Hello Spanish Learners! You are working so hard on mastering Spanish by taking classes, reading our blogs, and watching our YouTube videos – way to go! To be fluent in Spanish, you will need to understand through listening and reading as well as communicate by speaking and writing. You are almost there – keep working hard and expose yourself to Spanish every day! Whether it is through music, a podcast, noticias, telenovelas, speaking a tu mejor amiga or reading a terrific book!
Speaking of books, there are so many wonderful options to begin with! You will be so incredibly proud of yourself when you complete a proper book, cover to cover, en español!
Read below for tips on finding a book in Spanish that suits your needs:
Find a Topic That Interests You
We all have finite time during the day, so you will want to choose a book that appeals to you! Similar to reading in your native language, you will be more likely to start (and finish) a book that you enjoy on a subject/topic that holds your interest.
Choose a Book that is Not Too Long
You want to accomplish the task of finishing your first Spanish book! Begin with one that is a good length and not too overwhelming. Something you can easily fit into your school, sports, and homework schedule.
Find the ‘Just Right’ Book – One That is Challenging but Not Too Difficult
Remember when you read your first book in English around 1st grade? Chances are you picked up a book, flipped to a random page, read a few words and then decided if it was too easy or too difficult. Similar to Spanish, you want to find a good balance that is challenging, but not too easy. Using the Five Finger Rule helps you do just this:
- Choose your book and read a random page
- Hold up a finger for every word you don’t know
- If you have held up 5 fingers before finishing the page then the book is too difficult.
- Likewise, if you have held up only 1 finger, the book is too easy. You want to find the ‘just right’ book which is 2-4 fingers.
Finding your ‘just right’ book will encourage you to continue on with the story, challenge you just enough, and build your confidence!!
Choose Spanish and English ‘Side-by-Side’ Text
Have you ever read a paragraph in Spanish and you’re pretty sure you grasped the meaning, but there was that one word, or phrase, that left you questioning the meaning behind all the words? This happens to the best of us when reading in a new language. One way to self-check yourself is to read the Spanish text, and then verify you are on track with the English translation. Side-by-Side bilingual books are perfect for reading in Spanish and then testing your comprehension by reading the English section.
On a side note: I would recommend these text tools for your first few books, but then move on to books in Spanish only. You don’t want to rely on the translation and inhibit your immersion into the Spanish text.
Consider the Tense
Spanish is a complicated language with many tenses. If you are a beginner, then most likely you are most familiar with present, preterite and imperfect Spanish conjugations. Choose a book with this in mind!
Here are some great books to begin with:
Books with ‘Side-by-Side’ Translation in English and Spanish
- First Spanish Reader: A Beginner’s Dual-Language Book – This book is less than 100 pages with 41 stories. Each story increases in difficulty – beginning with stories in the present tense, and building from there. The book also includes exercises in Spanish.
- Stories from Latin America/Historias de latinamérica – 16 short stories from Central and South American authors. It includes free audio downloads of four chapters from the book! Good for advanced beginners, it provides cultural insights and includes a helpful vocabulary list.
- Spanish Short Stories 1/ Cuentos hispánicos 1 and Spanish Short Stories 2/ Cuentos hispánicos 2 – Short stories from Spanish-speaking authors. Instead of translating word for word, the English translation paraphrases the Spanish portions thus translating ideas. The book is recommended for advanced beginners and beyond.
Beginner Books in Spanish
- Papelucho– The author has published 12 books in the Papelucho series that are described as humorous, interesting and creative. The book speaks about everyday life in the present tense.
- Manolito gafotas/Manolito Four-Eyes – Follow 10-year-old Manolito as he navigates life in Madrid. This is a children’s classic in Spain and other parts of Europe and has inspired films and a TV series.
- Las tres reinas magas – This book is a modern twist on Los Reyes Magos (The three Kings- Spanish Christmas Story). The queens are holding down the castle as the Kings are away at war.
- Muerte en Buenos Aires -Spanish novels for beginners. There are many in the series by this author and they are simple to understand with fun and interesting detective plots.
Get started today
There are so many books out there. Comment below and let us know which one is your favorite! Also, enjoy a free class on us and ¡empieza a mejorar tu español ya!
Among my group of friends and colleagues, business trips are as common as ordering your next latte at Starbucks. It is given that in most work environments, you are going to get on a plane and travel…very far… and oftentimes land in a Spanish-speaking country. Just in the past year I have heard business travel stories from Spain, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Bolivia, Peru and Guatemala – all wonderfully unique countries that speak Spanish as their official language.
Once you land at the airport, go through immigration and exit the airport, your senses immediately experience the new sights, sounds, and smells of entering a new part of the world. It is exciting and can be overwhelming. Herein lies an opportunity to speak Spanish!
Let’s review helpful Spanish phrases for your next viaje!
Let’s review Spanish greetings!
In English we often begin a conversation with ‘hi’ or ‘hello’ and then begin. Depending on where you live, the conversation can be rushed and to the point. Good Morning/afternoon/evening aren’t as common and are typically reserved for more formal situations or business meetings.
In Spanish, greetings are numero uno. It is very important that you greet Spanish speakers before you board the plane, begin a conversation at the ticket counter, ask for directions, or ask for help.
Buenos días. Estoy perdido/a. ¿Puede ayudarme a encontrar el área de reclamo de equipaje?/ Good Morning. I am lost. Can you help me find baggage claim?
You can also simply use Buenas, which is an informal greeting, but acceptable to use in many countries as a proper greeting in an informal situation. Review the usage rules for formal vs. informal here.
Now that you can greet others with confidence, let’s learn words that will help you navigate the airport and airplane.
Vocabulary Words for the Airport and Airplane
Useful Phrases for the Airport and Airplane
¿Dónde está la taquilla?
Where is the ticket counter?
¿Dónde recojo mis maletas?
Where is the baggage claim?
¿A qué hora viene el vuelo?
What time will the plane arrive?
¿En cuánto tiempo llegamos?
How much longer until we arrive?
¿A qué hora traen la comida?
What time will the food be served?
¿Hay problema si me levanto ahora?
Is it okay to get out of my seat now?
Asking for Directions and Exploring the City
Now you’ve landed and your eyes are wide open as you experience new sights and try to find your way to your hotel. Here are some useful phrases for asking and giving directions.
Vocabulary Words for Getting Around
Useful Phrases for Getting Around
Al final de la cuadra.
Walk to the end of the block
La tienda está en la esquina.
The stores is on the corner.
¿Dónde consigo un taxi?
Where can I get a taxi?
¿Dónde está la parada de autobús más cercana?
Where is the nearest bus stop/station?
¿Dónde está la estación de tren más cercana?
Where is the nearest train stop/station?
¿Cuánto cuesta el ticket de tren/bus?
