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EPISODE 1: Language Battle – ROUND 1

In Madrid, we’ve always said that catalan is just spanish but with just a few letters less at the end of the word. For example, in Madrid we use the word “claro” (which means “okay”) but in Catalunya it’s said “cla”. There are thousands of examples like this , probably the 60% of the catalan can be spoken shortening the spanish, BUT (there’s always a but…), the other 40% are French inherited or FALSE FRIENDS.

As I taught to Pablo, in madrid we are always cooler than everyone, being Madrilian is more an attitude than an accent, so the first thing that Pablo taught me was how to keep calm and stay quiet. Once we achieved this goal, using the shortening algorithm and applying my knowledge of French, there was only one thing that would betray me in Catalonian territories, THE FALSE FRIENDS. One mistake and my cover will be found out, risking my life and my Madrilian integrity.

Pablo, as a smart guy, knew that, so he repeated to me all the words during one week, each hour, and each minute of the hour and each second of those minutes, to burn this words in my brain. It was a matter of life or death. (Well it was not that big deal but you know, I’m Madrilian).

False friends to not look like a Madrilian loser

  1. Acostar-se: In Spanish it sounds like “acostarse” which means going to sleep but in Catalan means get closer to someone.
  2. Ampolla: In Spanish the word “ampolla” means rash but in Catalan it means bottle 
  3. Brut: This is a failure in the shortening algorithm. The Spanish word for rude, is “bruto” which sounds similar to “brut”, butbrutmeans dirty.
  4. Cama: In Spanish it means bed, but in Catalan it means leg.
  5. Escoltar: In Spanish it means guard, but in Catalan it means listen.
  6. Llevarse: In Spanish it means take something away, but in Catalan it means wake up.
  7. Pany: It sounds like “paño” which in Spanish it’s a towel for the cleaning matters but in Catalan it means latch.
  8. Vaga: In Spanish it means lazy woman, but it Catalan means strike.
  9. Tasca: In Spanish means bar but in Catalan means a task.
  10. Pujar: In Spanish it means to ascend but in Catalan it means go up.
  • The graphnydoesn’t sound like “ni”. It sounds like “ñ”
  • The letter “ç” sounds likess
  • The graphl·lsounds like a long “l”
  • The letter “j” sounds likesh”, and not like “y”
  • The graphtxsounds like “ch”

Not everything is as easy as we think. We tend to minimize the difficulty of the things when we don’t know how do they work, and we see someone, who has interiorize the workflow, doing it really fast and easy, but that’s not even a bit true. Everything has a learning process, and talking catalan, such as other latin languages (Italian, French, Portuguese…) has it’s own process, it’s not as easy as a shortening algorithm or mixing Spanish with French.


#1 – EOTO starts! How to teach German in a One-Way Learning Group

On Thursday I had my first meeting and lesson with my 3 German students! 🙂 We’re a one-way-learning group of 4 students with me teaching two Finnish girls and one exchange student from Portugal. I personally was very excited about this because this also meant managing interests of three different students while teaching a language. I have been teaching English to a younger student back then when I was in high school  and I hoped it would be around the same now, but frankly, that was some years ago and now I have 3 students instead of one, so I was nervous about this one.

We met at Keskustori fountain and then decided to go to Coffee House because we wanted to get a table and be in a warm place. Luckily we had enough space and I just shoved two tables together to get a big one hehe 😀

Because they all wanted to learn how to talk and hold conversations in German mainnly, we started our session with how to introduce ourselves in German, then we moved on to the basic pronouns and the verb “to be” = sein in German.

Basically, I did some kind of introduction and basics roundup with them. I explained some specialties from the German alpahbet like the “ß” or “z” and “ä, ö, ü” though the last ones are so similar to the Finnish “ä, ö, y” that my Finnish students had no problem with it 🙂 German articles “der, die, das” and “ein, eine, ein” were difficult to explain because there is no logic behind it, when does what article come, it’s just vocabulary and for German people: intuition (sad truth). Pronunciation has also been questioned several times and I had a pretty difficult time with that because I know there are rules for that. Far too many ones though and far too many exceptions so I had a hard time getting all of those together as far as possible. Teaching makes me realise how strange and unlogic the German language actually is altough is comes naturally to me because it’s my mother tongue. The Finnish girls could only laugh about that because their own language is even more difficult haha, yeaaaah that’s so true 😀

They were also super lucky to had some German lessons before so this was only a repitition for them, while Joao, our Portuguese exchange student, had to keep up with that. After teaching some more basics like how to build up a simple sentence and giving out more examples and rules about conjugating verbs and teaching more vocabulary in context, Joao had to leave for homework.


Because Kaisa and Maija, the Finnish students, also wanted to learn about writing mails and letters in German and they are advanced with that language already, I pulled out my laptop and explained some basic rules and teached them examples and phrases from my own letters that I have been writing for application training etc.

I wrapped everything up with showing them briefly how to start and end informal letters for a change that could be used in letters/mails to friends or on postcards! 😀

Here’s the Doc for people who are interested in that as well: lesson1_useful phrases

My first session was very funny even though I had the feeling there was a lot of different things happening at the same time, my students told me they were able to keep up (I hope this is true hehe). One even told me that she liked my way of teaching and found it good which made me really happy and made me feel more confident about this 🙂 Seems like I can do this! I am also very grateful that they just ask me about things that they want to know or don’t understand just like that and aren’t shy about asking; it makes it so much easier for me to teach that way.

I’m looking forward to the next sessions! I like my EOTO group a lot! See you again next week! 😀