consistent across cultures and what changes.

Solutions: Movies, newspapers, and television shows straight from another country. Thankfully, all this stuff is online now and you can find it for free.

Bottom Line:

For being free, Duolingo is an incredible program that’s surprisingly fleshed out. Still, when it comes to improving your fluency in another language, no single program or study strategy can jump through hoops for you. For as fun and flashy as Duolingo is, the best it can do is provide lessons in basic words and grammatical structure. Relying solely on Duolingo before a trip abroad is all but guaranteed to be disastrous (unless you’re an absolute savant). Stay committed and keep your learning regimen varied. Media directly from the country, and a tutor who has lived in that country will both be invaluable.

I hope this got you thinking and that it made you laugh. If you have any thoughts on the post or second language learning let me know! I’d love to talk, hablar, or falar about it.


Hola a todos! Hoy quiero hablar sobre Duolingo, el revolucionario servicio que fue fundado el año 2011, un software para aprender lenguas de manera gratuita y online para millones de personas a través del mundo. Se ha convertido en un servicio muy popular en poco tiempo debido a que es gratis y tiene una interfaz simple y fácil de usar, por eso se ha transformado a la aplicación educacional más descargada en Google Play entre el 2013-2014. Si mencionas el nombre de Duolingo a un usuario recurrente del software, tu escucharás un sin numero de cumplidos, “He estado aprendiendo Italiano en Duolingo antes de viajar”, “ He aprendido mucho!” , “ Es una bendición!” Como dice el eslogan del website, “Aprender un lenguaje gratis. Para siempre.”


Duolingo hace un trabajo maravilloso enganchando sus estudiantes a través de un software que da incentivos para seguir utilizándolo. Los estudiantes toman una prueba de 10 minutos para ser ubicados en una clase y en un nivel que el software considera pertinente o más adecuada. El alumno recibe un tema que puede ser: “animales”, “ preposiciones” o “verbos nivel 3” , y ellos comienzan tomando lecciones pequeñas. Las lecciones son relativamente simples como una vuelta de 20- 30 preguntas, involucrando la construcción de pequeñas oraciones o completando espacios en blanco con vocabulario adquirido en la lección. Las actividades también incluyen ejercicios básicos de escucha compuestos por una voz de computadora que genera el sonido de la palabra (pero una voz de robot sexy, si lo digo yo!). Después de completar la lección, los estudiantes son recompensados con pequeñas joyas rojas llamadas “Lingots” que pueden ser cambiadas por premios digitales.

gustave Earning-lingots-on-Duolingo

Asi ellos obtienen una experiencia visceralmente satisfactoria, en la cual ven como se completa su barra de XP, para posteriormente ver su avance representado en un grafico. Entre todos las recompensas ganadas a través del software: Los vistosos Lingots, los correos que diariamente notifican el avance del estudiante, y la mascota del búho, pueden ser herramientas que permiten hechizar a los usuarios, convenciéndolos que han aprendido más de lo que realmente saben. Muchos usuarios, incluido yo, hemos sido victimas de este hechizo: “Wow, ya llegue a nivel 5! Si hago nivel 8 antes de mi viaje a España, estoy seguro de que estaré listo.” (SONIDO DE CHICHARRA). Yo pagué un alto precio en mi primer viaje a España, y me hice el tonto a mi mismo muchas veces. Después de días en España acepté un viaje de un fin de semana en la playa con mi amigo de intercambio y sus amigos (ninguno hablaba Inglés). El resultado fueron dos días y dos noches de no entender absolutamente nada de lo que estaba sucediendo.


Yo logré agarrar la conversación en pequeños instantes y de manera muy superficial, pero la mayor parte del tiempo me sentí perdido en una isla desolada con mis tontos pensamientos. La desolación y la frustración generaron que terminara bebiendo mucho alcohol y vomitando en todas partes al final de la segunda noche de mi viaje (esta es mi historia de precaución). Todo a causa de pequeños premios pixelados que me convencieron fuertemente sobre mi avance en la lengua Española antes de mi viaje a España, cometiendo el pecado capital del aprendizaje un lenguaje, dejando pasar pasos fundamentales innecesarios para adquirir habilidades propios de un idioma que el programa (por su diseño) no puede otorgar. A continuación dejaré una lista de las habilidades necesarias para la adquisición de un idioma, y también he incluido algunos programas que serán de gran utilidad en su viaje con un segundo idioma (abróchense los cinturones).

tienes que entrenar su oído

Como todos saben, Duolingo esta hablado por un robot, no un humano, y ni siquiera la grabación del voz de un humano…. Un robot! Dios mio!

