Do you have any silly stories of learning Spanish?

A long time in ago in high school Mr. Moreno or pelón. He used the word tonto a lot in class speaking to his spanish speaking bilingual class of seniors (as in 12th grade). I always imagined that pelón was like single hair. I just looked it up and it means both difficult and bald. So he called them tanto and they called him pelón.

I was clueless but actually read the book and did homework at least for the first month before it was clear that if I gave answers I would be pounded. The mind wanders....

So years later I get a Spanish/English dictionary deciding I'd try and learn Spanish. I was in a bilingual class after all. So I look up tanto actually shows up as "tanto" in my dictionary and find so much or so many. Then there is "tonto" which lists as "ton/eria" and then the definition is a list of many different endings in which one ~to is silly or idiot. Each time I picked up the durned book I got a different definition!

So cut to present day. I'm reading in Spanish and seeing a lot of tanto in the writing and it is killing me. I gave up on the dictionary years ago as it is of little use. And today, I figured it all out.


  • Thanks for the edit Marianne. I was wondering if I phrased it right! - aprender100 Sep 15, 2010

3 Answers



My Spanish teacher shared with us that as she was learning Spanish and living in Spain, she wanted to tell her host family that she was embarrassed. She said, "Estoy embarazada," which means, "I'm pregnant." By then she was really embarrassed, and they taught her the real way to say it, "Tengo verguenza."

  • Sep 14, 2010
  • | link
  • I can just imagine what it took for her to move past that point. Being in Spain there was really no other way but to keep communicating no matter how badly. - aprender100 Sep 15, 2010


Not sure if this will amuse anyone but me, but I was recently talking online to a friend of mine who is taking Spanish 2 as a junior at my old high school (I am now in college majoring in Spanish and Chemistry), and when saying our goodbye's he wanted to add "I love you" (as a friend, haha) so he said "te encanto". Now, he loves Spanish and really wants to learn it, so he is always using it and I am always correcting him. This time, because I know my old teacher really well, I just said, "haha, bud, it doesn't really work like that. Go say it to Sra. tomorrow and let me know what she says" wink

I'm expecting to hear a great story tomorrow, or from my teacher next time we talk smile

  • Sep 15, 2010
  • | link
  • You will have to let us know too! - aprender100 Sep 15, 2010


After I posted the first story I didn't see any response for several hours. I started worrying about how I expressed myself again. It is a good thing I've had a very busy day or I would have been going over and over it again and again in my mind. Thanks Alicia for your post.

I've heard that Spanish speakers love it when you attempt to try a new language. It is true they do, but man the potential misunderstandings! I was immersed in Moreno's class. I used to joke that I was in the 2% majority in that high school.

The guy(student) that wanted to pound my head in was very mature for a high school student and I wonder now if maybe he'd been held back a grade or two. There was a girl in the class who constantly arbitrated between this guy and the teacher. Without her constant intervention and attention, he wouldn't have made it through the class. As a Spanish speaker, he may have been counting on the class to be able to graduate. I learned to distinguish the b and v sounds by Moreno's saying ve de vaca or be de burro.

It must of stuck because years later I'd be helping Spanish speakers learn to use their computers in the work place and I'd work my ve de vaca or be de burro into the conversation. There were these two Spanish speaking secretaries that had a very specialized and critical job that they now had to complete on a computer for the business. I spent hours showing them the steps. Only to be brought in at the next deadline to show them the steps again. One day after hours of working through the process and forcing them to do it, I was stuck in ve de vaca and be de burro mode. After finishing the final step correctly, she looked me dead in the eye and said, "be de bueno". Oops. I had no idea.