Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Origin of the University of Salamanca

The Public University of Salamanca is famous for its facade, but what is the history behind it? It started in 1130, which marks the year classes were first offered inside the Cathedral. The university was then officially founded in 1218 by King Alfonso IX. This makes the university of Salamanca the oldest in Spain. In 1254, the university was recognized by Pope Alexander IV as one of the four major universities in the world, with the universities of Oxford, Paris and Bologna. The building of "Escuelas Mayores" began in 1415.
In 1529, the Catholic Monarchs took advantage of this auspicious time to order the construction of the new facade that we know today. The most known thing of this facade is the frog represented over a skull. Legend says that in order to graduate, each new student must find the frog. If the student does not find it, it means bad luck for his studies.
Today, all the tourists who come to visit Salamanca look for the frog that has become a symbol of the city. This is evidenced by the large number of souvenir shops offering frog key chains, frog magnets etc. as keepsakes to remember Salamanca by.
In 1584, the number of university students in the University reached 6778. After that, the attendance had waned and in 1822, it only had 412 students. Throughout history, many famous people have passed through the halls of the university, among them Luis de Leon, Miguel de Unamuno, Miguel de Cervantes, Hernando Cortes, and Christopher Columbus.
According to the university website, it now has faculties of law, art, medicine and sciences.  Today more than 30,000 students pass through the university each year, participating in the 250 programs offered.
If you are currently in Salamanca, don’t forget to visit the university, a part of the rich history of Salamanca!

Claire, Intern at Tia Tula 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Extra-curricular activities 29th July to 2 August, 2013

Monday 29, July Yincana 16:30 - Discover Salamanca.  Come play this game with us to discover more about Salamanca! The winning team will be featured in an article in Tia Tula’s blog. Minimum 2 teams of 2 persons. Meeting place: Tia Tula – Approximate duration: 1h30
Tuesday 30, July Billiards/Foosball 19:30 - Concentration, agility... we put to test your abilities playing Billiards and/or Foosball. Price: Your consumption + participation in each game (+-1€). Meeting place: Tia Tula. Approximate duration: 1h
Wednesday 31, July Dance class 18:30 - Latin Dance class with Dance Academy Raquel Gomez. Minimum of 8 students. It is important to register with the secretary before 2.00pm on Tuesday 30. Price 4€. Meeting place: Tia Tula. Duration of the class: 1h
Thursday 1, August Movie 16:30 – AMADOR de Fernando Leόn de Aranoa (2010). Marcela is a young woman facing economic hardship. For the summer she has been entrusted to care for an old man who is bedridden. But there is a secret that no-one knows about them...  Place: Tia Tula - Duration of movie: 112m
Friday 2, August Climb the Clercia Towers 18:45 - The towers were designed to bring believers closer to heaven, simply being there is pure delight.  It will allow you to scan the horizon. As Unamuno used to say, Salamanca "Soto de torres" (a copse of towers). The Clerecía Towers is a like a unique stairway to heaven from which you can enjoy a spectacular view of the city Price: 3,75€. Meeting Place: Tia Tula – Approximate duration: 1h

Remember to sign up for the activity at the reception beforehand (the minimum number of people needed for each activity is 3). If the cost is not stated then the activity is free. We recommend that our students participate in the activities so they can get to know other students in the school, so they can broaden their knowledge of Spanish culture and to practice and improve their Spanish in a fun way.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


I attended the Azabache Flamenco show in the Palacio de Congresos with some of the students from Tia Tula to view the Flamenco themed performance. We loved it!!  For me, it was the first time I’ve seen Flamenco performed in Spain and it was fabulous. The dancer performed with such a joyous expression and passionate movements you couldn’t help but be drawn into the performance. The singers and the band were excellent and we all had a great time!
The performance lasted for an hour and a half and at the end the lead singer’s two sons came on stage. Afterwards the lead singer and his two sons gave an impromptu performance together, with the younger son aged about 10 years, singing lead! We were captivated! He was excellent and the audience encouraged him with cheers and applause! It was a great moment.
I hope I can attend another flamenco performance during my time in Salamanca because I definitely enjoyed this one!