Entrenar tu oído es uno de las cosas mas difíciles y gratificantes sobre aprender un lenguaje. Entre acentos, entonaciones, y diferentes estados emocionales, cada persona se comunica de manera única. Mientras entrenas tu oida, aprendes accentos, comenzarás a distinguir las características propias del lenguaje, y aquellas que son diferentes dependiendo del dialecto de cada persona. De zonas urbanas, del campo, del norte, del sur, e incluso de diferentes estratos económicos; comenzarás a aprender y entender personalidades que no conocias ni podias distinguir antes. Para mi, este es una de las cosas mas asombrosos y enriquecedoras de aprender otro idioma y un maldito robot no puede proveerte de aquello.

(Mis disculpas a todas las inteligencias artificiales que están leyendo esto).

Soluciones:   Un gran servicio que encontré para entrenar el oído es Provee de clips con nativos hablando inglés en una variedad de dificultades y también tienen Español, Francés, Alemán, Chino e Italiano. También provee subtítulos directos y correctos incluyendo los “uhmsss” y pausas. Te da la posibilidad de leer subtítulos buenos y escuchar a la vez, lo que te permite desarrollar el oído.

8esPara las personas que quieran aprender portugués, yo recomiendo Semantica-Portuguese, la que tiene series web que también tienen subtítulos directos de las conversaciones.


Duolingo no entrena los músculos de la boca efectivamente. Cuando hablas otro idioma uno tiene en la mente lo que quiere decir pero muchas veces la boca no alcanza la rapidez de la mente. A veces lo importante no es lo que vas a decir, sino lo fluido en cómo lo dices.

            Duolingo hace bien el trabajo de pasar las palabras a tu “Memoria Declarativa”. Esto significa que uno puede declarar los hechos con el lenguaje, por ejemplo “Bear” significa “Oso”. O también sabes cómo decir “He is big” (Él está grande) pero cuando viene el momento y se acerca el “Bear” tienes dificultades en decir de forma rápida y fluida “ Oh my Good! the bear is big”. Esto porque la contorsión del músculo para decir una frase todavía no es algo automático.


            Hablar otro idioma es parte de la “memoria implícita”. Memoria implícita es cuando tu cerebro lo hace de forma automática como atar los zapatos o masticar un chicle.

Soluciones:  Esta respuesta no será popular, porque el servicio probablemente no sea gratis “sólo si tienes un (una) novia (o) que hable el idioma. Pero uno necesita un tutor. Les asegura que su tutor les obliga a hablar otro idioma con mayor frecuencia. Cuando uno empieza a hablar de forma fluida una frase que antes era trabalenguas, es genial!. Sigue diciendo los trabalenguas hasta que sean fluidos para que así puedas subir de nivel (perdón pero sin lingots esta vez).  

También es importante pararse en su lugar y describir su entorno en el otro idioma para seguir mejorando esos músculos de la boca. Describir el barco, la cancha que está frente a ti, o la gambeta de Messi. Usa un diccionario, el mejor que he encontrado es


duolingo no te da perspectivas culturales.

Duolingo está diseñado para introducir estructuras gramaticales básicas para la mayor cantidad de idiomas posibles. Eso significa que no está diseñado para enseñar ninguna cultura, eso significa que además del búho y los lingots el app está estéril como las paredes del colegio donde estudié yo después del 11-09.

Un estudiante de otro idioma tiene que buscar cultura porque :

  1. Es fascinante, sorprendente y te puede enseñar también de la cultura donde naciste tú. Yo no me había dado cuenta que en los EE.UU. habían muchos deportes distintos que se practican, hasta que viajé. Las personas tienen muchas opciones dónde elegir. Deportes como play racquetball, fútbol, hockey, rugby, cricket, frisbee, basquetbol, polo, bowling y deportes extraños como dodgeball y street basketball, este último se ha hecho muy popular. En mi experiencia en España y Chile no existe tanta diversidad deportiva.


