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!
There is a special place in my heart for people who can speak both English and Spanish. My parents taught me how to speak English from a very young age, so it has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. This means that whenever I meet a bilingual person, my ‘Spanglish’ chip comes online and I start mixing both languages. Why is it that sometimes a word or phrase… feels right in one language, but not the other?
Most people, as they become bilingual, learn that there are concepts that are unique to each language. Some words convey certain thoughts and feelings that are harder, if not impossible, to describe in any other language! Recent studies have shown that knowing more than one language will help with the development of cognitive functions as well as preventing their decline as we age. There’s also been research suggesting that bilingual children develop better social-emotional and behavioral skills, so the benefits of learning a new language are many. You can learn more about this on our blog about the perks of being bilingual.
I’ve gathered a list of common words and phrases that aren’t found in English, so you can learn a bit more about our culture through language.
Latinos are known for their strong sense of family. This is expressed by the word sobremesa, which describes the time taken after dinner to talk with the people you ate with. It’s common amongst Latinoamericanos to stay after the meal is finished, maybe with a cup of coffee or some Rosa de Jamaica, to talk about current events, joke around, and learn about each other. Sometimes sobremesa lasts a few hours after the meal is done! This is such a common cultural practice that we came up with a word for it, which is one of the wonderful things of a family-centered culture.
Hoy, en sobremesa, me contaron de la graduación de mi vecina.
Today, after eating, I was told about my neighbor’s graduation.
2. Buen Provecho
All this talk about food sure is making my stomach growl! Before lunch starts, however, I have to make sure to say buen provecho to my office mates. In English, you would normally use the term ‘bon appétit’ or ‘enjoy your meal.’ The difference is that in Latin America and Spain, saying buen provecho is used a lot more than in the United States. This phrase is also used in comedores, or small family-owned restaurants, by wishing the other patrons a nice meal if they’re still eating once you leave the place. This nifty bit of info is sure to leave a positive impression on the locals if you ever come to visit!
(Spoken to other people in a restaurant as you leave) “¡Bueno provecho!” “Muchas gracias, igualmente.”
“Enjoy!” “Thanks so much! You too!”
So I just finished having lunch, but there’s always room for dessert! Unfortunately, my sweet tooth got the better of me and I ate too much pan dulce. Now there are leftovers that can’t go to waste, so I offer them to my friend Sammy and tell her I can’t possibly have another bite, ‘estoy empalagado.’ Empalagar is a word used when you’ve had something so sweet you can’t even smell sugar anymore. When something is ‘empalagoso’ it means that it is very sweet, and probably best accompanied by coffee or water.
Este pastel está muy empalagoso. ¿Me pasas un cafecito para acompañar, por favor?
This cake is too sweet. Can I get some coffee to go with it, please?
4. Te Quiero
Speaking of sweet things, te quiero is one of my favorite Spanish phrases. This one is truly unique since it’s an expression that falls between ‘I like you’ and ‘I love you’. Te quiero is a universal phrase of affection, and it can be used to address friends, family, and significant others alike. It’s a phrase that indicates closeness to one another, without going too far nor falling short of said feeling.
Gracias por traerme al aeropuerto. ¡Te quiero!
Thanks for bringing me to the airport. Love you!
Al que madruga, Dios lo ayuda. It’s a phrase my grandma tells me every time I sleep in on family trips. That’s the Spanish version of ‘the early bird gets the worm,’ whose literal translation is ‘the one who wakes up early, God will help.’ In this case, ‘waking up early’ is summarized by the word madrugar, which implies getting up before the sun does. La madrugada starts at 1:00 am and ends at 5:00 am, but lazy people will say they have to madrugar at 8:00 am!
Mañana tenemos que madrugar para escalar temprano el volcán.
Tomorrow we get up at the crack of dawn to start climbing the volcano early.
Estrenar is a very special word, one that is almost always filled with joy. Estrenar means ‘to try out for the first time.’ You can use it when driving your new car for the first time, or when you put on those brand new pair of shoes you got for your birthday.
