3 Things You Will Struggle With While Learning and writing Spanish

the most difficult aspects of Spanish learning
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Each language has its tricky points, and Spanish isn’t the exception. While the easy spelling and fairly straightforward pronunciation are great, you will come across some struggles that take some time to overcome when you’re learning how to speak Spanish and also when you are writing in Spanish. Among the most difficult points are:

Ser and Estar: These are two verbs that make up one in English: to be. Ser is used for permanent situations of “to be.” Estar is used for temporary situations of “to be.” It takes a while to sort out when to use each one, because in English you never make that choice. As they say, practice makes perfect, and taking the time to study the lists of examples of when to use each one eventually pays off. Lots of fill in the blank exercises are useful as well because they force you to choose between the two options, giving you the chance to practice and memorize those lists you studied. Here you have a longer explanation about SER and ESTAR.

The subjunctive: Another part of Spanish that doesn’t really quite exist in English, or at least is rarely used, is the subjunctive. It’s difficult for those who want to learn to speak Spanish to use the subjunctive correctly. Even advanced students struggle with it. The subjunctive tense, sometimes described as a mood, is used when uncertainty is expressed. For example, “I doubt he’ll go” in Spanish would use the subjunctive “vaya”, making the sentence “Dudo que vaya” rather than the indicative and incorrectly stated “Dudo que va.” To further complicate the subjunctive, it can be used with all verb tenses and also in adverbial clauses, adjectival clauses, to make requests and in various other instances. When asking native speakers how they know when to use the subjunctive, you’ll likely hear a very unhelpful answer: “it just sounds right.” Well, that just means you’ve got a lot of listening and speaking practice to do.

All those tricky phrases and expressions: Once you’ve got down the basics of Spanish, you’ll start to realize that there are many fluffy, formal phrases used for certain situations and topics. While English tends to be very direct and to the point, Spanish tends to be more flowery and nuanced. There are certain phrases that if translated literally don’t seem to make much sense, but are used in certain situations. For example, to thank someone for an email or letter, it’s normal to write “Tengo el gusto de acusar recibo de su carta” (I am happy to acknowledge receipt of your letter). At a funeral or when someone has died, you should say “Mi más sentido pésame” which is the equivalent of “I’m sorry for your loss”. These are the sorts of phrases you wouldn’t come up with on your own even if you have a fairly large vocabulary. Then of course, there are many more idiomatic expressions and slang that you’ll encounter and once you start interacting regularly in Spanish you’ll have to learn them. You’ll have to work hard to keep up with conversations between native speakers and ask when you don’t understand. Get started by learning some of these expressions.

How to write a persuasive sales text

How to write a persuasive sales text - website copywriting
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To be able to comment on how a sales text should be written, we should first define what it means. Sales text is the one which is used to persuade your readers to take a specific action. For that to be skillfully done, you need to have some marketing skills and a lot of creativity. And that should be thoroughly thought of and organized, as the American advertising executive Leo Burnett says: “Advertising should say, ‘Here’s what we’ve got. Here’s what it will do for you. Here’s how to get it.’”. Writing a persuasive sales text therefore should be engaging, clear and concise, and here are some tips on

How to write a influential sales text – Tips from a website copywriter

“Here is what we’ve got”. If it is a sales text, you’ve got readers to attract. You have to sell it with words, so you need copywriting skills, techniques and formulas that make the text irresistible for its readers.

“Here’s what it will do for you”. Well, if it is good enough to be attentively read, it is good enough to sell. Knowing how to use words in a sales text will not only connect you to your readers, but it will make their experience of reading and taking action afterwards unforgettable.

“Here’s how to get it”.  Now we get to the practical part. Try to use hypnotic words like “you” and “because”. Emphasizing the persona of your reader and giving reasons “why” will surely attract more reader and make them feel important. Focus on benefits, not on features. It’s simple, features are important but what would be the purpose of them all if you don’t use them in context? Make your readers dream and imagine. Make it interesting for them, take them on a journey, make their experience of reading your sales text memorable.

