I have just returned from a weekend in Madrid, where it was crazy hot (for late September) but the atmosphere was the best and I got to throw out a bunch of “holas” and “graciases”. Here is a breakdown of how it went, language wise – and let me know about your own experience of putting your beginner or intermediate language skills to the test!
- I learned that the casual thing to say in Madrid is just “Buenas” or “buenos” and drop the “días” – one step closer to sounding like a native.
- I had a mixed English/Spanish conversation with the hotel receptionist about a museum, and although I resorted to a bit of English and she explained some things in English, she kept returning to regular speed Spanish (which I could follow) which was nice of her and really rewarding!
- I remembered to use the formal address “usted” instead of “tu” – this can be difficult at first because most learners use informal pronouns the whole time.
- I overheard some old men calling their friend an “hijo de puta” – finally, something from Narcos heard in real life!
- I asked questions! They were mostly fairly basic but I was proud of requesting a book in a shop and understanding his response and well as explaining a little further.
- I used an impersonal construction! (I pointed at the mega spicy sauce and asked “se come con pan?” Apparently you could eat it with anything as long as you liked setting fire to your face).
- I understood a whole bunch of plaques!
- I was asked by people, in Spanish, to take their photo, and I think just looking like I can speak Spanish is an achievement.