A girl walks into an ice cream parlour and asks for a double-scoop ice cream.  The assistant looks at her waiting for her to choose her flavours.  “I’ll have triple chocolate chip and coconut brownie please”.  The shop assistant reaches for a tub.  “No, no,” says the girl, “I want the cunt”.

That wasn’t the first time I’ve put my foot in it while learning Spanish.  There have been a number of times.  Luckily, the Spanish people generally have a sense of humour and appreciate the fact that you try so my mistakes and their consequences haven´t been severe enough to deter me altogether but I can tell you something now.  You learn from these situations.

Note-to-self:  The word for cone is cono.  Not coño.  

A girl walks into a pharmacy.  She says to the male pharmacist, “I’m having trouble sleeping”.  He says to her, “well, I have something that may help.”  She asks how strong it is, after all, she’s never really suffered insomnia before and would prefer to take something natural.  The pharmacist advises her to start by taking a half-tablet to see how she goes, “also, take it 30 minutes before you go to bed,” he says. “Ah, ok.  Before bed?” she replies, having not quite caught the operative word, “Or after I am in your bed?”.  “Not my bed”, says the Pharmacist, “I am not sure my wife would be too happy about that”.

Note-to-self:  Spanish pronouns,  mi, tu, su, nuestro, vuestro, do not convey the desired meaning if you mix them up.

A girl goes to the supermarket with her new Spanish flatmate.  They are in the queue at Carrefour, along with several others.  They are getting on well, having animated chats and just generally getting to know each other.  The conversation starts on food, our favourites and our not-so-favourites.  Somehow, the girl starts to talk about her gluten intolerance and and the three years she spent living a gluten-free lifestyle.  “That’s interesting,” says the flatmate, “so can you eat gluten now?”.  The girl replies, “Oh now I seem to be fine.  I have worked out that as long as I eat fresh, unprocessed foods I am fine.  I can’t possibly seem to digest any artificial flavours or condoms”.

The word for preservative in Spanish is not preservativo, it´s conservante.  It’s best to remember that false friend.  Note-to-self.

A girl goes to a department store and locates the home appliances floor.  After searching for ten minutes and still not managing to find the much-needed replacement light bulb for her kitchen, she decides to ask the shop assistant: “Excuse me, where can I find a vulva?”.

Note-to-self.  Spanglish doesn´t always work.  If you can´t remember a word, or worse, you don´t know it, don´t guess. Bulba does not mean bulb.  In fact, to a Spanish ear, it sounds rather like a particular part of the vagina.

But the great thing about having been working as an English teacher is that you realise that this happens to the best of us.  I´m sure anyone who has learnt or is learning a language will have stories like these to share.  And I am not going down alone in this blog post:

  • A student said to me after being handed a worksheet:
  • Is this shit for homework?
  • A student said to me in class when told to put his phone away:
  • But teacher, I have to have a massage.
  • In a debate about the differences between men and women, a student told me:
  • The sex is very different.
  • A young woman trying to give me an example of the present perfect:
  • I haven’t had any male for more than a month.
  • Quite commonly my students will get their articles wrong.  When responding to the questions, ¨What´s your mother like?¨ I have heard the following:
    She has a long dark hair, dark eyes and she is tall.
  • A student to a fellow colleague asked what ‘guess’ means.  He told her ‘adivinar’, the Spanish word for guess.  She shrugged and said ‘I don’t know, that’s why I’m asking’.  Thanks for sharing Finbarr.

My name is Carly Morris. I was blessed to have been born in one of the most beautiful places on earth, New Zealand. Hailing from Auckland, the City of Sails, I am a writer, listener, language lover (verging on the obsessed!), teacher, baker, big sister, mad foodie and absolute travel bug. I am off on my biggest adventure yet... to live in Spain.

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