Spanish vs Mexican Food Culture The Vocabulary Differences

Spanish vs Mexican Food Culture.paella scale tortillA scale


The unsuspecting student of the Spanish language could well find themselves in a bit of a pickle when they first start learning the fundamentals of how to order food in Spanish.

El Porqué-The Reason

After you have watched this series of three videos you will know why this could be. Although a Spaniard would be more than able to order food and drinks in Mexico, there would be certain things that he would say that would instantly identify him as someone from another country. Similarly, a Mexican in a Spanish restaurant would very likely ask for things in a slightly different way than the rest of the diners.

¿Por qué la diferencia?- Why the Difference?

Surely, if everyone speaks the same language there shouldn’t be that many differences, should there? Unfortunately, the differences are inevitable. You only need to look at the varieties of English to know that when we talk about English we are most certainly not talking about one pure language. Rather, we are dealing with an ever changing, evolving language that varies from town to town, region to region and country to country. When the one time popular series “Byker Grove”,based in Newcastle upon Tyne, (In the north of England the home of the famous Geordie accent.) first came out, it was televised in the south of England but needed subtitles. The viewers in the south simply couldn’t understand what the Geordie actors were saying.

¿Qué dijo, él? -What did he say?

Well, the exact same thing applies to the Spanish speaking world. Why wouldn’t it? I recall watching a film from Colombia with Cynthia and struggling with the accent. On more than one occasion I turned to Cynthia and asked: “¿Qué dijo, él?”. “¡No tengo ni idea!” ( I have no idea!) was her reply some of the time. I was relieved that it wasn’t just me but it did bring home to me that every country has its own way of saying things and its own range of accents.

Mexican food culture isn’t like the Spanish one.

As we mention in the videos, many people get mixed up between Spanish and Mexican food, especially here in the UK and they mistakenly think that they are much the same. As you will see in this series of videos on the differences between the Spanish and Mexican food culture, both countries have very distinct food types and certainly don’t mix the two together. Jeff, our Mexican guest has never tried Paella. Cynthia has never eaten Flautas. I, however, have had the pleasure of trying them both. Ñam, ñam. ¡Qué ricos!

Saludos, Gordon 🙂

Video for This Spanish Lesson

Video for This Spanish Lesson

Video for This Spanish Lesson

Audio for This Spanish Lesson

Demystifying the Pronouns in Spanish. Well, at least a Bit!

faq scaleDirect and Indirect Pronouns in Spanish

I’ve been there.

Whatever you are currently going through regarding the pronouns in Spanish you can rest assured that I have been in your place, too.

If you are confused, frustrated, mystified or just down right off the boil with them, I can understand you completely.

The Good News.

The good news is that, despite how it might seem, pronouns are actually here to make your life easier. How can that be when all they seem to do is to slow down our Spanish? Well, the fact is that the job they have in language is to speed it up for us.

The issue is, however, because their use can be quite confusing, especially at the beginning, they tend to make your Spanish slow down, sometimes, so it seems, to a terminal crawl.

The Purpose of this Series.

The purpose of this series of videos, which at the time of writing this blog hasn’t actually been completed,  is to help our learners to UNDERSTAND the use of Pronouns in Spanish.

What that doesn’t mean is that once you understand how they work, suddenly your Spanish will go at the speed of light.

The difference will be that you will be able to use them correctly and with confidence. The speed will come later, with practice. Lots and lots of it!

Get it right….then get it said.

You can’t begin to imagine how many people we have heard speaking Spanish fluently but using their pronouns incorrectly. (I, Gordon, have been guilty of that a good number of times.)

Our suggestion is always to learn how to use them correctly, first. Understand how they work and then start to incorporate them into your conversation.  To understand why this is so important you must watch the Levels of Learning video.

The Levels of Learning.

The danger of learning something badly is that once it’s in your unconscious mind and labelled as “learnt”, it’s a bugger to change.

I had this issue with my past participles in English. I come from South Shields and in my town, nobody seems to use the PP correctly. They say, I have went, I have ate, they have spoke etc.

I was brought up with this and learnt my English without the past participles. All of my life I have had to fight with myself to change that childhood learning. Finally, thanks to Cynthia’s help, I have my PP under control. Even so, sometimes I still make an error.

Start out as you mean to go on.

It’s for that reason that you should pay special attention to this series of videos so that you learn them well and in the correct way. It will pay dividends in the future.

So, below we have added all the current videos. Enjoy them!

Video for This Spanish Lesson

Video for This Spanish Lesson

Video for This Spanish Lesson

Video for This Spanish Lesson

Compare Real Spanish Accents Listening Practice

Real Spanish, Real Interviews.faces scale

Two very different speaking styles

In these two interviews, one with Quique Lorenzo and the other with Maribel Durán we have the chance to take a look at and a listen to two different Spanish mainland accents.


Quique is  unusual in as much as his family is divided between the north of Spain in the Barcelona area and the south of Spain in the region of Almeria.

Quique is bilingual and speaks Castillian Spanish as well as Catalan fluently. Despite his links with Catalonia, however, when he speaks Spanish his accent is noticeably southern.


In contrast, Maribel was born and raised in Madrid and so her accent has all the hallmarks of what is recognised as the typical ‘madrileño’ accent.

Your task

The task you have when you listen to these two interviews with what we could call ‘real Spanish speakers’ (that means any native speaker of Spanish) is to see how many differences in style you can notice. This can be not only in pronunciation but also in tonality. Different countries and areas have different tonalities and melodies to their spoken word.