How much does a bus/train ticket cost?
Me gustaría comprar un ticket para Juanito por favor.
I would like to buy a ticket for Juanito, please.
¿Qué tan lejos queda?
How far is it?
¿Cuánto me va a tardar?
How long will it take me?
¿Cómo llego al museo?
How do I get to the museum?
Checking in and out of the Hotel
At the hotel, you will want to use these keywords to communicate.
Vocabulary words for the Hotel
Useful Phrases for the Hotel
Perdón, no entiendo
Sorry, I don’t understand.
¿Puedes hablar más despacio, por favor?
Can you please speak more slowly?
¿Cuánto me cuesta por día?
How much will that cost per day?
¿Eso tiene cobro extra?
Is there an extra charge for that?
¿Tienen más cuartos disponibles?
Do you have additional rooms available?
¿Me puede dar la llave del cuarto 105?
Can I have the key/keycard for room 105?
Me gustaría una habitación con vista.
I would like a room with a view.
Necesito que lleven mis maletas al cuarto, por favor.
I need my luggage brought to my room, please.
¿En dónde puedo estacionar mi carro?
Where should I park the car?
¿Este precio incluye desayuno?
Is breakfast included in the price?
Registraré mi salido mañana en la mañana.
I will check-out tomorrow morning.
¿Puede llamar un taxi, por favor?
Can you call a taxi, please?
Do you have any….?
I would like….
Would you like…?
Mi cuarto aún necesita ordenar, gracias.
My room still needs to be made up, thank you.
See You Later!
You’re wrapping up your trip and want to express your gratitude and thanks. Here are some phrases to help you do so!
See you later!
¡Que tenga(s) un buen día!
Have a good day!
¡Que tenga(s) un hermoso día!
Have a beautiful day!
¡Espero verte de nuevo!
I hope to see you again!
Gracias, me ayudó mucho.
You have been so helpful, thank you.
Espero regresar pronto a este hermoso lugar.
I can’t wait to come back to this beautiful place.
You’re all set!
Before you pack your bags, enjoy a complimentary class with Spanish Academy and practice your new vocabulary words!
Understanding the American banking system is complicated –even to English speakers who are reading English documents. Banking and lending institutions, along with credit card companies, make it so darn confusing to understand their jargon that it takes research and good guidance (albeit from someone who has your best interest in mind) to understand what is being said and the implications of the contract.
Successful bankers look for ways to broaden the market. It is evident that non-English speaking persons are underserved in this sector. If you want to expand your business and serve new markets, then learning another language and being able to explain complicated banking terminology is key.
Limited-English-Proficiency (LEP) Populations are Underserved
When a market is underserved, that means there’s an opportunity. According to the US Census Bureau, as of July 2018, 18.1% of Americans are of Hispanic or Latino descent, and there are 41 million native Spanish speakers in the USA.
Learning Spanish will help you serve this vast population.
For years, the United States Government has been receiving reports and complaints from non-governmental organizations and both private and governmental sectors that people who don’t speak English well, or at all, are negatively impacted when conducting financial affairs. Evidence has indicated that limited English has a direct relationship with limited financial literacy.
This means millions of people are unable to make informed money management decisions and cannot effectively take proactive measures for their current and future financial health. It is crucial for everyone to understand their finances.
Some steps have been taken to reduce deceptive and abusive practices by the financial institutions, but more can be done.
A Step in the Right Direction
As an example, The Credit Card Act of 2009 was passed by the United States Congress in 2009 and took effect in 2010. This act directed credit card companies to make their statements more understandable with clearer disclosures about how to pay your bill on -time and the consequences if you don’t.
As part of the act, The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) was mandated to examine the relationship between fluency in the English language and financial literacy. Is there a disadvantage for non-English speakers in the US Banking System?
The study found that:
· translated financial materials may not be using colloquial or culturally appropriate language.
· Interpreters don’t always fully understand banking information or are not able to explain the material. Often times, assistance is provided from families’ minor children.
· Immigrants may distrust the U.S. financial system since it is different than their native country; therefore, they are more likely to use alternative financial services – such as payday lenders and check-cashing services – that often have unfavorable fees, terms, and conditions.
· Carrying debt can be viewed negatively, which deters some people from taking loans to purchase homes or cars and building credit histories.
· Limited English language skills may make one more susceptible to fraudulent and predatory practices.
We want to do business with those we like and trust, and we build these things through communication.
Opportunities Exist for Bankers
Since a limited number of bankers speak Spanish, families often rely on their young children to interpret complicated finance matters for them. This, compounded with the fact that some cultures mistrust government and banking institutions, leaves a large gap in potential home-buyers, responsible loan paybacks, and other banking relationships.
The US Latino market is a growing driving force in the US economy. Millions of people are building businesses, buying homes, and purchasing cars, which means they require financial assistance. If trust isn’t built and information isn’t shared between bankers and the Latino community, then the gap will continue to grow.
Did you know the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau monitors unfair practices, and as a result, deters most US banks from even advertising in Spanish? This is because if companies advertise in Spanish to attract new customers, then they need to offer 100% support throughout the entire process (cradle to grave) in Spanish – and most can’t do that…yet.
There’s No Time like Now
Latinos are underrepresented in banking and therefore seek out information from family first and advertising second. Their families are oftentimes not properly informed, and advertisements are mostly in English, causing people to feel confused and uneducated about the banking process.
Research shows that Latinos have a great interest in gaining access to more banking information in Spanish, such as:
· Latinos are 2x more likely than non-Hispanics to be interested in financial service ads
· 73% of Latinos think more commercials should be directed to Spanish-speakers
· 88% of Latinos think companies who make an effort deserve their loyalty
· 30% of Latinos would switch banks if Spanish mobile apps were available
What are you waiting for? Here is your chance to help an underserved community!
Expand your horizons today and take a free Spanish class with a native Spanish-speaking teacher in Antigua, Guatemala. Our excellent teachers can answer any questions you have of the Spanish-language banking system they use and how it directly benefits them!
Did you know that in addition to individual and paired Spanish classes, Spanish Academy is the leading expert for teaching virtual Spanish classes to groups?
We have been piloting this program for 2 years, developing and fine-tuning a format that works best for classroom settings. Look no further – you can have a certified native Spanish-speaking teacher in your classroom this year!
1. Global Immersion Every Day
We all know that it’s best to learn Spanish from a native speaker – they have the proper accent, a grasp of colloquial language usage and cultural awareness (such as when to use formal and informal expressions). Exposure to native Spanish-speakers is just a click away and you can join the exciting world of Spanish language ¡ahora mismo! Better yet, you can have an international guest in your class every day and this will set your institution apart!
