17 gestures to feel like a local in Spain

17 gestures to feel like a local in Spain

Every time I go back home, back to Seville, I realize how different the experience of talking to someone can be as compared to that in other countries. Nothing to do with the language itself…, although… wait a second! How could it not be? Of course it has everything to do with the language too!

As you know, I come from the south of Spain and this might be more common there than in the north. Anyhow, Spaniards are, in general, very expressive. 

Think about it. In a large part of the Mediterranean countries, for example, in Italy, we do find very expressive people. Close your eyes and visualize an Italian person saying “mamma mía!” while waving his/her hands. Easy picture, right?

 

Well, this is what I’m coming to tell you today. You, Spain lover who enjoys having that strong connection with the Spanish culture, and dreams of feeling one more among Spaniards… You also can help yourself and express even more with a couple of gestures.

 

When you say something without moving a finger or not making a funny face, the other person, the listener, might not know if you are being serious or not, or what you really think about what you just said. They might even think that something bad happened to you and that’s why you are not moving at all! Using some gestures can help you to make yourself understandable. It’s a great and easy way of leaving no room for doubt about what we are really saying. Everything is clear from the first moment and that is wonderful for the good communication, don’t you think?

 

But gestures do not only help those who are listening to understand our message better. I’m Spanish and I love making gestures (can’t help it, really) and I believe that this also helps the speaker, because we feel liberated when talking. We feel comfortable and that is why we dare to fully express ourselves. I won’t say “don’t trust anyone who doesn’t make gestures when speaking”, but I believe that when we feel good, like when we are with friends, we are more likely to be quite expressive. Ever thought of that?

 

Nonverbal language is very important in any culture, and it’s interesting to know what a certain gesture means when we are talking to another person. So, if it’s about blending with the Spanish locals, look around you, observe, talk and connect with Spaniards. You will see what gestures they like to use and when. There are probably some small regional differences, but I’ll show you now some of the most used among Spaniards:

1. When saying this place is so crowded.

In Spanish you would say something like “esto está abarrotado” o “lleno de gente”

Possible conversation:

 

  • ¿Vamos al bar de la plaza?
  • Uf, ese sitio me encanta, pero siempre está así.

2. When saying you don’t have any money or you are broke.

You would say “estoy a dos velas”, “no tengo un duro” o “estoy tieso” while you do this gesture.

 

  • ¿Te vienes al cine?
  • Pues esta vez paso, porque estoy a dos velas.

 

3. When saying that someone has got some nerve.

In Spanish we say “¡qué cara tiene” o “qué caradura” o “qué cara más dura”. At the same time we do this gesture.

 

  • ¿Sabes que me acaba de pedir dinero otra vez?
  • ¿De verdad? ¡Qué cara tiene!

4. When saying someone is a bit crazy.

I don’t know why but everybody seems to know this Spanish sentence really good “está (un poco) loco”.

 

  • A mi jefe no le gusta salir nunca de su despacho.
  • Yo creo que está un poco loco, ¿no?

 

5. When saying someone has been cheated.

Yes, it sounds crazy but we got a name for someone who has been cheated, “cornudo/a”. The action of cheating is “poner los cuernos”, that’s why we make a gesture imitating a couple of horns.

 

  • Oye, ¿te has enterado de que Luis y María se separan?
  • Sí, y no me extraña, porque él le ponía los cuernos.

6. When talking about someone who is or has become really thin.

We say then, “está así de delgado/a” or “está canijo/a”.

 

  • Tu amiga Rosa está demasiado delgada.
  • Puede ser, pero ella siempre ha estado así.

 

7. When saying you don’t have anything to do with something. 

If we don’t want to know anything about it, then we would say “yo no quiero saber nada, me lavo las manos”.

 

  • Os dije que tuviérais cuidado con el coche y mira qué sucio lo habéis dejado.
  • Yo también se lo dije y no me escucharon, así que me lavo las manos.

 

8. When letting someone know you are leaving or when asking someone to leave.

We say “bueno, yo me voy” or “anda, vete ya”.

 

  • Bueno, me voy ya que llego tarde.
  • Vale, ¡nos vemos!

