Close

Speaking Spanish in Ecuador

Hi everyone,

It is widely agreed that speaking Spanish is essential for a successful integration in Ecuador. Do you agree? Share your experience!

Do you speak Spanish? If so, where did you learn this language? Where can one attend a language course in Ecuador?

If not, how do you cope with daily activities? Is it easy to communicate in a different language with Ecuadorians?

Thank you for sharing your experience.

Priscilla

Priscilla :

Do you speak Spanish? ... If not, how do you cope with daily activities? Is it easy to communicate in a different language with Ecuadorians?

“What’s so hard about dealing with the locals?” said the newly-arrived Expat.

"I’ll just go down to the mercado, point to the apples and hold up three fingers!"

Q: Do you speak Spanish? ...

A: A little, but understanding what someone is saying to me is a much greater challenge.

Q: If not, how do you cope with daily activities?

A: In Cuenca, We have a large gringo subculture, so very little coping is required.  Plus, most daily activities don't require communication.

Q: Is it easy to communicate in a different language with Ecuadorians?

A: Not easy at all, but pointing at objects goes a long way.

Two phrases that helped me a lot when first learning (and I'm still learning):

¿Como se dice (point at object)?   How do you say (point at object)?

¿Que quiere decir (repeat phrase or word not understood)?   What does (repeat phrase or word not understood) mean?

The only problem with the second is that the explanation may not be completely understood.  But as they say, poco a poco se llega lejos.

Priscilla :

Hi everyone,

It is widely agreed that speaking Spanish is essential for a successful integration in Ecuador. Do you agree? Share your experience!

Do you speak Spanish? If so, where did you learn this language? Where can one attend a language course in Ecuador?

If not, how do you cope with daily activities? Is it easy to communicate in a different language with Ecuadorians?

Thank you for sharing your experience.

Priscilla

Great topic.

I agree 100% that Spanish is essential to integration. A person can frustratingly get by in Quito without knowing much Spanish but they'll forever live in a bubble. I was actually in one and it was isolating. It was not a good feeling, and while my Spanish remains quite limited I’m at a point in which I feel comfortable with conversations under a known context, and especially with friends who know how to talk to me. But in general I’m fearless now, and I owe this mentality to a fluent gringa who encouraged me to be this way.

I’ll chat up a person sitting next to me on a bus, at a pub, wherever there’s an opportunity, and let’s keep in mind people are simple and elaborate conversations are not necessary. And it’s normal and perfectly fine to make mistakes. Furthermore and in the reverse, how many English speakers speak good English, online there are people who can barely type a legible sentence. It’s the same thing with Spanish, so we have to be fearless, it’s the only way to learn and integrate. Of course this only works if there is an effort to learn, so preparation is instrumental in expanding conversations.


Where can one attend a language course in Ecuador?

In Quito there are several language centers in the Mariscal area. They have group and one-on-one lessons. The prices are reasonable and schedules are flexible. There are also packages for tourists which include lessons, accommodation and traveling to cool places, so there’s something for everyone.

I’d like to give an example about what I posted earlier about how some locals speak erroneously. Ok so an internet tech was repairing something at my place and he asked for permission to recharge his phone. I specifically pointed right at a power extension and said “aquí.” And just before he plugged it in he said “acá.”

Now who’s correct the novice or the native speaker?  My understanding is that aquí is specific as in right here, while acá means here in a broader sense. Some even use estaba and estuve wrongly. My point is not to get technical but just to demonstrate how imperfect locals are and to lessen the load of expats who feel overwhelmed because of subtleties like this and the feeling that they need to learn conjugations that expand to about 100 for one verb. And BTW I'm not downplaying the importance of conjugations because personally they're a priority this year, but the focus is on the present, simple past (preterite),imperfect and future, and not the entire range.

Phrases for the Spanish-challenged.

¿Qué significa eso?  What does that mean?

¿Cómo se dice X?  How do you say X?  dice: pronounced DEE-say

Hable más despacio, por favor. Speak more slowly, please.

Favor de hablar lentamente.  Please speak slowly.

No entiendo.  I don’t understand.

No entendí.  I didn´t understand.

Repítalo, por favor.  Please repeat it.

Me gustaría entender.  I’d like to understand.

Paciencia.  Patience.

