Sitting at the cool kids’ table

All The Cool Words Your Spanish Teacher Never Taught You

águas! look out!
agringarse to be gringofied
andar de volada to flirt
andar lurias to be crazy
arre move it
arrecho horny
beso kiss
bobos lazy
borlo a party
cállate shut up
carajo! I swear!
chale no way
chones underwear
chulo/chula a really cool person
cuates good friends
ebrio drunk
el gordo the fat man
el mono the movies
frajo a cigarette
Gabardinos Americans
gorrón a moocher
hijole holy cow
la flaca the skinny girl
loro a friend
metiche nosy
nam nam yum yum
nel nah/nope
nena girl/young lady
no hay piri don’t worry
panzó pot-bellied
peló bald
pichón a hot chick, babe
pielas beers
qué onda? what’s up?
qué padre how cool
rocanrolero a rock and roller
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How to keep your Spanish skills fresh

      Recently we asked our past students what they are doing to keep up with their Spanish.  We all know how hard we work to build it in the first place, and we also know that it can be a fragile skill unless nourished for a long time.  These are some of the best suggestions reported, and they may give you some ideas.  Of course, you can always plan another study  with Language Link, but if it’s not possible right now…. consider this compilation of ideas.  Kudos to those of you who wrote in:
     1. Take a few 4-5 week conversation classes that your local school or college may offer.  Usually these are fairly basic, but they allow you to keep up your skills.  You won’t have the type of speedy progress you made in your Language Link program, but you are reinforcing what you learned and maybe getting a few new bits of knowledge. 
      2. Look for weekend immersion programs which your local community college may do.  You can often do this as a non regular student. 
      3. Try to find and attend a local Spanish “meet-up group” that you can find on the internet or the public library. These usually meet once a month for a few hours. Three of our past students started meeting once a month to speak Spanish at dinner.  They have included others in the dinner group who want to speak Spanish and luckily for them, they found a native speaker from Madrid and his wife (a Spanish teacher) who join them and help with vocabulary and grammar. 
     4. When you meet people in public that are obviously Hispanic, always try to speak their language with them. They will be honored by your attempts to speak their native language. Speaking Spanish with native speakers requires a lot of courage, but the rewards are tremendous for you and for them.  A wonderful exchange occurs when you offer to help with English and they help with Spanish.
      5.  Enroll in an advanced Spanish class at a local university. Maybe the only prior formal coursework you have is attending a LL immersion program. Since you won’t have had the prerequisites, the professor may insist that you take the CLEP test to prove you can do the work. When some of our past students have done this, they have received up to 15 hours of college credit in Spanish!
     6. After doing a LL program in Ecuador, a current med student at the University of Minnesota, volunteered at a local clinic where about 1/3 of the patients were Spanish speaking.  She is now doing a nine-month rotation program in a rural town in Minnesota with a large Spanish-speaking population, so gets to use her Spanish in clinic on almost a daily basis and absolutely loves it!
      Another medical professional, a clinical psychologist, keeps up her Spanish by conducting short psychiatric evaluations in one of her jobs in NYC.  She also keeps up her skills by speaking Spanish with her child’s nanny from Ecuador.  
      7.  Ask a few people, learners like you and some with excellent Spanish (even native speakers), to form a book group. Read novels in Spanish and meet once a month.
      8.  One student feels the Kindle can be the single best tool for language learning once you reach an intermediate level. With a Spanish language dictionary installed, you can read Spanish language books and periodicals. When you encounter an unknown word, it is very easy to cursor over and instantly receive the definition. Then highlight the word for future reference. Once you finish the book, it is very easy to log on to kindle.amazon.com in order to download the list of highlighted words in order to drill yourself on their meanings.
      9.  Offer to help as a basic interpreter.  We had one student whose wife is an elementary school teacher and asked her husband to school one day to interpret for a Hispanic parent.  Was he nervous?  Of course!  He says he sweated profusely during the short interpretation, but he loved it!  The Hispanic parent thought he was a saint!–p.s. so did his wife!  He floated out of her classroom. 
      One of our past students expressed it very well… Thanks, Steve Barrymore!
      The bottom line is that you have to work at it–all the time. Because of my desire to speak Spanish, I have been able to help non-English speaking people with communication many times here in the U.S. That in itself has been worth all the study. I have so much more confidence now, and my friends are in awe of my confidence speaking another language, even though I know in my own mind, I am not always speaking it correctly. It has opened up a huge part of the world for me – a part to which I never would have traveled had it not been for my ability to wade through the language-albeit at times, pretty roughly! Thanks for getting me started.  I will always be appreciative of the top quality schools you offer.  

Decoding abbreviations

You’re reading along in Spanish, seeing a name and address.  So what the heck is Ma. at C. Garza no. 10?  It helps a lot to learn some of the most common abbreviations.  Unlike English, where most abbreviations are capitalized, many Spanish abbreviations are not.  But, of course, it wouldn’t be a living language if there were no exceptions.

a.C.,— antes de Cristo,— B.C. (before Christ), BCE (before Common Era)

am and pm.– rarely used, as most often time is stated in 24 hour time, 17:00h (5:00 pm), 8:00h (8:00 am)

apdo. — apartado postal — P.O. Box

aprox. — aproximadamente — approximately

Arq. – arquitecto (architect)

Av., Avda. — avenida — Ave. (avenue, in addresses)

C. – calle – St.(street)

c.c. — centímetros cúbicos — c.c. (cubic centimeters)

Cía — compañia —

Co. (company)

cm — centímetros — cm. (centimeters)