 

9. When asking for the bill in a bar or a restaurant.

We say “¿la cuenta, por favor?” or “¿me dices cuánto es?”.

 

  • ¿La cuenta, por favor?
  • Sí, claro, ahora mismo se la traigo.

 

10. When asking someone if he understood what you just said.

Normally used after using irony. Then we say “¿lo pillas?” or “¿lo coges?”.

 

  • Jajaja, ¡qué buen chiste! ¿lo pillas?
  • Pues no, no me hace gracia.

 

11. When saying something is really delicious.

We say then “está increíble, riquísimo, buenísimo…” or “está para chuparse los dedos”.

 

  • Me encanta la ensaladilla de gambas.
  • Pues, en este bar está increíble.

 

12. When you want to make someone hurry up.

I see myself saying to my daughter “¡venga, vamos, deprisa…!”

 

  • ¡Venga, vamos, que llegamos tarde!
  • ¡Ya voy, ya voy!

 

13. When saying you want to avoid someone.

“Huy, yo a esa persona le hago la cruz”.

 

  • ¡Anda, mira quién viene por ahí!
  • Huy, yo a ese no lo quiero ni ver.

 

14. When letting someone know they are very late.

We say then “¡ya era hora!”.

 

  • ¡Hombre, ya era hora!
  • Lo siento,  perdonad el retraso!

 

15. When saying you are tired or fed up of something or someone.

Then you could say “estoy hasta aquí”, “me tiene harto/a” or “estoy hasta la coronilla”.

 

  • El perro del vecino no deja de ladrar. Me tiene hasta aquí.

 

16. When warning someone to be careful with something or someone.

I would say something like “ojito (ojo) con eso” or “cuidado con eso”.

 

  • Por favor, tened mucho cuidado esta noche.
  • ¡Que sí!, no te preocupes.

 

17. When telling someone that 2 people have a (romantic) relationship.

Then we would say “están juntos” or “están liados”.

 

  • ¿Qué me tenías que contar de Ana y Fernando?
  • ¡Que están saliendo!

 

As you can see, I just made a rough selection of some of the gestures we, Spaniards, use the most. There are many more. And like I said before, there could be regional differences in some cases too.

 

Make these gestures your own. They will make it easier to understand the Spanish locals and they might also help you to express yourself when you are in Spain. This could be a nice start to feel more like a local and less like a tourist.

 

Enjoy the videos! And let me know which ones you already knew and which one you will probably use the most when speaking Spanish.

8 ways your smartphone will help you to keep up with your Spanish

8 ways your smartphone will help you to keep up with your Spanish

Be aware. Smartphone addiction is a fact. But… if you use them right they can be so helpful. Today I want to tell you how to keep up with your Spanish and even improve it just by using your smartphone.

 

If you have a smartphone, you have the whole world in your hands. At least, till your battery lets you down. Yeah, sometimes they can really be nasty when you need them the most.

 

  • But why a smartphone instead of a tablet, laptop or pc?
  • Well, I never said “instead of”.

 

All these other electronic devices are great, but let’s face it: you always have your smartphone with you and that’s really convenient sometimes. When you sit in front of your pc you might need to put your “working mindset” on and lose a tiny bit of your motivation. When it comes to your phone, it feels like more fun, doesn’t it?

 

Imagine you are travelling and you are not home for many hours, you still can use your phone and keep up with your good habits!

 

Let’s see how to use them to help you with your Spanish. Try some of these possibilities for some weeks and you will probably be much more Spanish “minded” at the end of the process. And that is the whole point!

 

  • Settings.

 

You can change the settings of your phone from your language into Spanish. You will then read everything in the new language. If you really want to make an impact, do the same with your email account, your social media and search browser.

 

Don’t dare changing the language on the general settings? Change only the settings of some Apps, like Facebook. You can start by a few Apps and later, when you feel more confident, go ahead with the general settings.

 

  • Dictionaries within reach.

 

Forgot about the meaning of a word? Can’t come up with the Spanish name for “backpack”? Try to look first in your own head, don’t get too lazy! Doesn’t work? You have some options here.