Estoy estrenando carro, lo acabo de sacar de la agencia.
It’s my first time driving the car. I just got it from the dealership.
Most university students are familiar with this one. It’s finals week and there’s too much to do, papers line up the desk, covering its every last corner. The coffee machine is brewing the next pot as notes are reviewed in preparation for the toughest week of the semester. Estar desvelado means to be sleep-deprived, and the word itself comes from a very interesting place. Velar refers to a state of vigilance, and the prefix des implies a lack of, so desvelar literally translates to ‘being out of vigilance,’ which is a very accurate description of how people look and act when they’re sleep-deprived. Remember to always catch some z’s and avoid el desvelo! It’s been proven that proper sleep is integral to memory retention.
La fecha de entrega es mañana. Me va a tocar desvelarme para terminar el trabajo.
The deadline is tomorrow. I’ll have to stay up all night to finish all the work.
This word is very unique, and while it has several approximations in English, I feel there’s no way to express this feeling in another language. Desesperado could be described as being fed up. In some cases, it can mean the same as desperate, but desesperado can go beyond that definition. Other times, it can be better described as impatience. Desesperado is like a salad of emotions that include annoyance, impatience, hopelessness, and anger. All that sounds quite negative, but there are different levels of desesperación, from standing in a seemingly endless queue to looking around your house for five hours because you can’t fund the car keys.
Esa alarma lleva 10 minutos sonando, ya me tiene desesperado.
That alarm has been going off for 10 minutes. I’m fed up with it.
My psychology teacher said to me once: ‘El deseo es más fuerte que las ganas.’ Ganas is a word used to express a want, coupled with an impulse leading to that action. It’s stronger than being in the mood for something but not as powerful as desire. So, my teacher’s phrase refers to that moment when you really don’t want to start your Spanish lesson, but your desire to learn is bigger, so you get up and do it anyways. Ganas is similar to whim, without the sudden and unexplainable nature of the word.
Tengo ganas de ver tele y comer comida chatarra.
I feel like watching television and eating junk food.
Ajeno is a word that describes all that is outside of oneself, something that corresponds to someone else, or that feels unrecognizable. Ajeno applies to feelings, topics, and conversations. Ajeno can also be used to describe freedom from something. If someone is ajeno to sadness, that means this person does not know how sadness feels like, for example.
Nunca había ido a un bar de salsa, me sentía ajeno a ese ambiente.
I had never gone to a salsa bar before. I felt like a stranger in that place.
Which word was your favorite?
Personally, mine is te quiero. It’s amazing how learning another language can give us new ways to express ourselves! If you want to get a head start on Spanish, I suggest you try out a free class with one of our teachers at Homeschool Spanish Academy!Read More
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!
September in Central America is as colorful as any other holiday should be. Weeks before the 15th, the streets, markets, houses, and cars become adorned with hundreds of flags. Cities are dressed in patriotic colors by their citizens. Schools start practicing for the parades and concerts, marching bands can be heard all around town getting ready for the big day when festivities will take place from Guatemala all the way down to Costa Rica. Wearing traditional outfits, eating local dishes, and going out in the streets to have fun are all commonplace practices shared across Centroamérica.
How did this holiday start? To learn this we have to go back in time, almost 200 years ago, before our independence was proclaimed.
A Brief History of Central America’s Independence
September 15, 1821 was an important day for Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. Through a relatively peaceful process, these nations claimed their independence from the Spanish government impulsed by the political chaos caused by Napoleon Bonaparte’s attack on Spain in the year 1808. On November 5, 1811, the first revolts occurred in El Salvador, and the rest of the countries mentioned followed suit. A meeting between colonial authorities, renown locals, and religious leaders culminated on September 15 with the termination of Spain’s dominion over the Central American isthmus (Panama was not included and had their independence a few years later). Some historians argue that Central America’s independence is often glossed over, and that the subject is much more complex in nature, so if you’re interested in the historical aspect of Central America’s independence, I encourage you to research and ask Centroamericanos to tell you their stories – most of us will gladly share what we know!
