5 tips for preparing for DELE – Acing DELE 101

Have you ever found yourself just so damn frustrated with your progress in Spanish? Maybe you’ve decided to take the plunge and sit for an official D.E.L.E exam and now the nerves are building. The D.E.L.E. exams are the most widely recognised Spanish language qualifications in the world. To put it short- if you want to add “I speak Spanish” on your CV, that means having a DELE. Today we give you 5 key tips for preparing for DELE

1.Set Yourself Goals:

TOP TIP! Setting goals helps you focus and setting a time limit helps you keep that focus. Setting a hard deadline is an important first step. Be realistic – if you can’t put in the time needed to adequately prepare, don’t pay to do the exam.

CultureAlley is an online platform with interactive Spanish lessons, and fun vocabulary tools that sets a daily task plan and achievable goals for you. It has the most fun way to help you master Spanish vocabulary. CultureAlley lets you learn Spanish vocabulary while your browse your own Facebook newsfeed. It progressively replaces a few words from English to Spanish and provides you with their pronunciation and meaning . It provides 1 important lesson, and 1 practice game session everyday to help you learn a little Spanish everyday and sends your daily reminders for the tasks waiting for that day!

2. DO Find the right materials

The first thing to do is check out the DELE Cervantes website and look at some of the past exams. This will help you to familiarize yourself with the different levels, and based on that you can decide which level exam you want to write. It should come as no surprise that there are books made especially for the exam, much like the standard GRE or LSAT books.

And if you are looking for a free effective resource online, then you can find about 70+ lessons with CultureAlley covering grammar, conversations, vocabulary, lessons with native (Spanish) voice-overs, and practice exercises with fun games. CultureAlley covers all the domains required for language learning,i.e: reading,writing,listening,and speaking.


3.DO consider taking a course

Doing simple google search for DELE courses nets hundreds of places to get exam prep, both online and in person. Most are costly (around 300€), but come with the practice book and tips to doing the exam. You can’t study completely on your own so you should consider hiring a Spanish teacher to help you with the writing and speaking part of the exam.

For hiring a good experienced tutor for 1-1 on coaching with native tutors who can mentor and guide through DELE preparation, you can book classes with CultureAlley. You just have to mail your query to contact@culturealley.com, and we will provide you with the tutor profiles and we can book your sessions!

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4.DO practice writing prompts like crazy

The writing section is a large part of the DELE, consisting of two parts: in the first, you’ll be asked to pick one of two options regarding a formal letter or email. It’s important to know formal salutations, advanced vocabulary and to include all of the parts asked for in the prompt. The second part is more personal, and you’ll have to choose between three different prompts. These could be about personal opinions, experiences or anecdotes.  Keep in mind you will have 60 minutes for brainstorming, drafting and re-writing your two pieces of 150-200 words in pen. Your pieces should also be clear. Practice with your clock ALWAYS.


5.DO practice outside of the book:

Make sure that while you study the academic side of Spanish you continue to practice outside of class in the informal ways (watching TV, listening to music,speaking to local people) – it will take you from “classroom Spanish” to really using it as a second language. On the writing and speaking sections, and general knowledge of Hispanic culture is 100% important, as is being able to listen to different accents. The exam may call for you to read a quote and take a stance on it, talk about the economic crisis or the necessary knowledge of the language to allow communication in everyday situations.

CultureAlley helps learners to learn outside of courseware from daily conversations as learners can listen to the native pronunciation while learning vocabulary on the Facebook. A few relevant words on the Facebook feeds are converted into the language one wants to learn and one can listen to its pronunciation for better understanding as often as they want. You can listen to them, play games on them, practice your accent, and more! It helps one to speak Spanish fluently, and master the vocabulary and pronunciation just by logging into their Facebook account with CultureAlley. You also get over 70+ free audio-visual lessons to build your basic concepts.

18 English words that Spanish speakers mispronounce

While English is  supposedly  an easy language to learn, most non-native English speakers face some or the other pronunciation challenges. For example: Spanish speakers tend to find it much more difficult to recognize not rhotic versions of vowel sounds.

Spanish has 5 pure vowels and 5 diphthongs. The length of the vowel is not significant in distinguishing between words. This contrasts with English, which has 12 pure vowel sounds and 8 diphthongs. The length of the vowel sound plays an important role. It is not surprising, therefore, that Spanish learners may have great difficulty in producing or even perceiving the various English vowel sounds.

Here, we’re looking at the common 18 English words that Spanish speakers mispronounce when trying to learn English.