  1. Las palabras que las personas ocupan son atadas íntimamente a su cultura. En Portugués hay muchos términos para decir que uno es bueno o malo en el fútbol. En español las personas pueden hablarle dulcemente a su pareja ocupando términos que suenan cursi en inglés pero que funcionan perfectamente en español.

Cada cultura tiene su música, bailes, programas de televisión, sensibilidades, tipos de humor…es muy divertido ver en que nos parecemos y nos diferenciamos.

Soluciones: Películas, diarios y programas de televisión en vivo de otro país. Afortunadamente todo eso lo tienes gratis en la web.


Para ser gratis, Duolingo es un programa increíble y sorprendentemente tiene cosas bien desarrolladas. Pero, cuando quieres mejor tu fluidez en otro idioma no hay ningún programa ni estrategia que por sí solo te va ayudar a cruzar el río. Lo llamativo que tiene Duolingo es que te puede entregar estructuras básicas de gramática. Pero confiar solo en Duolingo antes de viajar, sin duda será un desastre. Mantén tu propósito y sigue un régimen variado de aprendizajes. Videos, libros, audios y un tutor nativo del país serán un aporte invaluable.

Espero que hayas disfrutado este post y que ojalá te haya hecho pensar y pasarlo bien. Si tienes algún pensamiento del post no dudes en escribirme.


Dice! : Velcro Edition Pre-K

This is the perfect warm-up.

Directions: Pass the cube to one of the students and ask them to throw it. Many students will be eager to throw, so you can even use throwing the cube as a reward for answering a different question (how many fingers am I holding up?). With each side of the cube that lands up, there is a different prepared word and action that the students will do as a class. Examples:

1. Stand-up: Ask the students to stand-up and sit-down as a class. “Stand-up! Sit down.” Alternate between the two and keep speeding up.

 2. Stop: Ask students to move their hands when the teachers says “Go!” And to freeze in place when the teacher says, “Stop!” With advanced or older classes, you can ask one of the students to dictate “Go” and “Stop!” for everyone else.

3.  Cool: Point out things in the class that are cool, focus on what students are wearing to keep them engaged.

4.  Animals: Show the picture, repeat the name of the animal and then make whatever noise the animal makes in whatever fashion you’d like. This will reinforce the animals for students how need more reinforcement.

5.  Colors: Show the picture of the color, ask them to repeat the word, and then ask students to point to where the color is in the classroom.


There are also the personal favorites, “Boys jump!” and “Girls Jump!” This helps to teach gender to the students as well the word jump. It’s also hilarious to watch (after watching the activity, a buddy told me, “Dude, your class is like a club!”).

Captura de pantalla 2015-07-06 a las 4.45.38 PM

My greatest revelation for these cubes came when I figured out that I could use Velcro and laminated plastic instead of taping on printed sheets of paper. Here’s a photo of the original and here’s a photo of the suped-up version.

Captura de pantalla 2015-07-06 a las 6.04.37 PM

In the center of each side of the cube is a velcro loop swatch.

I stick onto those loops laminated cards that have swatches of Velcro hooks attached to the back of them.

With Velcro, I can mix and match whatever pieces I think will be most important to review. If I see that a class needs to work on a particular phrase such as, “Thank You!” and that they’re also struggling with a particular color like purple, then I can attach those cards onto the cube to create a warm-up that’s more strongly adapted to their needs.

For older learners who are a bit more patient, I like to lay out a series of pieces in front of them and ask them to choose which ones they would like to place onto the cube.

DSC00035The students get to choose the pieces and then make the die. In doing that we actually get to review all the cards and then place further attention on the 6 that are chosen to be attached to the cube.

Passing Materials: Print, cut and laminate. Here are the different cards that I’ve created so far free to download.


Captura de pantalla 2015-01-17 a la(s) 4.24.10 PM

School Objects VELCRO

Traducción en Español.

