learn spanish_freedombackpackers

5 Steps to learning Spanish

Traveling across South America it's imperative you know some Spanish. Not all dialects are the same but here are some simple steps to take to ensure you learn the language as quick as possible.

Step 1
Download a good Spanish app to your phone. We love Duolingo mainly because it’s free and free is always good for backpackers. Duolingo is perfect for learning basics. It has lessons on each tense present, future and past. The 2nd app we recommend is great for increasing your vocabulary called Wlingua Spanish Vocabulary (Vocabulario).

Step 2
Subscribe to Butterfly Spanish on Youtube. This girl is great! She explains the fundamentals of the Spanish language as well as “Ser vs Estar”. Learning the verb “to be” is probably one of the hardest things to learn in Español but after watching a few videos you will soon see how fun learning Spanish can be. We recommend checking out the most important ones first and as your Spanish begins to develop you can delve into the rest.

Step 3
Buy a good dictionary or Spanish Phrasebook. We bought Lonely planet’s Spanish Phrasebook and Collins’ Spanish Dictionary. Both of these are pocket size and handy to have in your bag in case you get stuck in a tricky situation. You can also download a Spanish dictionary app but we preferred the paperback versions.

Step 4
Get lessons! If you can wait until Bolivia get them there as they are the cheapest place in South America. Although this isn’t a necessity for all trips, we do recommend waiting for Bolivia as the place to learn the language. You can get lessons anywhere just ask in your hostel for the best recommendation. The great thing about lessons is that you can practice without feeling stupid.

Step 5
Practice, practice, practice! Spanish derives from Latin just like French, Italian and English so it is easy to learn once you practice. There are many similar words and if you speak any of these languages you will quickly learn some key phrases. It is important to practice with locals and your fellow backpackers. Listen to Spanish radio, watch Spanish films (or with the Spanish subtitles), it all helps. Don’t be afraid to practice what you have learned by diving in and using it throughout the day. Be willing to try and make mistakes. We learn by immersing ourselves in the language and culture and remember that practice makes perfect!

Key Phrases

Yo soy – I am (permanent) i.e. I am from….
Estoy – I am (the state can change)

Everyday phrases

1. Do you speak English - Hables ingles
2. I don’t understand – No entiendo
3. Can you speak slower please - Puedes hablar mas lento por favor –
4. My name is … - Mi llamo es ….
5. What is your name – Cual es tu de llama
6. Do you have a reservation – Tienes tu un reservación
7. I have a reservation – Tengo un reservación
8. What time is it? - Que ahora es
9. I am from… - Soy de….
10. Where are you from? - De donde eres?
11. What food you like? Que comida te questa?
12. Where is the bathroom/washroom? – Donde es el bano?
13. Where is the nearest restaurant – Donde es el restaurante proximo?
14. I’d like... - Quisiera...
16. One beer please – Un cerveza por favour
18. One glass of wine please – Una copa de vino
19. One more – Uno mas
20. Can I get the bill – La cuenta por favor
21. How much is this – Cuanto cuesto?
22. That is too expensive for me – Esta muy caro para mi
23. That is cheap – Esta barato
24. The food was tasty – La comida muy rico
25. Thank you very much – Muchos gracias
26. Here is my ticket – aquí está mi boleto/ tarjeta

Greetings and goodbyes

1. Hi Guys - Hola Amigos /Hola chicos
2. Good morning – Buenos días
3. Good evening – Buena tarde
4. Good night - Buenas noches
5. How are you – Cual es tu?
6. Nice to meet you – Musto gusto
7. Welcome - Bienvenido
8. See you soon - Hasta pronto
9. See you later – Hasta luego
10. See you tomorrow - Hasta Manana
11. Take Care - Cuídate
12. Safe journey – viaje seguro

Food and drink

1. Burger Hamburgesa
2. Hotdog pancho
3. Eggs Huevo
4. Bread Pan
5. Onions Cebolla
6. Orange - Naranja
7. Strawberries Fresa
8. Pineapple - Piña
9. Chips/ potatoes - papas fritas/ papas
10. Spicy - pimenta
11. Beef –lomo
12. Steak - bistec
13. Chicken - pollo
14. Pork -cerdo
15. Fish -pescado
16. Salt -sal
17. Sugar - azúcar
18. Butter - mantequilla
19. Milk - leche
20. Beer -cerveza
21. Wine -vino
22. Water –aqua
23. Soup – sopa
24. Orange Juice - zumo de naranja
25. Tea – té / coffee – café


1. Beach - Playa
2. Park - Parque
3. Mountain - Cerro
4. Main Square - Plaza principle
5. Shop / store - Tienda
6. Airport - aeropuerto
7. Shopping Centre – centro comerical
8. Market - mercado
9. Bedroom - dormitorio
10. Church- Iglesia
11. Bus station - Terminal de Bus
12. Train station – Terminal de tren
13. Village - pueblo
14. Road/ Street - Calle
15. Car park - estacionamiento

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