Descuida.  Forget it.

If you want to make someone smile you can say “Soy lento” before the phrases ccc posted above. Soy lento means I’m slow, and in the slow in the head kind of way. Hey nothing wrong with a little humor.

vsimple :

I specifically pointed right at a power extension and said “aquí.” And just before he plugged it in he said “acá.”

If you pointed at it you were some distance away and maybe should have said "allí" or "allá".

OsageArcher :
vsimple :

I specifically pointed right at a power extension and said “aquí.” And just before he plugged it in he said “acá.”

If you pointed at it you were some distance away and maybe should have said "allí" or "allá".

Nope I pointed directly at it. A bit of a long story but I'm very particular about where they plug gadgets because I have two internet providers and I wanted him no where near the cables of the ISP that wasn't his company.

vsimple :

I’d like to give an example about what I posted earlier about how some locals speak erroneously. Ok so an internet tech was repairing something at my place and he asked for permission to recharge his phone. I specifically pointed right at a power extension and said “aquí.” And just before he plugged it in he said “acá.”

Now who’s correct the novice or the native speaker?  My understanding is that aquí is specific as in right here, while acá means here in a broader sense. Some even use estaba and estuve wrongly. My point is not to get technical but just to demonstrate how imperfect locals are and to lessen the load of expats who feel overwhelmed because of subtleties like this and the feeling that they need to learn conjugations that expand to about 100 for one verb. And BTW I'm not downplaying the importance of conjugations because personally they're a priority this year, but the focus is on the present, simple past (preterite),imperfect and future, and not the entire range.

i remember a couple years ago when a cashier in a café confused me when he told me "pague aca". 

For what it is worth, my Oxford Spanish-English dictionary application on my PC has the following note

[where the location is more precise and no comparison is involved European Spanish prefers aquí]

All Ecuadorian locals understand a Gringo whether he says aquí or acá.

They will understand you whether you pronounce calle (street) as KAH-yay or KAH-jay.

They will get it whether you say fruta or fruto.  Both mean “fruit."

If you ever get corrected -- often in the form of the local saying the other version of whatever -- amicably take it in stride and keep communicating.

cccmedia

How are you learning Spanish? Insights from a beginner.


I think for expats like me who came here with a very limited vocabulary of Spanish, and mostly nouns, and who have the desire to learn the language then commitment is absolutely necessary. Otherwise days and weeks will pass by in which Spanish isn’t exercised at all, and how regrettable would that be. Setting goals helps me stay focused, and I go about this in a very transparent manner by holding myself accountable. To give you a glimpse of what I’m alluding to, I have many spreadsheets with tons of verbs and their conjugations which are prioritized by level of importance for conversation. My spreadsheets also include nouns, phrases, prepositions, practice conversations and so on.

The purpose is not to memorize as I don’t believe in rote learning. The purpose is to gauge my progress. One can stare at these spreadsheets all they want and memorize all they want but for me it doesn’t work that way. I have to use the words in all manner of communication to “own” them. So, I have expectations and throughout the year I’ll look back on my spreadsheets to see where I’m at.

I also use a book titled: Easy Spanish, Step-by-Step, master high frequency grammar, and this book was initially meant to learn from, but it wasn’t working for me because I can’t sit and learn from a book in systematic way or chapter by chapter that conflicts with the reality of conversing in Spanish in everyday life. Those kinds of books are IMO more so for classroom settings, and not for someone who is on the streets of Quito. But nevertheless, it’s a good resource to gauge my progress and also to help solidify something I’m learning.

Other great sources that work for me are Google translator which I can’t thank enough, El Comercio which helps tremendously with grammar and understanding words that are complicated, like “que” for example when I started learning Spanish. Netflix is also tremendous and probably the most enjoyable learning method. Also expat.com with member contributions and also reading profiles of Venezuelans which is quite helpful because it’s in tidbits and the vocabulary is focused on life, work, family and interests which helps in everyday conversation. Music and youtube is also great, especially songs that have subtitles, Cancioncitas de Amor (Love Songs), comes to mind as this was a song I heard over and over in 2015 during the holidays, and I was like wow, what is he singing. Another song I learned quite a bit from was Vivir Mi Vida.