For example, Innocent describes their smoothie with a sunshine in such a way that it is almost impossible for you not to start running and get one: “(…) this drink tastes of sunshine. Not that watery stuff that you get in the UK for five or six days of the year, but the great, clear, life-affirming rays that you’ll only find where these fruits are grown”. Promote your idea with short, broken sentences, and why not use rhyme too? IPhone Mini uses a simple repetitive rhyme, easy to remember: “A display that’s not just smaller. It’s smarter”. Forget grammatical accuracy and focus on being simple, that is much easier to read, and if it is rhymed, it will be not only longer remembered, but also appreciated. Persuade with problems. Show your readers problems can be easily solved, convince them of the productivity of your big idea. As for example, this one from IPhone: “New noise-canceling technology reduces background noise. So when you hold iPhone up to your ear in a loud room, you hear what matters most: the voice on the other end.”

As again Leo Burnett says, “Marketing and creativity does not just circulate information. It penetrates the public mind with desires and belief”. What helps people, helps the business. Respect your ideas, flourish them into a sales text with the right words, and you will get a continues advertising success.



How to Break Out of Your Shell and Speak Spanish!

How to get a Spanish conversation
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Among Spanish learners who have studied for a while, a common complaint is “I can understand almost everything, but I just can’t speak!” This is typical in the process of Spanish language learning. There is a pre-production stage in which language learners can understand but not produce the target language. Although it is part of the process, language learners still need to work hard to overcome this stage and achieve fluency by practicing and overcoming the fear of producing.

Here are a few suggestions to help you break past the pre-production stage in Spanish

1. Imagine you have a different Spanish language personality:

Some people say that a person’s personality can change depending on the language they’re speaking.   Cultural factors of the language may play in and help the person adopt a slightly different personality. Whatever the case, if you’re shy about trying out your new language skills, the power of believing you have the ability to change your personality to be an outgoing Spanish speaker might help you. Imagine you’re successful, bubbly and chatty in Spanish. If you believe it strongly enough you just might be able to overcome your shyness.

2. Put yourself in a situation where you are forced to speak:

There is nothing quite as effective for the shy Spanish-learner as being forced to speak. These are some options to force yourself to produce the language.

Stay with a host family: Although traveling to a Spanish speaking country will force you to speak some Spanish, it might not force you to speak as much Spanish as you’d like. By staying in hotels and eating in restaurants, you’re putting yourself in places where you’re likely to find other foreigners. Even if it’s unintentional, you’ll probably gravitate towards speaking, going out to eat and touring around with them rather than the locals who would assist in improving your Spanish. The alternative is to find a host family program. Many programs allow you to pay by the week and some options might even allow you to spend only a few nights with the family. If you go for this option, you can guarantee that you’ll speak a lot more Spanish and learn a lot more about the culture than if you stayed in a hotel. You’ll form great friendships and get great advice for touring from the family as well.

Take a class: Find university or interest classes offered in the Spanish language. Some universities and colleges have conversation clubs as well. If you enroll in a class, it’s likely that you can also participate in the clubs. With a professor watching and others also practicing, you’ll feel comfortable to speak Spanish as well. By taking the class, you´ll get the extra push you need to start producing. If you don’t have time to go to class, let the class go to your home taking it by Skype.

3. Enlist the help of your friends

Find a friend or two who are also learning Spanish and make a pact to practice together. You can use certain situations to get in the mood of speaking Spanish. Go to a salsa dance club or a restaurant with Spanish or Latin cuisine. For the duration of your time at the club or restaurant, only speak Spanish.

How to Search Academic Sources in Spanish

Looking for someone to proofread a Spanish essay?
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Often times one has to look for academic sources for a particular project which just 10 years ago meant to dive in a public library, but today, as information is quickly accessibly online, one just has to type in what they need to investigate. Still, it is surely not as easy as it seems. Just because adding information on the internet most frequently than not is not edited, neither is selective in terms of who adds the information, many “academic” sources are not trustworthy. Another point is that, English, being lingua franca, is the language we most probably will find the necessary sources the easiest. Spanish on the other hand, even though 400 million people speak is as a native language, has more limited amount of sources. Therefore, this post will investigate some of the features necessary when searching for academically reliable articles, and as well provide you with trustworthy webpages about where to search academic sources in Spanish.

