HomeQ&AThings not to do when learning Spanish

Things not to do when learning Spanish


Most of us here are very excited about learning Spanish and have a desire to use what we have learned as much as possible. Not everyone in our lives shares the same enthusiasm. What are some of the funny things you have done or things you would not recommend doing around others who are annoyed at your enthusiasm to learn Spanish?

My example would be:

Don't write your wife's grocery list in Spanish, this will damper the support you will receive from your wife regarding Spanish.

updated JUL 6, 2010
posted by scottdoherty
jejeje - Yeser007, JUL 1, 2010
on the other hand, your wife may just ignore the list and you die of starvation. jejeje - Rikko, JUL 1, 2010
lol :) - Kiwi-Girl, JUL 2, 2010

17 Answers


I guess a simple one is just not to let a day pass without learning something new about the language.

updated JUL 28, 2010
posted by Rikko

Don't be self-conscious. Let it fly! If you're worried about making mistakes, you will just be suppressing your learning and your practice. Everybody (well, almost everybody) will understand that you're learning and wil be helpful and provide constructive guidance.

Even if they've deciced to not be helpful, at least they will be polite.

When I was learning Spanish, I was working on a landscaping crew and I wanted to tell my native speaking co-worker that my back was hurting.

"Mi esposa me duele." I told him.

OK. he said, and smiled and went quietly back to work without saying another word.

updated SEP 14, 2010
posted by petersenkid2
Jajaja...I love that. - --Mariana--, JUL 2, 2010
Do we need to call the authorities? jeje - Nicole-B, JUL 2, 2010
Good one hahahha I hope that your back (espalda) got better - FELIZ77, JUL 2, 2010
got a good laugh from that one. :,D - webdunce, JUL 3, 2010

Don't give up when you feel like you have hit a brick wall and try as you may you don't seem to be able to assimilate anything else.

I have learnt a couple of languages now and, like sponges, i think brains have surface saturation points. Ie.. sometimes you can only take in so much info before you need to have a break and let it sink in smile

But from experience I can say, don't give up, just give it a little time and you're fresh to go again! Brick Wall

updated JUL 2, 2010
posted by Kiwi-Girl
Good tip! - Issabela, JUL 2, 2010
Thanx :) - Kiwi-Girl, JUL 2, 2010
I agree completely. Sometimes the brain does need a little time out to let the connections work themselves out in some way. Then you suddenly find that things that you thought that you'd forgotten or didn't understand fall into place. - peregrinamaria, JUL 2, 2010
lol My brain seems stuck in that "point of nothing new may enter." :-) - Delores--Lindsey, JUL 2, 2010
Sometimes it helps to put a finger in one ear to keep the information already in one's brain from leaking out and still allow new information to enter the other ear! lol! - Pajaro44, JUL 2, 2010
Very important point ...Well done Marie Claire ! I have nearly given up on occasions with my Spanish but thankfull didnt I think it is finally starting to pay off lol - FELIZ77, JUL 2, 2010

Don't neglect reading literature in Spanish. Continue to practise by speaking Spanish, and studying grammer, vocabulary, etc.. But, be sure to read Spanish as much as you can, as well. Your amazing mind will begin to recognize patterns and gain "a feel" for the language.

updated SEP 14, 2010
edited by wansell
posted by wansell
Good idea, I've been reading the same Spanish newspaper for a month. - fontanero, JUL 2, 2010

Don't forget the reasons you want to learn Spanish.....even if it's just for mental exercise and fun.

Don't let anyone discourage you from learning something new....expanding your mind is your gift to yourself.

Don't get discouraged....even a little knowledge of Spanish is great, even if you aren't fluent yet.

Don't forget that you have friends....everyone here on SD is right there with you in your journey toward fluency.

Don't worry about getting into a rut....just relax and eventually the motivation to study will arise again.

updated SEP 14, 2010
posted by --Mariana--
very insperational - MeEncantanCarasSonrisas, JUL 2, 2010
So true, Marianne - FELIZ77, JUL 2, 2010
Great points Marianne!! - Jason7R, JUL 2, 2010

I was so excited when my daughter had to study Spanish in school this year. I was dreaming of mother/daughter Spanish bonding time. I have discovered that she is quite satisfied to receive a "B-" and has no interest in having Spanish conversations with me.

The only joy for me was reading her teachers weekly emails, which were in basic Spanish.

Oh well, I'm going to go off and cry somewhere... hmmm downer LOL

updated SEP 14, 2010
posted by Nicole-B
Awwww Nicole Sadly some people see langauge simply as an academic subject to study rather than a living language with which to communicate with others - FELIZ77, JUL 2, 2010
correction language I mean (spelling) - FELIZ77, JUL 2, 2010
omg- my wife and I are lol. Sandy says, "How long has she been a mom? Hello?" lol - Goyo, JUL 3, 2010

This is actually a serious and good tip: Looking for natives to practice with? Choose members of the opposite sex even if you aren't looking for dating etc.. People are naturally tuned to be non confrontational with members of the opposite sex and will take any offenses that you don't mean to be offensive a lot better.