While all the ways to learning above are great you’ll make faster and greater progress if you engage in conversations. And there are several ways to go about this: Hire a tutor for conversation classes, Enroll in conversation classes at a language institute or Make friends.

Personally, I recommend number 3 or making friends, but after doing either #1 or #2 or after you are able to converse on a basic level because otherwise making friends with people who only speak Spanish won’t be possible. I know it’s not that simple for everyone because some people are not inclined, some are intimidated, and some don’t have the necessary social skills. But I attest that Ecuatorianos (and other Spanish native speakers here) are receptive and love to hangout leisurely and you’ll get as much Spanish as you can handle.

Lastly if you’re like me then you’ll accept the fact that learning Spanish is a long-term goal, as in years, and well worth it as the Economist values it at $51,000. And of course, learn and do it your way, what works for me might not work for you and vice-versa.

There is nothing wrong with improvising while one is learning as long as you’re understood. I do this all time with verbs that I don’t know conjugations to. For example – “Te llamé anoche”, which means I called you last night, in this sense if I only know the base verb Llamar (to call) and not the past tense (llamé), I would simply improvise by using a verb I know to convey the past tense or in this case hice from the verb hacer, so “Hice llamarte anoche.” Which translates to I did call you last night. My explanation here is probably as clear as the Chinese alphabet especially if one is not familiar with suffixing reflexive pronouns to verbs (llamarte, in my example) but that’s exactly my point, it works for me.

vsimple :

Spanish is a long-term goal.... The Economist values it at $51,000....

My explanation here is probably as clear as the Chinese alphabet especially if one is not familiar with suffixing reflexive pronouns to verbs (but) it works for me.

I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout no suffixin’ of reflexive pronouns to verbos.

However, I double the Economist’s value for Spanish-language ability for Gringos .. and put its value to me at $102,000.

cccmedia

vsimple :

The purpose is not to memorize as I don’t believe in rote learning. The purpose is to gauge my progress. One can stare at these spreadsheets all they want and memorize all they want but for me it doesn’t work that way. I have to use the words in all manner of communication to “own” them. So, I have expectations and throughout the year I’ll look back on my spreadsheets to see where I’m at.

I also use a book titled: Easy Spanish, Step-by-Step, master high frequency grammar, and this book was initially meant to learn from, but it wasn’t working for me because I can’t sit and learn from a book in systematic way or chapter by chapter that conflicts with the reality of conversing in Spanish in everyday life. Those kinds of books are IMO more so for classroom settings, and not for someone who is on the streets of Quito. But nevertheless, it’s a good resource to gauge my progress and also to help solidify something I’m learning.

Agree with the above vsimple. We all learn in different ways. For instance I take more of the approach that you mention above. Have never done well in a classroom setting. Which is probably why I was such a terrible student, and barely graduated high school. On the other end of the spectrum, my two sisters would be completely out of their comfort zone with the approach you mention. They do/did great in the classroom setting. All of us learn, and retain information in different ways. Would think by the time a guy, or gal grows into adulthood, they should know what style works best for them.

j600rr :

All of us learn, and retain information in different ways. Would think by the time a guy, or gal grows into adulthood, they should know what style works best for them.

True, I hope other members would share how they’re going about learning Spanish. I’m curious about other methods, expectations and progress made. A Rhodesian I know who has been here ten years is as fluent as locals, but he works amongst locals and lives with his Ecuatoriana girlfriend so his immersion level is 24/7.

But we all have different circumstances as some members pointed out in another thread. My circumstances dictate the methods I use. I work from home and have other obligations so by five or six I’m mentally exhausted to study in a rote manner. But I know the importance of learning Spanish via conversations and I’ll text contacts on whatsapp, “qué harás después del trabajo”, if I get the reply, “nada”, it’s all good, or if it’s someone I know well, simply “cerveza?” Or “café?” This could be a friend, acquaintance, neighbor, the concierge from my last building, it doesn’t really matter as long as I’m comfortable with that person to sit for a while and get some Spanish in.

Others might not feel comfortable with this approach. One thing I do know, there isn't a perfect way. Sometimes I wish I can burden someone with teaching me somethings because on occasion I do get stuck, and it takes me a while to figure it out, and I despise that as it's inefficient. Regardless of method, I think the key is to remain steadfast.

Thank you, Priscilla, for your email today inviting me to contribute to this thread.