2. Your College Application Will Shine!
Schools look for unique experiences and perspectives when comprising their freshman class. What better experience than to have international interactions in each Spanish class! This will set you apart. Exposure to the world generally, and to language specifically, leads to more open-mindedness, better problem-solving skills, adaptability, and flexibility.
3. Your Student Will Begin Speaking Spanish on Day One
One of Spanish Academy’s main goals is to ensure that our students begin speaking Spanish on their first day! Our classroom format is ideal for schools, hybrid schools, and other organizations that want high-quality Spanish instruction at an affordable price.
4. Hire Us and We Will Do the Rest!
Tell us what day(s) you wish to hold your Spanish class and we will provide a teacher to support you! Students can enroll in classes by semester or for a full year.
Our customized classroom package includes all homework, quizzes, and exams as well as direct access with our Care Team. The Care Team will go out of their way to help you with registration, payment preferences (i.e. group or individual family billing), payment tracking, explanation of software requirements, virtual set-up assistance as well as grades and student progress.
In addition to the Care Team, Spanish Academy provides an online portal that lays out the class plan – inclusive of all curriculum, schedules, and syllabi. How convenient is that!? Also, the portal is used for uploading and accessing exams and quizzes.
Highly Qualified Teachers, Small Classes and Cost-Effective
Our teachers are specially certified to teach a classroom from Antigua, Guatemala. An on-site moderator should be onsite to ensure software set-up and classroom management, but other than that we run the class!
Classes are taught in small groups of 3-10 students for maximum student attention, language exposure and practice. For example, if you have a classroom size of 25, then the class would be taught in groups of 10, 10 and 5 students.
The group classes are a more affordable option in comparison to individual or paired packages offered through Spanish Academy. They are also significantly less expensive than if you hired a local full-time Spanish teacher.
Spanish Academy can create and design courses, as well as customize the curriculum based on your school’s needs. The program can be designed to accommodate student’s levels of Spanish and any specific requirements schools have for their individual Spanish programs. The classes are effective in allowing students to have personalized attention within the classroom, as our teachers are trained to promote participation and conversation during class time.
Students can learn Spanish from a native Spanish-speaking teacher and may then practice amongst themselves using the proper vocabulary, accent, and grammar that they learn in class.
Students enjoy learning in group settings because they will have a peer-group to practice with!
Earn High School Credit
We offer high school level foreign language credit!
Individualized classes are available through 1-on-1 and 2-on-1 class settings for additional Spanish conversation and language tutoring.
*supplemental material is available for an additional cost
Has your school decided to go without a foreign language because you cannot find a qualified native Spanish-speaking teacher at an affordable price?
Look no further! Contact our Care Team today for more information and customized pricing.
To be a global player, you need to familiarize yourself with español para los negocios (business Spanish).
Why? Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world in terms of native speakers, and most Spanish-speaking countries are geographically located next to the USA. What does this mean? It is time to learn business Spanish in order to communicate -and do business with- our neighboring countries!
The Importance of Speaking Spanish and Building Rapport
Many cultures, including those from latinoamérica, rely on building relationships and trust before business dealings are discussed. Building rapport is key. This can be done through active listening, patience by spending time engaging in small-talk before ‘getting down to business,’ as well as showing real interest in your conversations.
Building rapport is also done by knowing Spanish and greeting your business associates in their native language! Don’t forget to use the proper form – formal or informal – in your greetings! Hola Ximena! Es un placer conocerle.
In the USA, small-talk can be short and sweet: “Good Morning! Did you have a nice weekend? Nice weather today, eh? Okay – Here’s what I need from you….” and the business meeting ensues. In many other countries, this would nary be a start. Lengthy amounts of time can be spent ‘feeling out’ the other parties’ intentions, temperament, motivations, non-verbal cues, etc.
The Criticality of Face-to-Face Meetings
I experienced this while working with an Indian company that was not accustomed to doing business with Americans, and it was one of my first times doing business in India. I was a ‘new’ member on the team and started ‘getting down to business’ on day one.
In order to perform an analysis, I required information to be sent via email. However, no one would send it to me. I had participated in a couple of phone meetings with my new counterparts and engaged in ‘small-talk’ with the team; nonetheless, when it came time for the company to share information with me…it was silence and avoidance. There was always an excuse that it was ‘delayed,’ or that they were ‘working on it’ – but I wasn’t receiving the data I needed.
I ended up consulting with an Indian-American colleague and discovered that the company most likely didn’t ‘trust’ me yet, and if I wanted to move forward with the project then I would have to meet them in person.
Off I went, traveling over 30 hours to have an in-person meeting with the company representatives. The meeting went well – we spent half the morning drinking tea and getting to know one another. My counterparts were ‘evaluating’ me to deem me trustworthy. Evidently, I passed the test because from that meeting forward, I received any and all information I requested without delay, hesitation, or excuses. Success!
In many cultures, it is crucial to spend time getting to know each other before the business meeting can officially start and before the business relationship can grow. Even though Southeast Asia and Latin America are two very different regions, they share this similarity (as do many other parts of the world!)
To help you facilitate your next meeting in Spanish, we have compiled a list of key business words and phrases below!
20 Key Business Words
Let’s start by learning the basics so you can speak with confidence.
Business Phrases Translated for You!
There are many common phrases used when talking about business projects, holding meetings, or striving to meet deadlines. Some of those phrases are colloquial, and you would only use them with your coworkers. Others are more formal and would be reserved for your boss or important clients.
Below are some key phrases that will apply to coworkers, bosses, and clients alike. Practice these to show your skills as a businessperson to your fellow Spanish speakers!
Practice Spanish Every Day
Knowing these top business keywords and phrases is a great start on becoming business-savvy in the Spanish workplace! To avoid language mishaps and dale con todo (put your best foot forward), it is important to practice Spanish every day!
Now You’re Ready!
The Spanish Academy offers personalized classes in real-time with real people that can adapt to your schedule. Be confident when holding your next business meeting! Practice with native Spanish-speakers today!
Spanish is an important part of our culture. Why? Because 41 million people speak Spanish in the United States (which makes the U.S. the 2nd largest Spanish-speaking country after Mexico), AND most of us hear Spanish every day in our communities, whether it is channel surfing and seeing Univision, calling a doctor or dentist office and hearing the option to ‘presione dos para comunicarse con una persona en español,’ or overhearing a conversation at the grocery store.
The United States is uniquely positioned geographically next to dozens of countries que hablan español, y por eso there are many jobs where speaking Spanish is an asset and can earn you more money.
¡Vamos a empezar!
1. Medical Professional
The job categories within the medical field can range from nurse to doctor, and all associated support jobs. This profession is rewarding, and being bilingual will enable you to obtain pertinent, real-time information (sin un traductor) in an emergency situation. Having the ability to understand the scene can help you save lives since many medical emergencies require an immediate response.