It's really really easy to offend someone when you are first learning a language and if you're a guy like me, trying to learn from some random Mexican guys that don't speak English is dangerous. Random girls though? Perfect. Heck there's a couple of Mexican girls I met that meet me to practice Spanish for no apparent reason at all, just because they are nice.

updated JUL 2, 2010
posted by jeezzle
I think they call it Pity. - 0074b507, JUL 2, 2010
lol - 00d7cd75, JUL 2, 2010
I didn't flag that btw. I'm sure it is pity. What else. - jeezzle, JUL 2, 2010

This seems pretty silly; but, I'll admit it anyway!

I used to read mystery novels in bed at night in order to fall asleep.

Now, I read one of my Spanish grammar books!

updated SEP 14, 2010
posted by Pajaro44
Snap! And I congugate verbs in my sleep too. - peregrinamaria, JUL 2, 2010

I have learned to watch for the " glassy eyed look " that my friends give me when i bore them with either a new Spanish word or an amusing , to me at least , anecdote from S D. But I have started carrying my favorite phrase book around with me and every chance i get I will sit and have a coffee and a little read. Although i do not think one can beat speaking in Spanish in order to get the feel of the words and overcome ones embarrasment, unfortunately I live in an area where Spanish speakers are as rare as Hens teeth , so I have to resort to the silly ploy of asking directions in Spanish from complete strangers , just so I can get the feel of the words on my tongue. I do get some funny responses though , some unrepeatable here .

updated SEP 14, 2010
posted by ray76
What an excellent idea! It must be quite hilarious to watch. - peregrinamaria, JUL 2, 2010
Oh yeah! I do like it! - Delores--Lindsey, JUL 2, 2010

If I am excited about something that I have learned and want to share it only to get a glassy-eyed look, I just very innocently refuse to speak English. The great thing is, since the person is not interested in Spanish, he or she has no idea if I am using correct grammar or not as opposed to my friends who do speak spanish. tongue rolleye

updated SEP 14, 2010
posted by Delores--Lindsey
We seem to live in the same area, I know how you feel. - ray76, JUL 2, 2010

My advice to people wanting to learn Spanish is that no matter who tells you that you shouldn't or can't do it, do it anyway, if truly want to learn. Don't let anybody take your joy of learning away!! It's for your edification and it's not for others to like or not like. If others want to join you or encourage you, great but if they are negative about learning then I would truly question them as friends or acquaintances. wink Remember SD is a great community to converse or throw ideas out there to learn!! smile

updated SEP 14, 2010
posted by Jason7R
Awesome. :-) - --Mariana--, JUL 2, 2010

Don´t go into a Brit Bar and order your drink in Spanish. They will think you want to pay Spanish prices which are much cheaper than English prices. Also Brit Bars are full of people who don´t want to intergrate into the Spanish community so they probably would´nt understand you anyway!

updated SEP 14, 2010
posted by caza

I think this is all good advice. I sometimes think to myself "will I ever know this language" and here you get all the support and advice one could only dream for. One little thing I do is to put those "post it notes" everywhere with the object written on them. I have one on the fridge, lounge, toilet, taps in the bathrrom and kitchen, doors etc etc etc. This will embed it into your brain.

updated JUL 3, 2010
posted by mike123587

If you live in, or near, a Spanish-speaking neighbourhood, you have so many resources at your disposal. Even if you're just out for a walk, look at signs or anything else that you can see and the words will just seep into your mind. It also means that you have very easy access to Spanish-language media.

For those of us who are more challenged in terms of what's available locally, try and find an online version of a newspaper roughly equivalent to whichever one you would normally read in English. Try and find similar articles in each. If there's a big international story running, it will be covered in both. Likewise, even if you can't find a story in your English-language paper about the Spanish, Mexican etc economy, you will find reports about the economy in general. Much of this language (or often jargon) is very transportable and will allow you to understand much more if you do happen to hear some native speakers talking. Think about it. If we meet English speakers, a lot of the time we talk about the weather, friends and family, holiday / vacation plans, our favourite TV shows, sports or the big news stories. You will find almost all of this somewhere in a paper or magazine.

And the fantastic thing is that online it's almost all free and easily accessible. If you have a smartphone, you can read a Spanish paper when you're waiting for the bus, or in queue, just about anywhere that you have a few minutes to spare. Otherwise, you could always print off a few pages and take them with you in your bag.

In terms of Spanish papers (i.e. papers from Spain), my favourites are "El País" and "El Mundo" but I also read some of the local ones such as "La Voz de Galicia" from time to time.

If you would like to check out any of the Spanish papers, this website has them all listed by region ("El País" and "El Mundo" will be under "Madrid") with links to the online papers themselves:



updated JUL 3, 2010
posted by peregrinamaria
I'm having problems with the website again. I've made 3 attempts to post this before it registered successfully. - peregrinamaria, JUL 2, 2010
I'm not sure what you do to alleviate this problem but I always copy the text that I wrote just in case. ;) - Jason7R, JUL 2, 2010
Thanks, Jason. That's exactly what I did, luckily, having been burnt a few days ago. It's just so unpredictable; it could just as easily created duplicate posts. - peregrinamaria, JUL 3, 2010
...have created... - peregrinamaria, JUL 3, 2010

Just work a bit every day, the more the better. The word of the day helps me learn and go over the lessons you already finished to review.

updated JUL 3, 2010
posted by rcgrcgrcg
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