Volver: Film Study Guide for AS/A-level Spanish

Modern Study Language Guides

Volver - Pedro Almodóvar

​If you are studying AS or A level Spanish, and Volver is one that you are going to study in depth, then this is the guide for you.

​The guide has been written with the exam in mind.

In particular, it addresses the following :

  • Strengthen language skills with relevant grammar, vocab and writing exercises throughout
  • Aim for top marks by building a bank of textual examples and quotes to enhance exam response​
  • Build confidence with knowledge-check questions at the end of every chapter
  • Revise effectively with pages of essential vocabulary and key mind maps throughout​
  • Feel prepared for exams with advice on how to write an essay, plus sample essay questions, two levels of model answers and examiner commenta​ry

Film analysis made easy.  Build your students' confidence in their language abilities and help them to develop the skills necessary to critique their chosen work : putting it into context, understanding the themes and director's technique, as well as specialist terminology.

​Breaking down each scene, character and theme in Volver, this accessible guide will enable your students to understand the historical and social context of the film and give them the critical and language skills needed to write a successful essay.

Hodder and Stoughton 
Publishers of the Modern Languages Study Guides


This excellent student and exam focussed guide is a must-have for A level Spanish students.

If you would like a copy, click on the book cover below and there is a link to the Amazon website for your convenience.​

Also, if you do not have a copy of the DVD,  there is a link is on the DVD cover. 

The best Spanish phrasebook 2017

Introduction - The Collins Gem Spanish phrasebook & dictionary

If you are looking for the best Spanish phrasebook 2017, you are in the right place.

In this review,  we will give you the lowdown on the Collins Gem Spanish Phrasebook & Dictionary.

Here are the pros and the cons of this handy, well priced , little reference guide.

What are the real benefits of this portable Spanish guide? You will learn that here and much more besides.

Click on the link to go to Amazon to get the Collins Gem Spanish phrasebook & dictionary


Contents of the Collins Gem Spanish phrasebook & dictionary

    • How to use the Collins Gem Spanish phrasebook
    • Ten top tips on how to speak Spanish
    • Talking to people in Spanish. Saying hello and goodbye in Spanish,  key phrases in Spanish, celebrations in Spanish,  making friends in Spanish amongst others
    • Getting around - using Spanish in real situations. Asking the way in Spanish,  using buses and coaches in Spanish, travelling by train using Spanish,  travelling on the metro and travelling  by boat and ferry. Hiring a car in Spanish and driving related topics are also covered.
    • Staying somewhere - how to use Spanish in a hotel , in a campsite, or a self- catering establishment.
    • Shopping - how to go shopping in Spanish, including  key shopping phrases,  general food items in Spanish, clothes in Spanish, and technology in Spanish. Maps and guides and the post office are also covered. 
    • Leisure activities in Spanish including night life, entertainment,  music and sport.
    • Communications in Spanish including  telephones and mobiles, text messaging, email and internet 
    • Practical items in Spanish - money, paying, luggage, repairs, complaints, problems and emergencies
    • Health in Spanish - pharmacy, body, doctor, dentist
    • Eating out in Spanish  - bar/café, restaurant,  menu, dietary requirements,  wines and spirits
    • Menu reader in Spanish - a  comprehensive list of items that you will find on a menu in Spain.
    • Key words in Spanish (A reference) - the alphabet, measurements and quantities, numbers,  days and months,  time, time phrases, public holidays and a useful phonetic map illustrating the sound of Spanish.
    • Grammar - there is a useful brief and understandable Spanish grammar guide
    • Dictionary - there is a useful Spanish / English, English Spanish dictionary at the end of the guide.  

