Frankenstein and Beyond!

The Most Effect Spanish Subjunctive Program Ever Created

In our previous reports we saw that the main problem with the Spanish subjunctive is that it is a very complex subject that cannot be addressed with partial or simplistic solutions. There is no golden bullet or any magic formula that could, on its own, solve the Spanish subjunctive puzzle. It is just necessary to have a program that focuses on four main areas: 1) Good and Clear  Explanations  and… 2) Detailed Lists of Phrases that trigger the Subjunctive with… 3) Plenty of Examples to see  those phrases in action and… 4)  Comprehensive Practice.   Unfortunately, so far, all books and programs have always focused on one or two of those areas at best, and that is why no matter how much time and effort you may have put into understanding the subjunctive, despite some progress here and there,  in the end you feel that something is missing and it is back to square one.If your goal is to communicate confidently and not sound like Tarzan whenever you speak, half-baked solutions won’t work. You need a holistic program with laser-sharp focus on all areas, not just on one or two.



The Creation of a Monster…


It was time to make a change!


For the last 20 years, whenever I had to teach the Spanish subjunctive, I knew it was not going to be easy. As we saw before, it is not easy for students and it is not easy for teachers either.

“Why difficult for me as a teacher?”, you may be wondering.

Well, those who know me are very aware of the fact that I do not like to repeat what books say unless there is a good reason for it. I personally feel that more often than not, books tend over complicate things. Even complex concepts seem to be “jargonized” to such an extent that you would think we were dealing with rocket science instead of a basic concept that people use easily on a day-to-day basis.


The Spanish Subjunctive could be very frustrating for learners, but also for teachers (she is faking a smile! )

Still waters run deep. Behind her encouraging smile, she feels as frustrated as her student because he is unable to understand the Spanish subjunctive.

Whenever I had to teach the Spanish subjunctive, after researching the options I had, I would start with a grammar book and try to follow it to the T, only to find my students struggling to grasp some concepts that were not difficult if they had been written in lay English. That is why I would write some notes, basically the same concepts but in a step by step fashion and in everyday English. And they could understand them very easily then.

And after the explanations came triggers, you know, those phrases or patterns that under certain circumstances trigger the use of the subjunctive. And it was shocking to me to see that books said that certain triggers always required the use of the Subjunctive. However, off the top of my head I could come up with plenty of everyday conversational examples that would totally contradict that. And that made me realize how misleading those materials were. It was true that under certain circumstances they did require the subjunctive, but they did not emphasize that or even mention it at all. According to the book, certain words always triggered the subjunctive no matter what. That is totally wrong! No wonder why so many advanced students struggle with the subjunctive.

For anyone reading the book, it seemed as if every single time they saw those phrases, the subjunctive came into play. That realization made me write some notes on triggers, for my students to understand that difference clearly.  And I expanded the lists on triggers from some books or combined some triggers suggested in one book with some triggers from other books to offer a good working list of patters for my students to rely on. Some books just mentioned two or three and that is it, when in reality there could be over fifty or sixty! How lazy is that?!

Lack of space or lazy book writers?

Lack of space or lazy book writers?


Once we had some good notes on triggers, then came the examples. Oh, boy! Don’t even get me started there! Oh well, too late now! As a native Spanish speaker, it was obvious to me that some of the examples in the book were not practical in real life. They had been created to prove a point and they were so unnatural or far-fetched that no native Spanish speaker in their right mind would ever say anything even close to that. Yes, I could have taken the easy way out and have my students repeat those examples_ as lots of teachers do, but well, that is not me. So I started to create some notes for them, adding practical everyday examples. Usually books come with the minimum number of examples they can get away with, but I tried to create lots and lots of practical conversational examples for each single point, so as to offer a more realistic idea of how those expressions are used in the real world and to enable them to start to use the phrases straight away. 