Debra, student in Tia Tula

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

What advantages are there to learning Spanish today?

Spanish is the most spoken language among the Romance languages, both in terms of the number of speakers and in terms of the number of countries in which the language predominates. Worldwide there are over 400 million native Spanish speakers. 

Naturally, pronunciation and use of Spanish at the oral level vary by country, but regional differences are not so great as to make the language unintelligible to speakers of the different regions. Unlike popular belief, there is not a single Spanish. There are different dialects of Spanish due to language evolution in different regions.

The Importance of Spanish Today:
The Spanish speaking population is one of the fastest growing segments in the world, especially in the United States. The Spanish-speaking segment constitutes a huge community that shares products, services and culture, and offers to businesses and institutions a truly unique growth opportunity. 

Here are some important facts about Spanish language:

·         Spanish, the official language of twenty countries, is the most spoken language in the world after English and Mandarin.

·         Worldwide there are over 400 million native Spanish speakers.

·         Experts predict that by 2050 there will be over 530 million Spanish speakers, with 100 million living in the United States.

·         Demand for Spanish documents and information has grown exponentially. This becomes evident in the United States, where Hispanics recently became the largest minority group in the country.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Extra-curricular Activities 22nd - 25th July

Monday 22, 18:00: Card Game. Do you know the Spanish card game chinchón? Come with us to learn and play chinchón in the shade of a park. Meeting point: Tia Tula - Approximate duration: 1h
Tuesday 23, 19:30: Cooking Class You will learn to make Paella and then you can eat it. Price: € 7.
Wednesday 24, 17:00:  Cinema – Blancanieves (2012) de Pablo Berger Drama Spain / France. As part of the cycle of "a summer of Spanish cinema", Tia Tula accompanies you to the cinema to see this film. Price: 5,50 €. Meeting point: Tia Tula - Movie length: 90min.
Thursday 24, 18:30: Exhibition- Archivos de la Guerra Civil. We'll go to see the exhibition that has files of civil war and view a Masonic lodge. Meeting Point:  Tia Tula. Approximate Duration: 1H
Friday 25, 19:00: Tapas Tour. Come take a Tapas tour in the Centre. Price: + - 6 €. Meeting point: Tia Tula. Approximate duration: 1:30

Remember to sign up for the activity at the reception beforehand (the minimum number of people needed for each activity is 3). If the cost is not stated then the activity is free.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My experience visiting a Flea Market

One of the activities organized by Tía Tula last week Sunday was a short trip to a nearby pueblo to visit a flea market. Last week Sunday, I along with some friends of Tia Tula travelled to a nearby town named Holy Carbajosa to experience the flea market.
The market was in the main square, which has a beautiful small old stone church in the center. On the church close to the bell, which is still rung by hand, there was a nest of storks, which although very often seen in Salamanca, always has the ability to charm and fascinate me.  

It was a small “mercadillo” and the items for sale varied from books, magazines, dvds, clothing to older collectible items. Some stalls sold clothing, jewelry, bags, shoes ... all the things which brought happiness to us!! I guess it was a little different for Sergio, the only guy who was with us in the group but he had a good time browsing through the many dvds and books on sale.
What caught my attention was seeing an old movie player with the projector and reels of film also offered for sale. I thought with the exception of the one my dad has, those had disappeared from the face of the Earth! My father is still keeping his, along with film of when I was a child.  Seeing this item in a little flea market in Carbajosa brought back good memories of my childhood.
Afterwards, we all sat on the terrace of a bar in the square for tapas and continued practicing our Spanish. After this visit, I can definitely say that there is always something new and interesting to be discovered in the activities organized by Tía Tula. It was a great way to spend my Sunday morning!
Irene D'Ambra, a student at Tía Tula

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Learning a second language before speaking

There is no minimum age to begin to delve into the linguistic richness of a second language. According to scientific evidence, the sooner you hear the new language, the better. From birth would be more advisable. Advantages for the growing infant are it would be easier for them to speak the language; it will help in concentration and even delay Alzheimer's.

