Natural Disasters – Current Situation in Mexico – Spanish Conversation Class

Natural Disasters  – Current Situation in Mexico – Spanish Conversation Class

In this class we discussed the current situation in Mexico after the Natural Disasters last week.

Level: Intermediate

Title: natural disasters; current situation in Mexico


You will learn and practice how:

  • Express opinions and impressions.

Grammar:  review present subjunctive and perfect preterite of the subjunctive

Teacher´s Name: Herman Martínez

Maximum number of participants: 5

Recommended Previous Knowledge/abilities:  To be able to describe experiences, events, wishes, and aspirations; briefly justify your opinions or explain your know the present subjunctive and the perfect preterite of the subjunctive. past participle conjugation.

Previous activities:  read current events about the hurricanes in Mexico

Registration and Information

If you are interested in participating you should:

  1. Send us an email with your full name, which confirms your participation in the session to

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If you are interested in Registering for Private Spanish Class Online please  contact us at

For more information about Instituto Cultural Oaxaca or our Spanish Language Classes visit


Our Top 10 List of Restaurants to enjoy Oaxaca’s Gastronomy while Studying Spanish


La Biznaga: it is a nice place to get fresh fresh food, atmosphere is very pleasant, and Margaritas are powerful and tasty!

Zandunga: Tradional Istmeñan Food. It is worth trying the “Estofado de Boda Istmeña”

Los Danzantes: Great Atmosphere, Oaxacan Fusion, Mezcal

Casa Oaxaca: A great representation of the Oaxacan Nouvelle Cuisine – Try their house wine and mezcalinis – which can be a great introduction to Mezcal If it’s your first time trying it

La Florecita Mercado de la Merced: Located in the heart of the “Mercado
De la Merced” it is a great place to get a delicious Oaxacan Breakfast

Grupo Lulaa: a Hiden Gem of Mixe Food in Oaxaca. It is a small but tasty restaurant. The menu changes everyday!

Catedral: A Delicious Oaxacan Restaurant, buffet on Sundays at an affordable price. Excellent Service

La Popular: Tacos, Tortas and Popular Oaxacan Food .


Torta de Pavo

Torta de Pavo at La Popular

Itanoni: Itanoni’s concept is quite unique. It is a restaurant that it’s menu is based on corn products only representing the traditional Oaxacan Food

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For more information about Oaxaca and Spanish Classes please visit

Viernes de Vocabulario: Gender Neutrality

Here at ICO, we hope that you’ll learn just how much fun Spanish can be.  Like any language, Spanish is full of colorful slang expressions.  On Fridays, we’ll be teaching you a combination of useful everyday words and fun common colloquialisms.


If you’ve ever had to exchange contact information with a Spanish speaker, you might know that the name of the symbol @ is arroba.  What you might not know, however, is that this symbol is used for way, way, way more than email addresses.  If you read informal written Spanish, it’s absolutely everywhere.

To explain why, I’ll have to backtrack and talk about some fundamental aspects of Spanish grammar.

As you know, Spanish has grammatical gender, which English doesn’t have.  A “friend” can be either a man or a woman, but in Spanish, you have to specify if you are spending time with an amigo or an amiga.

A group of male friends are amigos, and a group of female friends are amigas. However, a mixed group always takes masculine agreement, even if it consists of 99 women and 1 man.  (If you want to know more about this topic, check it out here.)

A lot of folks have dealt with this asymmetry by saying and writing things like amigos y amigas, or amigos/-as.  And this is where the arroba comes in!

Since the arroba, @, looks like an a surrounded by an o, it is used in written Spanish to indicate gender neutrality.  Most commonly, this is used in email salutations, as follows:

Querid@ amig@, Dear friend,
Compañer@s, Classmates/workmates,
Estimad@ cliente, Dear client,

And so on and so forth.  It’s also used in contexts where English speakers would use things like “s/he” to be inclusive.  A letter from schools to parents, for example, might refer to su hij@ (“your child”) to avoid using either hijo (son) or hija (daughter).

That said, this is still a fairly informal usage.  It’s more common in email than in other forms of written communication, and the Real Academia Española (an institutional body that monitors the Spanish language) disapproves of this usage, and so it will remain informal for the time being.

Viernes de Vocabulario: Awkward

Here at ICO, we hope that you’ll learn just how much fun Spanish can be.  Like any language, Spanish is full of colorful slang expressions.  On Fridays, we’ll be teaching you a combination of useful everyday words and fun common colloquialisms.


Some words and phrases are just plain difficult to translate.  Sometimes, it’s because there’s no good equivalent, and sometimes it’s because some particular word has a much wider range of meanings in one language or the other.

English speakers use the world “awkward” all the time.  A situation can be awkward, a person can be awkward, and a feeling can be awkward.  Yet these are not the same word in Spanish.

An awkward situation is a situation in which you feel uncomfortable.  In Spanish, then, to describe a situation or moment as awkward, you would say it’s incómodo, or uncomfortable.  It might also be delicado, “delicate”, if what you mean is that it requires particular social finesse.

An awkward person can be a few different things.  Someone who’s awkward might be physically gawky, or they might be particularly adept at saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.  Both of these are best described as torpe, or clumsy.

An awkward turn of phrase can also be torpe, but you could describe it as poco elegante (“not at all elegant”) as well.