Top Things That An Expat With Decent Spanish Can Do

10.  At the Maxi store, ask the stocking clerk which aisle has straws (bombillas), jams and preserves (mermeladas) and other items you’re looking for.

9. Advance your language skills by discussing current events with your taxi driver -- from what El Presidente said in his every-Saturday-morning address to your opinion of everybody’s favorite political topic:  what you think of Donald Trump.

8. Replace the ugly floor tiles that came with your condo kitchen -- by negotiating a price at the tile store, explaining to your handyman what you want and making adjustments during the project.

7.  Talk to locals -- friends and potential friends -- about sports, the latest weather, your reason for being in the country and other topics.

6.  Follow directions from the man-on-the-street to get to the post office.

5.  Explain to the taxi driver how to negotiate the tricky one-way streets in your neighborhood -- to save time and confusion -- without having to constantly point here and there.

4.  Tell your cleaning person what you liked or didn’t like about the previous cleaning .. and what extra chores you’d like done .. to get your place limpio, cómodo y conveniente.

3. Buy a replacement faucet or water heater or other fancy item to solve your plumbing and water problems .. and understand how best to use it.

2.  Understand what the vender is telling you when he/she says Se acabó (We’re out of it) ... Llegará ese producto en la semana que viene (It’ll be here next week) ... or Vete de acá con su maldito perro grande.  Feos animales de ese gran tamaño no están permitidos en esta tienda de vidrios (Get outa here with that big #&@*ing dog. Ugly animals of that size are not allowed in this glass shop).

And the #1 Thing an Expat Can Do With Spanish...

1.  Chat up a local babe you’d like to spend some time with.

Y Priscilla? ¿Cómo está su español con todo el tiempo que haya pasado en Ecuador?

Photosfoodandfun :

Y Priscilla? ¿Cómo está su español con todo el tiempo que haya pasado en Ecuador?

For Spanish-challenged readers, Photos is asking Priscilla:  ‘How’s your Spanish what with all the time you’ve spent in Ecuador?’

--------

Top Reasons Why I Predict That Photos Will Not Get a Direct Answer to His Question From Priscilla

3.  As principal moderator of this Anglophone forum, it’s part of Priscilla's responsibility to discourage members from posting predominantly in any language other than English.

2.  Besides offering us forum topics, she would rarely, if ever, step outside her role as forum moderator to answer such a question on the forum itself.

And the #1 reason I predict she will not answer the above question directly...

1. Priscilla works at expat.com's Home Office in the Mascarene Islands of the Indian Ocean, five thousand miles from Ecuador.  So the premise of this question -- that she supposedly has spent much time in Ecuador -- assumes facts not in evidence! :lol:

Perhaps I should have applied my sarcasm filter, so you would not misread my post.

I came to Cuenca, Ecuador with "tourist" Spanish. (It's basically useless in day to day living.) I started with some online applications and then took Spanish classes after a month of having "settled in".

There is definitely a English gringo sub-culture here which I fastidiously avoid. It has been so rewarding to make gains in Spanish. I can negotiate almost anything, even though I'm occasionally missing a necessary word. I've gone to Spanish speaking doctors and therapists without the need of a translator.

I appreciate that some people don't have the aptitude to fully immerse themselves in a second language, but to not even try seems a disservice to the Ecuadorian people who have welcomed me into their country. Their bar for "good" Spanish from gringos is ridiculously low and they forgive my misconjugations, misuse of el vs. la etc.

Life here would be less rich without a working knowledge of Spanish, at least in my point of view. It has allowed us to make friends with the locals and embrace the culture more deeply.

cccmedia :

And the #1 Thing an Expat Can Do With Spanish...

1.  Chat up a local babe you’d like to spend some time with.

Number 1, can definitely land us married men in hot water.  :lol: But Latinas are definitely more patient with communicating with noobs than guys IMO.

Absolute beginners can also frequent bars/pubs that expats frequent. There are chicas there that are bi-lingual, or know enough of English, and these women almost exclusively go for extranjeros. I have a friend like that, but as a warning they are either after attractive men or guys that can spend money on them (wine, dine, cohabitate).

PEI Red :

I came to Cuenca, Ecuador with "tourist" Spanish. (It's basically useless in day to day living.) I started with some online applications and then took Spanish classes after a month of having "settled in".