1. School/Eschool
Sure there are accent differences, but there are also a few  common pronunciation mistakes Spanish learners of English can make. Some tend to want to add an “e” to the beginning of words that start with ‘s’, making for word school sound like “eschools”.

2. Ship/Sheep
Another one of these English words where the “i” tends to get replaced with a long “e”, making it “sheep”. Spanish speakers often stretch all vowel sounds and confuse pairs of short and long English vowel sounds like “ship” and “sheep” both in comprehension and speaking.

3. Joke/Yolk
The letter J is very difficult for Spanish speakers learning English. There are many words in the English language that start with the letter J. Many people who speak Spanish pronounce the letter J like the letter Y. If you do not say the letter J correctly in English, people may not understand you. So, if you tell someone: “That is a funny joke”,  and if you don’t pronounce the J correctly, then “joke” sounds like “yolk” (meaning the yellow part of an egg), getting difficult to understand.

4. Teeth/Teet
Some forget or over-pronounce the “ed” on the ends of words, or have trouble mastering the “th” sound on words like “teeth.” (For fun, try speaking “teeth” without  the “th” sound. Oops, You might not want to try that out loud!)

5. Focus/Fuhcus
The key to saying this correctly is remembering to make the “o” a long one. Many however replace the long “o” with “uh”, making it “fuhcus”. Look at that word again. “Ladies and gentlemen, if there’s one thing I want you to do today, it’s “fuhcus!”. Umm, no thanks!

6. Eyes/Azz
What’s wrong with eyes? Nothing. But some foreign speakers zip through the word and “eyes” becomes “azz”, which sounds like “ass”. So, if you say to someone “I saw it with my own azz,” they could take it the wrong way.

7. Scape/Escape
If somebody takes the blame for something someone else did, we say they are a “scape goat.” Many  however add an “e” to the beginning of words that start with ‘s’, mispronouncing this as “escape goat,” meaning, of course, that one of their goats has fled.

8. Kitchen/Chicken
While learning English, some speakers say “chicken” instead of “kitchen”. To make it clear, we usually prepare chicken in a kitchen.

9. Ask/Aks/Axe
Spanish speakers while learning English often mispronounce ask as axe! So, if you say : ‘You don’t have to axe me why’, it surely doesn’t mean what you want to say!

10. Accuse me/Excuse me
Instead of “excuse me”, speakers say “accuse me.” Big difference! For example, if you approach a stranger in the street and say: “Accuse me, where is 57th Street?”, they could point at you instead of pointing in the right direction.

11. Fifth/Fiss
Particularly when it comes to final consonant clusters in English, Spanish-speakers can suffer both from adding extra syllables (e.g. three syllables for “advanced” with the final “e” pronounced) and swallowing sounds to make it match the desired number of syllables (e.g. “fifths” sounding like “fiss”). With words that are similar in Spanish and English, they can also often try to make the English word match the Spanish number of syllables.

12. Not/Nought
Perhaps the single biggest pronunciation problem for Spanish speakers is that Spanish does not have a distinction between short and long vowels. They often stretch vowel sounds “not” to “nought”.

13. Breakfast/Brefas
A simple word (for native English speakers) like ‘breakfast’ is tough for Spaniards who will often pronounce it ‘brefas’ and omit the ‘k’ and the final ‘t’ because they are attached to another consonant.

14. Boat/Bought
Perhaps more importantly, they can also have problems with the two closest sounds to an “o” sound in “not” , making “boat” and “bought” difficult to distinguish.


15. Cat/Cut
In common with most learners, Spanish speakers find the distinction between the very similar sounds in “cat” and “cut” difficult to notice and produce.

There is also no distinction between the first sounds in “yacht” and “jot” in Spanish. The “ch” in “cheese” may also be confused with the “sh” in “she’s”, as the latter sound does not exist in Spanish.

17. Pull/Pool
Most Spanish speakers have difficulty distinguishing between /uː/ and /ʊ/. While /uː/ is very similar to the Spanish letter “u“, it is actually much longer. /ʊ/ is much shorter and of a different quality.  Also, pull and pool are Not homophones, i.e the words pronounced the same way as the other word but  differs in meaning and spelling.

18. Feet/Fit
The double “e” really needs to be pronounced correctly. It’s tough because although “feet” rhymes with words such as “meat” it also rhymes with words such as “sheet”. Confusing. Get the double “e” wrong—pronounce them as an “I”—and “feet” becomes “fit”.


Spanish speakers can learn to speak English fluently, and master on the vocabulary and pronunciation while browsing their own Facebook newsfeed with  http://new.culturealley.com/index.jsp?courseId=5. Learners can listen to the native pronunciations while learning vocabulary on the Facebook. A few relevant words on their own Facebook feeds are converted from Spanish to English. One can listen to the pronunciation for better understanding as often as they want. There are fun games to make one memorize what they have learnt. It is the most effective and immersive way to learn English for Spanish speakers.