Identify a good website for academic research

Initially, before searching for content, one should first recognize if a website is credible. Several pieces of information that would make your search easier are: author, domain, updates, sources, language etc. When opening a webpage, you should first notice the author standing behind the information presented, as well as, many times, his contact information. When talking about the domain, many domains can be used by any individual. Still, it is a general knowledge that .com is used by commercial organizations, .gov used by government organizations etc. What might be suspicious are the .org websites, hosted by non-profit organizations, which are not necessarily unreliable. Update is one of the most important features, as constant updates of a webpage are a sign of improving in the pace of time. If the information is of an academic character, sources indicated in detail are compulsory for credibility of the information stated. Lastly, poor and incorrect language proves for a website not to have been professionally edited.

If you have all checked from the previously stated, it is time to move on and share some examples of good academic sources online, particularly in Spanish.

Where to find academic sources in Spanish.

The first one is google scholar, a searching database of academic articles, journals, thesis, abstracts etc. What is best about it is that it lists the findings in terms of relevance rather than chronological order. As well, upon opening a page, it provides you with all the necessary information listed as trustworthy in the previous paragraph. You can enable your own library, citations and look through it for free. If you would like to search for information just in Spanish, you can regulate that in the Settings menu, under Languages.

Now, narrowing down to Spanish websites, I will provide you with a .org domain that IS reliable, which proves there is discrepancy of the previously stated, as I have mentioned before. SCIELO is a scientific electronic library online, offered in Portuguese, English and Spanish. It is highly user-friendly, as you can search by field, alphabetic list or journals. It offers a tremendous variety of journals, issues, articles and citations. In addition, you can also search by geographical region, and almost all results are able to be downloaded in a pdf file.

Another similar source that offers many languages amongst which is Spanish, is Dialnet, a website coordinated by the Univeristy de la Rioja. Registration to the webpage is free, and you could, if you wish, allow them to send you constant updates about a particular field of your interest. As SCIELO, this is an academic source of journals, thesis and congresses. If you register, you could sort out your searches, save information you need, subscribe to alerts etc.

Surely enough, you could also decide to search university databases or individual academic sources, but knowing of the existence of google scholar, SCIELO and Dialnet makes your life easier and happier.

If you want to do it the old-school way as I prefer, you can always go to the good-old university libraries which nowadays have an online database including information of the title, author, year of publication and publisher, and once you find the book online, it indicates which exact shelf to find it in the library. The good thing about this is that you personally link to the source you’re reading, as you can touch it, smell it, and read it knowing it has been through many smart hands before J Now you’re more than ready to go out and investigate the world. And don’t forget, as the secretary of United Nations Kofi Annan says, knowledge is power and information is liberating.

And once you have finished your work, you can send it to me for proofreading and I will be happy to review your grammar, spelling and even the reference list.

Welcome to Sanishwriterpro blog

Welcome to my blog. Here you will find tips, advice and mistakes that I am aware of as a freelance copywriter and content writer for websites in Spanish.

Before continuing, please notice that if you are looking for examples of my writing in Spanish you can look here on this same website or maybe you prefer to go to www.miguelbratos.com or to Ya lo leo yo por ti where I only publish in Spanish.

The Spanishwriterpro’s blog structure

This blog has three main categories or sections:

Writing content in Spanish

In the Spanish content section you can read about website content strategy, how to do it, how to deal with it andsome good things to do and some things to avoid.

You also may be interested in this short Guide to SEO Copywriting.

Learn to speak Spanish

I have some Spanish students that through Skype. Right now I´m focused on writing projects, and teaching is a way to meet very nice people doing something I enjoy. In this section I will share tips to help you to improve your Spanish, practice it and eventually speak it properly.