There is definitely a English gringo sub-culture here which I fastidiously avoid. It has been so rewarding to make gains in Spanish. I can negotiate almost anything, even though I'm occasionally missing a necessary word. I've gone to Spanish speaking doctors and therapists without the need of a translator.

I appreciate that some people don't have the aptitude to fully immerse themselves in a second language, but to not even try seems a disservice to the Ecuadorian people who have welcomed me into their country. Their bar for "good" Spanish from gringos is ridiculously low and they forgive my misconjugations, misuse of el vs. la etc.

Life here would be less rich without a working knowledge of Spanish, at least in my point of view. It has allowed us to make friends with the locals and embrace the culture more deeply.

Good stuff Red, and I wholeheartedly agree with you as Ecuador and Spanish are synonymous as far as I’m concerned.

Can you shed light on Spanish courses? Do feel they are worth the time and investment?

PEI Red’s post got me thinking.

I’m sure we’ve all read and heard about the infamous two-year time or the average time that many expats either return to their home countries or move on. I wonder what the correlation is with leaving and lack of Spanish. Sure, there are other factors like health, family and unrealistic expectations but how significant of a role does Spanish play?

Señor Nards, you’ve been a resident for a while (and now an Ecuadorian citizen) and probably atop the totem pole in your community. Can you share some insights if any with this regard from the de facto capital of gringos, Cuenca?

Thanks vsimple...so glad to know others feel the same.

For full disclosure, I did take one semester of Spanish in college 20 years ago. Once we realized we were going to relocate, I started with Duolingo, online, which is more like a game than a course. It helped with my vocabulary, but was sometimes more frustrating that fun.

Once I arrived in Cuenca, I enrolled in Coffee Club Spanish. It offers multiple levels of Spanish instruction using "comprehensible input", meaning that you learn more like a child would instead of bashing you over the head with verb tenses and grammar. (They do get to that, but it seems more organic.) I like that there were usually only two classes a week which allowed me time to do other things and didn't overwhelm me and the cost was very fair. I started at level beginner 3 and went all the way through to advanced 4. For me, it was fun and useful without being regimented.

I've been here just over 3 years and while I'm certainly not fluent, I can certainly get by with little effort. It still is stressful at times, even knowing what I do, but that's just part of the process and becoming a good Ecuadorian resident.

Nicely said PEI Red.

FYI...

aca is the local version of alla... There
So what was being communicated was... Put it There.

See learning to communicate in Spanish is the point, not passing your college Span101 exam and that makes a difference.

Consider how kids learn language...and consider at what age you can begin to converse, is when they have enough vocabulary and experience hearing the language to communicate effectively. Its about 4 years on average.

Chop off a year because of your own language readiness and yes, you should be communicating reasonably for your needs in about 3 years if you use it daily.

Of course pretty much everyone knows about those words in English that end in ion, which for the most part are the same in both languages. Say them like they were Spanish and, well, they are.

One caveat to this however...
Embarrassed is NOT embarazada...
...yeah...my most infamous error.

You've been warned!

I think that it is important to know the Spanish language. You can also do without the knowledge of the Spanish language, but you will feel freer and more confident if you will know the language of the country in which you come. You will be easier to resolve issues on the construction, documents and it's will be more simple to buy something.  With the knowledge of the language will make it easier to understand where and how somebody was trying to cheat you. This is important because one of the characteristics of the local population: a competition of "who is better able to deceive the foreigner".

I do not take courses for learning the language. In my own experience I can say that the theory - it's wonderful and very important (especially if you do not know any word in Spanish). But practice - a 99% success rate. The more you are in a Spanish-speaking environment, the sooner you learn it.  :)

You made me laugh...the other favourtie error is ah-no versus an-yo...(the world ano vs. año) very very different, but I managed to avoid that one. Aca does seem to be used when using the command form of a verb (similar to subjunctive).

As to learning any language (time wise) many thing affect your ability. I have a music background, which really helped (it uses the same part of the brain, I believe), I knew some French (being from Canada) and have the ability to mimic accents, all which went a long way to helping not just with vocabulary, but pronunciation. My husband didn't benefit from learning an instrument in his early life, or having a base in a second language - no matter how small-, so he's found it a bit more challenging. Our motto is that if you don't give up, you don't fail.