Happy learning and hope you avoid making these common pronunciation mistakes !

10 English mistakes that Spanish speakers make

Each year more and more Spaniards are seriously considering learning English, or taking a course to brush up on their current skills. English language knowledge has become essential to most European and Latin American countries, as it is almost always the language used for communication with other countries, international business, high level university study, and is also necessary for the tourism industry. Even though Spanish and English have a lot of similarities, Spanish speakers repeatedly make the same mistakes when learning English.

Today we’re looking at 10 common English mistakes that Spanish speakers make when trying to learn English.  So next time if you say or hear “She has eyes blues” instead ofShe has blue eyes” you know why that mistake is being made!

TOP 10 English mistakes that Spanish speakers make


Prepositions are tricky because they often change a lot between English and Spanish. Here are some specific examples of confusing prepositions.

  • A Spanish speaker may say, “It depends of” instead of “It depends on”
  • A Spanish student might say, “Call to someone” instead of “Call someone” (in English there is no preposition in such phrases).
  • Spaniards often incorrectly say, “Marry with somebody” instead of “Marry somebody” (in English there is no preposition in such phrases).



In Spanish, the verb tenses change with the subject, so actually saying “I” or “he” or “it” isn’t necessary. So learners sometimes forget that the subject is always necessary in English, leading to sentences like “is always a good idea to eat spinach.” The “it,” because it doesn’t refer to anything in particular, can be easy for a learner to forget.

Spanish speakers can omit making these mistakes by learning English with a very effective tool http://new.culturealley.com/index.jsp?courseId=5 . Here the lessons clearly distinguishes between the correct and wrong usage of English.


A man pregnant? If you say 'Estoy embarazado' to mean 'I am embarassed' - people will actually think you are pregnant! And if you're a man, it will make you an instant scientific wonder. Because embarazada actually means 'pregnant' in Spanish! :P
Also known as false friends, false cognates are words that appear to have the same meaning in both English and Spanish, but in reality are quite different. Here are three well-known false friends between English and Spanish:

  • Embarazada: Looks like “embarrassed” but means “pregnant”.
  • Actualmente: Looks like “actually” but means “currently”.
  • Carpeta: Looks like “carpet” but means “folder”.
  • Librero: Looks like “library” but means “bookcase”.
  • familiar: Looks like “something known” but means “having to do with one’s family”.
  • Aprobar : Looks like “approve” but means “to pass, as in an exam”.


Not that kind of gender confusion. While it’s more common for English speaking learners of Spanish to confuse of forget the genders of Spanish nouns, native Spanish speakers often get confused when it comes to words like him, her, because the Spanish pronoun “su” represents both the masculine and the feminine.

There are 70+ lessons which includes a lesson on how the gender pronouns differ in English and Spanish.  English speaking learners of Spanish can learn it by taking up free lessons on http://new.culturealley.com/index.jsp?courseId=5.


Spanish speakers make a lot of errors with pronunciation. Some advanced students know English grammar quite well, but can barely hold a conversation due to their incorrect pronunciation of key words. The following are some of the most common pronunciation errors that Spanish speakers make in English:

    • Adding an “e” sound before words that begin with “s”. For example, a Spanish speaker would pronounce “special” as “especial”.
    • Pronouncing a “y” as a “j”. For example, a Spaniard may say “jam” when reading the word “yam”.
    • Pronouncing a “j” as an “h”. For examples, a student might pronounce the name “Jerry” as “Herry”.

But now you can save yourself from making such mistakes! Learn English vocabulary while browsing your own Facebook newsfeed with CultureAlley – and listen to native English pronunciations. A few words and phrases from your own Facebook conversations are converted into English – you can listen to them, play games on them, practice accent, and more!


Shortened contractions present another common pronunciation challenge. Native Spanish speakers will often forget to finish a contraction, resulting in “don” for “don’t” or “won” for “won’t.” What might at first sound like an accent difference will become more pronounced over time, so native Spanish speakers should be on the lookout for this one!

Ofcourse, the biggest mistake to avoid is using “your” instead of “you’re” and vice versa. You’re is short for “you are” but a lot of time non native speakers of English use “your” instead


In Spanish “hacer” is the verb that represents both “to do” and “to make” in English. It is often difficult for native Spanish speakers to remember which verb to use when speaking English. Some common mistakes include:

  • “I need to do my bed” instead of “I need to make my bed”.
  • “Can I do a suggestion?” instead of “Can I make a suggestion?”
  • “Could you make me a favor?” instead of “Could you do me a favor?”


