Summer is just around the corner and you can’t wait to start your holiday in Spain! You’ve booked your flights and hotel, arranged your travel money and insurance, and even considered what you’re going to pack. But then it dawns on you: you don’t speak Spanish! Lucky enough, you’ve still got some time on your hands to do a little brushing up before you take off for sun, sand, and delicious paella. But learning Spanish isn’t that easy, is it? How should you go about it?
One way could be signing up for online survival Spanish classes with listenandlearn.org. Alternatively, you could do some quick studying with a simple online Spanish phrase guide like travelphrase.com/spanish-phrasebook. Or maybe it might be worth surfing through meetup.com where you can find some local Spanish exchanges in your area. Whatever your time permits, you’ll be able to pick up something. In the meantime, read through these 4 quick tips to ease some of that anxiety and pick up a little bit of Spanish before your trip begins.
- Think about what you already know
It’s almost impossible not to have picked up a few words in Spanish, regardless of whether you’ve had a formal class or not, even if it’s just “hello” and “goodbye”. Hola and adiós will already be familiar to you from school, TV, or the internet. You have probably already heard gracias (“thank you”), and ¿cómo estás? (“how are you?”), and it’s likely you know a few food and drink words too, like tapas and sangria.
- Educated guesswork
Some words are going to be obvious to you without even trying. Going through an airport? Aeropuerto isn’t too much of a stretch of the imagination from “airport”, and neither is pasaporte (“passport”) or seguridad (“security”). You might not know the word for baggage in Spanish but reclamo looks close enough to reclaim for you to figure out that reclamo de equipaje means “baggage reclaim”. And because airports tend to cater for international travellers even if signs aren’t necessarily written in English, there are usually recognisable symbols to guide you. The symbol for salidas (“departures”) will be familiar, as will that for puertas (“gates”), and baño (“toilet”). Look at how much Spanish you already know!
There is a lot you can get and plenty of ways to make yourself understood just by pointing at what you want and need. ¿Puedo tener eso? (“can I have that?”) followed by a jab of your finger at something on display will get you far. ¿Cuánto cuesta? (“how much does it cost?”) can also be a good phrase to know, and ¿dónde está el… (“where is the…?”) might help if you are looking for directions.
- Some essentials
There are some basic words and phrases in Spanish that are extremely useful to know. Lo siento or perdón means “sorry”, soy means “I am” if you want to introduce yourself. ¿Cómo te llamas? (“what’s your name?”) will come in handy for making simple conversation. Más despacio por favor will get someone to repeat what they just said more slowly, no entiendo means “I don’t understand”, and ¿disculpe? or ¿perdón? will help if you need something to be repeated. And if all else fails, you can ask ¿habla usted Inglés? (“do you speak English?”).
Now over to you
Sure, you can pick up a little vocabulary online, buy yourself a phrasebook, or even potentially start a new hobby before or after your trip by taking up a Spanish course. The possibilities for learning Spanish are endless! Any little bit you learn will help you feel more confident with your travels and let you immerse yourself even more. So for now, as the countdown continues, we hope you have a buen viaje and felices vacaciones!