The key features of the Collins Gem Spanish phrasebook & dictionary

    • Clearly and thoughtfully laid out for the non specialist
    • The pronunciation of words and phrases are helpfully indicated using equivalents in English e.g. bwenas tardes (good afternoon) 
    • Emphasis or the stress on words is indicated in heavy type - as in the above example bwenas tardes (good afternoon)
    • Road signs in Spanish with the translation into English are very useful 
    • There is a  section on the common shortened versions of words used in texts in Spanish. A great idea - but will they be used? 
    • The Eating  Out section has a helpful, if brief, explanation of the different types of eating establishments in Spain. Very useful for those on their first visit to Spain or a Spanish speaking country.
    • Very competitively priced
    • A sturdy little tome for the handbag

The pros and cons the Collins Gem Spanish phrasebook & dictionary


    ​Very competitively priced - great value

    Spanish dictionary and phrase book all in one​

    ​Portable - handbag size

    Clearly set out divided into useful sections​

    Useful for everyone from teens to "silver surfers"

    Packed with useful words and phrases

    A good addition to the Spanish language learning arsenal alongside apps ​

    Useful extra aid for Spanish students of all ages and levels ​


    Not comprehensive - as there are size  constraints


    ​The "blurb" from Collins makes some claims about the Gem which cannot really believed.

    This one stands out "sound and speak like a native."

    However, publisher's hype aside,​ this guide is highly recommended.

    So, if you are looking for a Spanish guide for your trip to Spain or another Spanish-speaking country, which is :

    • very competitively priced,
    • easy to understand
    • packed with useful and relevant phrases 
    • highly portable

    Then the Collins Gem Spanish phrasebook and dictionary is for you.

Click on the link to go to Amazon to get the Collins Gem Spanish phrasebook & dictionary

​If you have found this review to be useful, why not sign up for more information, tips, hacks and ideas on how to improve your Spanish from HowtolearnSpanish.co .

Why not sign up for our newsletter?

​If you have found this review to be useful, why not sign up for more information, tips, hacks and ideas on how to improve your Spanish from HowtolearnSpanish.co .

Continue reading The best Spanish phrasebook 2017

About us

About you

If there is a phrase to describe you as far as your ability in Spanish is concerned, what would it be:

A confident Spanish speaker who can engage in conversation at normal speed with a native speaker.

A competent writer of Spanish with few grammatical errors.

A skillful reader of Spanish who understands the subtleties and nuances of the language​.

​An able listener to Spanish who understands Spanish spoken by a native speaker at a natural speed.

Is that YOU?

Or, is it none of the above?

Or, some of the above, but not all?

Or, somewhere, perhaps, in between?

Or, you might know someone who would like to be this competent, confident and accomplished Spanish student ?

Whatever the case is - YOU are in the right place.


    • you are looking for great ideas and tips and hacks to show you how to learn Spanish
    • you are looking for books, products to help you lean Spanish
    • you are looking for ideas on how to live Spanish authentically
    • you are looking for online lessons

Who is this website for?

This website is for anyone to wants to learn Spanish. Or to help someone else learn Spanish.

Young. Older. Inbetweeners.

Beginners. Intermediates. Experienced pros.

Anyone who wants to speak Spanish, read Spanish, listen to Spanish, write Spanish.

In short, to live Spanish.

Or,even better, to dream in Spanish.

That is our passionate for you to DREAM in Spanish. Unrealistic - I don't think so!

​Who is behind howtolearnspanish.co?

I am - Steven French from Steven French Languages.

What a great family name for someone in the languages business!

I am a seasoned linguist with over a quarter of a century's experience in the languages field.

I am a passionate linguist and hispanist.

 Welcome to the howtolearnspanish.co website. Enjoy!

Steven French
Linguist and Hispanist

​What is on the howtolearnspanish.co website?

This website has:

  • a blog consisting of tips and hacks hacks on how to learn Spanish
  • posts that have links to great Spanish learning sites - some free, some paid
  • recommendations on Spanish grammars and Spanish text books, to help you learn Spanish
  • recommendations on audio materials to help you to learn Spanish
  • ideas on how to use You Tube to learn Spanish and links to some great Spanish You Tube sites
  • links to the best boards on Pinterest
  • links to materials to specifically help students who are studying for GCSE Spanish and A Level Spanish
  • ideas on how to step up your acquisition of Spanish by visiting a Spanish speaking country
  • links to Spanish language schools in Spain and Latin America
  • a shop linked to Amazon and other sites with hundreds of products to help with your Spanish learning journey
  • in-depth reviews on popular Spanish language products to help you make an informed choice

And much more!