Work at home

I have been teaching Sociology in the local University for a couple of courses and I noticed that work-life balance is quite hard to keep when you want to do your best. That’s why I’m writing this section about work from home. Today, there are some jobs that allow you to be a successful worker with a successful family life as well. If this blog helps just one person to be happier, then it will have fulfilled its purpose. If you want to be that person, I recommend you starting from this post about how to start your work from home career.

Advice for organizing your life as a freelance writer

So, you’ve found a new vocation; freelance writing! It’s an exciting new adventure. However, freelance writing seems deceivingly simple and easy to manage. You can work from home and you’re your own boss in many ways because you get to pick and choose your projects. On the other hand, there are deadlines to keep and sometimes freelancers end up not planning appropriately, staying up till the wee hours of the morning and barely making deadlines. The stress may still creep in and be worse than when you had a regular job. So what happened? Although freelancing may seem simple, it still requires some organization so that you can stay on top of everything and enjoy all of the benefits of working from home, being your own boss and have a great quality of life.

productivity tips for freelance writers
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Tips to organize your life as a freelance writer:

  1. Set hours: Now these don’t need to be set in stone or the same for every day – but setting some sort of schedule and starting hours will help you be sure that you get enough work done every day. If you know you don’t want to work on Saturday, for example, plan your time throughout the week so that you have all of your projects under control. If you set hours for each day and you finish projects early, you can spend this time to look for new jobs, improve and update your CV or website. Spending time on your own development is also part of being a freelance writer. By setting hours, you’ll be sure to dedicate enough time to this sort of work as well.
  2. Set deadlines and time goals: Although your clients set deadlines for you most of the time, some of the deadlines give you a week or more for a project you could probably finish beforehand. If you give yourself an earlier deadline, you’ll have time to proofread your work well and turn in a better product. It’s also important to put a bit of pressure on yourself. Set time goals for how much time you’d like to spend on each project. For example, if you think you can push out a quality 1000 word article in an hour and half, set your goal. Set an additional time for proofreading. This will help you avoid the temptations of Facebook, youtube and surfing the web. Once you’re work is finished, you’ll have plenty of downtime.
  3. Use a Calendar: A calendar for keeping track of your projects and deadlines is very useful and will help you keep track of everything. Whether you like the old-fashioned desk or wall calendar or Google calendar, this tool will help you ensure you never miss a deadline.
  4. Make a workspace: Keeping a clutter-free area for working will help you concentrate while working. Designating this space and letting your family know where it is and what it means will also help make sure you experience as few interruptions as possible.
  5. Organize your files: Make a good system for organizing your files for each client. You may want to consider using an archive file within each client’s folder. There’s nothing worse than wanting to turn in a file and not being able to find it. Also remember to back up your work in case something should happen to your computer.

How not to live in dread of public speaking in Spanish

Ready for a public speaking in Spanish
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Public speaking is a concern of people, particularly individuals involved in communication with other people or who want to argue on a specific topic. Frequently, professionals concerned with public speaking review psychological aspects of physical actions, such as eye contact, tone, posture, articulation, etc. However, even though the previously stated characteristics are of core importance, this post will provide some additional features, shaping it in an environment of using the Spanish language.

Firstly, a brief mentioning of the psychological features applied to any language, the so-called body language. Eye contact is definitely important, since looking at the listeners’ eyes shows determination as well as acknowledgement of the listeners’ attention. Posture should be considered as well, as being comfortable and showing authority will emphasize the meaning of what you are discussing.

Moving on, it is general knowledge that all languages have different intonation, which is why when foreigners speak English, one can often distinguish their nationality as they apply their native language intonation to the English one. In Spanish, as in English, normal statements end with a falling pitch. Questions however, differ, and in Spanish end in a falling pitch as well. Of course, one can distinguish if a sentence is a question or a statement by its context. When a person does public speaking in Spanish, it is much better if they use the right intonation and pitch. If they don’t, the listeners would be able to understand as well, but they could interpret it incorrectly, which may result in the language’s deterioration.

