Tuesday, January 29, 2013

PopuLLar: EU learning language project

Today I learned of PopuLLar, a music-focused language learning education project for secondary students in the European Union.  I read about the project on Shelly Terrell's blog, Teacher Reboot Camp.

Students write new lyrics to a song of their choice, then translate the lyrics into their target language.  This final version is then recorded and made into a music video that is shared with other EU learners.

If a group of German students write a song then translate it to Spanish, for example, Spanish students studying German could listen to the Spanish song and translate it into German.  The Spanish students would then have the German students' original song to compare with their translation!

I think it's a great idea; people remember lyrics really well, especially if they're to the tune of well-known songs.  The fact that I still remember every word to each song in my sixth grade opera is proof (ah, the joys of general music class).  And if you have to work out a translation to fit the music, you'll remember the words even longer.

I found some pilot videos of the project on youtube.

Here are German students singing in Spanish:

And here are some students in Soria, Spain singing in Spanish!

And here are those same students with the translated version in English:

Have any auxiliares heard about PopuLLar at their schools in Spain?  If anyone does this project in their classes (in any country), I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Tips for eating at restaurants in Spain

A few weeks ago a friend of my grandma's said that her niece was going to study abroad this spring in Madrid, could she ask me some questions about it?  Of course!

I linked her to some past blog posts, but also ended up writing a rather lengthy email.  I realized there were many topics I had yet to cover on the blog, so I'm going to begin tackling them one by one.  Today's focus is eating out in restaurants in Madrid (or Spain).

Tips for eating at restaurants in Spain via Oh No She Madridn't

Whether you're studying abroad in Spain, moving to Spain to teach English, or perhaps you're going to vacation there soon, these five tips will help you have a great dining experience in Madrid's (or Spain's) restaurants.

Pamplona, Spain restaurant
Behaving ourselves at a restaurant in Pamplona, Spain -- there for a frisbee tournament, of course

1. Order from the Spanish menu

Especially in more touristy cities like Madrid, many restaurants have an English menu and a Spanish menu.  More often than not, the prices on the English menu are actually higher than the prices on the Spanish menu.  Hence, if you can speak Spanish - or if you've got a English/Spanish dictionary with you - order from the Spanish menu!  It'll save you some euros.

2. A glass of tap water will not come with your meal

It's not custom to give everyone a glass of ice water when they sit down at a restaurant, as it is in the states.  And if you order water (agua), they'll bring you out a glass bottle of water and charge a few euros for it.  They might ask you to specify with carbonation or without (con gas / sin gas) when you order it.

If you want a (free!) glass of tap water, ask for un vaso de agua del grifo.  If you're eating at a typical Spanish restaurant, this glass of water won't come with ice.  Tap water in Madrid is completely safe to drink.  If you're on the east coast though, I would stay away from the tap water.  Once while eating out in Málaga, I forgot that I wasn't in Madrid anymore and ordered a glass of tap water.  The waiter made a face at me and said, "Really?!  No, you don't want to drink that.  The tap water's bad."  Glad he saved me from that mistake!

3. Ask for the bill when you're ready to pay (La cuenta, por favor)

The lifestyle in Spain is more relaxed than in the states, and the Spanish value their time with family and friends around the lunch or dinner table.  Take your time when you're eating out at a restaurant, because no one is going to rush you.  The waiters will leave you be after they've delivered your food, and you can sit and chat for hours if you'd like.  The only time I've ever been asked to leave was when I was still at my lunch table at quarter to six in the evening -- the waiter told us that the restaurant had closed at 4.30pm.  Whoops!

When you are ready to leave though, you'll need to ask for the bill.  "La cuenta, por favor" is all you'll need to say, once you grab your waiter's attention.

4. Check your bill before you pay it

Once you get the bill, take a closer look at it before you leave some money.  Make sure you were only charged for what you ordered, that extra items weren't added on for no reason.  And this doesn't just apply to visitors, some restaurants may do this to locals as well!

5. Don't tip like you would in the states

Waiters and waitresses in Spain make full wages with benefits.  It's not like in the states where they make $2 an hour and work for tips.  Some Americans will say that this difference is reason for better customer service in the states: The better the service, the better the tip.  Since Spanish waiters and waitresses aren't working for tips, they don't care so much about the quality of their customer service.  That's just a conjecture though.  Regardless, my study abroad advisor told us in orientation that if we receive wonderful service, we might want to tip 10 or 20 cents.  The most I tip in Spain is probably around a euro or two, but it depends on the total cost and service.  Tipping is another area where restaurants can profit from unknowing tourists.

