Lesson 3 – Spanish Comprehension and Communication Strategies


Learning to speak a new language can be challenging, but with a few strategies in your tool belt, it becomes a much easier task. Welcome to the lesson on Spanish Comprehension and Communication Strategies. I’ll teach you how to take control of a conversation so that you can be understood by the Spanish speaker and also help the Spanish speaker to talk in a way that you can understand them. I’ll show you how to ask the speaker to speak more slowly or repeat what they said. I will also teach some strategies you can use to communicate non-verbally with Spanish speakers. If your goal is to learn more Spanish, I’ll teach you some phrases you can use to get Spanish speakers to help you learn new words. Finally, if the Spanish speaker plans to live in the United States permanently, their ultimate goal should be to learn English, and students of Spanish can help them with that, too. I’ll show you some sentences you can use to help teach Spanish speakers a little bit of English. I’d love to see English speakers teaming up with Spanish speaking language partners that they can work together with to learn each other’s language. Being able to speak to someone in a different language is a magical and satisfying experience. Congratulations for taking the first steps!  Here’s my video introduction to this lesson:


Lesson 3.1

Taking Control of the Spanish Conversation

This 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 strategies.

You’ll also learn:

Hable más despacio, por favor.  = Speak more slowly, please.

Repite, por favor. = Repeat, please.

No hablo mucho español.  =  I don’t speak much Spanish.

No entiendo.  =  I don’t understand.

¿Me entiende?  =  Do you understand me?

Watch for these and other strategies in the video.


Lesson 3.2

Nonverbal Spanish Strategies

This video covers strategies and things you can say to facilitate nonverbal communication. Sometimes it’s handy to have just a few phrases to help us along with our non-verbal communication attempts. 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.

2. Muéstreme, por favor. This means, Show me. This is useful if they’re trying to explain where something is or trying to describe anything that they can easily show you. Maybe if you’re on a construction site and somebody got hurt, you can ask them to show you where they got injured so you can take the appropriate first aid action. Or you can have them point a place out on a map, or physically take you somewhere. Use your imagination!

3. Haga esto. It means, Do this. It’s an extremely versatile phrase. If you’re trying to give someone instructions and you don’t know all the words to explain it but you can show it, just say “Haga esto” and demonstrate for them!

4. On the other hand, if you see a Spanish speaker doing something they are not supposed to, you can say No haga esto–DON’T do this.

5. Así. It means, Like this. Maybe you asked someone to do something and they’re doing it wrong, or they are trying to figure something out. You can come alongside them and demonstrate the proper technique as you say “Asi.”

There’s a lot you can do with just a little bit of Spanish if you can find ways to pair useful sentences like these with gestures or pen and paper.

Enjoy the video!

Lesson 3.3

Learning Spanish from Native Speakers

There are a few phrases you can learn to help encourage native Spanish speakers to help you learn more of their language.  The ones covered in this video are:

¿Qué es esto? =  What is this?

¿Cómo se dice esta acción en espanol? = How do you say this action in Spanish? (And then do an action that you want to know the word for.)

¿Cómo se dice ___ en espanol? = How do you say ___ in Spanish?

¿Cómo se dice esta palabra? =  How do you say this word?

Lesson 3.4

Teaching Spanish Speakers English

Most people agree that Spanish speakers who intend to live in the U.S. permanently need to learn English.  (Have a look at this blog post which explores why we should have to learn Spanish in America.)  Why not help them along?  Here are a few phrases that help you to teach a recently-arrived Spanish speaker some English words:

En inglés, esto es _____.  = In English, this is ___.

En ingles decimos….  = In English we say….

Se pronuncia… = It’s pronounced….

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