Spanish by osmosis

Spanish by osmosisI love love love the sound of Spanish. I watched Shrek just to hear Antonio Banderas’ voice coming out of that adorable cat in the thigh-high boots. When Chef Boyardee went to a football match in Barcelona, we could hear people chanting  “Barça, Barça!” — pronounced the Castilian way so it sounded like “Bartha”— inside the stadium. Never has a lisp sounded so sexy.

When I visited Mexico in my twenties, the only Spanish I knew (aside from hola, adios, and gracias) was “una cerveza con limón, por favour.” Since beer with a lime wedge was a hobby of mine at the time, I thought it was the most important sentence to learn. (I’m hardly original in this — I once saw a forum entry somewhere online that asked why ordering beer is the only Spanish foreigners bother to learn. Guilty as charged.)

The last time I was in Mexico, I amused the resort staff by mangling their language as I tried to speak it. (Yes, I’m well aware that they were laughing at me much more than they were laughing with me.) My favourite barista Jesús asked me — with a straight face, bless him — where I learned my Spanish, so I guiltily outlined my unorthodox approach to language acquisition.

I learned:

  • ¿cómo se llama? from a Shakira video,
  • lo siento from a Madonna video,
  • ¡ándale! from a Speedy Gonzales cartoon,
  • chico from the TV show Chico and the Man,
  • vamos from Dora the Explorer, and
  • me gusta from Sesame Street.

Jesús looked at me for a long moment. Then he said solemnly, “I think television has been very good to you.”


About Maria

I'm a Canadian repatriate, former expat spouse, mother to two TCKs (and one yellow Lab), mentor to new immigrants, writer, reader, world traveller (grounded for now). I write about expat/repat issues and am still trying to figure out my place in the world.
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11 Responses to Spanish by osmosis

  1. Oh that is too funny! Yes, to paraphrase Saturday Night Live’s Garrett Morris, ‘Television has been bery bery good to you!’

  2. amblerangel says:

    Hilarious! And well put to use!

  3. Sine says:

    Very funny! Spanish by video… Or Spanish by Cartoon Network.

  4. Looked at other videos and watch telenovelas and movies (in Spanish). Also took a few years in school. Somehow, I understood half of what they’re saying but can’t speak it fluently.

  5. naomi says:

    Funny! My kids are learning Hindi through tv … hey, if it works ….

  6. Heide says:

    Haha! I had my husband read this because you perfectly described his method of language acquisition. After all these years of expat life (13 years for him) he’s never taken a language class, but can order a beer anywhere in the world. He laughed in recognition at it all.

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