Esta es la actividad perfecta para comenzar una clase.

Instrucciónes: Pasa el cubo a un estudiante y pide que lo lanze. Muchos estudiantes tendrán ganas de tirar el dado, asi podrás usar el dado como un premio si responden correctamente a una pregunta (cuantos dedos tengo en la mano en inglés?). En cada lado del dado, hay una palabra distinta y una acción que los estudiantes realizarán en clases. Ejemplos:

  1. Stand- up: Todos los estudiantes se ponen de pie, y si sientan al mismo tiempo. “Stand up! Sit down.” Alterna entre esos dos y aplica mas rapidez cada vez.
  2. Stop: Pide que todos los estudiantes mueven sus manos cuando dices, “Go!” Y se congelan cuando dices, “Stop!” En clases avanzadas, puedes elegir a diferentes estudiantes y indicarles que digan, “Go!” y “Stop!”
  3. Cool: Apunta a las cosas en la sala que son “cool.” Enfocate en el vestuario o en las pertencias de los estudiantes incluirlos de mejor manera en la actividad.
  4. Animales: Muestra una foto, di el nombre del animal y realiza el sonido, a continuación, haz que la clase repita a coro lo que ya se indicó, para potenciar a los alumnus que esten mas debiles en su pronunciaciones.
  5. Colores: Muestra la pintura del color que esta atado al dado a los niños, y pide que los estudiantes apunten adonde el color esta en la sala.

Tambien tengo mis favoritos personales, “Niños Saltan!” y “niñas saltan!” Este ayuda a enseñar los generos y también la palabra Jump en inglés. Es realmente chistoso ver los estudiantes saltando.

Mi mejor revelación por los cubos llegó cuando entendí que podría ocupar Velcro y pedazos de papel plastificado en vez de atar papel imprimido con cinta. Aca esta el foto del original, y al lado de eso esta la versión “pimped out.”

En el centro de cada lado del cubo esta un trozo de Velcro. Pego los enganches de Velcro atras de los pedacitos de papel que son plastificados.

Con Velcro, puedo ir mezclando y combinando las palabras y acciones que creo que son importantes de repasar. Si veo que una clase necesita trabajar en una frase particular como, “Thank You!” y que tambien estan fallando un color particular como morado, puedo atar esas cartas al cubo para crear una actividad que esta mejor adaptado a sus necesidades.

Por los estudiantes que son mayores y con mas paciencia, me gusta poner una serie de palabrasy cartas delante de ellos y preguntarles cuales son los pedazos que les gustarían pegar al cubo.

Después, los estudiantes eligen los trozos y hacen el dado. Por hacer eso, podemos repasar todas las cartas y también poner mas atención a los seis que están elegidos.

Descarga los Materiales Aqui: Acá está el documento que creé.. Tendrás que imprimir, cortar, y plastificar los trozos.


School Objects VELCRO

Dice!: Velcro Edition

This game is designed to help students construct full sentences in English. Ask the student to throw all three die at once, and create their sentence with the results. DSC00043 One die is assigned to have pieces attached that are subject nouns, another die has pieces attached that are verbs, and the final die has direct objects.

Students need to correctly line up the sentence, read it in English, and make a good translation.

Here are some examples of sentences that can come up from this set: DSC00017

Peach walks on a crab.

A soccer player sits on a fireball.

A construction worker swims to a tree.

Added Challenge:

1. If your students are more advanced, you can ask them to conjugate the sentence into the past, present perfect, future, etc.

Past: Peach walked on a fireball.

Future: Peach will walk on a fireball.

Present Perfect: Peach has walked on a fireball.

2. It’s also possible to include a fourth block that includes who, what where, when why, and how attached. Learners throw the initial three, and read the sentence as always.  Then they need to throw the fourth die and answer the question using their imagination. Why did Peach kick a fireball?? Because there was an evil turtle nearby. When did a construction worker sit on a pizza? About two weeks ago. How did the ghost hug a tree?? She has ghostly superpowers.


  1. Include a fourth block that has words of frequency: Always, sometimes, usually, once in awhile, every night, every other day, etc. Ask students to throw all four die and translate the resulting sentence.