Now, almost two hundred years later, people all over Central America celebrate our independence with joy and pride on the 15th, each country having similarities as well as carrying unique flair to their celebrations. I’ve researched and talked to natives of each country to learn the different ways we commemorate our nations and share them with you so you can know what to expect if you’re visiting!
A torch across five countries
Every year, there’s a tradition in Central America where the people carry a torch from Guatemala to Costa Rica in a relay marathon, passing through El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. The torch is a symbol of the messengers who rode on horseback spreading the news of independence across all five nations. The ‘flame of independence’ is lit at a monument in Guatemala City called El Obelisco almost a week before independence day, reaching Costa Rica’s old capital, Cartago, on the 15th. This tradition has been done over 50 times to this day. The first time the torch traveled through the 5 countries was in 1959!
Differences between countries
In Guatemala, the torches are central to our celebration. Not only does the Central American torch leave El Obelisco 6 days before the 15th, but we also do torch runs all across the country. On the days prior to independence day, the plaza at El Obelisco is filled with marching bands, food stands, merchants, and people carrying a vibrant livelihood that is then taken all over the country in the form of torches lit by Guatemalan citizens. From small towns to groups of friends and even businesses, these torches are taken to many hometowns in celebration of our free nation. So if you have to go to work on the days before independence day, be sure to leave extra early, because the streets will be filled with groups of people running about with torches in their hands!
Some places like Petén, a lush jungle with ancient ruins in the north side of Guatemala, are far away from the city. What happens if I live in Petén? You might ask. There’s no way a group of people would be willing to run almost 500 kilometers for a torch, so many different hub spots in the country serve as lighting beacons for torches. My dad used to run with the torch back in the day with his coworkers. They would run together and finally get to their office to have lunch there. Since my dad worked in the city and making such a short a relay run between El Obelisco and his office didn’t make much sense, they traveled to Antigua, a neighboring town, and ran from there to the city.
In El Salvador, it’s not unusual for the first section of the celebratory parades to have flags from the other four countries that share the independence date, each flag with its own dedicated car. “They signify how we are all connected as one, as centroamericanos,” as my El Salvadoran friend, who lives in Guatemala, said. He tells me that “In El Salvador, we have a strong sense of identity; we get along well and have very little conflict between one another. My family makes fun of me when I visit, saying my accent has changed, but as you can hear my accent is not Guatemalan. Yet, we have a strong cultural identity and a necessity to preserve what we are.” His accent really wasn’t Guatemalan, if I’m being honest, and his insight was a good indicator of how much he appreciates his homeland.
Independence day in El Salvador starts with parades orchestrated by schools across the country as well as a military parade. They all converge at the national gymnasium, where the president greets the students and the military puts on a show with parachutes and planes flying overhead.
Honduras is very similar to El Salvador; school and military parades are planned and inaugurated with 21 cannonballs shot by the military at 6:00 a.m., signifying the start of the festivities. That’s one loud way to wake up if you ask me! Honduras also has a beauty pageant aspect to its parades, with the palillonas. These are girls dressed in fantasy military uniforms, sporting batons that they wave around, and the best ones often end up featured in the newspaper the next day.
Nicaraguans are very organized and meticulous when it comes to celebrating their independence. We all decorate our streets as soon as September starts and celebrate for three days until the 15th. Nicaraguans go a step further, and schedule events all throughout the month in order to celebrate their independence! Ceremonies begin on the first of September with an inauguration that features politicians, ambassadors, and students in tandem with the marching bands that are reminiscent of these celebrations. The following days are ceremonies dedicated to the torch that has been traveling all the way from Guatemala, which Nicaraguans pass on to Costa Rica on the 13th. The next day, there is an event held to commemorate and give medals to the best students and teachers in the country, followed by marching bands from schools, the military, and even the police! Aside from the common practices across Central America, Nicaraguans have the tradition of reading the Declaration of Independence on all schools on the 15th.
