Spanish for Work: What everyone should know

Spanish Learning GoalsDo you want to learn Spanish for your workplace, but don’t know where to start?   If you feel overwhelmed with your goal to tackle a new language, I don’t blame you.  Hopefully this article will give you some ideas to start with.  In the many fields of work–health care, law enforcement, education, construction, retail, and so on–the Spanish language needs will be very different.  However, there are some basic Spanish phrases and concepts that everyone should know, regardless of what they do.  If you are missing any of these, this is a great place to start your learning journey! …Continue Reading

Struggles and successes in learning Spanish, Mexican culture, and teaching skills

Mexico MapHave you ever moved to a new country, learned a second language, or experienced culture shock? This was my reality when I was just 8 years old. To make a really long story short, for our protection my mom illegally kidnapped my younger sister and me from our abusive but custodial dad, and we hid out in Mexico. When we first arrived, we didn’t speak any Spanish, we didn’t have any money, and our only contacts there were the family members of an acquaintance who dropped us off there in his little village. He had to get back to his job in the U.S., so we were on our own. …Continue Reading

Speak Spanish to Learn Spanish

Speak SpanishI know.  It’s hard.  I’ve just started learning a new language (French) and I would rather just listen or read or write than actually say something.   In fact, I listen to about 30 minutes of French podcasts or streaming radio each morning just to get my ears and brain used to the language.  There is research to show that this really does help.  Seeing and hearing the language gets me used to its unique structure and rhythm and it’s certainly an essential part of learning.

However, one of the best ways to help move what you learn into that part of your brain where you can quickly pull it out when you need it is to actually use it.  That means you have to pull it back out in writing, and, more importantly, open your mouth and speak.  As you learn new words and phrases, part of your practice should involve saying those words and phrases aloud.  I know, it’s uncomfortable to form your mouth around these strange words.  You feel like you have a severe speech impediment.  The words come out all wrong, slow and mangled.   This is embarrassing. …Continue Reading

Learning Spanish for work: “What should I learn?”

Where to start with workplace Spanish?One common emotion people experience when they begin to learn a new language is overwhelm.  There is SO much to learn! Where should they start?

The good news is that you probably don’t actually need to become fluent to be effective with Spanish at work.  You just need to know what to learn in order to accomplish your goals.  Here are some guidelines to help you figure out exactly what you need to learn:

1.  Sit down and think through a typical day at work.  What are your usual routines and procedures?  Are there certain things that you say over and over throughout the day to your clients or co-workers?  What phrases do you say most often?  What are the most critical and important things that you say in your daily routines?

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The Spanish Numbers

Slide3I’ve been working on some material for my 4th free Spanish lesson, which will cover the numbers.  Have you learned the numbers in Spanish?  No, I don’t mean, “Can you count in Spanish?”  I mean, have you really learned the numbers?  When I ask you what is 6, or 18, or 84, can you answer me quickly in Spanish without having to count up to it?  That’s the goal of my lesson once I’ve got it up and running.

Numbers are important to know no matter what your field of work is.  You’ll need to discuss dates, time, paychecks, measurement, age, cost, weight, quantity, street addresses, phone numbers, identification numbers, and so much more.

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10 Mistakes most people make trying to learn Spanish for the Workplace

overwhelmed-employeeMany people don’t know where to begin when they need to learn Spanish for the job.  Some will search for the nearest Spanish class, or visit the local library or book store to find a beginning Spanish language book to go through.  After weeks, months, or even years of effort, many are overwhelmed and frustrated that the language they are learning isn’t helping them out at work much at all!   Here are 10 common mistakes people make trying to learn Workplace Spanish, and how you can avoid them:

1.  They start out learning lists of vocabulary words.  The foods, the animals, articles of clothing, household items.  Knowing these words will do nothing for your ability to communicate on the job if they have nothing to do with your work and/or you can’t put them into a useful sentence.  If you want to know the Spanish names of things for personal enrichment purposes, that is fine, but it won’t help much at work.  Focus on learning phrases you’ll really use at work, rather than isolated and irrelevant words.

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Why should I have to learn Spanish in America?

LanguagesNearly everyone I know, myself included, agrees that if someone from another part of the world plans to make the United States their permanent home, they should learn English.  In the United States I have seen a strong resistance among English speakers to the idea of learning another language.  When it comes to Spanish, I hear complaints like these all the time:

  • This is America; why should I have to press 1 for English and 2 for Spanish?
  • Why should I have to learn Spanish in my own country?
  • If you want to speak Spanish, move back to Mexico/Spain/Chile/etc.
  • Why are all the signs in both languages?  In the United States everyone should learn English!

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Nonverbal Spanish Strategies

Nonverbal Spanish StrategiesHola!  I’ve added a new video to our lesson on Spanish comprehension and communication strategies.  This mini-lesson covers strategies and things you can say to facilitate nonverbal communication.  We all know how to grunt and point and play charades, but sometimes it’s handy to have just a few phrases to help us along.  That’s what this is about.

There are several sentences you might find useful to pair with gestures to communicate your meaning.  Here are 5 specific phrases you can add to your repertoire:

1.  Escríbalo aquí, por favor.  Some people remember this because “escríbalo” sounds like “scribble.” It means, Write it here please.  So if the Spanish speaker said something you can’t quite get, hand them a pen and paper and say, “Escríbalo aquí, por favor.”  Seeing the word(s) in writing may help.

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Taking Control of the Spanish Conversation

3.1 ControlThis video covers some strategies for Spanish Comprehension and Communication, and talks about how to take control of a conversation so that you’ll be able to understand when people speak to you.

An important rule when asking questions to Spanish speakers is to only ask questions you’ll understand the answer to. This video provides some helpful suggestions for what kinds of questions might be safe to ask.

You’ll also learn how to ask Spanish-speakers to “Speak more slowly, please,” (Hable más despacio, por favor) or “Repeat, please,” (Repita, por favor) how to say “I don’t speak much Spanish” (No hablo mucho español) and “I don’t understand,” (No entiendo) and how to ask them if they understand you (¿Me entiende?).  Watch for these and other strategies in the video–CLICK HERE.

5 Spanish Phrases for the Construction Site

Spanish for ConstructionAre you a construction worker?  Do you want to communicate effectively with Spanish-speaking employees or co-workers on the construction site, but don’t have the time or talent to learn Spanish fluently?  If so, today’s post is just for you.

Today’s tip:

Learn phrases that you can use in many different situations.  It’s easier to remember one phrase that expresses many things, than twenty phrases that each only express one thing.  Here are five versatile Spanish phrases for the construction site:

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