So, you are in the right place to:

  • to start learning Spanish
  • improve your Spanish
  • perfect your Spanish

Or if you want to help someone else learn Spanish - the same applies​.

Next steps

If you want to have a browse in the store - please click on the link​:

The Store

We have lots of exciting plans, including:

an online Spanish GCSE course

an online A level Spanish course

online Spanish courses​

Spanish language / cookery visits to Granada​

Why not sign up for our newsletter?

​If you  would like to be kept up to date with these exciting developments, why not sign up for more information, tips, hacks and ideas on how to improve your Spanish from HowtolearnSpanish.co.


Flashsticks – to help you learn Spanish


This post is about a fantastic product on the market to help you to learn Spanish.

The product – Flashsticks.

What are Flashsticks and how can they help me learn Spanish?

Flashsticks - Spanish

Check out our Flashticks pinterest board below!

If you like what you see there is an Amazon link below.


  • Great for kids and adults alike! 
  • Family challenges
  • Great for stocking fillers and presents
  • Language learners' sticky notes

There are more Flashsticks products in the store

Click here to go to the Store



Tricky nouns in Spanish

Masculine and feminines?

Tricky nouns in Spanish
Tricky nouns in Spanish

As a learner of Spanish, have you ever had problems with your masculine and your feminines in Spanish?

For English speakers the concept of concrete nouns or abstract nouns being either masculine or feminine is quite bizarre.

I know this to be a fact – as a seasoned (!) teacher of Spanish to English speakers.

You Tube Video on Tricky nouns in Spanish.

Click on the link below and some of the “irregular” nouns are included in the You Tube video.

Tricky nouns in Spanish

Here they are in all of their irregular glory :

El programa – programme

El crucigrama – crossword

El poema – poem

El clima – climate

El mediodía – midday

La moto – motorbike

El sistema – system

La radio – radio

La disco – discotheque

El planeta – planet

El tranvía – tram

El pijama – pyjamas

El problema – problem

El mapa – map

El día – day

El guardarropa – wardrobe

El vodka – vodka

Help is at hand

If you think you might need a bit of a refresher on all of  this, this Pinterest board will help:

Pinterest link – howtolearnspanish.co Spanish nouns

Also, if you want to delve deeper, click on this link:

Spanish Grammars


An interesting and varied list, I am sure you will agree.

Make sure you have a look at the You Tube video and the Pinterest link. As we linguists say – “it’s all grist to the Spanish language learning mill.”

Do you know any more of these tricky nouns in Spanish? If you do, please add them in the comments.












Why, oh why, should I learn how to say “um” in Spanish?

How to say "um" in 6 different ways in Spanish.  A bubble then says "Why would I want to do that?"Why – um in Spanish?

A great and logical question.

The short answer is:

“To sound Spanish”.

Yes, more authentically Spanish.

What I am going to show you in this blogpost, used judiciously and sensibly, is linguistic gold.

However, over done, it is linguistic dross.


English speakers use lots of ways to collect their thoughts, they are verbal props. They give the speaker important thinking time.

How about these?  These are examples from the UK. Perhaps English speakers from around the globe might like to chip in with their own local equivalents.

Examples of word fillers, or “um” in English.



“Like….” (this does seem to have hit epidemic proportions of late!)


“Do you know what ?….”


6 word fillers or verbal props or “um”in Spanish


“Pues….” (well…)

“Bueno….” (good…)

“….o sea” (well…)

“Cómo lo diría?” (How will I say it?)

“Mira” (look….)

“A ver…” (let’s see…)

These are verbal props or filler words, used sensibly, will make you sound more Spanish. But, don’t overdo it. Job done.

Conclusion – to “um or not to “um”?

A short blog post – reflecting the short verbal props in both languages.

Will you be brave enough to use them in your own Spanish? Let me know how you get on!

Also – are there others that you can think of? Latin American equivalents?