Whether you are learning a foreign language in school or you’re traveling to another country, there are certain key terms and phrases you should know. Even if you’re new to the target language, these terms and phrases can get you pretty far when you’re surrounded by others who are fluent in the language you are learning. These terms are the building blocks that you will use to have conversations with others, which is one of the best ways to learn a new language.
At La Paz Language Academy, we are proud to be the Top Rated Local® language school in El Paso, offering classes in more than 20 foreign languages. Whether you are interested in learning Spanish as a second language or you want to learn a language that isn’t taught at your school, we invite you to enroll in our language classes today! And, if you want to get a head start on your language learning journey, here are some of the most important terms and phrases to know when learning a new language.
Hello, How Are You?
“Hello” is arguably the most important word to know when learning another language since greetings are the first part of any conversation, no matter what language you are speaking. If you are learning Spanish, for example, you’ll want to know how to say “Hello! How are you?” which is “¡Hola! ¿Cómo estás?” Then, based on how many other Spanish words and phrases you know, you can continue the conversation from there.
My Name Is ___
When you’re greeting another person who speaks your target language, you’ll also want to be able to introduce yourself. In Spanish, you’ll need to know how to say “Soy [insert name]. ¿Cómo te llamas?” which means “I’m [insert name]. What is your name?” When asked what your name is, you can also say “Mi nombre es [insert name]” which means “My name is [insert name].” However you choose to say it, knowing how to introduce yourself is key when traveling, dining at a Mexican restaurant, or learning Spanish in the classroom.
Thank You & You’re Welcome
“Thank you” is another important phrase to know if you’re learning a new language, as you will likely need to ask for things in Spanish, French, German, or any other language you are studying. If you are asking for directions to the bathroom in Spanish, for example, you’ll need to be able to say “Gracias” when the other person points you in the right direction. And, if someone thanks you, it’s also important to know how to say you’re welcome: “De nada.”
I’m Sorry & Excuse Me
Unfortunately, accidents do happen, so it’s best to be prepared if you accidentally cut someone off in a conversation or bump into them while passing by. “I’m sorry” in Spanish is “lo siento” though you can also say “perdón” if you are intending to say “excuse me.” The phrase you use also depends on what you are apologizing for — spilling a drink on a stranger would warrant a “lo siento mucho,” while you might be able to get away with a “perdón” for bumping into someone in the hallway.
Where Is ___ ?
If you’re traveling abroad, odds are you’ll find yourself asking for directions at some point or another. Say you’re looking for the restroom, for example. In Spanish, you should ask “¿Dónde está el baño, por favor?” which means “Can you please tell me where the bathroom is?” Or, if you are driving to a restaurant and need directions, you might ask “¿Dónde está el restaurante?” In this case, you’ll also need to know some basic directions: “izquierda” means “left,” “derecha” means “right,” “todo derecho” means “straight ahead,” and “detrás de ti” is one way of saying “behind you.”
Odds are you won’t pick up everything right away when you’re learning a new language, so it’s good to know how to ask the other person to repeat themselves. In Spanish, “¿Puede decirlo de nuevo, por favor?” means “Can you say that again please?” You can also ask for them to speak slower so you understand what they’re trying to say. One way of asking this is “¿Puede hablar más despacio, por favor?” which translates to “Can you say that slower please?” If you really can’t understand what they’re saying, you can always let them know, saying “Lo siento, no entiendo,” or “I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”
In many cultures, farewells are just as important as greetings (and we aren’t just talking about Italians). If you are saying goodbye to a Spanish-speaking friend, for example, you’ll want to say “¡Adios!” or “¡Hasta luego!” which means “See you later!” Other variations to know are “¡Hasta la vista!” or “Until we see each other again,” and “¡Hasta pronto” which means “See you soon!”
Learn A New Language In El Paso
Ready to start learning a foreign language? At La Paz Language Academy, we offer Spanish classes for kids, high schoolers, adults, and corporate groups, as well as language classes in Chinese, Italian, Russian, and more. Contact us today with any questions, and enroll online!