The brain of the early born is like a blank journal. If we wait to have all the pages written to learn another language, there will not be enough space remaining and we will have to write on the side, said Jose Antonio Portellano, neuropsychologist and professor at the Faculty of Psychology of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. This is a perfect metaphor to understand that "the earlier you learn a new language, the more effective it is," he stresses.

This is due to neuroplasticity (ability of the brain and the nervous system to adapt itself to changes), namely, "the reverse plasticity rule: the younger you are, the more ability to learn in general and, therefore, the less it costs to assimilate a new language". The cognitive flexibility is not the same depending on the age

This theory is supported by the scientific literature, in which as quoted by Portellano "we couldn’t find a single drawback associated with early learning of a second language. Quite the opposite, we have seen that it makes a person smarter. Not because it increases the number of neurons but because it improves neuronal connections, the quality of the circuits and cerebral density. All this helps the brain to build itself better. There is more of myelin (a substance that protects the axons), and the learning is more fluid. "

It changes the structure of the brain and this positively affects memory, attention ability and delays dementia. According to a study published in the journal “Neurology”, being bilingual can delay Alzheimer up to four or five years. Furthermore, those who handle several languages use more brain areas, are accustomed to exercising the brain and move with more ease when performing different tasks at once.

Ultimately, neuropsychologists recommend starting as soon as possible the immersion in a second language. Some claim that the benefits can begin even before birth, in the womb of the mother. Whether or not this is the case, the truth is that neuropsychologists recommend taking advantage "from time zero".

It is not enough to put only the cartoons in another language, there must be another element of support: family or day-care. The new language has to 'coexist' naturally with the young child, ie,  some songs are sung in English, others have to be hummed in the other language, and stories also have to be read in that language. Parents should, as well as speak in the native language, also use this second language."

When learning starts from time zero, since everything is yet to build into the brain, it shows in phonology, ie a person gets an accent that is more original. Although the benefits are numerous, the problem is that parents who do not know another language feel it is difficult to make the new language an element in the home. However, they have other options, such as television with the various language learning programs, day-care with or even a foreign nanny. The important thing, stresses Portellano, is not to rush learning with academic rules. This can come later. Instead enjoy the freedom of conversing and expressing oneself while learning the joys of a second language.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Extra-curricular Activities 15th – 19th July

Monday 15th, 19:30: Ice cream + The garden of Calixto y Melibea. What's better than an ice cream and the shade of the trees of the garden to face the heat? We will buy the ice cream  at the El Novelty and we will discover the story of the Garden of Calixto y Melibea .
Meeting point: Tía Tula. Approximate duration: 1h00
Tuesday 16th, 19:30: Río Tormes tour. We will visit  the Tormes river on a boat. ( 2 persons/boat : maximum 15 people ). It is necessary to sign in at the reception before Monday  15th at 12pm. Price: 3,50 euros. Meeting point: Tía Tula. Approximate duration: 1h30.
Wednesday 17th, 17:00:Cinema. “Sola Contigo ( 2013 )” by Alberto Lecchi. Thriller Spain / Argentina. As part of the cycle of "a summer of Spanish cinema", Tia Tula accompanies you to the cinema to watch this film. Price: € 5,50. Meeting point: Tia Tula. Approximate duration: 98 minutes
Thursday 18 th, 15:30: Multiaventura. Do you want to do water sports and sunbathing? Come with us to Pelayos. More details of the activity on the Student Activity Notice Board.
Friday 19th, 22:15: CATCH THE LIGHT OF THE NIGHT OF SALAMANCA. We will meet at the school and we will leave for 3 of the best parts of the city to see and photograph their views (Roman Bridge with views of the Casa Lis, Vaguada de la Palma, Plaza Mayor). Location: Tula Tia Portal Approximate duration: 1h

Remember to sign up for the activity at the reception beforehand (the minimum number of people needed for each activity is 3). If the cost is not stated then the activity is free.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

San Fermines... A unique experience!