Just like the torch travels through all five countries and arrives at Cartago, we finally arrive at Costa Rica, where the celebration begins with the receiving of the torch. Costa Ricans pride themselves on their pacifist beliefs, having no military forces to speak of. After 1915, the military presence in their parades started to fade away, until the abolishment of the army removed them altogether. This altered the focus of the independence day celebrations, moving it more towards the youth. The evening before the 15th, there is an event called Desfile de Faroles, or Lantern Parade, where kids from all over Costa Rica build glowing lanterns with recycled materials. They decorate the lanterns with patriotic symbols and enjoy the warm light of their artistic expression while enjoying the local food.
All these different ways to express freedom sure make me want to go follow the torch across all five countries! It’d be great to experience what is not just a celebration of our past, but a unifying act that connects us and our history. It’s very interesting to see how the differences in celebration are influenced by who we are and where we come from. The torch leaves from Guatemala, so we center our festivities around the act of lighting and carrying the torch. In Costa Rica, the celebration centers around receiving the torch.
So, in a way, Independence Day in Centroamérica is a series of parades, shows, and traditions led by a single flame traveling both in the torch and in the hearts of the citizens of Centroamérica.
You can also connect with Centroamericanos by learning to speak Spanish. We always have something nice to share, and it’s a pleasure to show other nations what we’re all about. Get a free class at Homeschool Spanish Academy today!Read More
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!
If you have studied Spanish for a little while, you have probably noticed that there are many connections between English and Spanish. Since they both have roots in Latin, there are many similarities, making it pretty easy to identify the meaning of new words in Spanish…or so you think. While you may be able to stick an ‘o’ or an ‘a’ to the end of some English words or change an -tion to a -ción to make them Spanish equivalents (tranquil — tranquilo, education — educación), it is not always that simple!
These words that look alike and have the same meaning are called cognates. Let’s look at some more:
- Plate — Plato
- Intention — Intención
- Capital — Capital
These examples either have the exact same spelling or just slight differences. There are other examples where the words may not look exactly the same but look enough like each other for us to make the correlation between the two:
- Necessity – Necesidad
- Lamp – Lámpara
While these connections between the two languages are great and can help us understand a lot more Spanish than we expect, it can often set us up for some awkward situations. How many times have you not known a word in Spanish and tried to just put a Spanish ending on the English one and hoped for the best? This often works (like with education and educación), but not always. There are numerous false cognates, or false friends as they are often called, that create confusion and miscommunication. Possibly the most common example of this is embarrassed and embarazada. They look similar, so they must mean the same thing, right? Wrong! Embarazada is actually pregnant, and the correct translation of embarrassed would be avergonzado(a). Can you see how false cognates can cause a lot of problems? Let’s look at some more.
Phew! That’s a lot of false cognates. Don’t stress, though! I learned a lot of these through trial and error, and it’s okay if you confuse these, too. Keep practicing, and be sure to talk with one of our certified Spanish teachers if you have any questions. Sign up for a FREE class now!
Do you remember the blog about ya where we introduced you to the first of many Spanish words that have multiple meanings? Today, we’ll continue exploring the phenomenon of words that are spelled the same but don’t mean the same thing! We can categorize these words as:
- Polysemic words – words that have one single origin, but when used in different contexts have different meanings.
- Homonyms – two or more words that are spelled the same but don’t have the same linguistic roots; they, therefore, have different meanings.
The difference between these two is that a polysemic word is one single word with two or more meanings that depend on context, while homonyms are two or more words that are spelled the same but mean different things because they don’t have the same etymological background. This means that homonyms are words that are spelled the same by chance, not because they have evolved from the same word.
For all you grammar nerds, Etymology is the study of the origin of words and their evolution throughout history.
We’ll start with our first polysemic word; this one has caused the most trouble to all my English-speaking friends learning Spanish! In Mexico and Guatemala, we use the word ahorita. This is the diminutive form of ahora – we sure love our diminutives! Ahorita is a colloquial expression, which means that we use it in informal speech. There are two reasons why this word causes so much trouble:
- As a part of informal speech, we use it all the time in conversations. So, it’s really easy to misinterpret it as we really use it so often!
