Spanish, Outside the Classroom

I don’t know if you know this, but my boyfriend of 1.5 years is Spanish. People generally tend to think that fact in itself is just swell. (Forgive me for sounding like a 10 year-old from the 1950s.) Mario is from Europe. What’s that like? He speaks Spanish. Wow! What a great way to learn a language!

Kaley Mario El Patio de la Alamedilla

Yeah, yeah, I know. My boyfriend is exotic. He has a European man purse. And I’m fine with that. In Europe, that is. I’ve warned him not to wear it in the U.S., lest things get taken the wrong way. It’s not that I’m overly concerned about that, but yeah…I’m avoiding it.

I’d like to take about the whole language barrier thing. Most of the time, it ain’t no thang. Mario’s English is practically impeccable and he surprises me daily with the vocabulary he possesses. We’ll be watching a television show, a random Spanish word will come up—say, mole—and I’ll have no idea what that is in English. He will. He almost always does. I sometimes get frustrated, like “Why does he always, always know?” If I am trying to come up with a word in Spanish, he can almost always assist me, though, so I shouldn’t complain.

Where he lacks—ahem, where we both lack—is slang. I love teaching him slang. We often head over to Urban Dictionary to read the definitions of slang things I spout off. I admit to say “totes” and “natch” to him, realizing he has no idea what white girl nonsense I’ve said, and directing him to the website. Could it be that I’m too lazy to explain myself? Yes, yes it could.

I’ve taken to reading some Internet websites similar to F My Life, only in Spanish, not only for their sometimes hilarious content but also for their insight into how normal people talk. (Hint: it’s a lot of ¡TOMA!, meaning TAKE THAT!) Mario often wrinkles his nose in disgust at the vulgarity on the site, but he has class, and I don’t, so I take it all in stride. This leads to lots of discussions and him sighing indignantly when I spout off phrases that he considers to be below me. He has this high view of me, you see. (By the way, he’s adorable.)

Learning Spanish in a classroom is all well and good, but my biggest hint is for you to get yourself a Spanish boy or girlfriend. First of all, they’re easy access—no need to switch on a computer or crack open a book. Secondly, you can imitate their accents and adopt their mannerisms. I for one have chosen to adapt Mario’s habit of saying, “Efectivamente” and “Quiero decir” when making a point. Thirdly, they’re cute. Well, mine is, anyway.

31 La pareja está buena

It’s more fun to learn a language when you can kiss the teacher.

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24 comments

  1. So true, so true! We are both lucky to have our own personal Spanish teachers! Your comment on picking up vocab reminds me of an episode of “Madrileños por El Mundo” (which I assume you don’t get where you live – but perhaps “Españoles x el mundo”?). Literally in every other sentence, this Spanish guy would throw in an “efectivamente.” Sure enough, his Japanese girlfriend started talking, and she was dropping the “efectivamentes” left and right too. For some reason, Jacobo and I found this HILARIOUS. Lesson learned – pick up the good habits, not the bad ones! With that in mind, I’m going to do my best not to use one of Jacobo’s favorites: “me da una pereza que me cago.” Such a lovely visual!

    1. LOL at the quote from Jacobo.

      Efectivamente is really common. It’s annoying to say, though, so I can’t see why.

      I’ve picked up on what I say a lot in English: so, or something, and or whatever.

  2. Loved this, and its so true! I used to date a frenchie, in Germany (I was in Germany at Uni, but also took french as 3rd foreign language)… it helped! Maybe not a lot, because for one reason or another, we always ended up speaking in english… but I did learn some slang words ;)

  3. Loved the last sentence of the post! So cute! I “totes” agree this is a great way of learning. Do you and Mario speak in English or Spanish together?

    1. Umm, since I’m here, we try to speak Spanish, but I am lazy a lot and I end up speaking in English. However, we are pretty good at the whole Spanglish thing. For instance:

      Me: Mario, dame el, el, el…the peeler!
      Mario: Te love you.
      Me: Aqui it is.

  4. This is so cute! Our German friends speak English MUCH better than we speak German, but occasionally I’ll bust out with some slang I think is hysterical only to be met with blank stares. Actually that happens with my English-speaking friends too. :/

    “He has class, and I don’t” <—I say the same thing about my husband.

  5. I definitely agree with this! My boyfriend is from Puerto Rico, and I have learned so much from him linguistically (although I’ll never admit it to his face! haha) It can be a problem when your bf speaks such good English, it definitely makes it harder to maintain a conversation 100% in Spanish. However, I suppose this is a completely natural linguistic phenomenon among two people who are highly bilingual. Plus, there’s little shame if I make a mistake in front of the novio. (Except the other day when “cargar” came out as accidentally “cagar”. Oops!).

  6. Dang I need to take some lessons from you and learn some Swahili. I also love your last sentence, for some reason it made me think of Billy Madison. lol

  7. That black and white photo is so classy!

    FBF has a European man purse as well, and he sported it proudly when we were in California together last summer (although I’m pretty sure he left it at home when we went out to a gay club, haha).

  8. For those of us that are too awkward for a Spanish bf/gf, I watch Spanish soap operas…which is a much cheaper version of a Spanish significant other.

    Seriously, the amount I scream at my computer when my characters do something stupid on Fisica o Quimica is similar to any tumultuous relationship I have ever had.

  9. I have that spanish boyfriend but we only speak English! His argument is that his English is a lot more important than my Spanish. Since we are moving to the States next year and he will be working then I agree. I just fumble my way around… and have a tutor. Poco a poco. :)

  10. I love that your posts describe my life and they are so hilarious! My spanish has gotten a bijillion times better because of Alberto because we don’t really speak in english hahaha. Although I hope his english gets better for when I get tired of speaking in spanish but it is amazing to have your own walking, kissalble, personal dictionary hahaa. Great post!

  11. I’ve always heard that that is the best way to learn a language (having a boyfriend who’s a native). Never tried it out, but I’m definitely open to it! ;)

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