Not sure what to order at a Spanish restaurant? Look no further, check out Hannah Kennell's in-depth guide to Spanish food: Top Spanish Eats!

Monday, January 7, 2013

2012: A year in photos

Near the beginning of 2013, I wrote about the previous year - month by month - with pictures.  Since I spent the majority of 2012 in Madrid, I thought it fitting to repost here:  


I rang in 2012 in Válor, Granada; where I was volunteering in exchange for food and accommodation through HelpX over my winter break.

Válor, Granada, Spain
Válor, Granada, Spain

Válor, Granada, Spain
Válor, Granada, Spain

Inspired by my fellow HelpX volunteers, I acquired an itch to craft and made a DIY Kindle case later that month after buying my kindle.

DIY kindle case
DIY Kindle case


I played in a hat tournament in the Canary Islands.  There was plenty of sun; I was thrilled.

TIBU in Las Palmas


I broke my glasses and smashed my face at Juanito's Open, a low-key tournament in Madrid.  (And consequently got my first ever black eye in the days to follow!)

I also went to Las Fallas in Valencia!

Las Fallas, Valencia 2012
Las fallas 2012, Valencia


I played in La Abuela, the tournament hosted by my team Quijotes + Dulcineas in Madrid.

Team Sancho: La Abuela 2012
Team Sancho: La Abuela 2012

I had my 23rd birthday, and celebrated it a bit differently than normal.


In May I finally traveled to Barcelona.  I went by myself and loved it, walking for 10+ hours a day!

Barcelona, view from Montjuic


In June I had a visitor from the states; Chad came and spent two weeks in Spain!  We did tons of stuff, including a weekend trip to BEACH Alicante.

No more selfies!  Chad's presence is evidenced in this photo, not taken my moi.

Perhaps better evidence of Chad's visit -- out for tapas and cañas after the bullfight


I set foot in Germany with my sister and grandma (for two weeks), hunting for our family roots in many cemeteries while we were there.  We also did some planking in the country.

The sister and grandma in Dusseldorf, Germany


I finally went to France!  THE France!  My itch to become fluent in French and live in France has only grown since then...


I ran my first 10K in Madrid with Hannah (and David)!

We did it!  Madrid's "Corre Por Madrid" 10K!

The very next day, I surprised my family and moved back to Wisconsin - unannounced.


After surprising all of the family, I got a job and found an apartment downtown.

With both of the brothers near my new place of residence


I saw President Obama (on a chilly Monday morning) the day before the election.

I also participated in Digital Writing Month (#DigiWriMo) in November, writing a total of 17,314 words!


I took the GRE in December, after studying for about a month.

I also got a day off of work thanks to the blizzard Draco, and lived through December 21, 2012!

What a wonderful year.  Here's to 2013, that it may bring just as many smiles and good memories.

[This post was originally published on Rebe With a Clause.  Reposted with permission.]

Friday, January 4, 2013

Metro strikes in Madrid on January 4, 5

In Spain, January 6 is the biggest celebration over Christmastime: Three Kings' Day (los Reyes Magos).  It's the day that holiday presents are exchanged/received!  The night before, most cities have a parade to celebrate the arrival of the Three Kings.  I attended this parade (Cabalgata de los Reyes) in Madrid in 2010, and it was incredible!

There's always a huge crowd, but there was worry about its accessibility this year, due to a huge metro strike scheduled for tomorrow.  Now the metro lines along the parade's route will be running at 90% of their normal strength tomorrow, but for anyone looking to do some last minute shopping, getting around might not be so easy.  There was also a large metro strike today; both were planned together (Here's the link to the article in Spanish).  Here are some pictures from El País of today's strike:

Metro strike in Madrid on January 4, 2013 (Príncipe Pío)
Metro strike in Madrid on January 4, 2013 (Príncipe Pío)
Image Source: El País (Carlos Rosillo)

Metro strike in Madrid on January 4, 2013 (Sol)
Metro strike in Madrid on January 4, 2013 (Sol)
Image Source: El País (Carlos Rosillo)

Metro strike in Madrid on January 4, 2013 (Nuevos Ministerios)
Image Source: El País (Álvaro García)

To any readers currently in Madrid, did you take any public transportation today?  Are these two strikes affecting your transportation time significantly more than any of the past metro strikes?