Study Tips

As a Spanish instructor, one of the questions my students more frequently ask is how long it takes to become fluent. I usually answer with a modest smile, a brief pause, and two words: It depends. As much as I enjoy answering questions, when it comes to this particular one, the reality is, there is no definite answer, as the speed at which people learn varies from student to student and is dependent upon multiple factors.

Far from being taken aback by my sobering words and, worse, losing hope of ever becoming fluent, the proactive student will instead look into those factors that play a positive role in the acquisition of the new language, and envision a personal learning plan to achieve the desired goals.

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Seven Tips for Improving Your Spanish Accent

1. Vowels are king

Unlike English, Spanish only has 5 vowel sounds, which always correspond with the 5 written vowels: /a/, /e/, /i/, /o/, /u/ (A, E, I, O, U). They are all pure vowels, meaning the mouth position is fixed (unlike, for example, English vowels ‘u’ or ‘o’, in which the shape of your mouth at the end is different from the one at the beginning). Make sure you pronounce all your vowels loud and clear, and your Spanish will sound way better!

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How to Learn Spanish Fast

Taking classes is not really necessary. We can learn most things by ourselves, right? Well, technically yes, but we often learn much faster if we have a. professional guidance, b. a well-thought-out curriculum that limits the amount of information we have to assimilate each week in packets we can easily digest and c. some external pressure that "forces" us to maintain a good pace. Taking classes gives us those three things. If you can’t commit to coming to Berges every week (or if you don’t live in NYC or Chicago), check out our online Spanish classes!

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The Second Person

Do you have a minute? I want to share a piece with you about the second person.

If I were to translate the same question I just asked into Spanish, I would have more than one way of doing so. It could be ¿Tienes un minuto? or ¿Tiene un minuto? It could even be ¿Tenéis un minuto? or ¿Tienen un minuto?

So many options, right? Options, fantastic as they are, may lead to mistakes, so it is a good idea to learn how to assess these options.

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The "Personal A"

The “personal a” is sure one of those areas most students of Spanish struggle with. It is not that the concept itself is difficult to understand. The issue is that students, especially those that are less familiar with the topic, have to make a conscious effort to apply this rule of the language when needed.

The rule, referred to by some grammars as “personal a,” establishes at the very basics that the preposition “a” is mandatory to precede direct objects, when these are people or pets. In the sentence, La semana pasada visité a Miguel, the preposition precedes the noun - in this case a proper noun - because the referent of this noun is a person.

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Conocer vs. Saber

Both verbs can be translated as to know, but they have different meanings.

  • Use conocer when you mean "being familiar" or "being acquainted" with a thing, a place or a person.


I know Juan. (Meaning I’m acquainted with Juan).
Conozco a Juan. (We have to use the personal a).

I know the rules. (Meaning I’m acquainted with the rules).
Conozco las reglas.

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ResourcesDan Berges
Difference between SER and ESTAR
  • Use SER for defining attributes of things or people (such as being tall, being big, being good-looking).

  • Use ESTAR for generally non-permanent statuses or conditions of things or people (such as being sad, being broken, or being tired), regardless of whether they are temporary or not in a particular case, and for location (also regardless of whether it is temporary or not).

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Eight benefits of online learning with Berges

Online education has proliferated in recent years. As higher education institutions expand course offerings and flexibility within those programs for busy professionals, online learning has taken root and become a mainstream option.

The Graf Method at Berges can now be learned online. Berges has created an online learning environment for all grammar and conversation level courses. Taking a Berges course online brings convenience and accessibility to starting or continuing Spanish language studies.

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How to memorize new words faster

Reaching a high level of proficiency in a new language requires the acquisition of thousands of words as well as learning the mechanics of how these words combine in a system through which communication is possible.

There is little doubt that memory plays a vital role in this process. Without a healthy memory, acquiring a new language is an impossible task. In today’s world, the average language learner is used to relying on outer devices for recollection, such as computers and smart phones, and this reliance hinders the development of an active memory.

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Online Spanish Classes at Berges Institute (finally!)

We’ve designed them so they are as similar as possible to our regular, in-person courses. Classes are not prerecorded. Online courses have set start and end dates, and meet at the same day and time every week for 10 weeks, just like the ones at Berges Chicago and Berges NYC. There’s weekly homework, and there’s a test between the 9th and 10th session that you should pass before you move on to the next level. The online rooms are set to Discussion Mode, so students can talk to the instructor or to other students, just like they would do in a regular class.

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How to Learn a Second Language

According to the legend of the Tower of Babel, the biblical structure could never be built as the architects, engineers and workers involved in its construction were unable to communicate with each other after humanity had been divided by languages and nations as a divine punishment meant to destroy its arrogance.

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ResourcesDan BergesComment
The letter ‘X’ (equis, pronounced e-kees) and its phonetical discrepancies in Spanish

Have you ever wondered why Mexico is written in Spanish as “México” but we still say “Méjico” (mé-hee-ko)? We would like to invite you on a journey through time and discover the origins of one of the most mispronounced letters of Spanish. From its addition to medieval Spanish to its uses in the New World, the letter ‘X’ was a particular consonant that was subject to phonetical changes according to people’s needs at certain times.

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