In the medical field, it is not only about treating illness and administering medicine. A huge part of the job is showing empathy for your patients and making them feel comfortable and safe. The first step in doing this is speaking your patient’s language. For example, some Asian cultures prefer hot water with meals and medication, or tea throughout the day. In order to provide comfort to your patient, it is important to understand culturally-appropriate care and be culturally competent.
It is generally more cost-effective for a hospital/clinic to have bilingual staff than to pay for a third-party interpreter. Bilingual staff will also allow your hospital/clinic to serve more of the population.
Be sure to negotiate a higher pay since the cost savings and patient benefits of having a bilingual staff are very real.
One study revealed that 74% of US hospitals serve patients who speak English as a foreign language. Of those hospitals, 15% offer financial incentives to doctors and staff for knowing a foreign language and, of these, three-quarters offer base salary increases ranging from $20 extra per hour, or bonuses up to $500.
The difference between these two professions is that an interpreter translates verbally and a translator interprets written text. As a translator or interpreter, you can work for the court system, doctor offices, immigration facilities, universities or law firms, just to name a few. Depending on where you work, a certification may be required.
An interpreter speaks real-time and is required to have a word in the other language in a split-second. A typical day for an interpreter would consist of providing literal and general translation of English and Spanish so that both parties can understand each other. This is a critical job since you are talking about very important subjects, such as health concerns, environmental impacts, wellness recommendations and legal implications that affect and impact an individual’s freedom. You will work in many capacities, such as speaking in a courtroom or into the Prime Minister’s earpiece at a United Nations meeting.
Translators are researchers who look at legal documents, books, tax statements and affidavits to change them from one language to another. They have the challenge of searching for expressions and uncovering idioms typical for the language they are translating into. As a translator, it can be difficult to translate the author’s intent or the meaning of the original message. This job requires significant concentration and the ability to think abstractly.
A general search on Indeed.com found a full-time Bilingual Court Interpreter in California which pays an hourly rate of $36.74-$44.66 (~$75,900 – $92,900 annually).
The median salary at the United Nations is $46,000, with the top 10% earning more than $83,000. There are so many variables and if you have significant education and are highly skilled, the pay will be higher.
These professions are expected to grow 17% over the next 10 years – much faster than many other occupations. This is partially due to the increasing population of Spanish-speakers in the United States.
3. Human Resources (HR) Specialist
To be a global player, each business needs a unique perspective to stay competitive. HR specialists help acquire talent and comprise teams of diverse backgrounds.
HR specialists have a direct say in screening and recruiting applicants, interviewing candidates, as well as hiring and promoting individuals. Therefore, a bilingual employee could promote attributes that help to make an inclusive work environment. As an HR specialist, you would become successful by seeking out those who have skills that would enhance your workplace; some examples would include adaptability, flexibility, willingness to be open-minded, and unique problem-solving skills.
In May 2018, HR Specialists made a median salary of $60,990, and the top 25% make $80k-$100k. Specializing in HR subcategories will help you stand out amongst your colleagues and could help you make an additional salary.
Speaking Spanish is a specialty that will help attract additional talent to your company!
4. Sales Professional
Remember the sales team that sold the Chevy ‘Nova’ car to Latin America? (‘Nova’ in Spanish is two separate words, no va, and this literally means “it doesn’t go.” Who wants to buy a car that ‘doesn’t go!’) If they had a Spanish-speaking person on their sales team, certainly this would never have happened. As companies expand globally, bilingual employees are crucial in interpreting language and navigating the culture.
Sales positions can range from a customer service representative (being a bilingual employee who can assist the numerous Spanish-speaking customers every day) to a sales executive (pursuing multi-million business opportunities to help the bottom line). The pay will vary significantly depending on your level of responsibility and whether your company offers a sales bonus. However, one thing remains: being bilingual will help you reach out beyond your community and have the ability to seek interesting and potentially lucrative job opportunities.
The Top 10 sales professional jobs where you can earn six-figure salaries are as follows:
- Real estate agent
- Sales engineer
- Financial services sales agent
- Advertising sales agent
- Insurance sales agent
- Manufacturer’s representative
- Medical device sales representative
- Software sales representative
- Pharmaceutical sales representative
- Consumer packaged goods sales representative
Remember, being bilingual will give you a competitive advantage to reach beyond English-speaking communities!
5. Law Enforcement and Military Jobs
There is an increasing demand for Spanish-speaking law enforcement and military personnel.
In order to assist and serve the population, these professions must be able to communicate effectively. Removing a language barrier is a key first step in ensuring that the issue at hand is clearly understood AND that civilians feel their position is understood. It is imperative that careful and effective use of language is used to help diffuse or entirely prevent potentially violent situations. Speaking Spanish will help you do just this with a large percentage of the US population.
Additional benefits are offered for bilingual employees. For example, an entry-level police officer in California can earn $73k to $93k annually and is offered bilingual pay. Bilingual pay is offered ‘at the rate of $125.00 bi-weekly for Spanish speaking and $62.50 bi-weekly for bilingual services in a designated language other than English or Spanish.’ Evidence that speaking Spanish will earn you more.
Another example is that military personnel are offered ‘Foreign Language Proficiency Pay’ which can range from $100-$1,000 additional pay per month depending on your foreign language proficiency level and the number of languages you speak.
Not only can you earn more, but you can also make deeper connections and bridge language barriers.
It pays to be bilingual!
Keep up your Spanish studies to achieve fluency and reach your goal of landing a bilingual job! Sign up for online classes today and tell your teacher about your next business venture!Read More
Building rapport with colleagues and customers in Spanish is one of the most important components of being successful at your job. Let’s face it, we want to do business with people we like and trust – therefore you need to be likable and trustworthy!
So how do you build confidence with others and get people to enjoy doing business with you in Spanish? Start with a conversation.
Show Interest and Ask Questions
One of the most important points from the book The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People is the need to be an active and empathic listener. The author says:
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
— Stephen Covey
If you want to build rapport in any language, you first need to genuinely understand what a person is saying and listen with your ears, eyes, and heart. Have an open mind. This will build mutual trust – and others will believe that you will act in their best interest – which then leads to positive problem solving and greater transparency in a business relationship. Active listening and showing real interest will help others be more willing to share concerns and achievements – and be more open and authentic.
Understand that business is done differently in Spanish-speaking countries, and this needs to be considered and respected. When listening, you want to have humility and be non-judgmental – this will give others the space and comfort to open up. Listening in this way is a strength and an attribute of a strong leader. Good listeners are savvy at acquiring information that is useful for doing business better – and knowledge is power.