In Spanish, the noun generally comes before the adjective, while in English it is usually the opposite. In English that sentence construction would look something like “He had a dog brown.” So don’t be surprised when native Spanish speakers add the adjective as an afterthought.

With CultureAlley  get over 70+ free audio-visual lessons to build your basic concepts on how and where to put the adjectives and nouns in the sentence in English.


Native Spanish speakers often pronounce these two words the same so, in writing, tend to stick with “this,” leaving poor “these” for advanced learners.


In Spanish, words are spelled exactly how they sound. They don’t have any of this “silent letter”  found in English, nor do they have words that sound exactly the same but can be spelled three different ways. (We’re looking at you “buy/bye/by”).

You will definitely not make spelling mistakes after learning with CultureAlley as after each lesson, rigorous practice exercises through fun games have been scheduled for the users to master what they have learnt.

Top 9 things to keep in mind while preparing for DELE – 9 myths to avoid!

Maybe you’ve decided to take the plunge and sit an official D.E.L.E exam and now the nerves are building. The D.E.L.E. exams are the most widely recognized Spanish language qualifications in the world. Well here are few myths you might just have about D.E.L.E

Don’t worry, we will clear the confusion!

1. It is an easy Exam

It’s definitely not an easy exam to pass, but it’s worth getting the diploma if you would like to work or boost your resume or even explore interesting freelance teaching and translation opportunities.

In the D.E.L.E. exams you will have to write and you will have to do a grammar and vocabulary section. But chances are you don’t often write all that much in your day to day life. You will need to pass all sections of the exam and so writing practice is an essential part of your language study. From day 1! And grammar is a stumbling block that you need to get over as soon as possible. You need 70% in every section and even if you’re acing all the other parts a 69% in one still means a fail. So its definitely not an easy exam, as you will have to focus on each section equally.

2. You can take it anytime

There are specific dates for the exams. You have to register yourself first for the exam by visiting the DELE official site and register before one month of the exam. You have to take the exam on that date only!

The following are the upcoming exam dates for 2014:
JULY: 18th July- Levels B1, B2, C1
NOVEMBER: 22nd November- Levels A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2

3.Only a grammar book is sufficient

No, you cannot pass DELE exam just by studying from books. You will need to practice  writing, speaking, and listening . The exam may ask you to read a quote and elaborate it. Make sure that while you study Spanish you continue to practice it outside of class in the informal ways (watching TV, listening to music, speaking to local people).

Memorizing vocabulary from mindless flashcards and boring! CultureAlley helps you expand your Spanish vocabulary while you browse your own Facebook wall! Yes, learn Spanish while reading your friend’s conversations on Facebook.

You can use http://new.culturealley.com/ to explore over 70 free lessons with grammar concepts and conversations.

4.DELE certificate Exam is for FREE

The price of the DELE exam varies based on country, level, and the center where you are take your exam from.

The following table is an example of the 2013 prices:

CZECK REPUBLIC 1,285 Kč 1,600 Kč 1,820 Kč 2,150 Kč 2,400 Kč 2,510 Kč
EGYPT 345 EGP 420 EGP 470 EGP 570 EGP 645 EGP 700 EGP
FRANCE 88 € 98 € 109 € 145 € 155 € 160 €
GERMANY 114 € 123 € 134 € 189 € 199 € 204 €
GREECE 75 € 85 € 110 € 125 € 140 € 145 €

5. It is a written exam

Although the test differs in its exact format depending on the level,  students must pass the five sections of the exam in order to obtain the Diploma, as listed below:

  1. Reading Comprehension
  2. Writing
  3. Listening Comprehension
  4. Grammar and Vocabulary
  5. Speaking

In order to obtain a Diploma, students must score “apt” in all sections of the test, and not just in writing.

6. Classroom study is sufficient

Are you thinking of taking these exams to prove your level of Spanish? You need to continue to practice outside of class in the informal ways like watching TV, listening to music or speaking to local people to master the language.

You can Learn Spanish for free on http://new.culturealley.com/ while you browse your friend’s conversations on your own Facebook feed! It is the most immersive, fun, and contextual way to learn Spanish. Play fun games to master what you learn and get over 70 free lessons to build your concepts on through several free audio-visual lessons.!

