For Colombians, Christmas -and in general the month of December- is a big deal.

In December, our calendar is full of activities, family gatherings and heaps of food!

Colombians, as we all know, love to celebrate. Colombians are happy, spontaneous and authentic people. We are grateful, family-oriented and we love sharing food.

Having said this, it comes as no surprise that for Colombians Christmas doesn’t only refer to the celebration taking place on the 24th – 25th December. For us, Christmas is a season, which takes place all the month of December – it even takes place from the end of November until the beginning of January.

Approximately 20% of the Colombian population lives in the country’s capital city. Bogota is a modern and cosmopolitan metropolis that has become the country’s epicenter of business, study, and entertainment.

Since a large part of the city’s population are not originally from Bogota but from multiple places all around the country, December is an opportunity for them to return home to spend quality time with family and old friends.

Have you celebrated Christmas in Colombia?

If not, start planning your trip to Colombia and start learning Spanish! We guarantee it will be one of the best experiences of your life.

And for you to have the best experience, we have prepared this article in which we explain the most important Colombian Christmas traditions.

Christmas Season

We mentioned that Christmas in Colombia is not just a day, it’s a season, but then when does the Christmas season start?

Well, officially the Christmas season starts on the 7th December with “El día de las velitas” (Little Candles Day). But, arguably, we can say that the Christmas season starts a bit before, around the end of November but no specific date.

How is that?

Colombian families gather together to set up their “arbolito de navidad” (Christmas tree, we use diminutives in Colombian Spanish) and other decorations at home.

Apart from the “arbolito de navidad”, the second most important decoration is “El pesebre” (the nativity scene). For us, it’s important to set up the whole nativity scene -including the landscape- next to the Christmas tree.

Colombian Christmas Traditions: Pesebre

Keep in mind that in the “Pesebre” we set up the little hut where “El niño Dios” (baby Jesus) is born, but we don’t put baby Jesus in it until 24th December evening -When, for us, he was born. You will see a lot of different kinds of “Pesebres”, and you will find them in people’s houses, offices, malls, etc.

Once “el arbolito” and “el pesebre” are set, children write a ‘Carta al Niño Dios’ (letter to baby Jesus). In the letter, they ask for the presents they would like to get for Christmas. The letter is placed in the “arbolito” with the hope they get those presents on Christmas Eve.

Now, let’s move on to the busy calendar of activities during this season:

Día de las Velitas

Colombian Christmas Traditions: Día de las Velitas

On the 7th of December, we celebrate “El día de las velitas”.

This celebration takes place on the evening of December 7th, leading up to the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th, a Catholic holiday and national holiday in Colombia.

Houses and streets are decorated with candles, lanterns and lots of lights. Some people design and hang their own cardboard lanterns, especially in smaller towns.

There are also big firework displays, music and foods (we’ll talk about traditional Christmas food in the last section of this article).

It’s then, with all the lights on, that the Christmas season officially starts.

The candles are meant to light the way of the Virgin Mary as she comes to bless their home. People give thanks for the blessings they have had during the year that is ending.

Novena de Aguinaldos

From the 16th December until the 24th December, we do something in Colombia called “La novena de aguinaldos” (Christmas advent prayer). We normally just say “La novena”, which literally means “ninth”.

For the nine nights leading up to Christmas, people gather in each other’s homes, traditionally to recite an old Christmas prayer. “Novenas” also take place at people’s offices, malls, and public spaces.

During a novena, be prepared to eat traditional Colombian Christmas foods and to sing traditional Christmas music, known as “villancicos“.

These prayers are devoted to holy figures such as baby Jesus, Mother Mary, and Joseph, among others.

While many people still maintain the religious aspect, it has evolved into a good excuse to get together to eat, drink and enjoy life with family and friends.

Navidad

If you think Christmas in Colombia starts by stumbling down the stairs in your pajamas, sitting next to the freshly cut tree and opening presents, you are wrong.

While in many Northern European and North American countries Christmas is celebrated on December 25th (Christmas Day), in Colombia and many Latin American countries Christmas is celebrated on December 24th evening – to be more specific, at midnight.

On Christmas night, known as “nochebuena” families pray the last “novena”, share a special dinner, and -at midnight- everyone starts opening the presents that Baby Jesus brought.

At midnight, there is usually a late-night party so people stay up until the early morning and sleep-in the next day. The 25th is a day to relax, eat leftovers and spend time with the family

Día de los Inocentes

If you thought the fun ended on December 24, then you haven’t celebrated Christmas in Colombia!

Of course, there is another festivity in between Christmas and New Years’.

On the 28th of December, we celebrate something called “El Día de los Inocentes”. It is kind of the Colombian version of April fools, where creating humor at your expense is the name of the game.

On this day people play tricks on each other, and even TV channels adapt their programs to this day by showing a lot of blooper shows.

Aguinaldos

Aguinaldos are those fun little games played by children and adults during the Christmas season.

One of the most popular and commonly played is known as Tres Pies: players try to slip one foot in between the feet of their opponents without them noticing.

Another popular one is Si o No – basically, you can’t say one of those words.

People play those games for a few days any time during the Christmas season. They normally agree on certain points and the winner gets a small present.

Now that you know our Christmas traditions, it’s time to talk about food!

Typical Christmas Food

Christmas in Colombia wouldn’t be complete without our traditional dishes.

Food plays an important role in Colombian Christmas celebrations – and it’s delicious!

What do Colombians eat during the Christmas season:

Buñuelos

Buñuelos are originally from Jewish and Arabian cultures. They came to Latin America during the Spanish colonization.