For example, let’s say you are trying to understand why your customer can never deliver parts on time to meet your manufacturing schedule. As a result, this is impacting your company’s performance. You could approach your supplier and say:
¿Por qué envió el producto tarde otra vez? ¿Qué está sucediendo? No vamos a alcanzar nuestra meta financiera trimestral, lo cual es inaceptable.
“Why are you late again? What is going on?! We are going to miss our quarterly financial goal, which is unacceptable.”
This will immediately put your counterpart on the defense and likely be met with an excuse.
Let’s try something a little softer, more empathetic.
An alternate approach would be:
Bueno, si no cree cumplir con la fecha de entrega, por favor, muéstreme el proceso de la cadena de suministro – ¿Cómo se realiza el pedido? Y ¿cómo se entrega el producto? Trabajemos juntos en un plan de mitigación y desarrollemos un planteamiento alternativo para garantizar que los futuros productos se entreguen a tiempo.
“Ok, so you don’t think you’ll meet the timeline. Please, walk me through the supply chain process – how is the order placed, and how is the product delivered. Let’s work together on a mitigation plan and develop an alternative approach to ensure on-time delivery for future products.”
This shift in tone and willingness to listen to the process will give you far more results and a better working relationship – it shows that you have an interest in the mutual success of both companies.
Find Common Ground
It is important to respect cultural differences when working with a Spanish-speaking customer, and you need to find common ground to be successful.
Let’s say your customer is late to the telephone meeting AGAIN and you infer that they just don’t care about the business relationship. Take a step back and consider that this company is located in a different country and does business differently than you. Perhaps, being 10-15 minutes late is not meant to be disrespectful, but is in-line with normal business culture. Opening your mind and taking time to understand the country which you are doing business with will get you miles ahead. (Note that not ALL Latinos are late; this is just an example that some people will be consistently late, which may be cultural and is in no way meant to be disrespectful.)
If we want to accomplish our best, we must work well with other people. For example, you can be the best footballer/soccer player in the world, but if you are not surrounded by a team that works together you will never win. This is true not only in sports but also in business.
Break the Ice
When you meet your Spanish-speaking customer or counterpart for the first time (either in person or on the phone), it is good to ask icebreaker questions. Icebreakers are lighthearted easy to answer questions that help you get to know someone. You can ask about the location, local food, travel plans, etc. The most important part is to be sure and show sincere interest – this key point helps you build rapport and build a bond with the other person. Not only is sincerity key, but it is also fun and educational to learn about a new place from a local!
Some examples of ice breaker questions are:
1. Ustedes están situados en El Salvador, ¿verdad? ¿Qué platos típicos son populares allá?
You are located in El Salvador, correct? What local dishes are popular there?
2. ¿Dónde está situado el lugar idóneo para vacacionar en Argentina?
Where is the best place to go in Argentina on holiday?
3. Veo que ya se acerca un partido de fútbol. ¿A qué equipo apoya?
I see there is a soccer game coming up – what team do you root for?
4. ¿Cuál es la mejor temporada para visitar las playas de Guatemala?
When is the best time of year to visit the beaches in Guatemala?
As time goes on and you meet regularly on calls or in meetings with this person, it is acceptable to ask more personal questions about family or career.
Some ideas of more personal questions are:
1. Entonces, ¿creció aquí? ¿Su familia es originaria de aquí?
So, did you grow up here? Is your family from here?
2. ¿Tiene hijos? ¿Qué edad tienen?
Do you have children? How old are they?
3. ¿Por cuánto tiempo ha trabajado en la compañía?
How long have you worked at the company?
4. ¿Cómo ha cambiado la empresa con el tiempo?
How has the company changed over time?
Above all, if you want to build rapport you need to have sincere conversations, listen to hear and understand, remember what is important to the individual, such as a football team or daughter’s graduation, and always follow-up.
Note that depending on the country you are interfacing with, it can be more common to ask personal questions early on. Do some research before you embark on your new business journey so that you know what is an appropriate conversation topic in each specific country.
Last but not least, be sure to avoid anything political or controversial – just as with English speakers, everyone has a strong opinion and conversations about touchy subjects will not help you build rapport in the long run.
Small talk is also important when building rapport. Americans have a distinct way of doing business – we get to the point quickly and directly. This can be offensive to other cultures/countries and Americans can come across rude, impatient, blunt and untrustworthy. This is not our intention at all!! It is simply a different style of doing business.
Some international business meetings can take a half-day or an entire day of small talk alone! Americans can find this as a waste of time since we are not ‘getting down to business’ – but in actuality, building the relationship through small talk IS key to building the business relationship you want!
In Latin America, you will want to begin every conversation with a greeting and small talk.
Good Morning, How are you? ¿Buenos días, cómo está? — To my fellow Americans – Wait for a response! In the USA we ask ‘How are you?’ in lieu of saying ‘Hi.’ But in other places, this can be a sincere question that will most likely be met with some real insight into the person’s day! This will give you an opportunity to ‘ s l o w d o w n ‘ and listen.
Speaking Spanish will help you build rapport with companies who are located in Spanish-speaking countries or are located in the USA with numerous Spanish-speaking employees.
As you already know, companies are going global to attract more business, keep costs down and tap into talent abroad. Companies who work globally need to be made up of people who represent what the world looks like – diversity. They also need to retain bilingual employees – this will enhance your competitive edge. When people hear you greet them in their native language, it builds a connection and helps your counterpart envision doing business with your company. Companies want to work with businesses they can relate to – conversing in Spanish helps you succeed!
Notice a theme? Rapport is all about how we communicate! If we can communicate with a person in their native tongue it is the first step in developing strong relationships (aka rapport!). That combined with the other tips in this article will not only enhance your personal life, but it will also vastly improve your professional one.
Practice building rapport today with a Spanish-speaker at our school!
There are many perks to speaking Spanish; it can enhance your work experience by setting you apart from your colleagues and can increase your cultural competency – buzzwords that companies look for when hiring and promoting.
Now, let’s explore ways to use Spanish at work!
First Things First
You don’t have to wait until graduation to get a Spanish-speaking job!
If you are still at university, look for a part-time job that requires Spanish – such as tutoring or being a bilingual nanny. Don’t forget there are summer internship opportunities out there that will help improve your language skills as well. Another option is to combine Spanish with your main degree – this will help you when you do begin searching for a job and open your horizons for bilingual opportunities.
While at university, I tutored elementary school students whose parents didn’t speak English and were unable to assist with their child’s homework. I was able to help the child with their studies AND keep their Spanish-speaking parents apprised of their child’s progress – something that the elementary school teachers were not able to do. The children’s grades improved and the parents felt that they were finally getting an explanation of what their child was learning at school. It was a win-win for all parties and I got to use Spanish every week.
If you are already in the workforce and want to use Spanish – read on!
Practice, Practice, AND Get Over Your Fear of Talking
You are getting comfortable with the Spanish language – BUT you find that you have some reservations about speaking. Don’t let this hold you back!