Last weekend, I attended the festival of San Fermín. This festival is one of three festivals in Spain where the bulls run. The other festivals are the Spring Festival of Sevilla and the Fire Festival of Valencia. Nearly everyone wore white clothes and wrapped a red scarf around their neck. I actually bought my white clothes the day before the festival and was lucky as the store had so little white clothes left! Such is the popularity of the festival.

San Fermín is celebrated from 7th to 14th of July every year and on the 6th of July, the eve of this period, is when the bulls run. During my previous research of this festival I knew I would enjoy it and it exceeded my imagination. We gathered at a Plaza in Salamanca at 5.00 am to begin our journey to Pamplona, and we arrived there at 10.00 in the morning. After we left the bus it was amazing to see the number of merry revelers already on the streets. Everyone was enjoying themselves and throwing their drinks in the air! Incredible! In an instant our white clothes had changed to pink and yellow.

The next day at 8.00 am the running of the bulls started. We made our way down to the city at 6:30am and already there was a huge crowd! While making our way through the crowd we arrived in the area where the bulls would run and found a spot to watch the event.  We waited for over an hour, and then we heard a banging of guns and the roar of a bull. I saw people running and the bull chasing close behind! For me, I think this happened in about 10 seconds and finished in a flash. Having experienced San Fermín I think it was an interesting and unique experience!

Nori, student of Tia Tula

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

How do bilinguals switch from one language to another?

Is the bilingual brain made of boxes that allow the individual to switch between languages? A U.S. study sought to answer this question.

How bilinguals manage to switch from one language to another, depending on their speaker, and never get lost or confused? This issue has divided scientists for many years.

The boxes in the bilingual brain
There are two opposite schools of thought on this subject. The first group of scientists believe that bilinguals have a "box" in the brain dedicated to each language that they practice with ease. On the contrary, the others argue that the practice of all these languages ​​is mixed in a single box, and that bilinguals switch from one language to another balancing the sound.

To reach an agreement, a study published in the journal Psychological Science by a researcher from Arizona indicates that the bilingual brain is organized by "sounds".

Thus, a Spanish rolled "r" and an English sucked "h" would both be stored in a very specific case, accessible when the individual needs it.

The "Spanish mode" and the "English mode"
To reach these conclusions, the scientists studied 32 people, speaking English and Spanish since childhood. By making them listen to several words, sometimes pronounced in Spanish, sometimes in English, researchers have realized that it is primarily through the sounds that bilingual individuals are able to connect to a language.

"If they are set in “English mode”, they act as English people, and if they are set in “Spanish mode”, then they will behave like Spanish people", explains Andrew Lotto, specialist in the study.

Everything would be in the sounds, say the authors of the study. It is for this reason that a person wanting to learn a language late in their life would be disadvantaged compared to a young person, because they would be imbued with the sounds of their native language.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Extra-curricular Activities 8th – 12th July

Monday 8th, 19:30: Tapas tour.  We will go to some bars in the city center to eat tapas. Price: +- 6 euros. Meeting point: Tía Tula. Approximate duration: 1h30

Tuesday 9th, 18:30: Dance class. Flamenco class. With Raquel  Gómez’s dance academy . Minimum 6 students. It is necessary to sign up at the reception  before  Monday at 14pm. Price: 4 euros. Meeting point: Tía Tula. Approximate duration: 1h.
Wednesday 10th: Flamenco show. Azabache show. Time: 22h00. Price: € 10. Location: Palace of Congresses. Tia Tula does NOT accompany  you to the show but we can help you to buy tickets. It is necessay to sign up at the secretary  before Monday at 14pm.
Thursday 11th, 19:00: Party. Come with us to celebrate the summer arrival. Tia Tula organizes a party in the school. Location: Tía Tula. Approximate duration: 1h.30.