Any combination of these added challenges can be used to ensure that you’re challenging the student.

 Here are sheets I used to create the cards. You can download the sheet, edit them, and print them as you please to make any noun, verb, or direct object combination that you please.

Nouns- Three Blocks Story Captura de pantalla 2015-01-17 a la(s) 4.57.23 PM Verbs -Three blocks story Captura de pantalla 2015-01-17 a la(s) 4.57.03 PM Direct Objects— Three Blocks Story Captura de pantalla 2015-01-17 a la(s) 4.58.01 PMTraducción a español!

Este juego esta diseñado para ayudar a los estudiantes a construir unas frases completes en Inglés. Pide que los estudiantes tiren todos los dados a la vez, y creen una frase con los resultados.

Un dado esta designado para tener los trozos que son “subjetos substantivos,” un otro dado tiene trozos atados que son verbos, y el ultimo dado tiene objetos diretos. Aca estan algunos ejemplos de frases que pueden estar construido que este set.

Peach camina encima de un cangrejo.

Un jugador de futbol se sienta encima de una pelota de fuego.

Un trabajador de construcción nada hacia un arbol.

Los estudiantes tiene que armar la frase correctamente, leerlo en Inglés, y tradducirlo a su idioma native.

Desafios Agregados:

Si tus estudiantes son mas avanzados, puedes pedir que conjugen la frase al pasado, el presente perfecto, el futuro, etc.

Peach camina encima de un cangrejo. Peach ha caminado encima de un cangrejo. Peach caminará encima de un cangrejo.

Incluye un cuarto dado que tiene “Who, What, Where, When, and Why” pegados. Los estudiantes lanzan los primeros tres dados y leen la frase como siempre. Despues, tienen que lanzar el cuarto dado y responder a la pregunta ocupando su imaginación. Porque Peach pateó la pelota de fuego?? Porque habia una Tortuga malvada que andaba cerca. Cuando se sentó el trabajor de construcción encima de la pizza? Hace dos semanas. Como abrazó el fantasma al arbol? La fantasma tiene super poderes.

Incluye un cuarto (o quinto) dado que tiene palabras de frequencia: Siempre, a veces, usualmente, de vez en cuando, cada noche, cada otro dia, etc. Pide que los estudiantes lanzen y traduzcan la frase que salga.

Cualquer combinacción de esos retos puede ser ocupado para asegurar que uno esta desafiando a los estudiantes.

Debajo están los documentos que usé para crear las cartas. Puede descargarles, editarles, y imprimirles como quieran.

Nouns- Three Blocks Story

Verbs -Three blocks story

Direct Objects— Three Blocks Story


Memory is a classic family game that has entertained people for generations and generations by people all over the world. It’s simple, it’s fun, and it’s great for teaching new words and developing a students’ concentration.

In a dynamic twist, this version of memory includes putting together pairs of opposites– this forces the learner to make associations of opposing words. As we all know, associations are a powerful friend for learning more information. Through changing the pictures, the fonts , and by focusing on learning two opposites words at the same time, these cards do a great job of helping to create memorable impressions on the learner.

_DSC3444 (244)


Ways to adapt the game to Your Learner:  

For learners who are struggling with the activities, you can tell them to focus on the similarities in the fonts, and from there you can works towards understanding the significance of the words.

If playing memory doesn’t appeal to your learner, then just focus on finding and pairing the opposites without the game of memory.

Below are the materials that were used to create the sets in these photos. Feel free to download them and get creative with your own words, fonts, and colors:

Opposites Sheets

Captura de pantalla 2014-09-16 a la(s) 10.55.02 PM

Captura de pantalla 2014-10-25 a la(s) 1.20.12 PM

 Traducción a Español:

Memorice es un juego clasico que ha entretenido a muchisimas generaciones de gente de todo el mundo. Es sencillo, divertido, y es una muy wena manera de enseñar palabras nuevas y desarrollar la concentración de los niños.