- Practice with friends… or with strangers – read on for daily tips on using Spanish!
- Look here for ways to fit Spanish into your busy schedule
- Want to sound like a native speaker? Use these transition words to fit in or read here for more pointers.
Unsure when the formal or informal version of ‘you’ are appropriate? All your questions are answered here.
Put Yourself out There
Let’s see how Spanish helped Ana excel at work!
My friend, Tom, recently received an official government document in Spanish from an important international customer- and no one on his team could interpret it. However, Tom recalled that his colleague upstairs spoke Spanish! He asked for Ana’s assistance in interpreting the document, which she happily did. This official government document needed to be translated perfectly so the team could analyze it properly, or the company would have been misled and this could lead to huge consequences.
For example, one word on the document was ‘shares’ (as in shares of company stock), Google translate will give you comparte instead of acciones. Compartir is the verb ‘to share’ and is used for sharing a meal, a ride, etc. This would have been a gross misinterpretation of the official document.
Luckily, misinterpretations were avoided because Ana was able to help out. The collaboration between the two employees helped the company make an informed decision quickly – and their bosses took notice! Ana was asked to help on the sales campaign for further translation duties and she was able to shine at work because of her useful language skills. She was also exposed to a new side of the company, sales, and thus gained more business experience.
Don’t Rely on Online Translators
Language is not black and white; a word can have multiple different meanings depending on the context, and a machine cannot understand context clues. One wrong word can make a HUGE difference.
Now, here is the thing – ‘Google Translate’ is useful for a quick answer but is highly inaccurate – such as the example above. Documents need to be translated by a human to make sure the concepts are properly understood.
Make it known to the Latin American Sales Team at your company that you speak Spanish and can help with interpreting or translating. By putting yourself out there you will open doors for new opportunities within your company!
Join (or Start) a Spanish Club
Some companies offer different ‘affinity groups’ or ‘clubs’ – such as a Spanish Club! You get together with your fellow colleagues and converse in Spanish. This is a great way to have fun and meet new people. Your company doesn’t have a Spanish Club? Start one! Taking initiative to develop something new will impress your boss and build camaraderie within the company.
Raise Your Hand for the Next Business Trip
If your company is looking to expand to Latinoamérica or to Latino communities in the US, offer to make yourself available to attend the business calls and attend business meetings.
Your knowledge of the culture and language will be an asset.
Easy Ways to Use Spanish Daily
If you start to look and listen more intently, you will notice that Spanish is around us every day.
- While waiting at your doctor’s office, pick up the Spanish copy of the magazines and put your skills to the test.
- Wait in the Spanish-speaking queue! Most banks and stores have Spanish speakers on-site to assist the 41 million Spanish speakers in the US. Start using this service to ask your questions, or ‘Presione dos para comunicarse con una persona en español’ when calling the utility company, law office, cell phone company, etc.!
- Go to a Latino restaurant on your lunch-break and strike up a conversation with the waitstaff in Spanish, If you haven’t yet been to a pupusería, find one – they are amazing!
Want more suggestions on fitting Spanish into your busy schedule? Check out this blog.
If you’re a bit nervous about starting to use Spanish in the workplace, sign up for online classes with instructors located in Antigua, Guatemala. They are ready to prepare you to use Spanish on a daily basis. See how it works here!
“Wisdom isn’t about accumulating more facts; it’s about understanding big truths in a deeper way.”
–Melinda Gates, The Moment of Lift
There is no better way to put your education into practice and improve your cultural competency than getting an internship in the real world! You can acquire heaps of knowledge in academia, but until you apply what you have learned in a work environment, you will not fully understand the ‘truths’ of the working world.
Internships prepare you for life after school in a very real way. Spanish-speaking internships serve a dual-purpose – they strengthen your language skills and develop your business skills.
Spanish-speaking internships are an important next step not only for those who seek to major or minor in Spanish but also for anyone who wants to enhance their language skills.
Working abroad will make your résumé stand out by showing that you can get outside your comfort zone and adapt to new experiences. It will also strengthen your cross-cultural communication skills and global awareness. Even if you choose to stay put in the USA you can achieve these skills since you will be working with other Spanish-speakers who will bring new perspectives and viewpoints to light.
Global and cultural awareness not only enhance your personal growth but benefit the future company you will work for after graduation! Check out this blog to learn more about how speaking Spanish will increase your competitive edge, connect you with people on a deeper level, and help you fully grasp the meaning behind what is being said in your business meetings. It is also more fun and rewarding to communicate with people in their native language.
Should You Stay in the USA or Intern Abroad?
Go abroad if you can!
Spanish immersion is simply the best option to enhance your language skills. You will be able to speak Spanish during the workday as well as ‘after hours,’ thus increasing your fluency. Moving abroad opens the door to living with a Spanish-speaking family or roommates – and it will get you out of your comfort zone of always falling back to English. Plus, it is so much fun to explore new places!
According to Rosetta Stone, the best places for English speakers to learn Spanish are:
- Ecuador – You will have access to plenty of language schools, low cost of living and the Spanish here is easier to understand than some other dialects.
- Colombia – The locals speak at a steady pace making the language easier to understand. This place is loaded with history and art, as well as good coffee.
- Argentina – Often called the ‘Europe of South America’ – known for its beautiful Spanish rhythm, good soccer team, carne, plus so much more!
- Guatemala – Home of Spanish Academy in beautiful colonial Antigua – also a UNESCO World Heritage Site! Sign up for Spanish classes today and ask every question under the sun about when to visit and what to see in Guatemala! Known for true natural beauty, friendly people and active traditional Mayan culture.
- Spain – ¡Ay! Go to where the language all began. This country is full of art, history, beautiful architecture and castles. Be sure to bring your handbook on vosotros!
- ¡Y más! (and more!) – There are so many amazing Spanish speaking places to travel to, it is difficult to narrow them down or choose just one!
Experience Spanish in the USA!
The USA has 41 million Spanish speakers alone! If you prefer to stay close to home, there are many options to improve your language skills. Reach out to your school’s language department to see what opportunities are out there or speak with a local Latino store to see if they require summer help with their business.
Another option is interning in a new city for the summer –seek out a location with a dense Spanish-speaking population such as California, Texas or Florida.
You will be saying this in no time! Ya me voy, compañeros, ¡hasta manana! Recuérdenme , ¿dónde está el supermercado que vende plataninas? (I’m leaving guys, see you tomorrow! Remind me, where is the supermarket that sells the plantain chips?)
Where To Start
A plethora of internship opportunities are out there – you will need to seek out those that suit your interests and school schedule. Internship programs vary in length – typically being three to 12 months – and can range from unpaid to weekly stipends to fair wages.