Friday 12th, 15:30: Multi-adventure. Do you want to do water sports and sunbathing? Come with us to Pelayos. More details of the activity in the information panel.
Remember to sign up for the activity at the reception on beforehand (the minimum number of people needed for each activity is 3). If the cost is not stated then the activity is free.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Jazz concerts - Part of the Second Edition of the cultural program “Plazas y Patios”.

Starting from last Saturday there will be concerts scheduled as part of Salamanca’s Second Edition of the Cultural program “Plaza y Patios.”  The concerts will be held at The Gardens of Santo Domingo de la Cruz and are carded to be held every Saturday, beginning on June 29 and ending on July 27. Time is 10.30pm and admission is free.  Modulating Big Band, Coda, Jose Luis Gutierrez, Cool Cats and Blues Trio, Laurent Lavigne,Ñaco&Goñi are the five groups scheduled to perform.
To give you an indication on the remaining performances, on Saturday, July 6, will be the Coda group, a Vocal Quintet, of five female voices a cappella.  Jose Luis Gutierrez, one of the most International Spanish Jazz musicians, will perform on July 13.  His performance is influenced by Iberian music and he has a style called "Iberjazz". On July 20 will be the group Cool Cats.They play swing on a blanket of samba, mambo, calypso and rumba. And to end, on July 27 will be the trio Ñaco, Laurent Lavigne & Goñi with a selection of blues standards with special emphasis on Chicago in the '50s and '60s.

Tia Tula encourages you to go out and take part in this activity as it is a good way to interact with others and practice your Spanish. 

Debra, Student at Tia Tula

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Visit to the Monastic Craft Market, Plaza Anaya.

There is always something going on in Salamanca. A few days ago I got a glimpse of Sweets Heaven! My class mate and I visited the Monastic Craft Market held at Plaza Anaya and we were impressed with the offering of sweets!
The products were made by various Monasteries who came together to showcase their products and offer them for sale to the public daily from June 25th and 30th.  This market was part of the Second Edition of the cultural program “Plazas y Patios” that was mentioned in a previous blog article. See link
There were different types of biscuits, tarts and cakes, all nicely packaged and displayed on tables under the tents in the plaza. It was a good time to indulge in a little treat and we walked off the extra calories by heading down to the Rio Tormes!

Debra, Student in Tia Tula

Monday, July 1, 2013

Extra-curricular Activities 1st – 5th July

Monday 1st, 19:30: Guided tour. A person from the school will tell you the history of the main monuments of Salamanca. Meeting point: Tía Tula. Approximate duration: 1h
Tuesday 2nd, 17:30: Museum. We will visit and view an antique collection of vehicles in the Automobile Museum of Salamanca. Meeting point: Tía Tula. Approximate duration: 1h.

Wednesday 3rd, 18:30:  Dance Course. Flamenco course with the academy Raquel Gomez. Minimum 6 students. It’s necessary to sign up before Tuesday 2nd 14:00. Meeting point: Tía Tula. Approximate duration: 1h
Thursday 4th, 16:30: Swimming Pool. We will spend the afternoon in the swimming pool San Jose. Bring your swimsuit, towel and flippers. Price: € 3,30. Meeting point: Tía Tula. Approximate duration: 3h

Friday 5th, 20:45: Theatre piece. We will watch a theatre play named “Suena que algo piedra” in the Salamanca cave. Meeting point: Tía Tula. Approximate duration: 30 minutes.

Remember to sign up for the activity at the reception on beforehand (the minimum number of people needed for each activity is 3). If the cost is not stated then the activity is free. We recommend our students to participate in the activities so they can get to know other students in the school, so they can broaden their knowledge of Spanish culture and to practice and improve their Spanish in a fun way.