If you feel awkward at any given time, you might say me siento incómodo (“I’m uncomfortable”), or me siento raro (“I feel weird”).  You might also use the verb cohibirse or the adjective cohibido.  Cohibirse means something like “get awkward” or “clam up” – and cohibido means “self-conscious.”

Fue un momento muy incómodo porque soy una persona torpe, siempre digo la cosa menos indicada.  It was an awkward moment because I’m an awkward person, I always say the worst thing.  Después me cohibí, y ya no volví a abrir la boca.  Then I got self-conscious, and I didn’t open my mouth again.

Viernes de Vocabulario: Understanding, Not Understanding, and Not Knowing

Here at ICO, we hope that you’ll learn just how much fun Spanish can be.  Like any language, Spanish is full of colorful slang expressions.  On Fridays, we’ll be teaching you a combination of useful everyday words and fun common colloquialisms.


When you’re just learning a language, it can be hard for others to know if you understand them, or for you to know if others have understood you.  So you might think you would want to know this word:

¿Entendiste?                Did you understand? (tú)
¿Entendió?                   Did you understand? (usted)

However, many (although not all) Spanish speakers consider this a rude questionThose who find this rude thinks that it places the blame on the person listening for not understanding, and prefer to place the blame on themselves.  So instead of asking someone if they understood, you would ask this:

¿Me explico?                Do I explain myself?  Do I make myself clear?

Of course, just knowing how to ask politely is only have the battle.  Sometimes you’ll have to tell someone that you didn’t understand, or that you don’t know, or that you’ve forgotten something or gotten confused.  For this, we have three more useful phrases:

Me quedé en blanco.    I drew a blank.
Perdí el hilo.                  I lost the thread (of the conversation)
Se me fue el avión.       I lost my train of thought.

These three phrases have different uses.  When someone asks you a question and you can’t remember the answer, you’d say, me quedé en blanco.  If someone’s talking too fast or you zone out in the middle of the conversation, the appropriate phrase is something like, es que perdí el hilo. And when you get tripped up in the middle of a sentence, you’d say, se me fue el avión.

Why is thought a train in English and an airplane in Spanish?  That may be one of the great mysteries of language learning.

Viernes de Vocabulario: Aprendiendo el Gerundio


The gerund (gerundio) is a grammatical form that refers to actions in progress.  In English, we form gerunds with -ing: joking, laughing, dancing, playing.  In Spanish, however, we form them differently.
Starting from the infinitive, we remove the last two letters.  If these letters are -ar, we add -ando.  If these letters are -er or -ir, we add -iendo.  Hablando (hablar), comiendo (comer), viviendo (vivir).
In English, we use the gerund as a noun: Running is good for your health.  In Spanish, we can’t do this, and if we want to make a noun from a verb, we have to use an infinitive: Correr es bueno para la salud.

Since gerunds refer to actions in progress, they can’t be used alone.  Instead, they need to occur with another verb.  Most often, this verb is estar, but they can also be used with seguir, continuar, ir,venir, and andar.

The differences between these helping verbs are subtle, so a few examples will (hopefully) help explain.

Estoy buscando trabajo        I am looking for work
This is the most ordinary usage.

Sigo buscando trabajo        I am still looking for work, I keep on looking for work
Seguir and continuar have the same exact meaning when followed by a gerund: something is still happening, continues to happen, or keeps on happening.
Ando buscando trabajo        I go around looking for work; I am always looking for work
While andar means to walk, before a gerund it often implies a pointless or disorganized way of doing something rather than a more literal meaning.  It can also imply that something is habitual


The Gerund can be also used as an adverb for example

Voy haciendo mi tarea        I am doing my homework as I go (e.g. in the car)
Ir with a gerund tends to have a more literal meaning of doing something on the go.  You can ir comiendo, which suggests eating a sandwich on the highway, for example.  In a figurative sense, ir, unlike andar, implies a much more positive attitude on the part of the speaker.  Indeed, it generally implies progress.  If you were to say, ando aprendiendo a cocinar, I might get the impression that every few weeks you learn something, but if you tell me, voy aprendiendo a cocinar, I would assume that you were already making substantial progress.  (I might even accept your invitation to dinner.)

Viene diciendo tonterías        He arrives saying stupid nonsense;
                    He’s (still) saying (the same) stupid nonsense.
Venir, like ir, often implies physical movement, although towards the speaker.  When venir is used with a gerund in a figurative sense, it typically implies that something has been going on a long time, and perhaps even frustration that it has not changed.

Given all of this new information, I have a question for you: ¿estás aprendiendo español?  y ¿vas progresando?

Viernes de Vocabulario: Día de Acción de Gracias

Here at ICO, we hope that you’ll learn just how much fun Spanish can be.  Like any language, Spanish is full of colorful slang expressions.  On Fridays, we’ll be teaching you a combination of useful everyday words and fun common colloquialisms.


Those of us who are from the U.S. or have lived there associate November with one major holiday: Día de Acción de Gracias, or Thanksgiving.

On Thanksgiving, people in the U.S. traditionally eat foods that are indigenous to this hemisphere.  The pilgrims were, essentially, grateful that they did not starve to death!  We also give thanks (dar las gracias) for everything that we have.

Some traditional Thanksgiving foods:

guajolote                                     turkey