Spanish was so different from one country to another, so my biggest gaff comes from the difference between idiom and the dictionary (or other countries).

I was picking up a journalist to bring back to the winery I was consulting in. I told the gate guard that we were there to "recoger" the journalist. The guard looked at us askance.

Now, here in Ecuador the term recoger is common, we see it on the signs everywhere and no one thinks twice before using it. In Argentina however (some of you know where this is going) while "recoger" still means "to pick up" the connotation is considerably more sexual.

Beware transliteration and idioms!

Susan_in_Ecuador :

FYI...

aca is the local version of alla... There
So what was being communicated was... Put it There.

See learning to communicate in Spanish is the point, not passing your college Span101 exam and that makes a difference.

Consider how kids learn language...and consider at what age you can begin to converse, is when they have enough vocabulary and experience hearing the language to communicate effectively. Its about 4 years on average.

Chop off a year because of your own language readiness and yes, you should be communicating reasonably for your needs in about 3 years if you use it daily.

Of course pretty much everyone knows about those words in English that end in ion, which for the most part are the same in both languages. Say them like they were Spanish and, well, they are.

One caveat to this however...
Embarrassed is NOT embarazada...
...yeah...my most infamous error.

You've been warned!

aca is the local version of alla... There
So what was being communicated was... Put it There.

te cacho, gracias (i get it, thank you).

Consider how kids learn language...and consider at what age you can begin to converse, is when they have enough vocabulary and experience hearing the language to communicate effectively. Its about 4 years on average.

Chop off a year because of your own language readiness and yes, you should be communicating reasonably for your needs in about 3 years if you use it daily.

This was one answer I was particularly looking for from longtime expats. Some kind of realistic gauge. I've been here less than a year and a half but that doesn't stop me from communicating with locals, but I am not satisfied with my vocabulary, and last night (to give a perspective to fellow noobs), showed that. I was most comfortable with talking about family, friends, quito, pets and how I could get a dog despite having a contract that states no mascotas (pets), but the conversation evolved to politics, and despite being an avid reader of El-Comercio, I was lost in understanding exactly what my friend was trying to say.

PEI Red :

As to learning any language (time wise) many thing affect your ability. I have a music background, which really helped (it uses the same part of the brain, I believe), I knew some French (being from Canada) and have the ability to mimic accents, all which went a long way to helping not just with vocabulary, but pronunciation. My husband didn't benefit from learning an instrument in his early life, or having a base in a second language - no matter how small-, so he's found it a bit more challenging. Our motto is that if you don't give up, you don't fail.

You basically described my wife, and while I agree with that and languages come easier to people like you. Don't underestimate effort, and by nature I see life in numbers hence my spreadsheets to make sense of this complex language. This isn't for example a science or math subject, or subjects that are truly sequential.

Lets take a typical learning Spanish book for example, they start you off with vocabulary of things around the house, and then move on to Ser and Estar, and then to numbers. If someone is not living in a Spanish speaking country those books are probably great. But I could care less for what "wall" or "ceiling" means in Spanish, and seriously when was the last time people used those words in English?

I'm not criticizing at all, and actually applaud your willingness to integrate, it's awesome and humanistic. My point here is that for people like me and especially for adult learners, we have to find our own way. And I think this is why some people give up because they think that they must conform and learn in a specific way, and if they don't they think they are failing.

I totally agree. There are so many different types of ways that people learn.  I think for people that learn better with set parameters and rules, the most frustrating part of learning Spanish is that - sometimes - there is no answer to their question "why is it like that?" Sometimes it just IS. I think it's really important to try as many methods as is necessary to find a good match. You must put in the effort and at some point have to dive in whether you feel confident or not. (Funny side note: knowing what to call a wall was necessary in our early days in Cuenca, as we were apartment shopping and wanted to know if it was possible to take out a wall during construction...my vocabulary grows by necessity and there's always a situation where it never seems sufficient.)

Photosfoodandfun :

Spanish was so different from one country to another, so my biggest gaff comes from the difference between idiom and the dictionary (or other countries).

I was picking up a journalist to bring back to the winery I was consulting in. I told the gate guard that we were there to "recoger" the journalist. The guard looked at us askance.

