Little victories...

I stopped off at one of my regular Spanish coffee bars recently…

After giving my order, I had a quick conversation with the owner. When we’d finished the conversation, a lady on the next table smiled across at me and said (in English)  “your Spanish is excellent, can you tell me how I order my tuna salad toastie without tomato, in Spanish.”

Many foreigners never make the effort to order anything complicated in Spanish, so I was pleased to help and spent a couple of minutes helping her say “¿me das un sandwich de ensalada de atún sin tomate, por favor?”  She repeated it after me, and after a few attempts I smiled and said “great, you’ve got it!”

When the waiter came to her she hesitated, looked nervous and (looking a bit sheepish) switched to English: “can I have a toasted tuna salad sandwich but can you leave out the tomato, that would be great, thanks”. The waiter clearly didn’t understand what she had asked for as, sure enough, when the sandwich arrived, I could see it contained tomato.

I watched her take out the tomato slices but didn’t say anything.

The problem is that most people give up on Spanish without sticking at it for long enough.

Learning a language is about small victories – where every single day you use more and more Spanish sentences and gradually make yourself understood. Sentences that seem long and hard at first, quickly become easy once you’ve used them a few times.

Think about a scenario you might find yourself in, and how you might make your request in Spanish. Think it through, write it down, maybe check the vocab, then start practicing alone. Sure, this is going to feel like a lot of work (and a bit staged) but when you are in the situation that you can actually use your ‘party piece of the week’ you’re going to feel so confident about it being right – and ‘boom’ you’ve chalked up another little language victory! High five to you!

…but don’t stop there. Create another phrase that could be frequently used and get polishing ready for your next victory! Follow the 3-point plan below and the more you do it the sooner you will be that confident Spanish speaker… guaranteed!

  • Research it
  • Write it
  • Practice it often
  • Repeat!