En cambio dinámico, esta versión de memorice incluye juntando parejas de cosas opuestas— este hace que los estudiantes tienen que hacer asociaciones de palabras opuestas. Como todos sabemos, las asociaciones son un amigo poderoso para aprender información nueva. Por cambiar los imágenes, y los fonts, y por aprender mas de una palabra a la vez, estas cartas ayuda a crear impresiones memorables en el estudiante.

Como adapter el juego a tu estudiante:

Para los estudiantes que estan en aprietos con los signifcados, puede ayudarles a enfocar en las similitudes de los fonts, y de alla pueden ir hacia el entendimiento de los significados de las palabras.

Si jugar Memorice no appetece a tu estudiante, enfoca en encontrar y emparejar las cartas oppuestas sin el juego de Memorice.

Debajo están los materiales que fueron usados para crear los sets en los photos. Puede descargarles, editarles, y imprimirles como quiera!

Opposites Sheets

Vocab SlapJack

Here is a very fun and engaging activity for younger children.

Before any slapping begins, it’s important to review what each card means. Hold up the card and ask them to repeat the word until they’ve all repeated it at least twice. After students are sufficiently versed, then you can tape the vocabulary words onto a table. Once the game is ready, tell them “Hands up!” Which will ensure that they don’t touch the table before the game has begun. Doing, Hands up!, Hands down, or Hands behind your back is crucial to create a sense of pace and to make sure no child is getting a head start.


At the count of three, say one of the vocab words. The first student to slap and repeat the word can receive a point. Once a student has won three rounds/received three points, he or she can win a sticker. Distribute the points evenly to all students who are participating, no matter who slaps first. It’s important to reward the students for effort, which will increase more participation and give them more confidence.

After students are sufficiently versed, then you can tape the vocabulary words onto a table. At the count of three, say a vocab word! The first student to slap and repeat the word can receive a point. Once a student has won three rounds/received three points, he or she can win a sticker! If no sticker are present, a good high five is sufficient…but it better be a damn good high-five!

How to Adjust the Game to Your Learner.

This is a very simple game, and one of the great things about the game is that it leaves the teacher a lot of flexibility. Not only can the the teacher change the cards to adapt to the level of the students, the teacher can also space them wherever. If students seem particularly boisterous, place the cards on different spaces of the wall. Instead of merely slapping the table, students get to run and expend their energy in the class room.

The kids will get better at the words relatively quickly, and they will have a lot of fun hitting the cards and being rewarded with high fives. Enjoy.

Traducción a Español:

Este es un divertido y entretenido juego para niños de tres a seis años.

Antes de que los niños pegan las cartas, es sumamente importante que repasen el significado de cada carta. Sosten la carta en el aire y haz que repitan la palabra veces. Despues de que esten listos, pon las palabras en la mesa. Diles a los estudiantes, “Manos arriba!” Eso asegura que no tocen las cartas hasta que comienza el juego.

A la cuenta de tres, di una de las palabras. El primer estudiante que toce la palabra y la diga recibirá un punto. Cuando un estudiante tiene tres puntos, el or ella gana un sticker. Es importante distrubuir los puntos de manera igualitaria entre los estudiantes para motivarlos, indepedientemente de que no hayan sido los primeros en tocar la palabra. Este juego tiene como fin potenciar la participación y la confianza de los estudiantes.

Como Adapter el Juego a Sus Estudiantes:

Este es un juego muy sencillo, y uno de las cosas muy buenas que tiene es que te entrega mucha flexibilidad. Puede cambiar las cartas y también el lugar donde se encuentran. Si los estudiantes llegan con muchisima energia a la clase, puede pegar las cartas a la pared. Tambien podria pegar las cartas a las sillas de la sala— los estudiantes tendrán que sentarse en la silla correcta. Si tiene música, puede jugar a las sillas musicales.

Los niños mejorarán bastante rápidamente, y se van divertir muchismo cuando pegan a las cartas y repiten las palabras.

Colored Jenga

A colored Jenga stack is harder to come across than a standard Jenga stack. This particular stye is known as the Wiss Toy. There are plenty of them in Chile.

20140716045542-732748480b75fa0bc3bc0a6f4ad0f6e7Rules: (number of players 1-4)

Each player pulls out the jenga piece and reads out the word that is attached to the piece.