7. Exam does not focus on speaking

This section could be very short but important indeed as you need to score good in each section to pass. Speaking is the quickest and most efficient way to improve your language level. You will need to “Frame” your thoughts. Very often the speaking section will involve you having to give an opinion on something. For example a photo, or perhaps a comparison of photos. Use framing phrases to say things like “in my opinion” “well, i see you’re point but I don’t quiet agree” “and that’s why, in a nutshell I think this photo expresses the themes of..”.
Remember it’s important to frame both the start and the end.

8.Even the citizens from Spanish speaking country can give the exam

Anyone who is living in a country where Spanish is not the official language can apply for the DELE exam. Also the citizens from Spanish speaking countries living in other countries where Spanish is not the official language, can give the DELE exam if they fulfill at least two of the following conditions (and declare it in a written document):

  1. Spanish is not the mother tongue of any of his/her parents.
  2. Spanish is not the first language that he/she learned.
  3. Spanish is not the habitual language used for communicating.
  4. He/She has not studied Spanish in the total or part of his/her primary or secondary education.
  5. Check yours Now!

9.You can start preparing for DELE a month before the exam

This is perhaps the biggest myth. If you think you can prepare well to appear for DELE in a month, then you are wrong. Numerous “language schools” specifically in developing countries might lure with flase promises of finishing DELE levels in record times – don’t get fooled! According to Instituto Cervantes, clearing each level requires significant number of learning hours. So start today and plan for the next exam in advance.

You can Learn Spanish for free on http://new.culturealley.com/ – with 70+ lessons, games, Facebook based language practice tools, and more!

Duración currículo oficial (A1-C1) Duración nivel C2 Duración total
      660 horas     180 horas    840 horas
Nivel Curso DELE
180 horas
(90 horas)
1 (Inicial 1) A1
2 (Inicial 2)
3 (Inicial 3)
(90 horas)
4 (Inicial 4) B1
5 (Inicial 5)
6 (Inicial 6)
300 horas
(150 horas)
7 (Intermedio 1)
8 (Intermedio 2)
9 (Intermedio 3)
10 (Intermedio 4)
11 (Intermedio 5)
(150 horas)
12 (Avanzado 1) B2
13 (Avanzado 2)
14 (Avanzado 3)
15 (Avanzado 4)
16 (Avanzado 5)
360 horas
(180 horas)
17 (Superior 1) C1
18 (Superior 2)
19 (Superior 3)
20 (Superior 4)
21 (Superior 5)
22 (Superior 6)
(180 horas)
23 (Especial) C2 SUPERIOR
24 (Especial)
25 (Especial)
26 (Especial)
27 (Especial)
28 (Especial)

 You can Learn Spanish for free on http://new.culturealley.com/ – with 70+ lessons, games, Facebook based language practice tools, and more!

13 amazing facts about Portuguese

1. With more than 230 million speakers, Portuguese is the 6th most spoken language in the world.


2. Of the five main Romance languages (French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Romanian), Portuguese is the second most widely spoken after Spanish.

3. Portuguese is the official language of  Brazil, Cape Verde, Macau, Mozambique, Portugal, Angola, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome, and Principe.


4. Despite superficial similarities to Spanish, Portuguese is actually more closely related to Galician, a language spoken in northwestern Spain.

5. The earliest occurrences of a distinctive Portuguese language are found in ninth century administrative documents.

6. The longest Portuguese word is otorrinolaringologista, meaning an ear, nose, and throat doctor.


7.  Most difficult word or tongue twister in Portuguese:-
O rato roeu a roupa do rei de Roma
(The rat gnawed the king of Rome’s clothes)

8. Famous Portuguese quote to impress the locals
Se podes olhar, vê. Se podes ver, repara
(If you can look, see. If you can see, notice )

9. In Portuguese K, W and Y were not part of the alphabet before 2009 and are only used for foreign words.


10. Portuguese people can understand Spanish quite easily, but the opposite is not true.

11. Although the greater part of the Portuguese vocabulary comes from Latin, a number of words have also been absorbed from Arabic, French, and Italian, and also from some of the indigenous South American and African languages.

12. It is a language that uses a system of manual, facial, and other body movements as the means of communication, especially among deaf people.

13. In 1986, Portuguese became one of the official languages of the European Union (EU) when Portugal was admitted to the organization.


15 must dos on a trip to Brazil

Brazil as we all know is the fifth largest country in the world. If you are a football fanatic and in Brazil for the world cup, make sure you make most of your trip to this beautiful country! The official language of Brazil is Portuguese – so hone your skills before getting there :)
Brazil is one beautiful place having a long stretch of about 7500 km spread coastline. It has so many tourist attractions – beautiful glittery white sand beaches, local streets brimming with music, lovely magnificent waterfalls, wildlife filled wetlands, islands, and the mysterious Amazon rain-forest which is discovered wholly by nobody till now.  Today we bring you the list of the most loved top 15 tourist destinations in Brazil – some of the must dos on a trip to Brazil.

