Dedicated to providing you with credible information about living overseas
TextImage
Best Places In The World To Retire Expat Stories contains text, video, and photos by people just like you who are already living abroad

Expat Stories

Search by Writer

Stories Menu

How to talk Spanish good... and why. (Como hablar espanol bueno... y por que)

Saturday market, Segundo Parque Laureles, Colombia – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingA disclaimer: I’m a capital G Gringo. I’ve been practicing my English skills for many years, and I’m proud to say that I have my native language down pretty well. In other words, I ain’t no expert in español, so keep that in mind.
 
However, or sin embargo as they say, I am learning Spanish paso a paso, (step by step) here in Medellin, and it’s very gratifying to be able to speak with folks in their native tongue. I see questions on various websites, Best Places to Retire included, with a variation of this question: Do I absolutely have to learn Spanish to live in, (fill in the blank)?
 
So, here’s the deal. (Asi, aqui es la verdad) If you want to really live and explore and move around in Colombia, Spanish is not an option. Unlike, for instance, many parts of Panama, where Norte Americano expats are plentiful and unconcerned about español, here in Medellin, and in many parts of Colombia, a meeting of English speakers can be held in your typical Starbucks, and often is, by the way. So what I’ve done with this post is patch together a few Spanish phrases that might assist you.
 
Metro in Medellin, Colombia – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingAgain, I’m a rank amateur at this. I know enough español to order food, get around in taxis, shop at the mercados, greet people on the street, and thoroughly embarrass myself. I have a teacher once per week, and, at my request, he speaks no English during my two-hour classes. I understand maybe 90% of what he tells me, and can respond perhaps 50% of the time. It’s not pretty; more like Dick & Jane in Spanish, mira Jane mira! Corre Spot corre! And it’s true what I’ve been told that we understand Spanish long before we can speak it. Also, the graduation award, the final exam if you will, is not conversational Spanish, but español por teléfono. If you can speak Spanish over the phone, you’ve arrived. So here are a few expressions/phrases/words you can use if you’re just getting started.
 
Where is______? Donde esta_____? Then add the following:
The bathroom: el bańo, a taxi: un taxi?, my drink: mi bebida?, my beer/wine/water: mi cerveza/vino/agua?, my husband/wife/friend/room/: mi esposo/esposa/mi amigo(a)/cuarto?, my suitcase: mi maleta?, the exit: la salida?, the nearest Spanish/English dictionary: espanol/ingles diccionario mas proximo?
How do I_____? I say this: se dice?, pay for this: pago por esta?, order another, ordeno un otra?, learn Spanish, aprendo espanol?
Yes, it is: si, claro.
I agree: de acuerdo
Taxi ride in Medellin, Colombia – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingCheck please: la cuenta, por favor.
I’m (not) finished: yo (no) terminé
I’d like this to go: Para llevar, por favor (Pah-rah zhevar. In Colombia, double L is pronounced as a Z, thus Medellin is pronounced Med-a-zheen)
Many thanks: muchas gracias.
You’re welcome: con mucho gusto. (Colombians rarely use de nada.)
Have a good day/night: pasa buen dia/noche.
See you later: hasta luego.
See you then: nos vemos
Goodbye: again, hasta luego, (Adios implies ‘we’ll never meet again.’)
In the morning: en la mańana
In the afternoon: en la tarde
I like it: me lo gusta
I would like: me gustaria
We would like: nos gustaria
Do you like?: te gusta?
Very good: muy bueno
Much: mucho
Later: mas tarde
Tell me: dime (dee-may)
Again: de nuevo
Me too: a mi tambien
Me neither: a mi tampoco
I don’t understand: yo no comprendo/entiendo
Louder please: mas fuerte por favor
Softer/quieter please: más suave, por favor
More: más
Less: menos
Breakfast/lunch/dinner: desayunar/almuerzo/la cena
 
Cognates:
WiFi, cauliflower, actor, admirable, animal, artificial, auto, canal, most ‘tion’ words such as position, direction, disposition, preparation, etc. Only the spelling is different.
 
The list goes on and on. Here’s the upshot. Like a lot of people, especially folks my own age, I assumed that learning Spanish would be daunting, tedious, and hopeless. Take it from me, a capital G Gringo, no es tan dificil que pienses. It’s not as hard as you think. Am I fluent in español? No way. Do I get around, make myself understood, find bathrooms, silverware, menu items, my next beer? Absolutely. Can anyone learn and get by in Spanish? If I can speak basic español, anyone can. And here’s what my wife and I have discovered: every day, person, event, exposure, and opportunity is a teacher. While riding in taxis, we engage the driver in español. Shopping at tiendas, paying the rent, we inflict our Spanish on people. Is it pretty? No, it’s godawful ugly. Do folks appreciate the effort? Absolutely, and they help us willingly, always smiling, okay, sometimes laughing. Heck, with the first word we utter they know we’re not Spanish speakers, so there’s no pressure. Are we learning Spanish? Yes, and it’s very gratifying when expressions, words, verb forms pop into our heads. We try using español around the house, and mostly succeed. We make use of the countless on-line resources available. Just Google Spanish and/or YouTube Spanish and the screen will fill with them, mostly useful, quality resources. You can do this. Buen suerte!
 
Pictures, from top to bottom:
Saturday market, Segundo Parque Laureles
Metro in Medellin
Taxi ride in Medellin
 
Posted in  Lessons About Moving Abroad
  1. More Stories from this writer
  2. More Stories About Lessons About Moving Abroad
Thailand
next
prev
Contribute Your Story

Go Here Next

 
Best Places In The World To Retire Expat Stories contains text, video, and photos by people just like you who are already living abroadUse the menu on this page to go to categories of Stories.
Best Places In The World To Retire Community Questions and Answers about living and retiring abroadUse the menu on this page to go to other categories of questions.
The Best Places In The World To Retire Location Advisor makes personalized recommendations for where to live and retire overseasGet matched to your ideal location to live abroad.
Best Places In The World To Retire Community Questions and Answers about living and retiring abroadAnswers about living, working or visiting abroad.
Best Places In The World To Retire Expat Stories contains text, video, and photos by people just like you who are already living abroadStories by expats & others about their life aborad.
Best Places In The World To Retire - MarketplaceFind for profit, non-profit and religious organizations.
 

Our Pledge To You

Best Places will present information from the Community in a transparent way, unedited, except to conform with our Conditions of Use.

You can trust that Best Places does not manipulate content to sell you anything. All opinions in the Community Q & A and Expat Stories are those of its authors, not Best Places.

Get Known To The Community

Those who contribute to the Best Places Community are our heroes! And being a Best Places hero is fast, fun, and easy. Just go to Questions & Answers, find your first question to answer, click on it, and then click the Contribute Your Answer To This Question Button. If you’d rather enter a Story, go to Expat Stories and click the Contribute Your Story Button".

Contact/Support

Please contact us. We would love to hear from you! Customer Service
Technical Support
Business Development
Suggestions
Press
Phone: (US) 520-498-0427