One to read: Territorio Comanche, by Arturo Pérez-Reverte

Territorio Comanche

We picked up Territorio Comanche (1994), by Arturo Pérez-Reverte (perezreverte.com | Wikipedia), at the last charity book fair we had here at IH Barcelona and liked it a lot.

It's a semi-autobiographical account of events he witnesses as a journalist during the tragic events occurring in the Balkans in the early 1990s.

A quotation:

El horror puede vivirse o ser mostrado, pero no
puede comunicarse jamás. La gente cree que el colmo de la guerra son los muertos, las tripas y la sangre. Pero el horror es algo tan simple como la mirada de un niño, o el vacío en la expresión de un soldado al que van a fusilar. O los ojos de un perro abandonado y solo que te sigue cojeando entre las ruinas, con la pata rota de un balazo, y al que dejas atrás caminando deprisa, avergonzado, porque no tienes valor para pegarle un tiro.

Because it's short and episodic, it's a book we recommend if you're learning Spanish. You want to read, lots, but pick the shorter books if you can 😉 ! The sense of achievement in finishing a book in another language is great, and means that you're more likely to pick up another, which you want to do.

Here's a fascinating video (51m) in which the author talks about the book and his experiences:

For Spanish books, try the Re-Read low-cost bookshops, of which there are several branches in Barcelona (the nearest to IH Barcelona, Gran Vía 564 [map]).

Here at IH Barcelona, we have a lending library where you can take out books and DVDs (including Alatriste, based on a novel by the same author) while you're here.

Get yourself as much extensive reading and listening practice as you possibly can: it's such a great way to improve your Spanish!

Also by Arturo Pérez-Reverte
La tabla de Flandes

La Contra de La Vanguardia: 5 minutos al día para mejorar tu español

La Contra de La Vanguardia

Buen café, buena lectura | Photo: Tom Walton

5 minutes a day, reading the back page of the Barcelona-based newspaper La Vanguardia (copies in the bar and the library, here at IH Barcelona): it's absolutely great for your Spanish, and a really interesting read!

Entre todo lo que se publica cada día en los periódicos españoles (mucha política, muchos casos de corrupción, demasiado fútbol…), destaca la siempre interesantísima, excelente columna La Contra, que La Vanguardia publica de lunes a viernes en su última página.

Se trata siempre de una entrevista con personas de campos muy diferentes, casi siempre con cosas fascinantes que decir: sobre su trabajo, sobre su manera de manera de ver el mundo y mil cosas más.

Últimamente han entrevistado por ejemplo a, entre otros:

  • Moussa Ag Assarid, tuareg independentista
  • Giulia Enders, "microbióloga enamorada del intestino"
  • Iñaki Rekarte, tabernero, exmiembro de ETA
  • Mauricio Papini, investigador neurocientífico "y estoico por experimentación"
  • Liudmila Petrushévskaya, dramaturga, novelista, pintora y cantante que de niña tuvo que mendigar por ser "enemiga del pueblo"

Como puedes comprobar, no siempre son españoles: muchos son personas que visitan Barcelona por su trabajo, pero jamás son el tipo de persona que sale en las revistas del corazón.

Para mejorar tu español
Si tienes un nivel de B2 o superior, os recomendamos dedicar 5 minutos al día, cada día, a leerlo (hay copia de La Vanguardia en el bar aquí en IH Barcelona, y en la biblioteca)

Apunta un par de cosas nuevas, palabras o frases hechas, maneras de decir que antes no conocías y mejorarás tu vocabulario, además de tu comprensión escrita. Te prometemos que te encantarán muchas de Las Contras que leerás.

¿Te gustan las citas? Te sugerimos también lo siguiente: aquella frase que te llame la atención, que te haga parar de leer; aquella que te parezca bonita o la que te haga pensar, apúntala.

Como esta, por ejemplo, que hemos anotado de la entrevista con Mauricio Papini del miércoles pasado:

¿Qué enseñan las ratas del laboratorio?
En cierto modo, y hablando en lenguaje coloquial, que la clave de la felicidad está en no esperarla.

La mejora de tu español no hay que esperarla de forma pasiva: hay que ir en su busca, de forma activa, leyendo, y disfrutando de la lectura.

FREE Interactive Spanish, once a month

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Latest edition | La ola más grande…

The latest edition of Español Interactivo (Interactive Spanish) is now available, with reading, listening, grammar and/or vocabulary exercises at three different levels of Spanish.

You can find out more about it here and also access the back numbers of first edition.

If you wish to receive it regularly, you can subscribe (free), and it's also available as an app for both iPhone and Android.

Español Interactivo comes from Net Languages, who produce our online Spanish courses, and who are also part of the IHLS Group of language schools.

Note that, if you're taking a face-to-face Spanish course with us here at IH Barcelona, you have free access to all the interactive course materials here on computers in the school, giving you hours of extra practice for your Spanish!

Learning a language fast

Of course, there really are no ways to learn a language effortlessly and in (say) a week; but picking a good course taught by a good teacher at a great school gives you at the very least a head-start and will get you to language proficiency faster.

Language learning should also be fun — and we had a lot of fun making this video!

Waiting for the tourists

Waiting for a fare

Waiting | Photo: Tom Walton

You can hire a "biketaxi" from Trixi.com (who call them "trixis") for various tours around the city [brochure] and if you're feeling a bit lazy, or Barcelona in August is just too hot, it's probably fun (we haven't actually tried them out). Look for them in the square outside the Cathedral [map].

Actually we think GoCars are more fun (and we have tried them — several times!) because with them you have to make the effort, not just sit there passively.

Driving a GoCar (a 50cc tricycle a bit like an open-top bubble car, if you remember them), rather than being peddled places, is a bit like being in a language class: you can't just sit there passively. In class (and after class, too), you've got to get actively involved in your own language learning…

>> You can also hire ordinary bikes from Trixi if you want to consume your own pedal power.