 After providing my students with and analyzing plenty of real life examples, it was time to do some practice. And as you can imagine, I was not very happy at all about the exercises in the book(s). For starters, there were not enough exercises. The subjunctive is a long and complex topic. In order for you to internalize it, you need plenty of practice. Not just a lot but a huge amount of exercises. That is the only way you will truly get it! The amount of exercises in most books was just ludicrous. Even combining the exercises from three or four books was not even good enough to start. Two to five pages with exercises  per book are not enough.  And some longer and complex topics could be learned faster by breaking  them down into smaller parts, each one with its own specific practice and then one final integration. Wishful thinking! There was none of that!


The light bulb went off!

The light bulb went off!


It was crystal clear to me that if I just gave those exercises to my students, not only wouldn’t there be enough for them to understand the topic, but they would actually confuse them even more. On top of that, although most books had an answer key so the students could look at the right answers, there was no explanation to justify the answers. In many cases, two or even three possible answers could have worked, but the book just mentioned one. Any student working on his own would have thought his answers were wrong when they were actually one of the many correct possibilities.  In the light of all this, I decided to add additional exercises for my students, in such a progressive way that it could be easier for them to progress from practicing simpler to more complex topics, and then integrating the whole concept or set of concepts.

What I noticed was that once I started to add my notes to supplement many different books that my students had bought but had never been able to understand, things started to happen. A part of the veil they had in front of their eyes seemed to have been lifted. The types of questions they began to ask me were more complex and denoted a deeper knowledge of the subject. Still their use of the subjunctive was not ideal. They all  seemed to have a clearer idea of the whole puzzle, but they could still not see the whole picture. Although most of them had made a lot of progress, there were still inconsistencies between all of the theory they had and the practice reflected that as well. 

It did not make any sense to me. How come? I had created some great notes that would connect concepts from different books in a unified form, I had added triggers, plenty of examples to supplement the book and even added lots and lots exercises. My notes were almost 100 pages long and yet, they were still not getting it! What was going on?!  

... and  then I realized why my notes were not working as well as I expected them to: I had created a Frankenstein version of the subjunctive

… and then I realized why my notes were not working as well as I expected them to: I had created a Frankenstein version of the subjunctive.


And then it hit me! My idea had been all wrong from the get-go. You see, I realized I had been trying to create notes to patch a broken system. I had bits and pieces of information from dozens of different sources that I was trying to combine to force them to work together perfectly. Inadvertently, I had created a Frankenstein version of the Spanish subjunctive that was indeed producing good results, but way below its full potential.  In an effort to enable my students to understand the materials available back then, I had created notes to simplify what the books said, but in the end, the problems were the books themselves. Fixing that made as little sense as trying to carry water from one side of the desert to another one just using your bare hands. I could never work!  

Spanish Subjunctive Quotation MaksInadvertently, I had created a Frankenstein version of the Spanish subjunctive that despite its limitations was indeed working, but not to its full potential. NOW IT WAS TIME TO CREATE THE ULTIMATE TOOL .  


All books I had seen had structural deficiencies that were impossible to fix. Or at least, trying to find a work-around would have been much harder than creating something afresh. All my notes were trying to cover holes in a theory that was wrong or even messed up from the get-go.

With that realization, and fully aware of all that was required in a solid program for students to understand and internalize the Spanish subjunctive, I decided to create THE ultimate guide that any student would EVER need to master the subjunctive. I was determined to create such a program that Even someone starting afresh with no idea of even basic concepts about the Spanish subjunctive could understand in a progressive and predictable manner, without ever having to resort to any other book or guide because some concept is not clear enough. 

The Perfect Program was about to be born!

Everything was clear to me in that moment! I knew what I had to do!  Change was coming!


To me, the ideal program needed:


  • Solid, clear  and concise explanations. Long or complex concepts are broken down into simple concepts.
  • A very complete list of phrases that trigger the subjunctive.
  • Examples of each of those phrases / triggers in action.  Plenty of them!
  • Comprehensive practice in the form of drills.
  • Not only Grammar Practice but also samples of real-life situations in which the subjunctive appears spontaneously in any work/ play / movie etc NOT CREATED TO TEACH THE SUBJUNCTIVE.


And that is what I set out to create. The results were mind-blowing but I will tell you all about it  in our next report. 

The great news for you is that although you can keep reading about the creation process of the best program on the Spanish subjunctive ever created, you can start to reap its benefits straight away, at a promotional price!



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