Answer: They’ve changed.

All three of these are examples of language changes in recent years, at least in Spanish.  Thus, they’re the three biggest changes we made in our recent rather significant update to Calico Spanish Classic for Schools, our beginner level for elementary Spanish teachers.

Alphabet changes

In 2010, the RAE made some changes to the alphabet.  This concept is a bit foreign, to be punny, to English speakers, because we don’t have an academic body that meets to decide what is English and what is not, or whether it’s time for the alphabet to change.  But Spanish does.  And in 2010, the Real Academia Española decided to make the following changes to the official Spanish alphabet:

  • The letters ch and ll were removed; they are now considered “digraphs.”
  • The new name of “y” is ye.
  • The only name for “B” is be.
  • The only name for “V” is uve.
  • The only name for “W” is uve doble.

Color changes

What about pink and orange?  This isn’t an issue of the RAE, really, but rather how people talk.  As Spanish teachers, we often learned vocabulary from textbooks that told us the word for pink is rosado and the word for orange is anaranjado.  As I collected children’s books for my children, though, I started to notice some of them used rosa and naranja for these colors.  Had the word changed?  What did users actually use?

As we continue to develop Calico Spanish Stories Online Level D (“I Like the Farm”), which features a new pig character as well as a mother-daughter Monarch butterfly team, our color focus is pink and orange.  So, it was time to investigate exactly which words to use.  Wow, has this usage changed.  I was so surprised.

Songs and children’s books are all over the map on this, including our own popular Colores, colores,” which uses anaranjado (but does not include pink).  The WordReference forums muddy the waters even more, giving the “old” usage of rosa as the color as a noun, and rosado is the adjective, varying from country to country.

So, I went to my source of all things frequency related: I hit Google.


Here’s what I found on pink:

  • vestido de color rosa: 735,000
  • vestido rosa: 408,000
  • vestido rosado: 350,000

That’s right.  The usage we all learned in school, vestido rosado, is actually the least common.  In fact, the Spanish online shopping site Zalando offers vestido rosa and vestido de color rosa but not vestido rosado at all.

But this isn’t even consistent across nouns, not even across masculine nouns.  See what happened when I changed it to “pig”:

  • cerdo rosado: 90,000
  • cerdo rosa: 40,000
  • cerdo de color rosa: 28,000


Now, what about orange?  Here’s what happened with mariposa:

  • mariposa naranja: 35,000
  • mariposa de color naranja: 32,000
  • mariposa anaranjada: >20,000

Again, the phrase I would’ve used based on what I learned in school is least common.

With gorra the phrase gorra de color naranja comes out on top by a significant margine.  Here’s how significant that margin is with vestido:

  • vestido de color naranja: 600,000
  • vestido naranja: 300,000
  • vestido anaranjado: 17,000

It seems like rosado has always really meant “pinkish” and anaranjado has always meant “orangeish,” and now usage is really reflecting that.
In case you’re curious about what we decided to do with these colors in Level D:

Es un cerdo rosado.

César es un cerdo rosado.

Ofelia tiene una gorra rosa.

Mía es una mariposa negra y naranja.

César tiene una bufanda de color naranja.

Our updates

Curious as to how these changes play out in our new version of Classic?

We want to be up-to-date on language usage!

  • Before: Each chapter introduced one letter of the traditional alphabet, including ch and ll.  Because there were only 15 chapters, this meant only A-M were included in the curriculum chapters.  Lessons for N-Z were added in an appendix.
    Now: Each chapter includes lessons for 1 or 2 letters of the current, 2010 RAE alphabet, and lessons for all letters appear within the chapters and their scope and sequence plans.  Optional lessons for ch and ll are in an appendix.
  • Before: flash cards, posters, and lesson plans referred to pink as rosado and orange as anaranjado with outdated language notes for anaranjado.
    Now: Flash cards, posters, and lesson plans give preference to rosade color rosa, naranja, and de color naranja with language notes on how these uses have changed and the current usage of rosado and anaranjado.

And guess what? We’ve even updated our alphabet song to reflect the 2010 alphabet.  (That release will be announced in a separate post.)

We want to provide you with the very best in elementary Spanish curriculum options, and when we see a significant language change, we see an opportunity to improve.  We hope you’ll agree.

#langchat summaryFor their final chat of the year, #Langchat participants took time to reflect and share about all they have learned from the past school year. They also discussed what they hope to change in the upcoming school year.

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Small and Large Changes Made in the Past Year

#Langchat teachers discussed the successful small and large changes they made in their classrooms this past school year. @welangley “went deskless!” while @joyeuse212 used “an all Proficiency -Based curriculum.” @WHSWorldLang shared, “I made a concerted effort to do more authentic resource listening activities with my level 4 students, in particular.” @sr_connolly found success with “fewer traditional assignments, more flexibility, and more attention to students’ needs over the syllabus.” @magistertalley said, “I stopped using the textbook as curriculum and moved towards providing a more individualized experience. I also made a concerted effort to increase my [target language] use.”

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Big AHA Moments

Collaboration through #langchat discussions have sparked some big “aha” moments for many #langchat participants. These “aha” moments have lead to growth and achievement for teachers and students alike.

  •      @MlleSulewski realized, “The world will not end if I don’t grade everything on a proficiency rubric.”
  •      @Magistertalley shared, “I realized (too late) how crucial it is to build listening skills. Similarly, I’m okay with my [students] not being where they’re “supposed” to be if they’re still learning & having fun.”
  •      @WhatDHeckman said, “Students are people, not objects to be spoken at. Get to know them personally.”
  •      “If I can’t articulate the point of the task/activity/assessment, I’m probably doing it wrong,” said @jaybeekay518.
  •      “Finding twitter as a resource for collaboration was an out-of-the-classroom AHA moment for me!” shared #langchat participant, @Kellycondon.

Taking Risks

The #Langchat community encouraged each other to take risks in the classroom this past year. Many #langchat teachers would agree that these risks paid off. @Marishawkins had “students give presentations without notecards! They were so great!” @MmeFarab  said, “tossing bell ringers aside and starting with input was scary, hard, and tiring, but so worth it.” @DMooreSpanish took a risk and “stopped banning Google Translate.” [He] “taught responsible use and alternatives” instead. @Welangley risked alternative seating while “going deskless. He felt instant regret after, but was glad he kept with it.”

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Looking Forward

#Langchat participants not only looked back at past accomplishments, but set goals for the future. What are you looking forward to ditching in the classroom next school year?

  •      @MlleSulewski said, “Ditching: CLASSROOM JOBS. Two years in a row and I could NOT make it work.”
  •      @Marishawkins shared, “ditching the TEXTBOOK and I couldn’t be happier!!!!
  •      @Welangley hopes to “get better at differentiating for high-flyers”
  •      @WHSWorldLang wants to implement “more IPAs, more authentic listening input from variety of sources, and more student feedback.”

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Questions for Next Year

As the summer begins to wind down, here are a few questions that #langchat participants hope to discuss in the upcoming #Langchat discussions.  If you have a question or a topic you hope to collaborate on in the future, please check out our #langchat wiki and suggest a topic!

  •      @VTracy7 asked, “I’d like my students to ‘spontaneously output,’ I know they’ll do that when the time is right, but is there a quick-rise formula?”
  •      @LauraErinParker wonders, “How to get more CI/TL in class – accountability for me and students?”
  •      @Magistertalley shared, “I want to make sure to have a clear idea of the end of year goals at the beginning of the year.”

Thank You

A special thanks to everyone who made #langchat a success this past school year. Thank you to our lead collaborator, Megan (@MlleSulewski) for guiding this discussion.