Michael’s Spanish lesson notes from episode 1

A Few Lesson Notes from Episode 1:
At the Airport in Mexico City

Even though I worked with Doorway to Mexico to record their podcasts, I actually still listen to the episodes on a regular basis to help me learn Spanish. I’ve been using podcasts for a long time as a way to help me learn conversational Spanish, it’s one of my favorite methods. And I’ve noticed that to really absorb the language in a conversational podcast, a lot of repetitive listening is required for it to sink in. In fact, the the lessons here are all things I didn’t catch during the recording of the dialogue but only occurred to me afterward as I was listening and reading through the transcripts.

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When our Driver, Paco, met us at the airport in Mexico one of the first things he said to me was “encantado.” I may sound a bit naive when I admit this but I actually didn’t know it was appropriate for a man to greet another man with the expression “encantado.”

I’ve said encantado as a greeting before but since it can be translated as “enchanted,” I had always assumed that it was only appropriate for when a man met a woman. In English, a greeting like that between men might be misunderstood, but apparently it’s perfectly fine in Spanish and a very common way for men to greet each other. It was a good lesson early on in our trip since I was planning on meeting a lot of new people over the next few weeks. And it was another nice reminder that Spanish really is a romantic language.

Thanks for the lesson, Paco!

Click below to listen to how Paco greeted me in the podcast

When our driver was telling us his nickname, he said, “Soy Francisco, pero aquí en México, a los Franciscos nos dicen Paco/ I’m Francisco, but here in Mexico, they call me Paco.”

When he said it, I knew that he was telling us that his nickname was Paco but I had to look at it again in the transcripts afterward to really understand the construction of that sentence. It seemed like the kind of advanced Spanish that only a native speaker would use, or someone who’s spent a lot of time in a Latin American country.

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One of the reasons that sentence threw me off was because when you’re telling someone what name to call you, I thought that we could only use the verb “llamarse.” For instance, if I was telling someone my nickname I probably would’ve gone with something really basic, like “Me llamo Michael pero me puedes llamar Mike.” But in the bonus podcast, Paulina explained that using the verb decir in contexts like that is actually very common. So now, if I want to tell someone in Spanish what my name is, I usually say “Me llamo Michael pero mis amigos me dicen Mike./My name’s Michael but my friend’s call me Mike.”

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Sometimes I can go months without speaking a word of Spanish so I wanted to ask Paulina how to say “my Spanish is rusty,” in a way that sounded natural to native Spanish speakers. I asked her at the very end of the bonus podcast and here is a summary of what she said:

  • A mi español le falta mucha práctica.
  • Hace bastante que no hablo español.
  • Hace tiempo que no hablo.
  • Llevo mucho tiempo sin hablar.

The last example, “Llevo mucho tiempo sin hablar” is my favorite because I love the way people sometimes use the verb llevar to express time like that. Paulina did a long lesson on this in a future podcast, I’ll share some of it when it comes around.

Here’s the audio clip from the bonus podcast of Paulina answering my question:

Espero que esto te haya ayudado un poquito 🙂

Un abrazo,