These are cheese fritters made of cornstarch, butter and cheese.

Colombian Christmas Traditions: Buñuelos

Natilla

Natilla, a creamy spiced custard dish, is the festive dessert par excellence.

Tamales

Another popular Colombian Christmas food is tamales. They are made of corn, wrapped in plantain leaves, and boiled. The tamales vary according to the region. Some of them also have rice, peas, eggs, carrots, bacon and chicken.

Lechona

A roast pig stuffed with vegetables, rice and spices, that has been slow-cooked for hours and hours beforehand

We’re getting hungry now! And, we are so ready to start our Christmas celebration!

Follow our weekly blog if you want to know more about Colombian culture, the Spanish language and our Spanish school.

Hope to see you anytime soon in Colombia. But remember that in the meantime you can join our Spanish classes online.

Learn Spanish in Colombia: In-Class & Online Courses

Learning Spanish hasn’t been as easy as it is now. Believe us!

For many years we thought that the best way to learn Spanish was by going to a school, or by moving to a Spanish speaking country.

The traditional way of learning made us believe that we need to be “face-to-face” with our teacher or to be fully immersed in the culture to properly learn the language.

However, we have seen how technology has helped us find alternative ways for learning Spanish.

We are not only talking about online classes; we are talking about heaps of alternative ways that help us learn and improve the language.

In today’s article, we are going to talk about the best way to learn Spanish at home.

Yes, as you’ve heard! You can learn Spanish from the comfort of your home.

One of the advantages of learning Spanish is that it is the second most spoken language in the world. More than 20 countries have Spanish as their official language, and more than 580 people speak it

This makes Spanish a language with a lot of different resources to learn and practice.

Check out these creative ways to incorporate the Spanish language into your daily routine at home!

1. Change the language of your devices and Apps in Spanish

Switch your phone and computer language to Spanish.

We bet you are already familiar enough with the operating system layout of your devices; you rarely read the labels on the buttons you click, don’t you?

So, it’s easy! You won’t get confused, you will learn new words instead

Furthermore, switch the language of your most used Apps. Set your e-mail, Spotify, and your social media in Spanish.

By switching the language settings you can get exposure to new vocabulary and incorporate Spanish practice into your daily life.

2. Change your phone’s voice assistant to Spanish

If you are using any voice assistant (Siri, Google Assistant, etc.), try now to use it in Spanish.

Instead of asking your assistant “what’s the forecast today?”, ask “Cómo está el clima hoy?”. Or, instead of asking “What time does the game start”, ask “A qué hora empieza el partido?”

When doing this you will incorporate some pronunciation practice into your day. Don’t get frustrated if there are times when the assistant doesn’t understand you. Type the sentence you want to say in Google translate and play the pronunciation button;  learn how it’s pronounced and try again with your voice assistant.

3. Read in Spanish

One of peoples’ favorite plans at home is reading. Nothing is better than getting a cup of coffee or tea, sitting on the couch and reading a book.

Of course, for reading literature or complicated topics we all prefer to do it in our mother tongue. But, depending on your Spanish level, there are many options to incorporate this hobby into your language practice.

Find the Spanish version of your favorite book -the one you have read twice or three times-, and start reading. Since it’s your favorite book you already know the story, right? It’s the perfect exercise for focusing more on the language instead of on the story.

You can also choose children’s books, as they are short and simple to read.

Whatever book you choose remember to:

  1. Read
  2. Underline new vocabulary
  3. Look up the meaning of the new vocabulary
  4. Read again

4. Watch movies, series and TV shows in Spanish – or with Spanish subtitles

Who doesn’t like to watch movies, series or TV shows at home?

Get your popcorn ready and enjoy watching movies while learning Spanish!

Be aware of your level of Spanish and act accordingly. Of course, you can’t expect to understand a Spanish or Latin American movie if you have been studying Spanish for only a few months. It would just frustrate you!

To start what you can do is:

  1. Watch all your movies in English with Spanish subtitles
  2. Watch movies in Spanish with English subtitles
  3. Watch movies in Spanish with Spanish subtitles (intermediate-advance level)

Either way, you will get an enormous amount of vocabulary, and you will learn how to structure sentences.

Watching movies in their original language (Spanish) is a great way to immerse yourself in the sounds of the Spanish language, learn slang from different countries, and get familiar with different accents.

When you get tired of watching movies and series. You can also watch Youtube videos or TED Talks.

Find here very interesting TED talks in Spanish with English subtitles.

5. Social Media in Spanish

We already talked about switching the language of the Apps you use the most. That’s one way, but there is also another way to learn and practice Spanish using your Social Media.
How?

Following pages that interest you, and that use Spanish as their first language.

For instance:

  1. Follow newspapers and magazine pages. In Colombia, you can follow El Tiempo, Semana, El Espectador.
  2. Follow pages that talk about your main interests. If you like nature and environmental causes, follow Greenpeace Colombia or WWF Colombia. If you like art, follow museum pages such as MAMBO (Museum of Modern Art). And if you like music, follow your favorite artist pages.
  3. Follow – and pay particular attention to posts of those friends of you from Spain and Latin America.
  4. Read the captions and comments. It won’t only help you learn new words but it will also help you learn local slang and expressions.

6. Listen to music in Spanish

Listen to Spanish or Latin American music. No matter your Spanish level,  you can start grasping a couple of words, then a few sentences, and eventually you will get it all.

Music is a very important part of the Colombian culture. So, if you love music -as we do- you will have a lot of fun learning Colombian Spanish.

How to practice Spanish by listening to music at home?