1. Christ the Redeemer

6955601775_ba855a731b_bThis place has a huge statue of Lord Jesus Christ, famous all over the world. The Christ the Redeemer statue stands 39.6 meters (130 ft) tall, including its 9.5 meters (31 ft) pedestal and has become an icon for Rio and Brazil. 

2. Iguacu Falls

2574725634_eb6b287919_bOne of the most lovely natural wonders, the Iguaçu falls are located on the Brazil-Argentina Border. One part of these falls is in Brazil while the other part resides its feet in the land of football, Argentina. The waterfall system consists of 275 falls along the Iguazu River.

3. Fernando de Noronha

Fernando de NoronhaThis place is a lovely little group of isles with awesomely intricate beaches, marvelous landscapes, and amazing fauna and flora.  It is situated 220 miles off the northeastern coast in Brazil. The waters are all azure blue with gleaming golden sands.

4. Rio Carnival

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are carnival celebrations in virtually every corner of Brazil. The Rio Carnival attracts two million people per day on the streets and almost half a million foreigners during its 4 day celebration. The Carnival is all over the place, in the streets and squares, bars, clubs and all other venues in Rio.

5. Amazon River
At approximately 4,000 miles, the Amazon River is the second longest river in the world. The Amazon has over 3,000 Recognized species of fish and new species are still being discovered. A tenth of the world’s estimated 10 million living species live in the Amazon rainforest.

6. Salvador76344381_625b87329b_bSalvador is the largest city on the northeast coast of Brazil and the capital of the Northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia. Salvador is also known as Brazil’s capital of happiness due to its countless popular outdoor parties, including its street carnival. The city has the largest carnival of the World. The city of Salvador is notable in Brazil for its cuisine, music and architecture.

7. Curitiba – Botanical Garden

4667390941_d9a7719a8f_bThis is a park located in the city of Curitiba, the capital of the state of Parana, and the biggest city in southern Brazil. It is the major tourist attraction and landmark of the city.  Once by the portal of entry, one may see extensive gardens in the French style fountains, waterfalls and lakes, and the main greenhouse, which shelters in its interior, specimens of plants characteristic of tropical regions. It rolls out its carpet of flowers to the visitors right at the entrance.

8. The Pantanal

Pantanal 2009The Pantanal is an area not visited by travelers as often, as it is on the far west side of Brazil and is little less easy to get to than other places. It is also arguably one of the world’s best places to see animals and birds- a place where there’s more wildlife than nightlife!

9. Historic Center of Olinda

3199934032_c354bf2610_b A well preserved colonial city, Olinda is located on the Brazil’s northeastern coast, just north of Recife. Olinda features a number of major touristic attractions, such as a historic downtown area, churches, and the famous Carnival of Olinda. Many bars, restaurants, artist and craftspeople studios add charm to the old-town setting.

10. Teatro Amazonas2581950903_2caa7175bb_bThe Teatro Amazonas Historic Theater is a popular historical attraction when visiting the city of Manaus, located in the midst of the Amazon Rainforest. The theater is a working historical landmark with scheduled operas by renowned performers, ballets, philharmonic orchestras, and performances by solo musical artists.

11. Lapa Steps

Selaron's Stairs, a mosaic tile stairway in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil This crazy and colorful tiled stairway is the work of Chilean artist Jorge Selaron. This famous stairway is made up of 250 steps and measures 125 meters long. Their splendor is not only due to size, but to decor; the steps are adorned in over 2,000 brightly colored tiles from more than sixty different countries.

12. Street art of Rio

4736127587_5c9713ea00_bRio de Janeiro has become a sort-of mecca for graffiti artists in Latin America. From the intricately painted street stairs of Escadería Selaron to the layered murals, tags, and stencils in the Santa Teresa and Laranjeiras neighborhoods.

13. The Brazalian MaldivesLagoa-ParaisoThe Brazilian Maldives can be found near the beach town of Jericoacoara in northern Brazil.  Not very well known at all, but one of the most unique places in Brazil.  The town sits in the middle of a valley with sand dunes to the East and grass laid hills to the West.  Once you drive inland you can find fresh water lagoons called Paradise Lagoon (Lagoa Paraiso) and Blue Lagoon (Lagoa Azul).  Definitely worth a visit.

14. Brasilia2292729905_1deced1487_bBrasilia is not only a planned city. It is a planned capital located in the central area of the country. Just five years before, the area resembled a desert, with no people, scarce water, few animals and plants and today, it is  a masterpiece of modernist architecture listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and attracts architecture aficionados worldwide.