Here are a few options to begin your search:
- CIA offers undergraduate internships where you can use Spanish.
- Simply Hired lists numerous internships in the USA from Environmental Education to HR.
- Go Abroad for interns ranging from Personal Training, Health Coaching, Photography to Broadcasting in Spain, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador
- Spain Internship has openings available in Education, IT/Design and Engineering, Management, Business, and Tourism. They have positions where you don’t speak any Spanish, but there are more options available if you do have a better grasp of the language.
- Máximo Nivel offers amazing opportunities in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru
- Tend to alpaca herds in Peru or harvest coffee in Brazil with Latin American Internships
- Teach English as a Foreign Language. These opportunities typically pay pretty well and enable you to move abroad.
- Here is an exciting opportunity in NYC at NBC Universal Telemundo Enterprises in Spanish Language Journalism
The Importance of Networking
Applying to those big companies with complex résumé-screening processes and costly advertising campaigns means lots of competition! You may find yourself not getting the responses that you anticipated. To expedite the search process, it is important to make connections.
Reach out directly – call and write to companies you would like to work for. Many language schools have connections to local companies and non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) who need someone to ‘volunteer’ or ‘intern’ at their organizations.
For example, you could reach out to an orphanage in Latin America who needs your early childhood education or speech therapy training onsite. You could even help an NGO with grant writing and put your creative writing skills to use.
Start your search today:
- This blog lists the Top 25 Must-Follow NGO’s in South America – amazing opportunities from promoting children’s rights to saving wildlife in the Amazon rainforest
- Teach soccer in a Spanish-speaking country through Coaches Across Continents
- Work at an NGO in Spain and interface with the press department, logistics, projects, legal or fundraising teams
- Doctors without Borders offers Internships in NYC. The experience here could get your foot in the door for a transition abroad to a Spanish-speaking location
- Intern in Los Angeles (where approximately 3.5 million people speak Spanish) with the American Red Cross
- Adelante Abroad lists NGO international internships in Spain, Chile, Ecuador or Mexico ranging from grassroots to more established organizations.
- Search here to intern in Education or Human Rights in Ecuador, National Park Conservation in Costa Rica or Public Education in Colombia
What Should My Résumé Include?
First of all, know the correct lingo – most other countries don’t use the word résumé; they use CV (which stands for curriculum vitae – Latin for “the course of your life”); Spain uses CV and Latin America uses CV, currículum, or currículo.
Like any job that you apply for, résumés for Spanish-speaking internships should be tailored to the job for which you are applying. Be sure to apply for the internship in the language it is posted in; for example, if the job description is in Spanish, you should apply in Spanish.
As much as we envision a human reading piles of résumés and reviewing each one carefully, this is becoming increasingly uncommon in the USA. Why? No one has time to peruse hundreds or thousands of documents and therefore, résumés are scanned by software that ‘sort and find’ relevant applications for the employer.
For example, if 500 people apply for one internship, the software will scan each one and perhaps find 10% that meet the job description criteria. The employer will most likely personally review those 50…or not.
If you want to increase your chances that your résumé gets read by a human, tailor it to fit the job. In other words, do NOT send the SAME résumé to every internship opportunity you come across – each employer (and their software) is ‘looking’ for different attributes.
List Languages On Your Résumé
Be sure to state your Spanish proficiency level – even if you are just starting out. Review this blog for the inside scoop on what employers are looking for.
In order to determine your level of fluency, obtain your CEFR level. The CEFR is the most commonly used system to rank English language skills, however, it is widely recognized worldwide to mark other language levels. To officially determine your language level, you would need to take a formal test; for Spanish it is DELE and for English it is TOEFL. In place of taking the official DELE which can be costly, you can download a sample professional exam to determine your language level.
Some companies will be happy to have you to help out in their business and put your Spanish skills to work – no matter what your level is. Others may require advanced (B2 level or more) to full fluency (at least a C1 level).
Whatever the case, you can work to begin to work towards fluency today with Spanish Academy!
Be Realistic and Open-Minded
If your language level is elementary (A1-A2) or intermediate (B1-B2), you may have to settle for lesser tasks to gain experience using Spanish. In other words, the better your Spanish, the more advanced the internship opportunities. This should not stop you, though! In the big picture, this is NOT a sacrifice but an enhancement to your cultural competence, language skills, and real-world experience. Many of us don’t exactly know what we want to do with our degree as graduation approaches – but gaining skills abroad may help you determine your next step.
Real-World Example on Landing an Internship
I have a friend, Mari, who wanted to live abroad and improve her Spanish-speaking skills. Mari got in touch with a Guatemalan language school and they helped direct her towards internship opportunities in the area. A small-scale company needed her help translating Spanish to English – and she landed an internship! The pay wasn’t significant – only a small stipend – but she figured that once she got some experience and improved her Spanish, then she could be eligible for a higher-paying opportunity.
Mari began her internship speaking beginner to intermediate Spanish and after a few months living in Guatemala, her Spanish was nearly fluent. She also discovered her true passion by interviewing people one-on-one — Counseling and Social Work. If she had balked at the meager stipend and refused to leave her comfort zone in the States to experience working in Guatemala, she may have never realized her true passion.
Live life to the fullest and have no regrets. Take advantage of these amazing opportunities!
Don’t wait to improve your Spanish-speaking skills – professionally trained teachers are waiting for you to sign up today!
You can better your Spanish, talk about your résumé/CV and share your enthusiasm for Spanish-speaking internships with a native Spanish-speaker in Guatemala.
Want to speak Spanish like a pro? Then you will need to learn the business lingo.
Spanish is the official language for 21 countries and territories- not including the USA which has 41 million Spanish speakers alone!
Entonces, si quiere comunicarse con la gente de estos países, ¡necesita aprender y practicar español! (So, if you want to communicate with the people of these countries, you need to learn and practice Spanish!)
Vamos a empezar con usted…o contigo…o con vos…(Let’s start with you…or you…or YOU…)
What? There are 3 ways to say ‘you’ in Spanish??
YOU. We use this word every day and don’t think much about it. In English, ‘you’ is one simple word used to address everyone: your boss, kids, great-grandmother, legal advisor, business counterparts, financial planner, and anyone else.
In Spanish, ‘you’ can be polite or insulting, depending on which form is used. Let’s learn more about the nuances of this important word and how to use it in the workplace.
Which Variation of ‘YOU’ Do You Use and When?
There are many ways to say ‘you’ in Spanish – see below to decode this seemingly innocuous word:
Click here to learn more about Vos!
When To Use Formal vs. Informal Language
Formal and informal language exist to fulfill different purposes. The two styles differ in tone, word choice, and the way the Spanish verbs are conjugated.