  1. Leave some music on in the background. Even if you are not paying attention to the lyrics your ears are getting tuned into the Spanish language.
  2. Try to grasp words or sentences, and write them down.
  3. Find the lyrics of your favorite songs, and sing along. Karaoke-style at home.
  4. Look up the new vocabulary.

7. Cook in Spanish

For those who love cooking, here is another fun way of learning Spanish at home!

Food is not only delicious, food is something that connects people. Through food, we learn about new cultures and we make new friends. Also, we make ourselves, our family and our friends happy.

As one of our sayings goes “Barriga llena, corazón contento”. Literally translated as “full belly, happy heart”

How to learn Spanish while cooking?

  1. Purchase a cookbook in Spanish
  2. Find a website that provides recipes in Spanish.
  3. Find youtube videos that provide recipes in Spanish

While cooking you can learn new vocabulary (i.e. kitchen utensils, food vocabulary and verbs frequently used in the kitchen)

Note: You can combine cooking with our Tip No. 6. Yes, cooking while listening to Spanish or Latin American music in the background.

8. Excercise in Spanish

Do some exercise in Spanish.

You can find all kinds of online classes in Spanish: Yoga, Zumba, Pilates.

Workout classes are an easy way to learn body vocabulary and get familiar with the imperative form of a verb.

Watching exercise videos at home allows you to watch the video closely to understand the movement and the instructions even if you don’t understand everything the instructor is saying in Spanish.

You will keep your ear tuned while feeling energetic and burning some calories!

When talking about exercise, people normally refer to exercise the body. But keep in mind that it is as important to exercise the mind as we exercise the body.

So, include some meditation into your home exercise. Choose online guided meditation sessions in Spanish. There are plenty on Youtube and on Apps such as Insight Timer and Gaia.

9. Write in Spanish

No, we don’t want you to become a professional writer. Neither, we want you to write a book.

Our advice here is to start writing whatever you want in Spanish. No matter how short it is.

For example:

  • Write the grocery list in Spanish
  • Write your daily To-Do list in Spanish
  • Write your journal in Spanish
  • Write a letter to a friend in Spanish

At first, don’t focus much on the “perfect” spelling or “perfect” sentence. Just let yourself go and write whatever you feel.

Then, you can read your notes again and correct any mistakes you might have made.

10. Take an online Spanish course

Lastly, as a complement to the tips mentioned in this article, we highly recommend taking Spanish classes online.

It’s true you can learn and improve Spanish on your own but there is no doubt that having a native Spanish-speaking tutor is an effective method to properly learn the language.

You will see quick progress when combining what you learn in your daily routines at home with a structured academic program.

Ask your tutor any questions you have when reading, watching movies or listening to music. Ask them to correct your pronunciation, spelling and grammar.

Now that you have these 10 Tips to learn Spanish at home, start incorporating them into your daily life.

Start thinking in Spanish. Don’t aim for perfection. And, have fun!

Learning Spanish is an adventure, and what’s more interesting about adventures is the journey, isn’t it?

So, enjoy the adventure!

How would it be a Spanish school without teachers?

How would it be Learn More than Spanish without its magnificent team?

In our blog, we have been talking about the Spanish language, about the Colombian culture and about Bogota city.

Our goal at LMTS is not only to help you learn Spanish but that you get to know the authenticity of Colombia and its people. We want you to feel close to us; to our country, our traditions and our language.

LMTS is more than just a Spanish school, it’s a place where all cultures converge, it’s a place where people feel at home while learning a language.

Nothing we do would it be possible without the outstanding job of our teachers and the administrative team.

We know many of you wanted to visit us during 2020 but due to the pandemic, it wasn’t possible. Instead, many of you have decided to start – or continue- learning Spanish online.

You have had the opportunity to interact with some of our teachers but you still don’t know all the team.

That’s why we have started a series of short articles in which we introduce you to the LMTS family (i.e. teachers, administrative team and students).

Let’s start with one of our teachers.

Meet Luis González, he is not only one of our Spanish language teachers but he is also our academic coordinator.

Luis has been working at LMTS since 2017 and he loves working with us.

Luis says:

“What I like about my job is that there is a very positive and calm atmosphere.

This allows us to develop new strategies, to do research, and to do different things to improve academic processes. To improve students’ experiences and for them to have good results in learning Spanish.

I also like that there is a great work team. That allows us to grow constantly, both as a school and as a person.

It’s really like a family, and I like that a lot.“

Once all borders are open and it is safer to travel, we hope to see you in Bogota!

Script & Translation Video

¿Qué te gusta hacer?

Me llamo Luis González, soy profesor de español aquí en Colombia.

Me gusta leer, me gusta hacer algo de ejercicio, montar en bicicleta.

What do you like to do?

My name is Luis González, I am a Spanish teacher here in Colombia.

I like reading, I like exercising, I like cycling.

¿Qué haces en Learn More than Spanish?

En Learn More Than Spanish, yo soy profesor de español y soy coordinador académico desde el 2017

What do you do at Learn More than Spanish?

At Learn More Than Spanish, I am a Spanish teacher and academic coordinator since 2017.

¿Qué es Learn More Than Spanish para ti?

Para mí, Learn More Than Spanish es un lugar de trabajo donde las personas pueden sentirse cómodas, bienvenidas, recibidas.

Es un lugar donde yo puedo desarrollar habilidades, investigar, hacer diferentes cosas. Por eso me gusta.

What is Learn More Than Spanish for you?

For me, Learn More Than Spanish is a workplace where people feel comfortable and welcomed.

It’s a place where I can develop new skills, do research, and do different things. That’s why I like it.

¿Por qué Learn More Than Spanish es diferente?