15. Ouro preto

1512358548_f99118ce1a_bOne of Brazil’s best-preserved colonial towns, Ouro Preto, meaning “black gold”, was founded at the end of the 17th century. It quickly became the epicenter of a new gold rush in the state of Minas Gerais. The city contains well preserved Portuguese colonial architecture, while modern buildings must adhere to historical standards maintained by the city. 18th- and 19th-century churches decorated with gold and the sculptured works of Aleijadinho make Ouro Preto one of the most popular tourist attractions in Brazil.

If you are on a trip to Brazil, and want to make most of it – don’t forget to learn some Portuguese before getting there. CultureAlley can make learning Portuguese super fun – you can learn while you browse Facebook! Check it out: http://new.culturealley.com/index.jsp?courseId=10

13 things only bi-linguals will understand

There is no arguing that being bi-lingual or knowing more than one language is very cool! It opens up your mind and expands your horizons. And of-course once you know 2 languages, learning a 3rd one is not that difficult!
But sometimes, bi-linguals also face some peculiar situations – both good and bad :)

1.  Sometimes you speak and your words unintentionally come out in your second language

2.  You can watch the “Best Foreign Film” Oscar-nominated films and get really emotional because you actually know what’s going on

3.  While traveling, your friends freak out that there are no signs in English, and you’re like “I got it!”

4.  “Hey! Can you say something in [insert language here]!!!” Ummm…NO

5  People come with you to seek help with their foreign language homework all the time! And you just feel like:

6  Accidentally changing language mid-sentence.

7  Anything to do with accents: sounding American when you speak your foreign language, sounding foreign when you speak English, getting accents mixed up, etc. It’s a struggle.

8  Accidentally trying to use foreign words in Scrabble/Words with Friends.

9  Getting grammar rules mixed up.

10 Thinking something through in one language and then having to say it in the other. Can be painful!

11.  People ask you to translate things ALL the time, and you wanna be like… GO AWAY

12.  At times you and your best friend switch languages so you can speak in “code”

13. You know 2 times the swear words :D

14 common mistakes Chinese learners make

While there are some similarities between English and Chinese, we all know that the two languages are pretty different. As a result, when English speakers start learning Chinese (Mandarin), there are some common mistakes that they make. Lets look at 14 common mistakes Chinese learners make:

1. Tones
Mandarin’s tones are a source of a lot of trouble for learners. There are 5 tones in the language. If you get it wrong: you may end up calling your mother (mā) a horse (mă)!

2. Gender confusion: In the Chinese language, gender pronouns are not separated (he and she, his and hers) for example.

3. Singular/plural noun confusion: Singular and plural nouns are not different in the Chinese language. Context is what differentiates between singular and plural nouns. As an example, if someone said ‘one cat’, in Chinese then “cat” is singular, but if someone said, ‘many cat’, then “cat” is plural. But there is no separate plural form ‘cats’ in Chinese

4. Over-using 和 (Hé)
The word “and” in English is very versatile, and this often causes English-speaking learners to latch on to 和 in Mandarin and use it for everything.
The main mistake with 和 is using it to connect phrases.

5. Misuse of prepositions:  In Chinese there is a character that can mean, ‘in’, or ‘at’ depending on the context .

6. Word order of adverbials (time, manner and place)
Mandarin word order: In Mandarin adverbials of time, manner, and place nearly always come before the verb. This is different to English where the placement varies a lot.

7. zh, ch, sh / j, q, x and ü
Back to the pronunciation! Tones are by far the most important part of Mandarin pronunciation but some consonants have peculiar pronunciations too! Here are some examples:

q: similar to ‘ch’ in the English ‘cheap’ – tongue is positioned below lower teeth
x: similar to ‘sh’ in the English ‘sheep’ – tongue is positioned below lower teeth
zh: similar to ‘j’ in the English ‘jam’

8. Not using topic-comment structure
A big feature of Mandarin sentence structure is that it is topic-prominent. This means that the most important item in the sentence should usually be put first, regardless of its grammatical role

9. Conjugations: In Chinese, there is no verb conjugation. In English, we would say, ‘I love dancing’, ‘he loves dancing’. In Chinese however, there are no separate forms: love and loves - it is just “love” for all subjects

10.  是 + adj
The most common way to link adjectives to nouns is with 很. This is often described as meaning “very”, but its main function in this case is just to sit between the noun and adjective. “她很高” can just be translated as “she’s tall”.

