Confession: I suck at learning languages.
Another confession: It’s 100% because I’m lazy.
Yup, it’s true. I could probably be a back up singer for Enrique Iglesias by now if I hadn’t been so lazy and actually made an effort to learn spanish properly (oh, and if I could actually sing).
Instead I only took a handful of classes and learnt most of my spanish simply from listening to conversations and attempting to join in. As a result, I’m far from fluent, but I can get by and I understand most things, more or less.
However ‘joining in conversations’ is much easier said than done.
Finding the right words in español mid-conversation can be difficult. Especially when you’re busy translating what everyone else is saying in your head, and are therefore 10+ seconds behind in the conversation.
After finding myself lost in translation multiple times, I discovered a few spanish language cheats, if you will, which help create the illusion that you know more spanish than you really do.
For lazy language learners like myself, I have listed these below:
10 SPANISH TIPS FOR LAZY LEARNERS
1. Begin every sentence with “Mira…”
This is the best way to fool people into thinking you know what you’re about to say – what you say after this may reverse this effect.
2. For extra important sentences, begin with “Escuchame…”
Translation: “Listen to me…”
This is not rude, but will draw the attention of the room. Pair this sentence starter with a straight-face – this is not to be used just for shits and giggles.
3. Finish every sentence with “…vale”
The end of the sentence is equally important as the beginning. If you start and end your spangled sentence well, you may be able to fool people with a lower level of spanish into thinking you know your stuff.
4. Repetition is key
When you are stuck for words, resort to repetition. Repeat a simple phrase you know, add in a few head nods if you please, and continue until you can think of something else to say.
For example, “Si, si, si” or “vale, vale, vale, vale, vale”
Translation: “Yes, yes, yes” or “Ok, Ok, Ok, Ok, Ok”.
5. When stuck mid-sentence, throw in a “pero”
This little lifesaver allows you to hold onto the ‘o’ sound as long as you need to, while you think of a swift ending to any sentence.
For example “Gracias por la bebida perooooooooooooooooooooo no me gusta tu cara”
Translation: “Thanks for the drink buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut I don’t like your face.”
6. While conversing, use “porqué” to avoid speaking a lot
This throws the conversation back to the other person, as they are forced to explain whatever they are talking about in more detail.
7. When asking a question, always finish with the answer you wish to hear.
This avoids any confusion, for both parties.
For example, “Un otra cerveza, si?”
Translation: “Another beer, yes?”
8. When answering a question, “mas o menos” is always a great answer
Let become your go-to line. No matter what the situation, feel free to use this ambiguously unhelpful answer.
Translation: “more or less”
9. Always talk fast and LOUD.
This is perhaps the most important part. No matter where you are, or who you’re talking to, dazzle them with your ability to raise your voice and combine all your words into one big supersized-spanish-word. The Spanish are all about this and it’s vital, should you wish to fit in.
10. Translating 101.
NOTE: Although these ingenious cheats ‘worked’ for awhile, I’m planning on actually taking a spanish class this year and would recommend this to anyone else wanting to actually learn Spanish.