En mi opinión, es diferente porque es una escuela que se adapta mucho a las necesidades de los estudiantes.

Es una escuela muy flexible, se adapta a los horarios.

Tiene diferentes formas de hacer que el estudiante sienta que es una buena experiencia para él.

También, porque es muy organizada. En mi experiencia trabajando en otras escuelas y en otros lugares enseñando español he visto que hay mucha organización académica, en los temas, hay contenidos muy claros.

Eso me parece muy importante, por eso me parece a mi que les diferente la escuela de otros lugares.

Why is Learn More Than Spanish different?

In my opinion, it is different because it is a school that adapts to the needs of the students.

It is a very flexible school, it adapts to everyone’s schedules.

It has different ways of making the student feel that it is a good experience for him, or for her.

Also, because it is well organized. In my experience -working in other schools and in other places teaching Spanish-, I’ve seen they are well organized academically with regards to the subjects. Their content program is very clear.

That’s very important to me. And, that’s why I think the school is different from other places.

¿Qué es lo que más te gusta de Learn More Than Spanish?

Lo que me gusta de mi trabajo es que hay un ambiente muy positivo, muy tranquilo.

Eso permite desarrollar estrategias, investigar, hacer cosas diferentes para mejorar los procesos académicos, para mejorar las experiencias de los estudiantes y para que ellos tengan muy buenos resultados aprendiendo español.

Me gusta también que hay un muy buen equipo de trabajo y eso nos permite crecer todo el tiempo como escuela, como personas.

Es como una familia realmente, entonces me gusta mucho.

Me gusta eso de mi lugar de trabajo.

What do you like most about Learn More Than Spanish?

What I like about my job is that there is a very positive and calm atmosphere.

This allows us to develop new strategies, to do research, and to do different things to improve academic processes. To improve students’ experiences and for them to have good results in learning Spanish.

I also like that there is a great work team. That allows us to grow constantly, both as a school and as a person.

It’s really like a family, and I like that a lot.

That’s what I like about my workplace.

¿Qué te gusta de Colombia?

De Colombia me gusta mucho que es un país muy grande. Es un país con una diversidad de personas, de culturas.

Es un país muy rico en muchos sentidos. Es un país que tiene una calidad de gente muy buena, es muy amable. La gente siempre trata de ayudar.

Y también me gustan muchas cosas, la gastronomía, los paisajes.

Colombia es un país que tiene todos los climas.

Es un país muy chévere, me gusta mucho.

What do you like about Colombia?

What I like about Colombia is that it’s a big country. It is a country with a large diversity of cultures and people.

It is a very rich country in many ways. It is a country that has good and warm people. Colombians are friendly; people always try to help.

I also like many other things such as its gastronomy and landscapes.

Colombia is a country that has all climates.

It is a very cool country, I like it a lot.

¿Qué te gusta de Bogotá?

Lo que más me gusta de Bogotá es que es una ciudad que siempre está en movimiento.

Es una ciudad donde hay mucha cultura, hay muchas cosas para hacer.

Siempre hay algo que hacer, hay museos, hay tiendas, zona histórica, zona cultural. Siempre hay algo para hacer.

Me gusta también, principalmente, el clima porque casi siempre es el mismo.

No tenemos estaciones entonces eso es muy bueno porque es muy tranquilo, no hace tanto frío o tanto calor. eso a mi me gusta mucho.

Y sí, la comida es muy rica.

En Bogotá hay una variedad de comida muy grande.

Hay comida de todos los países; hay comida colombiana, peruana, asiática, de todos los lugares porque es la capital.

Entonces, bueno, eso es lo que a mi me gusta de Bogotá.

What do you like about Bogotá?

What I like the most about Bogotá is that it is a city that is always on the move.

It is a culturally and diverse city, there are many things to do.

There is always something to do; there are museums, there are shops, there is a historical area and a cultural area. There is always something to do.

And, mainly, I like its climate because it is almost the same all the time. We don’t have seasons and that is very good because it is very chill, it is not too cold or too hot.

I really like that.

And, the food. It’s delicious.

In Bogotá, there is a large variety of food. There is food from all countries; there is Colombian, Peruvian and Asian food. There is food from all over the world because it is the capital city.

That’s what I like about Bogotá.

We can’t believe 2020 is almost over. Just one month to go, and good-bye 2020!

This has been -arguably- the most stressful and uncertain year of our lifetime. Do you agree?

Thanks to COVID-19, most of the plans we had for this year vanished in the blink of the eye.

If there is one thing that we can learn from this year it is that we need to stop overthinking and live as many adventures as we can, when we can.

And why not start this good resolution by planning your next trip to Colombia, and specifically to Bogota?

In this article, we will give you the best reasons why you should visit Bogota in 2021.

Why should you visit Colombia in 2021?

It’s not a secret that Colombia is one of the must-visit countries in Latin America. It has gained tremendous popularity thanks in large part to its astonishing landscapes, its people and its music.

Also, its food and, of course, its globally renowned coffee are the things people fall in love with when visiting the country.

After years of difficulties and severe internal civil war, Colombia has blossomed into a fun and safe destination to travel to. Furthermore, it’s one of the most popular countries to learn Spanish thanks to its clear and neutral accent.

Colombia increasingly appears in the world travelers’ lists of countries to visit. People dream about Caribbean beaches, Andes mountains ranges and small colonial towns.

Although we suggest visiting as many places as you can if you’re planning to visit Colombia, we also suggest you don’t skip out on Bogota. The city has so much to offer in terms of cuisine, culture, history, music and art.