There are a number of ways the game can be imagined—the way that I came up with is as follows. Each color is a distinct part of speech, and players win points for the ability to create sentences.

  • Green: Verbs of Movement. Jump, skip, crawl, wiggle, shuffle.
  • Black: Nouns of Locations. the high mountain, the wild waterfall, the giant mango.  
  • Yellow: Prepositions. around, near, through, on top of.
  • Red: Adverbs. quickly, slowly, happily, crazily. 
  • Blue: Quantifiers: every, a few, one, many, a pair of, a couple of. 
  • White: Subjects. Snow White, Alexis Sanchez, Tony Stark, a Great White Shark, etc. _DSC3214

Players start the game by choosing a noun that will be their subject. After selecting nouns, learners take turns back and forth drawing wooden pieces from the stack. The goal is to be able to create a sentence using their noun and adding the pieces removed from the stack. For every full sentence that students construct they will receive a point for each piece involved. Here are some examples from this set using Mario as the subject:

Mario quickly crawled around the high mountain. This is a 3 point play Adverb, verb, location.

Mario slowly walks on top of the wild waterfall. This is a 4 point play à adverb, verb, preposition, location.

A couple of Marios crazily jump around the giant mango. This is a 5 point play à Quantity, adverb, verb, preposition, location.

Play until one player has 10 points. If the tower falls, the player that caused the fall losses two points.

How to Adapt the Game to Your Learner:

If pulling out the pieces from the Jenga stack becomes too cumbersome, the pieces can be laid out onto the table. Play for points, or simply have fun creating different crazy sentences. This is obviously a faster way to give the learner exposure to the words and sentences.

Traducción a Español:

Un juego de Jenga de color es mas dificil de encontrar que un Jenga normal. Este estilo en particular es conocido como el Wiss Toy.

El objetivo de este juego es que los estudiantes puedan construir frases con las palabras elegidas.

Reglas de Juego: (1-4 jugadores)

Cada jugador saca un pedazo de Jenga y lee la palabra que esta escrita.

Hay diferentes maneras en la cual este juego puede ser usado como una tactica de aprendizaje. Lo que imaginé yo, es lo sigiuente. Cada color es una diferente parte de la gramatica, y los jugadores ganan puntos por su abilidad de crear frases. En este set, tenemos lo siguiente:

  • Verde: Verbos de movimiento. Salta, arrastrar los pies, manear, brincar etc.
  • Negro: Sustantivos de lugares: La montaña alta, la kaskada salvaje, y el mango gigante.
  • Amarillo: Preposiciones. Cerca, a traves de, por, encima de, etc.
  • Rojo: Adverbios (modos) rápidamente, lentamente, felizmente, locamente.
  • Azul: Quantificador: Cada, un par de, algunos, un, muchos, etc.
  • Blanca: Sujetos de la Oración: Mario, Snow White, Happy from Inside Out, James Bond, Tony Stark.

Los jugadores comienzan el juego sacando un trozo blanco que será su sujeto de la oración. Después de seleccionar su sujeto, los estudiantes van en turnos sacando trozos del torre. El objetivo es crear una frase completa con el sustantivo y los pedazos sacados del torre. Cuando tienen una frase completa, reciben un punto por cada pedazo usado. Acá están algunos ejemplos de este set, ocupando Mario como el sujeto.

  • Mario rapidamente se arrastró alrededor de una alta montaña. Este es una frase de tres puntos à Adverbio, verbo, y sustantivo de lugar.
  • .Mario lentamente camina encima de la kaskada salvaje. Este es una frase de quatro puntos à Adverbio, verbo, preposición, y sustantivo de lugar.
  • Un par de Marios locamente saltan alrededor de un mango gigante. Este es una frase de cinco puntos à Quantificador, Adverbio, verbo, preposición, y sustantivo de lugar.

Como adaptar el juego a su Estudiante:

Si sacar los trozes de Jenga es muy lento para los estudiantes, ponlos con la cara del texto hacia arriba en la mesa. Juega en turnos de la misma manera por puntos o simplemente haz frases distintas y locas sin turnos. Obviamente este es una manera mas rápida para exponer los estudiantes a las palabras y frases.