Category Archives: Top 10

Top 10 slides from my new book

  • As I described in my previous post, each chapter in my forthcoming book is accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation. The presentations display explanations and descriptions, diagrams, word lists, sample data from research studies, maps, quotations, images, and links to other images as well as articles and videos. Some slides provide instructions and supporting materials for in-class activities and take-home projects. The PowerPoints are in Spanish except for an occasional English translation.

The five PowerPoints contain more than three hundred slides in total. You can follow this link to download a PDF file that reproduces my fifty or so favorites, two per page. Besides its title, each slide is identified by its chapter and slide number. Please notice and respect the copyright notice on each page.

Narrowing down further, I created a SlideShare presentation from my “Top 10” of these slides, which you can click through below. It includes examples from all five chapters, thus representing my five “essential questions” for the Spanish language classroom.

Here’s why these slides made my Top 10:

  • Slide 1.21, because the Real Academia Española’s 1763 spelling guide shows both the invention of the inverted ¿ and ¡ marks (blue highlighting) and why the Academia thought they were needed (yellow highlighting). How often does one get to observe the invention of a new language feature? It’s reminiscent of Scott Fahlman’s invention of the first emoticon in 1982. As noted in the slide, the RAE actually invented the inverted marks in 1754.
  • Slide 2.29, because this is one of my favorite metaphors for the difference between pretérito and imperfecto.
  • Slide 2.43, because it illustrates the value of the often-mystifying “personal a.”
  • Slide 3.58, because it demonstrates the variety of languages that Spanish has borrowed words from. The PowerPoint version of this slide (not the SlideShare version), is animated so that students don’t see the “answers” (the language each word came from) until the profe clicks on the slide. There is also a more challenging alternative version that lacks the list of candidate languages.
  • Slide 3.78, because it shows that a little bit of language history goes a long way toward explaining irregular verbs in modern Spanish. A teacher can display this slide in class while saying something like “La forma irregular conozco viene del verbo latino original, cognoscere”, with an emphasis on the sc.
  • Slide 4.41, because the average Spanish student has no idea how many Latin Americans still speak indigenous languages. The contrast with the situation in the United States is startling.
  • Slide 4.53, because I was so happy to find a single illustration that covered so many sociolinguistic bases.
  • Slide 5.9 out of sheer vanity. This slide illustrates one child’s early semantic extensions of some early words: he extended manzana from apples to other fruits, guaguau from dogs to other animals, and agua from water to various objects connected with it. I was tickled pink that I came up with the idea of using colored ovals to neatly distinguish these three groups of words.
  • Slide5.23, because our students will be happy to learn that kids learning Spanish as a first language make the same mistakes that they do!
  • Slide 5.31, because these data on adult native speaker speech errors are not well known, yet provide a fascinating insight into the psychology of language. The thought clouds show what the speakers intended to say. The PowerPoint version of the slide is animated; students have a chance to deduce these meanings for themselves before teachers click on the slide to reveal them.

Top 10 Spanish quotations of linguistic interest

Here for your listicle pleasure are my favorite quotations from Spanish literature, in the broadest sense, that illustrate some of the most interesting facets of the language. The quotations date from the early 13th century to 2011, and come from works of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. Sources range from best-sellers (Don Quijote and El tiempo entre costuras) to Nobel-prize winning literature to academic tomes. The facets illustrated include aspects of syntax, word structure, pronunciation, and vocabulary, as well as language history and dialectology.

¡Que disfruten!

The top 10 Spanish verb mysteries unraveled

The wait is over — here is my “listicle” (slide presentation) that unravels the top 10 mysteries of Spanish verbs. Why is hay always singular? Why are there so many more irregulars in the preterite past tense than the imperfect? Why do positive and negative commands have different pronoun rules? The answers lie in the history of Spanish.

The top 10 surprising ways that Spanish isn’t special

¡Próspero Año Nuevo!

My previous post presented the Top 10 reasons why Spanish is special. This post presents its opposite: the Top 10 reasons why Spanish isn’t special. Like the previous Top 10 list, it includes examples from Spanish grammar, vocabulary, spelling, and pronunciation.

This Top 10 list was constructed with native speakers of English in mind. It describes core aspects of Spanish that may seem peculiar, but turn out to be normal when considered in a broader linguistic context. Some of these are truly surprising! The inscrutable ‘personal a, for example, turns out to be a prime example of a linguistic phenomenon known as Differential Object Marking, while the use of positive expressions like en absoluto (‘absolutely’) with a negative meaning (‘absolutely not’), illustrates a well-known historical process called Jespersen’s Cycle.

To me, the two lists are equally interesting. I love both the special features of Spanish and its reflection of broader cross-linguistic tendencies. I hope you do, too.


The top 10 reasons why Spanish is special

Today’s post is the first of several I plan to make in the next few weeks to summarize the broad linguistic themes that emerged as I wrote my book. It is a follow-up on a post I did some months ago, “What makes Spanish unique”. This post is somewhat more general, and, I hope, more fun because it’s a slideshow.


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