Bogota is a city full of surprises. It is described by The New York Times as a “Beautiful, complicated city; an essential place to visit to understand the country”.

So, if you want to understand Colombian culture, you should spend some time in Bogota, and you will be greatly surprised by its authenticity.

Why should you visit Bogota?

Bogota is the country’s beating heart. It is a modern and cosmopolitan metropolis that has become an epicenter of business, politics, and entertainment.

The city is often overlooked by travelers coming to Colombia; perhaps due to its size, its traffic or its large population (approximately 8 million people). However, it’s a city that has been transforming itself into a surprising tourist destination, too.

Bogota offers one of the best nightlife scenes of Latin America, numerous museums and world-class dining and bar culture. It also offers the best of Colombian culture, there is nothing you can’t find in Bogota!

Furthermore, its privileged location and international airport make it a highly accessible and convenient city for traveling throughout the region. Bogotá is the perfect jumping-off point to start your Colombia -or South America- trip.

It’s the best place to have a taste of what Colombia is, to get familiar with local prices and with the language.

Give it a try, spend a few weeks -or even months- in the city. We guarantee you will fall in love with Bogota in a heartbeat.

Why?

1. Bogota is art

If you love street art, museums and architecture, then you will have an amazing time in the city!

You can have a glimpse into the country’s history at the Gold Museum, home to over 55,000 gold pieces and crafts from the pre-Colombian period, before the Spanish conquest of the Americas.

Or, you can visit the Colombian National Museum, the biggest and oldest museum in Colombia.

If you’re a modern art lover, then you can visit the Botero Museum. The museum highlights the work of Fernando Botero, Colombia’s most famous artist. The museum’s collection includes some of his most popular pieces, like his interpretations of the Mona Lisa and Adam and Eve, as well as many of his unique voluminous statues. It also features art pieces from other famous artists like Picasso, Monet, and Renoir.

Or, you can visit the MAMBO (Museo de Arte de Moderno de Bogota). It offers a pluricultural, dynamic and innovative space, which gives audiences a meaningful experience around the art world.

On the other hand, if you are more into urban art, Bogota offers stunning pieces all around the city. Graffiti has been decriminalized in Bogota for almost a decade, which has given Colombian and international artists free reign of the streets.

With regards to architecture, Bogota’s style might not be easy to define at first. But if you look closely, Bogota is a city of unique architecture among Latin American countries.

Bogota is known for its red brick buildings designed by architects who mingled their modernism with colonial beauty.

One of the most influential architects is Rogelio Salmona. He gave an identity to the city. His use of red bricks and water as a connecting element revolutionized the aesthetics of the city.

Lastly, Bogota is a hub for fashion, art and design. The city’s cultural calendar is filled all year round with festivals, events, parades, exhibitions, concerts and cultural sites.

You can enjoy some of the best Latin American music festivals such as Estereo Picnic and Rock al Parque. World-class art exhibitions such as ARTBO or local exhibitions such as Barcu or La Feria del Millón. And, local design fairs such as Buró.

2. Bogota is fine dining and street food

The best way to experience a culture is through its food.

Bogota is nationally and internationally known for its gastronomy. It offers hundreds of mouthwatering culinary, coffee and beer experiences. From high-end local and international restaurants in the Zona G, Zona T, Usaquén and Parque de la 93, to traditional markets such as Paloquemao and La Perseverancia.

There are heaps of street food throughout the city. Basically in every corner you will find something for snacking (para picar), no kidding!

You will find ensalada de frutas, salpicón, obleas, pinchos, mazorca, mango biche, churros, empanadas, arepas and many others.

And, of course, fruits. Colombia is a fruit paradise, it’s home to some of the most exotic and tropical fruit in the world. You can visit one of the local markets to discover an entirely new palette of flavors. And what’s best is you will always get “ñapa”!

So, if you are a foodie, don’t wait for a second longer and plan a trip to Bogota!

3. Bogota has a hipster soul

It goes without saying, Bogota is Colombia’s hipster capital.

It is known for its diverse population and artistic vibes. Neighborhoods such as Chapinero, Zona G and La Candelaria are full of unique cafes and restaurants, bars playing live Colombian music, and people just chilling out.

Bogota is authentic, diverse and open. It is a city of “open doors”, people from all around the world and all around the country are welcomed. It’s where all cultures converge.

Apart from delicious food, world-class graffiti, and modern and colonial architecture, the city has also become one of the most open and inclusive cities for LGBTQ+ community. There are places like Theatron, one of the biggest gay clubs in the world which can accommodate up to 5,000 people on any given night!

Safe and hip, Bogota is a city that simply can’t be missed!

4. Bogota has a mesmerizing view

There’s always a great view.

We are lucky to have the Andean mountain range as our background picture. From anywhere in the city you can enjoy the best view of the Eastern Hills (Cerros Orientales).

Even though some people call Bogota “ the concrete jungle” due to its size and population, it is a city with a green soul. The Eastern Hills give the city that “green” and natural touch big cities around the world lack.

In Bogota, you can easily get away from the hectic city life to breathe pure air and get connected with nature. There are a large variety of outdoor activities such as mountain biking, hiking and climbing.

5. Bogota has the best coffee

Colombia is known worldwide for producing one of the best coffees in the world. And, we are proud to say that in Bogota you can find the best coffees in Colombia.

You might be wondering how such an urban city could have the best coffee? It doesn’t make much sense, does it?

Well, it’s not that the coffee is grown or produced in Bogota; the coffee is grown in several regions of the country but Bogota is the only place where you can get all origins.

If you want to get to know better Colombian people and Colombian culture, then you need to understand the coffee culture. For us coffee is not just coffee, it’s a lifestyle.