11.  没有 + 了
没有 is used to negate past actions, and 了 is used to mark completed actions.了 grammar is confusing, so it’s easy to mistakenly think that 了 is about the past tense. This then leads people to use 了 in phrases with 没有

12. Positive-negative inversion + 吗 (Ma)
Two common ways to form questions in Mandarin are positive-negative inversion, and adding 吗 (ma). After learning both, you can easily slip into putting both into one sentence, which is usually incorrect.

13. Inserting articles: The articles (a, an and the) are not needed in Chinese before a noun. But English speakers usually insert them.

14. Confusing first and last names: In China, the family name is written before the first name, the opposite being the case in English speaking countries.

To avoid making such mistakes, learn Mandarin Chinese with the most logical and interactive lessons at CultureAlley: http://new.culturealley.com/index.jsp?courseId=4

23 Spanish words that do not have a translation in English

While English and Spanish have some commonalities, and most Spanish words have a direct one word translation in English, there are a few words in Spanish that do not have a corresponding single word in English. Here are 23 Spanish words that do not have a translation in English:

1. Estrenar
To wear or use something for the first time.


2. Pelada
A pick up soccer game. Literally it means peeled or bare. I believe it’s used in South America.


3. Botellón (n)
Open-air drinking session, typically among youths. People bring their own alcohol which is bought from stores, making it a cheap alternative to going to bars or night clubs.


4. Enmadrarse (v)
For a child to become attached excessively to his/her mother.


5.  Friolero (n)
A person who is especially sensitive to cold weather and temperatures


6. Gentilicio (n)
A word to describe the inhabitants of a country or city


7. Pardo (a)
A brownish gray, like the color of an owl.


8. Puente (n)
A long weekend where you’ve added a day between the weekend and the holiday.  So if the holiday is on a Tuesday, and you take Monday off, you’ve made a puente to get a four-day weekend


9. Sobremesa (n)
The time spent after lunch or dinner talking to the people you shared the meal with


 10. Tuerto (a)
One-eyed, or blind in one eye.


11. Desvelado (a)

Tired, but specifically from having been kept awake or kept from sleeping well the prior night.


12. Consuegro (n)
The relationship between people whose children are married to each other. i.e. My father and my father-in-law are consuegros.


13 . Amigovio/a
A friend with benefits; a combination of amiga/o and novia/o.


14. Te quiero
A way to tell someone you care about them. Particularly when romance is involved, more meaningful than an “I like you” but less meaningful than an “I love you.” May be used as “I love you” in non-romantic relationships.


15. Duende
A climactic show of spirit in a performance or work of art, often applied to flamenco dancing or bull-fighting. A moment of inspiration.


16. Pena Ajena
Shame experienced on behalf of another person, even though that person may not experience shame.


17. Antier/Anteayer
A one-word way of saying the day before yesterday. A shorter version of ‘ntes de ayer.’

18. Embalagarse
The sensation your tongue has after eating too many sweets. It the feeling you get when you need some milk to go with that chocolate cake.


19. Atolondrar
To become so overwhelmed by something that you get scatter-brained and do something careless. For example, if you are being bombarded by emails, phone calls, text messages, etc, all at the same time, while trying to write an email, that you become so overwhelmed that you send it without an attachment.


20. Tocayo
A person who has the same name as you


21. Soler (v)
To be in the habit of doing something or accustomed to doing it.


22. Pavonear (v)
To strut about like a peacock, to be showy and ostentatious.


23. Concuñado (n)
Your brother’s brother-in-law. Though it can be used in the feminine form too. Cuñado/a of course being the word for brother-in-law or sister-in-law.


Conjugation of verb Existir in Spanish

In today’s blog we will learn about the conjugation of verb Existir in Spanish

The verb ‘Existir‘ means ‘to exist or to be’

For more verbs with ‘ir‘ ending here is the lesson on CultureAlley


Take a look at the conjugation of the veb Existir

 pronoun Present Preterit Imperfect Conditional Future
yo existo existí existía existiría existiré
existes exististe existías existirías existirás
él/ella/Ud. existe existió existía existiría existirá
nosotros existimos existimos existíamos existiríamos existiremos
vosotros existís exististeis existíais existiríais existiréis
ellos/ellas/Uds. existen existieron existían existirían existirán


I exist = Yo existo

We exist = Nosotros existimos

He exists = Él existe

She exists = Ella existe

You exist = Usted existe

Here are the examples using the verb

There is a lot of poverty

Existe mucha pobreza

There’s no such thing

No existe tal cosa

The company has been in existence for 90 years

Esta empresa existe desde hace 90 años

To learn more Spanish, for free, go to CultureAlley