Another feature of a well-spoken public presentation is articulation. The more you articulate, the more influential you sound. Often, when one has to do a public speech, one is not aware of their articulation or speed of talking, being busy with what they say. But even if you’re not reinventing the wheel, your listeners will be bored if you sound like a washing machine. To improve this, there are many Spanish tongue twisters that could help you, such as the following one:

Tres tristes tigres tragaban trigo en un trigal en tres tristes trastos.
             En tres tristes trastos tragaban trigo tres tristes tigres.

Exhausting the psychological and grammatical features, we will investigate additional ways to prepare yourself for a public speech in Spanish. Firstly, listening to politicians, musicians, radio programs, etc. will better shape your view of the language. A good webpage to consult is TED Talks, in further searching for Spanish speakers, as well as this one . Even if you are not interested in the topic, you would be able to recognize the previously stated features as well as improve your vocabulary subconsciously. After you do that, you could prepare a pre-written speech yourself and try to present it from time to time while looking at your notes. It is highly recommended that you do this in front of a mirror, however odd it may sound. Also, recording yourself while talking, can illuminate some mistakes that you are not aware of. Later on, as you master giving a public speech using notes, try to do one improvising on a topic you previously have thought about.

Lastly, public speaking does not necessarily have to be official, even if the environment requires it to be. We are all people and love to have fun, hear jokes and be included in some way, as shown in the video that I included previously. Try to be as natural as you can, use a correct but simple way of speaking, include your listeners in an activity, articulate, give real-life situation examples, and have fun! Good luck

How to survive writing essays in Spanish

How to write a better essay in Spanish
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Writing an essay in Spanish is a rite of passage for Spanish students reaching a certain level. Most students dread the thought of writing an essay in general, and when it’s in Spanish, well that just makes it all the worse. The good news is that writing essays in Spanish will only get easier with time. Once you’ve got one under your belt, the next one won’t be so bad. The other good news is that there are some concrete. Here are some tips:

Warm Up: Before you open up a word document and settle down to stare at a blank screen, get your Spanish brain moving. I know, you think you don’t even have a Spanish brain, but you do! You have to pull it out. Listen to a bit of music in Spanish or watch your favorite telenovela. Once you hear some Spanish, your brain will kick into gear and come up with the phrases you need to write more easily. Then do some reading or research related to your essay to get some more academic language bouncing around in your head. Now it’s almost go time!

Make an outline: If you haven’t made a habit of organizing your thoughts for essays in the past, it’s time to give it a try. Writing in your native language is challenging enough and requires some planning so that your writing is well-structured and makes sense. Writing in a second language is even more challenging, so help yourself out and make a well-structured and detailed outline. This will give you direction while you’re writing. With your outline in hand, expand upon each point as much as possible.

Try to write in Spanish…don’t translate! This is probably the most challenging tip. For those truly looking to learn the Spanish language, it’s important to take the plunge and make the effort to write in Spanish from the start. It takes some practice, but once you start thinking in Spanish, your writing will sound more natural. When translating, although you’re still practicing Spanish, you’re losing out on the most advanced stage of language-learning: production. Practicing this ability is the best way to improve. Make sure you write your outline in Spanish as well. Your outline is your guide and using Spanish will help ensure your thoughts initiate in Spanish as well.

Keep wordreference.com and rae.es open: Inevitably you’ll run into words and conjugations that you can’t remember. Two excellent websites to help you with translations, definitions and conjugations are Wordreference and RAE. Wordreference is most useful for translations and even includes a forum for phrases and idiomatic expressions not usually found in just any dictionary. RAE is the Royal Academia Española’s official website. Here there is a dictionary, only Spanish to Spanish obviously. For your purposes as a Spanish learner, a comprehensive conjugation of each verb is included by searching for the verb in the dictionary, and then clicking on the blue “conjugar” option.

And, of course, if after finish your writing you would like to have your Spanish essay proofreaded drop me a message!