Colombians drink coffee all day long. There is no breakfast without a cup of coffee, there are no work meetings without a cup of coffee, there is not a visit to family relatives, or friends without a cup of coffee.

Well, maybe we are exaggerating a bit -typical Colombian feature- it’s not that we “always” drink coffee but it’s true, drinking coffee is part of our culture.

So, if you are a coffee lover or just interested in the coffee culture, you would love Bogota!

How is Bogota handling the pandemic?

We started this article by talking about the global pandemic in 2020 and inviting you to visit us in 2021. But we know you might be wondering whether it will be possible or not.

Honestly, no one knows what is happening next year. When this crazy story is going to finish and when we will be able to freely travel and move around again.

However, we do know that Colombia, and specifically Bogota, has been working hard to put all biosafety protocols in place to receive tourists.

Colombia has opened its international airport, businesses (i.e. restaurants, cafes, hotels, etc) have started receiving guests and customers.

Our school is not an exception. We have already opened our doors again and have welcomed new students. Check out one of the latest students’ testimonials.

We are confident that we will overcome this global pandemic together. We know that it has been a tough year for all and we know we are keen to travel and explore the world again.

That’s why we invite you to visit our country, our city, and to learn Spanish with us. We know that getting to know a culture is easier and nicer when you are able to communicate with locals. And that’s what we do at LMTS. We won’t only teach you the Spanish language we help you experience the Colombian culture like a Colombian.

There are certain topics that make non-native Spanish speakers pull their hair out when learning Spanish.

There are some rules to follow but there are also many exceptions to those rules. There are also ways of talking, sentences or words that simply don’t make sense in other languages but in Spanish they do.

In previous posts, we talked about the use of the verb To Be (Ser & Estar) and about False cognates. Today, we are talking about “Gender in Spanish”. This is one of the topics people struggle the most when learning Spanish, mainly those whose mother tongue doesn’t come from a romance language (i.e. French, Italian, Portuguese).

Learn Gender in Spanish: Spanish Gender Rules

If you are an English speaker you might think that “gender” refers to people in their feminine or masculine form. Which, to a certain extent, it’s true… However, in Spanish, we also use “gender” for nouns, articles and adjectives.

In Spanish, words like “the”, “car”, “house”, “tree”, “lunch”, “black” or “tall” can be feminine or masculine.

While in English, gender is not important unless you are speaking about a living object (i.e. a person or an animal),  in Spanish, all nouns (person, place, thing or idea) have a gender.

At first, it might be difficult but after a while it becomes natural and we can even say that you know by intuition what’s the right gender of each word.

What is it important to learn the gender of the nouns in Spanish?

Simple.

The gender of the noun is important because the adjective and articles must match the noun in terms of the gender.

If you don’t pair the words correctly, it’s not a big deal. It sounds weird for native Spanish speakers but they will still understand you.

But since we want you to speak Spanish properly we are here to give you some tips. Keep in mind, though, that it takes more than reading an article to have a couple of Spanish classes. If you truly want to master your spanish language you need to start but making some mistakes, learn from them and practice, practice, practice.

How to know when a noun is feminine or masculine?

Everything in Spanish is either male or female. Our language is charged with gender power!

The most common structure for nouns in Spanish is:

(article) + noun + (adjective)

So, let’s follow this stricture. Let’s talk about Spanish article gender rules first.

1. Articles

In English, there are three articles:

Definite article “The”

  • Feminine
  • Masculine
  • Singular
  • Plural

Definite articles “a”, “an”

  • Feminine
  • Masculine
  • Singular
  • Plural (“some” is not considering an article but it is used as such)

In Spanish, we have a total of eight articles. Yes, eight!

That’s because we change the articles according to both gender (feminine and masculine) and number (singular and plural)

Definite articles “The”

  • Masculine, singular: “el”
    “El niño”. The kid
  • Feminine, singular: “la”
    “La niña”. The kid
  • Masculine, plural: “los”
    “Los niños”. The kids
  • Feminine, plural: “las”
    “Las niñas”, The kids

Indefinite articles “a”, “an”, “some”

  • Masculine, singular: “un”
    “Un niño”.  A kid
  • Feminine, singular: “una”
    “Una niña” A kid
  • Masculine, plural: “unos”
    “Unos niños”. Some kids
  • Feminine, plural: “unas”
    “Unas niñas”. Some kids

2. Nouns

Who is to decide whether “lámpara” (lamp) is masculine or feminine? – It’s feminine by the way

What determines a “libro” (book) to be a masculine noun? And what makes “cuchara” (spoon) a feminine noun?

Thankfully, there are some rules to follow to help you remember whether a noun is masculine or feminine.

Masculine Nouns

Rule No. 1

Nouns ending in “o”, “os”

Examples

  • “El libro” (The book)
  • “Un pájaro” (A bird)
  • “Los vasos” (The glasses)

Rule No. 2

Nouns ending in “ma”, mas”

Examples

  • “Los problemas” (The problems)
  • “El aroma” (The fragance)
  • “El clima” (The weather)

Rule No.3

Nouns which refers to males

Examples

  • “El padre” (The father)
  • Los reyes (The kings)
  • “El hijo” (The son)

Rule No.4

Nouns ending in “r”, “res”

Examples

  • “Los motores”  (The motors)
  • “Un calentador” (A heater)
  • “El comedor” (The dining room)

Rule No.5

Nouns ending in “aje”, “ajes”

Examples

  • “El viaje” (The trip)
  • “El equipaje” ( The luggage)
  • “Los porcentajes” (The percentages)

