The Best Way to Learn Another Language…

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As I mentioned at the beginning of the year, one of my intentions for 2014 is to improve my Spanish… I mean after studying Spanish in college and 2 months abroad, I really should know how to have a conversation!

Anyway, Scott and I got some great practice on our recent Costa Rica trip. Being able to associate words with experiences makes it SO much easier to learn. We fell in love with the sloths (perezosos), saw a ton of happy cows (vaca feliz) and had some pretty funny mistakes, which are actually the best learning tool of all! Once you make a mistake, you learn from it, probably laugh a little as a result of it and you are likely to never do it again. So today I share with you some of our recent second language screw-ups.

1. Walking into a restaurant for dinner
Me: Buenos dias (good morning), oh wait no, I mean buenas noches (good evening)….

2. Getting prepared to go on a zip line tour where the lines are 1/2 mile long and you can move at speeds up to 55 mph
Guy checking us in: ¿Está embarazada?
Me: Si (thinking he said, are you ready?)
Scott: He just asked if you were pregnant
Me: Oh no no no, sorry!

3. Chatting with a local
Local: What do you do to work out at home?
Scott: Corro y levanto pesados peces (I run and lift heavy fish)
Local: Confused look
Scott: Oh wait pesas (weights) not peces (fish)

4. Approximately 9am ordering breakfast
Scott: Me gustaria un cafe con helado (I would like coffee with ice cream)
Waiter: ¿Con helado?
Scott: Si
Me: No con hielo (with ice)
Scott: Oh yeah, that’s right…

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5. Stopping on the side of the road to buy a coconut water
Random guy: ¿Vas a Santa Cruz? (Are you going to Santa Cruz?)
Me: No a Nicoya (No to Nicoya) – which is about 2.5 hours away
Random guy: ¿Puedo tener un paseo? (Can I have a ride) and a few other things…
Me (not knowing what he really said but thinking we were still talking about where I was going): Si a Nicoya!
Guy (the one on the right in the photo above) grabs his backpack and I realize I just offered him a ride…
Me: Oh no, lo siento. (Oh no, sorry)
Scott: What was that all about?
Me: I accidentally offered that guy a ride…

6. At a very long dinner on our last night in Costa Rica
Me: Estoy casado
Scott: So you are a typical Costa Rican dish? (A casado is the typical dish ordered in Costa Rica that includes beans, rice, plantains, fish/meat/veggies, etc.)
Me: (After I laughed so hard that I cried) No, I meant to say estoy cansado (I am tired).

Given these mistakes and the experiences/memories that came out of them, I am sure to always remember how to say sloth, cow and I’m tired, just to name a few :).

Pura vida,


P.S. To continue my learning, Scott and I have implemented Espanol Lunes meaning we only speak in Spanish to each other on Mondays. I warned him that for the time being we might have low communication of anything important on Mondays :)… but we made it through our first Monday just fine! I’m also looking to find someone to speak with one hour a week over Skype or in person so I am consistent with my speaking. Salud!

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