I love food – cooking it, but especially eating it. A Spanish acquisition exercise that I do periodically and that has helped me improve my Spanish is to watch food preparation videos from Hispanic countries on YouTube. Granted, there are tens of thousands of such videos on YouTube, and usually it takes me a while to find the right videos. These are my criteria for choosing videos:
- The video must show the speaker’s face for at least part of the time. I want to connect with the person doing the video as much as possible.
- I like the person doing the video and get the feeling that the person is being genuine and is not just a paid entertainer. As much as possible I want to practice with ‘real people.’
- The person speaks clearly and, ideally, not too fast.
- The video is not too long – usually less than 10 minutes. Since I am watching the video as a language learning exercise, I don’t usually want to sit through a 30 minute detailed set of instructions on how to prepare a sophisticated dish.
- I find the video engaging and fun to listen to.
Spanish Acquisition Exercise
Then I watch and listen to the video, understanding as much as I am able to without concern for what I don’t understand. I want to make this a fun, enjoyable language acquisition exercise, not a language learning exercise. So I usually don’t bother looking up words in the dictionary, nor try to memorize vocabulary, etc. But I do employ one of the fundamentals of language acquisition: repetition. So, when I finish that video, I try to find another one that is about the same dish. I find it helpful and interesting to compare the two recipes and to get different points of view on how to prepare that dish. And the second video always uses a lot of the same vocabulary as the first which provides the repetition, but with some changes.
I selected three dishes that are popular in Latin America and / or Spain that I happen to like a lot: Pan Tumaca (Spain), Empanadas (many countries), and Sopa de Tortilla (Mexico). Then I scoured YouTube for videos on these three dishes and below I’ve listed two of them for each dish.
By the way, I like to do this exercise when I’m hungry: I find I’m much more engaged in the videos!
I’ve eaten Pan Tumaca in Spain many times and I often prepare it at home. It’s very simple and delicious.
I’ve had empanadas from these countries: Mexico, Argentina, Peru, El Salvador and Costa Rica. They were all delicious and quite different. The first one is from Argentina and is a little long, but I found it very engaging:
The second video is from Mexico and is about a very different type of empanada:
Sopa de Tortilla
Here is one of my favorite soups. The first video even starts with a short travelogue.
After I watch a video I read through some of the comments below it: they are often interesting, sometimes funny (sometimes annoying) – and they give me another opportunity to practice Spanish.
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