Check with Google, he knows pretty much all the answers. Download the Google Translate App. Even if the translation is too literal sometimes, it will give you a pretty good idea of what you were looking for. Need to understand the Spanish instructions of your new coffee set? Google will help you!

Or look it up in one of the dictionaries you can find on the Internet. Here you have some of their websites, but you can also download the Apps: Diccionario de la RAE (Real Academia Española), Diccionario del Español Coloquial (only for intermediate to advanced learners who need casual spoken Spanish), WordReference

 

  • Spanish music.

 

Spotify is a great App to listen to any kind of music. Change the settings into Spanish and look for the best Spanish music lists. Feeling lazy today? Here you have my own Spanish list with music mostly from the 80’s and 90’s. As you will hear, Enrique Iglesias is not all there is.

 

Singing along with a Spanish song can give you the confidence you need to speak in that language. I recommend you to follow these 7 steps to get as much as you can from a song:

 

  1. listen a few times,
  2. try to understand the whole text,
  3. look up the lyrics on the Internet and check if you were right,
  4. write down the new words and expressions and try to use them in new sentences,
  5. listen once more and sing along,
  6. record your voice and
  7. listen to yourself.

 

  • Spanish radio and podcasts.

 

I can say after years of learning and teaching languages that listening and understanding is really the perfect first step of the whole language learning process. If you listen to spoken Spanish often enough and the right way, the possibilities that you get to speak Spanish on a natural way will grow 100%.

 

But, please, make it fun. Always adapt this to your own interest and personality. If you are not really into sports, listening to the Spanish sport news will very probably not have that great impact on your learning. Look for programs or podcasts you would enjoy in your own language. Think about this the next time you walk to your work, or when you have to wait long in the doctor’s waiting room.

Here you have some Spanish radio stations I recommend: La Ser, Rock FM, Radio 3 but there are many more, of course.

 

  • Youtube is not only for teenagers.

 

If you hear the word Youtube you may think of an audience between 12 and 25 years old, but youtube is so much more than that. I watch youtube videos to finally understand how to get something right (let’s face it, I’m not a very technical person), or a nice video on how to book cheaper flights or how to teach my dog to do certain things. You can find pretty much anything you would need to know. So, look for that information… in Spanish and enjoy the videos!

Tell me the truth… haven’t you ever look for a nice Spanish recipe in youtube? I definitely have!

 

  • Keep track of new learned stuff.

 

Evernote is a very easy-friendly app when it comes to taking notes.

You can use it to keep a list of new words and expressions, for instance. You can organize your lists as you like. And you can always check them anytime you need them. A great way of never ever forgetting again what you just learned!

 

  • Language learning Apps.

 

Duolingo is probably the most well known but there are many more.

I would say they are a nice complement to your “Spanish diet”. It’s like drinking water when you want to eat healthier. It will never be enough to learn a language but it can definitely help you on your way to fluency.

 

  • Any Spanish friends already?

 

If the answer is yes, then you should probably use Whatsapp. Spanish families, friends, groups of colleagues…, I would say pretty much any local in Spain, communicate via this App.

It’s easy to use, lowcost and you cannot only send text messages but also audio messages, pictures, videos, documents and even send your exact location to your friends.

Spaniards are the Whatsapp champions in Europe! There are two reasons for that: they love to communicate and they found a way of avoiding the extremely high cost of SMS messages in the past.

If the answer is no… what are you waiting for?? Socialize with Spaniards in Spain or on the Internet. This will not only help you with your fluency but it will also keep you 100% motivated to reach your goal!

 

Conclusion

 

We cannot compare the way we travel now with 20 years ago. Why would you even hesitate nowadays to take a long distance travel? I would even dare saying that anyone can feel at home anywhere else in the world these days.

 

Smartphones have changed our reality. They can be really handy, specially when you are travelling. Imagine carrying all this helpful information along with you while you interact with locals in Spain.

 

This can really speed up your learning process. You can discreetly look for the meaning of a word, listen to the latest Spanish hits or the news on the radio or just keep in touch with anyone through Whatsapp. The possibilities are infinite!

But remember… smartphone addiction is a fact!