Rule No.6

Days of the week

Examples

  • “El lunes” (Monday)
  • “El martes”  (Tuesday
  • “El miércoles” (Wednesday)
  • “El jueves” (Thursday)
  • “Los viernes”(Fridays)
  • “El sábado” (Saturday)
  • “Los domingos” (Sundays)

Notes: – In English, the days of the week don’t use articles. In Spanish they do
– In Spanish, months of the year don’t use articles

Rule No.7

Compass directions

Examples

  • “El norte” (North)
  • “El sur” (South)
  • “El oriente” (East)
  • “El occidente” (West)

Rule No.8

A group with mixed genders is always* masculine

Examples

  • “Los estudiantes” (The students)
  • “Los padres” (The parents)
  • “Unos colegas” (Some colleagues)

Rule No.9

Languages

Examples

  • “El español” (The Spanish language)
  • “El inglés” (The English language)
  • “El italiano” (The Italian language)

Tip:
People use the word “LONERS” to help remember when a noun is masculine. Words that end with any of the letters in LONERS are usually masculine.

Some examples include:

L → El papel (paper)
O → El oso (bear)
N → El atún (tuna)
E → El hambre (hunger)
R → El calor (hot weather)
S → El bus (bus)

Feminine Nouns

Rule No. 1

Nouns ending in “a”, “as”

Examples

  • “La guitarra” (The guitar)
  • “Una camisa” (A shirt)
  • “Las camas” (The beds)

Rule No. 2

Nouns ending in “ión”, “ión”

Examples

  • “La religión” (The religion)
  • “La comunicación” (The communication)
  • “La pasión” (The passion)

Rule No. 3

Nouns ending in “dad”, “tad”

Examples

  • “Una ciudad” (A city)
  • “La verdad” (The truth)
  • “La libertad” (The freedom)

Rule No. 4

Nouns ending in “umbre”

Examples

“Una costumbre” (A tradition)
“La cumbre” (The summit)
“La incertidumbre” (The uncertainty)

Rule No. 5

Nouns ending in “z”

Examples

“La paz” (Peace)
“La nariz” (The nose)
“La actriz” (The actress)

Rule No. 6

Letters of the alphabet

Examples

La “a” (The “a”)
La “b” (The “b”)
La “c” (The “c”)

Rule No. 7

Nouns which refer to females

Examples

“La madre” (The mother)
“La reina” (The queen)
“La princesa” (The princess)

Exceptions to the rule

Here comes the fun!

All languages have rules, and all rules have exceptions. The Spanish language is no different.

Exceptions are just that, exceptions. We don’t need to understand them or find the logic behind them, we just need to learn them.

To make your life easier we have prepared a list of the most common exceptions to the rules listed above.

Exceptions to the feminine rules

“El día” (The day)
“El mapa” (The map)
“El Sofá” (The couch)
“El agua” (The water)
“El artista” (The artist)
“El cura” (The priest)
“El planeta” (The planet)

Exceptions to the masculine rules

“La mano” (The hand)
“La radio” (The radio)
“La moto” (The motorbike)
“La modelo” (The model)
“La piloto” (The pilot)
“La foto” (The photo)

3. Adjectives

As a reminder, an adjective is what we use to describe a noun.

In English, adjectives are similar to articles and nouns with regards to gender; they simply don’t have a gender.

“Red”, “short”, “big” are used in the same form for all nouns regardless of the gender -if any- and regardless of the number (singular or plural).

In Spanish, knowing the gender of the noun is crucial because it defines the article and the adjective you need to use.

Adjectives in Spanish also change slightly their form -their ending- depending on the gender. Adjectives can be masculine, feminine, and neutral

  • Masculine: Typically the ending of the adjective changes to “o”
  • Feminine: Typically the ending of the adjective changes to “a”
  • Neutral: Typically the word never changes regardless of the gender

Let’s see some examples:

MasculineFeminine
WhiteBlanco
El avión blanco” (The white plane)
Blanca
La casa blanca” (The white house)
TallAlto
El edificio alto” (The tall building)
Alta
La chica alta” (The tall girl)
PerfectPerfecto
El clima es perfecto!” (The weather is perfect!)
Perfecta
La temperatura es perfecta” (The temperature is perfect)
BigGrande
El museo es grande” (The museum is big)
Grande
La jirafa es grande” (The giraffe is big)
KindAmable
El vecino es amable” (The neighbor is kind)
Amable
La vecina es amable” (The neighbor is kind)

That’s all for today!

We hope this article has been useful to you. Remember that the key to mastering any language is practice!

If you want to improve your current level of Spanish do not hesitate to contact us. Join our school in Bogota or our online program.

There are hundreds – or even thousands- of Spanish schools around the world. All schools claim they are different, or the “best in town”.

But, what actually makes one school different from the others?

And, what makes LMTS not only different but special and unique?

In this article, we will go through some of the features that -according to our students- make LMTS unique.

Let’s start from the beginning!

What’s Learn More Than Spanish?

LMTS is a diverse and multicultural Spanish school based in Bogota, Colombia. We have been established since 2013, and we have hosted hundreds of students from multiple countries around the world.

Languages go beyond just grammar; languages are also cultural expressions.

As our name indicates, our students learn more than the Spanish language. They learn – and experience- the Colombian culture.

We aim to create the most dynamic learning experience for each one of the students that come to LMTS.

We know that each person has a different motivation for learning the language. We also know that each person learns at a different pace and wants to focus on specific skills.

That is why our Spanish language programs are as personalized as possible. And, this is exactly one of the things that make LMTS unique.

What makes LMTS unique?