- The meanings of ahorita are very contradictory. It can either mean:
- Right now, like right now, now. Right this second.
- Just a little bit ago.
- In a little bit, or anytime between 5 minutes and a couple of hours.
- In an indeterminate amount of time.
In order to understand what the other person means with ahorita, I’ve often needed to ask something like, “Are you leaving the house ahorita as in right this second, or ahorita as in a couple of hours?” I’ve also had friends who live only a 5-minute drive from me tell me they’ll leave their house ahorita, only to come to my house 4 hours later! And once they arrived, I asked them, “Weren’t you leaving ahorita?” To which they would usually reply with something like, “Oh, yeah, I did. I was just finishing something.”
As you can see, the meaning of ahorita greatly varies depending on the context. This can cause a lot of frustration not only for people who are learning about a new language and culture but also to people who speak the language as a mother tongue. Don’t ever feel bad about these misinterpretations! Remember that a language is not always an exact science!
While most of these words are not as confusing as ahorita, it’s important to know them before you encounter them!
Spanish Polysemic Words
As we mentioned before, a polysemic word has one single etymological origin and multiple meanings that vary depending on the context in which we use the word. Let’s have a look at some of these words:
As we mentioned above, homonyms are two or more words that are spelled the same but do not have the same etymological background, so they have various meanings. Let’s look at some of them:
As you can see in all these examples, there are many Spanish words that we spell exactly the same way but that have more than one meaning! We understand what these words mean because of the context in which we’re saying them. If someone said puedes bajar la llama de la estufa, they could mean two different things:
- You can turn the llama down on the stove, or
- You can get the llama off the stove
What is certain is that the person is most likely referring to turning down the flame on the stove, and not telling you to get the fluffy animal off the stove!
Let’s have a look at some more examples! As you will see below, there are times when more than one sentence makes sense. This is why the context is so important! If you’re sitting at a restaurant, you’ll more likely ask for a menu than for a letter or a card. And while a baby is sure mono (cute, lovely, or adorable), he can’t wear a monkey (monkey also means mono in Spanish – the right word here would be onesies).
Me duele la muñeca
- My doll hurts
- My wrist hurts
Me puede traer la carta
- Please, bring me the card
- Please, bring me the letter
- Please, bring me the menu
Me encanta comer falda
- I love to eat foothills
- I love to eat skirts
- I love to eat brisket
Mis plantas están verdes
- My plants are green
- My factories are green
- My soles are green
Las carpas son de agua dulce
- Tents live in freshwater
- Carps live in freshwater
El mono le queda muy bien al bebé
- The monkey fits the baby well
- The cute one fits the baby well
- Onesies fit the baby well
If you have any questions regarding the use of any words, remember that you can always schedule a FREE class with us and we’ll help you solve any doubts!
Get ready and put on your wetsuit because today we’re going to dive into the deep ocean of Spanish idioms and explore the colorfulness of the language. Just like with English, we use idioms all the time in Spanish, which makes them so important to learn!
But first, what is an idiom? According to Meriam Webster, an idiom is “an expression in the usage of a language that is peculiar to itself either grammatically (such as no, it wasn’t me) or in having a meaning that cannot be derived from the conjoined meanings of its elements (such as ride herd on for “supervise”).”
Just so that you know exactly what we’re looking at today, here’s a list:
- Idioms in Spanish
- The literal translation into English so you can see how important it is to keep in mind that language is a lot more than just a translation of words. It is a common mistake to translate idioms word for word, so try to avoid that!
- The actual meaning in English
- An example of each one so you can learn when to use them!
Some idioms have an equivalent in English, while others don’t.
We’ll start with my all-time favorite idiom because I’m an avid cat lover, who is unfortunately allergic to cats. Oh, the ironies of life! Maybe it’s something good; otherwise, my house would be filled with cute, furry little creatures!
Isn’t this awesome? You’ve just learned 20 new idioms in Spanish that will help you communicate even better! Now book a FREE class with us so you can practice them and learn even 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!
“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.