Formal language is less personal than informal language and is utilized in most business contexts. You will use formal speech when addressing professionals and respectable people, such as legal, banking, and other official branches, as well as store owners and customers. It is safe to default to formal language with strangers and older people. Formal language does not use colloquialisms, slang, or abbreviations.
Informal language is more casual and personal, and it is used when you are speaking to someone who you are comfortable and familiar with. It can be used for work colleagues who you know well and socialize with, as well as those who have the same rank/title and education level as you. Informal language is used when sending text messages, writing personal emails, and in some business correspondence.
Here are some examples of when to use formal speech in Spanish:
Introducing yourself at a business meeting or presentation:
In English, you introduce yourself by saying, ‘Hello, My name is Mia. It is a pleasure meeting you.‘
In Spanish, you say this formally:
Hola, mi nombre es Mia. Es un gusto conocerle.
If someone introduces themselves to you first, you could also say:
El gusto es mío.
Or, the pleasure is mine. The informal way to say this would be:
Me llamo Mia. Mucho gusto.
This is literally translated to ‘I call myself Mia, nice to meet you.’
Introducing someone else at a business meeting or in a presentation
In English, there is one way of saying, ‘Let me introduce you to…’
In Spanish the formal introduction is:
Le presento a Señor Rio…
The informal version is:
Te presento a Señor Rio…
There is a small difference in words (le vs. te), but great variation in meaning. Another formal way to introduce someone is:
Me permite presentarle a Maya…
May I introduce you to Maya…
The informal version would be:
Permíteme presentarte a Maya.
The difference again is le vs. te.
Addressing people with higher authority, such as your boss, business partner or customer – or older individuals to whom you want to show respect
Your boss greets you with:
Or, how are you? You respond with:
Estoy bien, gracias. ¿Necesita (usted) algo para el proyecto hoy?
This would mean: I am well, thank you. Do you (formal) need anything for the project today?
Notice the verb necesita is used with Usted and this formalizes the sentence, while necesitas is used with tú. In an informal setting, it would be:
¿Necesitas (tú) algo…?
Note: When speaking you can drop the tú and usted. Here, they are in parenthesis to show how they are tied to the verb.
Another example – your customer calls you with urgency in his voice and you say:
Buenos días. ¿Cómo le puedo ayudar hoy?
Good morning, How can I help you (formal) today?
The informal variation would be:
Buenos días. ¿Cómo te puedo ayudar hoy?
Again, there is a difference between le and te.
Salutations and Closings – word choices for business and professional emails
In English we begin formal correspondence with ‘Dear Mr. or Mrs. Ramos’ or ‘To Whom It May Concern’
In Spanish, formal greetings people you do not know begin with:
This directly translates to ‘Esteemed Mr./Mrs. Ramos,’ but to English speakers, this is just a formal way to say ‘Dear.’
If you want to keep it formal, but have a relationship with the person, then you can use:
Querido Señor/a Lòpez
This would also translate to Dear Mr./Mrs. Lòpez.
To Whom It May Concern is:
A quien corresponda
English speakers conclude emails/letters with ‘Sincerely’ or ‘Regards,’ which would be:
If you want your closing to be more formal you could say:
Espero su respuesta. Saludos cordiales, Mari Barco
This translates to ‘I await your response. Cordial Greetings, Mari Barco.’
Saying goodbye after a meeting or job interview
When saying goodbye, you will want to say ‘Have a good day’ which is said in Spanish formally with:
Qué tenga un buen día or Qué le vaya bien
The informal versions are:
Qué tengas buen día or Qué te vaya bien
‘Hasta luego’ and ‘hasta pronto’ are also good semi-formal choices for ‘See you soon.’ On the other hand, you do not want to say ‘chao’ (slang for goodbye).
Cuando no esté seguro, trate a las personas de usted. When in doubt, use the formal ‘you’ (usted), or ask the person you’re speaking to what form they feel most comfortable with. This ensures you are speaking respectfully and not offending anyone. If someone invites you to “tutear” (this word means to address each other as tú)– then you can move from usted to the tú form.
Let’s Have a Conversation
John is new to his position at work and is speaking to his business colleague, Mari, for the first time. She has the same title and education level but has been in the job longer. Therefore she is, in essence, a superior.
John: Hola, Mari. ¿Cómo está (usted)? ¿A que hora empieza la reunión con la gerencia?
Hello, Mari. How are you (formal)? What time does the meeting start with Senior Management?
Mari: Hola, John. Estoy bien. Me puedes tutear. La reunión empieza en 15 minutos.
Hi, John. I am well. You can go ahead and use the ‘tú‘ form with me. The meeting begins in 15 minutes.
John: Gracias, Mari. Entonces, voy a caminar contigo. ¿Necesitas que te ayude llevando algo?
Thank you, Mari. I will walk with you (informal). Do you (informal) need me to help you carry anything?
What just happened? John was ‘invited’ to use the tú form with his coworker, and hereafter he can be comfortable using tú instead of usted. Notice that John moved from formal to informal pronouns and verb conjugations.
Why Is It Important to Use ‘Usted’ in The Workplace?
We always want to put our best foot forward at work. Learning the correct usage of ‘you’ and the verb conjugations are not only a way to communicate politely with your business counterparts, but also impress them by showing that you have a good grasp of the language.
Many languages put an emphasis on respect, and Spanish is one of them. It is imperative that you also do research on cultural etiquette to learn what is respectable. Read more about respecting Latino culture here.
In a previous blog, I discussed the importance of communicating in the local language when doing business abroad, including why and how this gives you a competitive advantage over your monolingual peers.
Mistakes Are Part of the Learning Process
If you studied Spanish in school or with the Spanish Academy, you are probably more accustomed to conversing using the tú form – except maybe with your professor – so it is easy to fall back into your comfort zone when speaking with other people.
As a non-native Spanish speaker, you are going to make mistakes – just be sure to take it in stride as best as possible and correct yourself when you can.
I, myself, have had the uncomfortable experience of addressing someone in a business setting with tú. I was so focused on conjugating the verbs correctly, that the tú form got blurted out. After this blunder, I immediately adjusted my sentence structure to accommodate usted and got my confidence back.
Learn From a Native Spanish Speaker!
It’s not always easy to know what pronoun to use. The best way to improve your usage of tú and usted is to communicate with a native Spanish speaker. Arranging for a local conversation is a great option, but unfortunately, many of us have busy schedules and cannot find a time that is convenient for both parties. That is the brilliance of Spanish Academy – schedule a time that works for you, speak to a Spanish language professional, and pay an affordable price.
One of my favorite parts of taking classes with Spanish Academy is that I can ask questions about confusing words or phrases before a big meeting or traveling abroad. One-on-one help from native Spanish speakers is only a click away AND you can approach the business meeting with poise and assurance.
Sign up for your free class today!