11 Spanish Words That Don’t Transalate to English

Mexican bingo cards on wall

My daily thoughts are peppered with Spanish words because sometimes Spanish just says it better. You can translate these words to English but they end up as phrases or weakened by qualifications. Andale pues! Cabron—Literally means a male goat and is sometimes translated as “cuckold.” That said, this word is widely used and can range from a playful greeting among friends “Hey Cabron!,” (like “Hey Fucker!”) to an insult akin to “asshole.” Chingar—Typically translating as “fuck” but meaning much more […]

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Cool Mexico Apps?

A reader named Will wrote from Mexico City: “A couple of Spanish dictionary resources you might want to recommend to your readers are from Ascendo and movin’App, both of which offer free versions and more expanded paid versions for Android phones…Once they’re downloaded, both dictionaries work without any need for an Internet/WiFi connection.” My phone looks like an ice cream sandwich and is about as high tech, so I haven’t had a chance to check these out. I’d love to hear […]

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Recommended Spanish Language Schools

Fenix Language Institute in Zacatecas was recently recommended to us as “awesome!” From the website: “Fenix Language Institute was founded in 1973 with a firm commitment to perfecting strategies for the teaching of Spanish as a second language. Until then, the traditional method had stressed grammar model imitation, mechanical repetition exercises, and rigorous memorization. The results were not impressive. The founders of Fenix rejected these ideas and searched for a better, more natural approach. As a child, you acquire your […]

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Question from a Reader: Are Spanish Homestays Safe and How do I Meet People in Vallarta?

Puerto Vallarta at night.

A reader writes: Hello, I am a 43 year old female from Canada and I am thinking of going to Puerto Vallarta to study Spanish for 6 weeks with Spanish Abroad. I would be going by myself and living with a family while studying.  Is this safe? Also, I know there are Canadians and Americans that are retired and living in PVR, is there a network on how to meet some of these people and make some contacts? Thank you. […]

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People's Guide Classic: Carl's Tips on Learning Spanish

Over the course of more than thirty years in Mexico, I’ve had the benefit of many amateur tutors to correct and refine my Spanish. When it comes to learning a foreign language, however, I am not a ‘quick study’. (For the life of me, I still don’t understand why the Widow Twankey is cross with her son.) In spite of all my work, there’s no doubt that rough spots, gaps and outright grammatical embarrassments still remain. Based on my own […]

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Letter from a UK Reader–Giving Blood for The People's Guide

Black-and-white photograph of a bohemian looking traveler with a mustache and bandana.

A reader writes: Hi, Just found my very battered copy and a quick google led me here – just wanted to say thanks for The People’s Guide. In 1979 I sold blood in San Francisco to help pay for a copy of your book, but unfortunately I fainted half way through (at the sight of my blood running out of me – in the UK they use opaque tubes!). The good people at the clinic decided I needed the blood […]

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100 Essential Spanish Words

For those of you who have been meaning to brush up on the español…This a great list of Spanish words for beginners. El Codo sent us the link; he was impressed by the sample tutoring offered by the same site, and may spring for their language course. We await further reports. But for now… 100 Essential Spanish Words  

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Cabo Bob's Definitive Mexican Slang 101

by Lin Robinson Review by Carl Franz At the risk of sounding like a college graduate, this pint-sized book could make the difference between achieving true fluency in Mexican Spanish versus mere facility. Slang is not easy or even safe to learn, however, especially in a machismo-based culture like Mexico. Like many Spanish lessons, I’ve learned the proverbial “hard way” that the inappropriate or ill-timed use of slang can deflate your self-confidence faster than a “whoopee” cushion. How can you […]

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Churpa's Dispatch from San Miguel #1

By Churpa Rosa Rogers When it comes to Mexico, I tend to experience one-sided culture shock: I am shocked by my inevitable and unwilling return to the United States, but rarely shocked to find myself down south. Even if it’s been a year or more, a return to Mexico always feels as natural as slipping into a warm bath. That said, I always experience a few days of jubilation at all the tiny Mexican details that make me feel so […]

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Online Spanish Dictionary

I was writing an email in Spanish this morning and couldn’t recall the proper word for “guidelines”.  As an experiment, I typed this into a Google search: translate “guidelines” spanish. Lo-and-behold the top hit was an excellent online translator that not only gave me the correct term (pautas) but offers both Spanish and English audio of each word.  Try it yourself at Bab.La

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