Col. – colonia (area of the city, a neighborhood used in addresses)

c/u — cada uno — apiece

D. — don — Sir

Da. — doña — Madam

d.C. — después de Cristo,— A.D. (anno domini), CE (Common Era)

dna. — docena — dozen

Dr., Dra. — doctor, doctora —

Dr.  E — este (punto cardinal) —

E (east)  EE. UU. — Estados Unidos —

U.S.  h. — hora — hour

Ing. — ingeniero — engineer

kg — kilogramos — kg (kilograms)

km/h — kilómetros por hora — kilometers per hour

l — litros — liters

Lic. — licenciado — attorney or professional degree

Ma. – María

m — metros — meters

mm — milímetros — millimeters

m.n. — moneda nacional —to distinguish the national coin  from others

N — norte — N (north)

no., núm. — número — No. (number)

O — oeste — west  pág. — página — page

P.D. — postdata — P.S.

p.ej. — por ejemplo — e.g. (for example)

Prof, Profa. — profesor, profesora — Professor

q.e.p.d. — que en paz descanse — R.I.P. (rest in peace)

S — sur — S (south)

S.A. — Sociedad Anónima — Inc.

Sr. — señor — Mr.

Sra. — señora — Mrs., Ms.

Srta. — señorita — Miss, Ms.

s.s.s. — su seguro servidor — your faithful servant (used as a closing in letters)

Ud., Vd., Uds., Vds. — usted, ustedes — you

v. — véase —  see

W.C. — water closet — lavatory

Short and sweet

Spanish, when it is casually spoken, is like all languages in that people commonly use many shortcuts.  Words are shortened; words become contractions, and this often affects the pronunciation.

For instance:  Para – in this sense meaning toward. Note how it’s casually said in many Spanish speaking countries –Pa’allá – meaning over there.  Note that this combines into what sounds like one wordpallá, but you are meaning para allá. What happens with the sounds in the above is linguistically called elision.  It’s just a fancy word for words sliding together, such as the two vowels in pallá. A good example of this  elision is mi hija.  Your ear will perceive this as mija, as the h is silent, and the two I’s slide into each other.

Pa’cá – meaning over here.  Para acá.  Acá is a common substitute foraquí. You will hear it often in the command, Ven acá.  Come here.

No tengo dinero pa’ comer.  I don’t have money to eat. No sirve pa’ na’.  This is short for no sirve para nada.  It’s (or he/she is) not good (of any use) for anything        These shortened forms are commonly heard (particularly in Mexico)

Feliz cumple – short for Feliz cumpleaños, Porfa – short for Por favor, La compu – short for la computadora

The key component in learning these shortened forms is to listen, listen, listen.

Yes, you need to actually speak and practice to improve your Spanish,but it’s equally as important to listen carefully and “sing back the song” you’re hearing around you. And just to remember why you’re doing all this and working so hard at your Spanish.Top-10-Laid-Back-Cats-10-510x424

It’s the little things (prepositions 101)

When you’re polishing your Spanish and refining it, you need to pay special attention to the little things such as prepositions which follow certain verbs.  Here are examples of some of the most high frequency ones.  When you are trying to imprint something in your linguistic brain, read the example given here.  Then make up your own sentence using the same verb, but this time stating something which you frequently say.  Get those patterns stuck in your head, but make them your own patterns!

Make a game of seeing how often you can speak them or think them in a day.  When you’re learning a language you are laying tracks in your brain on which your Spanish cars can run, but you must keep those tracks well oiled by frequent repetitions.

  • asistir a = to attend    No quiero asistir a la reunión porque estoy muy cansada, y mi novio va a asistir a una fiesta en la casa de Guillermo.
  • tratar de = to try in the sense of to make an effort (probar – to try out, on)  Voy a tratar de hacerlo bien.  Ellos van a tratar de no gastar mucho dinero en Acapulco.  Mi hijo está tratando de leer.
  • empezar (ie) a = to start   In a phrase such as ¿A qué hora empieza la fiesta?   The beginning A is the at in at what time, but when you have something following this verb, note:  Mi amiga empezó a estudiar el español la semana pasada.
  • olvidarse de = to forget   Siempre me olvido de la cantidad (how much) que necesito.
  • acordarse (ue) de = to remember  Me acuerdo de la primera vez que fui a México.  ¿Te acuerdas de la primera vez?
  • salir de = to leave (from)   ¿A qué hora sale la profesora de la escuela?
  • saber de = to know about    No sé nada de la historia de Costa Rica, pero sé mucho del café.
  • entrar a = to enter   No quiero entrar a la tienda sin mi bolsa.
  • hablar de = to talk about    ¿De qué habla Tita? ¿ Habla del novio de Cristina o del novio de Alma?
  • enamorarse de = to fall in love with    Quiero enamorarme de un príncipe muy pronto.  Ella se enamoró de un español de San Sebastián.
  • soñar con = to dream about      Anoche soñé contigo.  ¿Soñaste conmigo?
  • alegrarse de = to be happy about   Me alegro mucho de la invitación a la boda.

How to sound “cool” in casual conversation

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Cool Words From Real Life All The Cool Words Your Spanish Teacher Never Taught You

águas! look out!
agringarse to be gringofied
andar de volada to flirt
andar lurias to be crazy
arre move it
arrecho horny
beso kiss
bobos lazy
borlo a party
cállate shut up
carajo! I swear!
chale no way
chones underwear
chulo/chula a really cool person
cuates good friends
ebrio drunk
el gordo the fat man
el mono the movies
frajo a cigarette
gabardinos americans
gorrón a moocher
hijole holy cow
la flaca the skinny girl
loro a friend
metiche nosy
nam nam yum yum
nel nah/nope
nena girl/young lady
no hay piri don’t worry
panzó pot-bellied
peló bald
pichón a hot chick, babe
pielas beers
qué onda? what’s up?
qué padre how cool
rocanrolero a rock and roller