What makes LMTS unique is the mix of professionalism and a cozy environment.

LMTS is an authentic Spanish school. The atmosphere is cozy and welcoming. Students feel welcome from the reception to the classrooms. Teachers show their interest in the progress of each student.

Students can feel that both teachers and the administrative team love their job, love having students around and do every single thing from the bottom of their hearts.

Furthermore, our programs have a strong academic component, they are well-structured and interactive.

Students learn the proper use of the language; they learn formal and informal variations. They learn how to get around, but also learn how to communicate properly in academic and professional environments.

We are proud to say that LMTS has been a life experience for all our students, regardless of the length of the course.

They have learned Spanish with us for one week, two weeks and even intensive one-month courses. We are also proud to say that many of them continue learning Spanish from home.

What are the features they like the most about their experience?

1. Small class size

Colombian Spanish slangs meaning

Our group classes vary in size but they are never bigger than three students.

The smaller the class size, the more personalized attention for students. Small-size classes allow the teacher to tailor lessons to each one of the student’s needs.

Students enjoy the attention they receive from the teachers. They feel more confident asking questions and they don’t feel the rush of learning at the same pace as their fellow students. They enjoy the learning process at their own pace.

Our school also offers 1:1 classes. Students love this option because they get full attention from their tutor, and they see results quickly. Students feel more confident after a few classes and they are able to communicate easily after a couple of weeks.

2. Flexibility

Spanish Exam Preparation courses in Colombia for international or foreign Students

Our Spanish courses are open all year round and our start dates are flexible to suit each student. And, our programs give each student the flexibility of choosing their own schedule; their course, level, duration and intensity.

Students can choose the program that suits their needs better and the number of hours they want per day/week. They can also mix their academic program with social and cultural activities to put into practice what they have learned in the classroom.

3. Highly qualified teachers

General Spanish courses in Colombia for international or foreign Students

All our teachers are native Spanish-speakers and certified professionals. They are fully qualified and experienced in teaching Spanish as a second language (ELE).

They are professionals in linguistics, political science, tourism, and other disciplines. They have also traveled the world and taught Spanish as a foreign language abroad. They are highly qualified to cover any topic the student wants to deepen in, from general Spanish to business Spanish.

4. Teaching methods

Spanish for Business Course for foreign Students

The teaching methods depend on the program and preferences of each student.

Some students prefer to focus more on grammar and the proper use of the language. Others prefer to focus on how to get around and interact with locals.

All lessons are planned following the guidelines of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. Although the lessons have a strong academic component, each lesson is tailored to the student’s preferences.

5. Personalized & dynamic classes

Getting used to the different Colombian Accents

Our classes are not only small in size and very academic; they are also personalized and dynamic.

We ask new students what their motivation for learning the language. Then, we design and propose a program that suits their needs and expectations.

Students can choose General Spanish – let’s say for traveling around Colombia or Latin America-. They can also choose a private tutor for improving their academic skills to get high results in the D.E.L.E test. Or, they can choose business Spanish if their goal is working or investing in the country.

Furthermore, the materials used in each class are designed to be interactive and fun. We tailor each lesson -in and outside the classroom- to the student’s interests.

Our activities vary from reading books to learning Colombian songs. And, from learning the different Colombian accents to learning about the coffee culture.

6. Social and Cultural Activities

BOGOTA’S TROLLEY TOUR

Our Spanish courses go beyond the classroom. We offer several activities in which students can put into practice what they have learned during the week.

Interacting with locals not only gives students a taste of what life in Colombia is like. It also helps them to improve their listening and speaking skills.

Our social and cultural activities allow students to learn the most popular Colombian slang. Also, to be more confident when it comes to talking and interacting with people that don’t speak their mother tongue.

Furthermore, social and cultural activities connect students emotionally with our culture. These experiences allow them to expand their hearts and minds toward countries other than their native one.

7. Volunteering program

Volunteering in Bogota, Colombia

One of the activities our students enjoy the most is volunteering.

Throughout the years, at LMTS we have developed strong relationships with local schools and people from the local markets.

LMTS Volunteering Program put the students’ Spanish language skills to the test while supporting educational initiatives.

For instance, LMTS students volunteer as English teachers. Our school has partnered with “El Instituto para la Economía Social -IPES- ” to help kids from the Farmers Markets.

Markets such as “Plaza de mercado La Perseverancia”, “Plaza de mercado del 20 de Julio” and “Plaza de mercado Quirigua”.

What do our students say about LMTS?

Students come from all over the world to study Spanish with us in Bogotá, Colombia. Listen to what they have to say about their incredible experience studying with us.

Lois & Julia (Ireland)

Listen to Lois and Julia talking about their Spanish Classes at LMTS. They were traveling around South America for a few months and decided to study the Spanish language in Bogota.

They participated in our volunteer program and several cultural activities.

Wiam (Morocco)

Listen to Wiam talking about her experience with us. She had a private tutor for one month.

She was happy to see how quickly she improved her Spanish in such a short time.

Angela (USA)

Listen to the experience of one of the first students we received at LMTS after the national lockdown was released.

She studied Spanish with us for a week. She felt happy and safe with the biosafety protocols our school has adopted.

Adam & Kelly (USA)

Listen to Adam and Kelly talking about their experience at LMTS. They took classes as a couple for one month and had a wonderful experience.

Kelly had some understanding of the language, while Adam was a beginner. They were happy to see how they had improved in just one month. After the course, they were able to communicate easily with locals.

Do you want to know other students’ experiences? Check out our Testimonials page or our Youtube Channel. There are more than a hundred testimonials of students from all around the world.