Now, here in Ecuador the term recoger is common, we see it on the signs everywhere and no one thinks twice before using it. In Argentina however (some of you know where this is going) while "recoger" still means "to pick up" the connotation is considerably more sexual.

Beware transliteration and idioms!

I believe you were looking for the verb "coger", which in Spain (and to some extent Colombia and Ecuador) means "to take, or grab". For example, "donde puedo coger el autobus hacia Madrid?" or "Necesito ir a la casa y coger mis maletas". In Mexico, in regards to where to board a bus "subir" is commonly used. "Donde puedo subir el autobus hacia Monterrey", In most of Latin America, especially Mexico and Central America you would NOT want to say "donde puedo coger el autobus hacia Monterrey".

While my Spanish is pretty good overall (I took several Spanish courses along with 7 months in Guadalajara, MX) I find accents and word usage to be the most challenging. Accents and pronunciation are quite varied throughout Latin America, likewise, what means one thing in one country means something different in another.

As for successful integration in a Spanish speaking country, whether it be Ecuador or elsewhere,  learning and communicating in Spanish will go a long way....and make it alot easier.

Andrew242 :

I believe you were looking for the verb "coger"…

You are of course absolutely correct. I butchered the story. The word to avoid is "coger".

Photosfoodandfun :
Andrew242 :

I believe you were looking for the verb "coger"…

You are of course absolutely correct. I butchered the story. The word to avoid is "coger".

A "safe" word to use in all countries in place of coger is recoger.

Numerous example phrases here:

http://www.linguee.com/english-spanish/ … ry=recoger

Nevertheless I remember a saying from my childhood in Quito,
poco a poco se coge el mono - but that's a long time ago, I would not say it now!

There's lots of pitfalls - when we lived in Puerto Rico my wife unwittingly was talking about
bichos which in most countries just means bugs, vermin - but in Puerto Rico bicho is a slang term for pene...

Por supuesto.  Cómo, "¿Está bueno?"  I've heard folks whose primary language is Spanish say this. Repeatedly.  And it's awful sounding!

One other point:  I went to Guaranda to teach English as a Second Language.  My boss, who knew very little English, took me to his parents' house.  I was not and still am not 100% fluent in Spanish by any means.  However, even though I felt intimidated going to his home of birth with him, I did it anyway.  Those in the household knew no English, so it was me speaking Spanish or we'd merely sit and smile at each other.  So, into their language I plunged!

Everybody in the house broke into a smile.  They knew that I didn't know Spanish in any way approaching fluency.  But we communicated, regardless.  At one point, my boss's father said to me,  "You'll be speaking Spanish fluently in 2 or 3 months."  He also said, "You are different.  Most English-speaking people stay to themselves and evidently don't want to learn their host country's native language."  And, again, all of them smiled when I told them that I did, indeed, want to learn their beautiful language.  All of a sudden, I thought that I was "home" even though I was in a country that's so very different from yours and mine.

So, is it necessary to learn and to speak Spanish?  Of course not.  However, if you attempt to learn and to speak, your experiences in Ecuador or any other country will be greatly enriched.  I write from experience.

I currently live in Canada with plans to move to Ecuador.

One of my biggest stresses here in Canada are the welcomed immigrants that move here from different parts of the world, but don't learn to speak either English or French, our two national languages.   I believe it creates barriers in our own communities and division among neighbors. We can see historically how communities get divided simply by language.

For that very reason, I think that as an immigrant into a new country, I have an obligation to at least have a working knowledge of the language. My intent is to move there and assimilate, not try and turn that country into the one that I am leaving.

Just my thoughts!

I think that it is very important to learn the language of the country that you are in - in America don't we expect everyone to speak 'English'.  It is only right the learn the language and culture of the country you are in, not to expect everyone to speak your language.  That being said, I have been learning Spanish through both Memrise and DuoLingo (both free, both online) but go into shock when anyone actually speaks to me - so the biggest trick I think is to keep putting yourself in a position where you need to converse with people.

Another one of the really tricky bits for me has been to try to remember the differences between European Spanish ( which I learned a lifetime ago in school), Mexican and the Spanish spoken in places such as Ecuador.

To JodieNRand, I agree with you wholeheartedly - so refreshing to hear this  :D

New topic