Can you hear any of these differences?

Noticing accents…an advanced skill

When I first began to learn Spanish, I was fairly oblivious to the finer distinctions between accents. The plain fact was that my mind was working at a million miles and hour just to capture the meaning of the words I was hearing.

At the beginning the last concern on my mind was wondering where the speaker came from. However, as time moves on and you become less frantic whilst you listen it becomes easier to hear the differences.

El CeCeo y el Seseo

One of the easiest differences to detect in the spoken word of real Spanish speakers is whether they use the TH or the S sound.

However,  just because someone doesn’t use the TH sound when they speak (known as el ceceo) doesn’t necessarily mean that they must be from Latin America.

The fact is that many mainland Spanish speakers use the S sound and they tend to come from Andalusia.

Also, in the Canary islands, the native speakers use the S sound (known as el seseo). Obviously, it seems that the entire continent of Spanish speaking Latin America also use the seseo.

Which is the easiest Spanish accent to understand?

Personally, I find that Spanish speakers in the north of Spain tend to be more easy to understand than those from the south. However, another important factor that I find influences my own ability to understand is how an individual annunciates their words.

Some people simply speak clearly and gesture in a way that clarifies what they are saying. It’s important to them that people understand them.  I love listening to these kind of people.

Then there are those people who barely open their mouth when they speak. They make no gestures and swallow their words. Listening to these people is a really difficult job and personally takes a lot of the joy out of the conversation.

When you are learning Spanish, seek out the people from the first category. Learning real Spanish doesn’t need to be a chore. So, if you stumble across someone and you can’t understand a word they are saying…..RUN! lol

Hasta pronto,

Gordon 🙂

Video & Transcript for This Spanish Lesson

Below you’ll find a link to purchase a transcription of our conversation with Maribel. At the moment, we’re hard at work on the transcription for our chat with Quique. Once it’s ready, you’ll be the first to know.


Video for This Spanish Lesson

Please check back soon for the transcript of our conversation with Quique, which should be ready soon.

A FUN look at the uses of SE in Spanish LightSpeed Spanish

Se in Spanish and its multiple uses.uses of se

Have you ever wondered what on earth happened across the centuries for the word SE in Spanish to have become so widely used?

If you have studied Spanish for  any length of time you will, without doubt, be becoming painfully aware of this flexible little word appearing in virtually every text you pick up.

It seems that it’s like a rash that has infiltrated itself into the very fabric of the Spanish language.

What does it mean?

Asking this question is like asking ‘How long is a piece of string?’ Of course, I’m exaggerating a little! The truth is that it does have a definitive number of meanings, but they are many and varied.

In this video I explain about 90% of them whilst having a bit of fun about how SE in Spanish ended up plastered all over the shop!

How did it get to be so overused?

In essence, this is the theme of this particular video. For a long time I have wondered who on earth decided to use SE in so many different situations.

I imagined that the REA (Real Academia Española) had quite a hand in it and so I have often fantasised about how the meeting must have been whilst they were trying to fill in the gaps in their language. Hence, this video is the result of my musings.

I may well be completely wrong, but at least it’s a fun way to learn the meanings of SE in Spanish.

REA (Real Academia Española)

I have a tremendous passion for the Spanish language and everything Hispanic and it’s because of that that I have to say that I am not a great fan of the REA. I’m sure that they do good across the years, clearing up confusions that inevitably occur within such a vast language.

However, apart from that, I see them very much in a role of interference and ‘meddling’. Perhaps, like many institutions, they have ended up having to justify their existence by fiddling with the language for no other reason than that they have nothing better to do.

Stealing accents and letters.

Even in the short time that I have been learning Spanish, I have seen us saying goodbye to a number of ’tildes’ that REA have seen fit to steal from the language.  These accents existed to maintain clarity between one word and another, for example:


However, it seems that these days REA has decided that we are clever enough to work it out for ourselves and so have decreed that they should no longer be used.

The Spanish alphabet is now distinctly puny compared to how it used to be now that the CH, RR and LL have been sent into retirement.

I see no fiddling with the SE in Spanish

To close, although they don’t give a second thought about whipping away letters and accents, no-one seems brave enough to address the SE situation. That said, it’s taken me so long to learn its uses, that if they dare to mess around with it, I’ll personally go over there and darles un cachete en el culo. (Smack their bottoms)

Enjoy the video and learn from it.

Un saludo,

Gordon 🙂

Note: Although I say Se = Theirselves it should be Themselves. (I’m from the north. jeje.)

Video for This Spanish Lesson

Audio for This Spanish Lesson

Leismo and Laismo The source of SO such confusion

AVISO: Because of the way the search engines work, I am unable to put an accent on the words grammar scaleleísmo and laísmo in the following text. As you read them, please insert a mental tilde. Thanks!

Is Leismo an illness?

Firstly, let’s state that, no, it’s not ‘una enfermedad’. It’s simply a way of using the direct (Shoot AT ME list) and indirect pronouns (Furniture remover’s list) in a slightly different way.

The issue is, however, that if you don’t understand what they are and how they affect spoken and written Spanish then you will be confused.

No, wait, you will be more than confused. You will tear your hair out with frustration.

And so this is why…

I’ve created this blog and video to complement the series on Pronouns that I have just recently uploaded to Youtube.

You see, no matter how well you think you know the pronouns, the Leistas and the Laistas (people who practice el lesimo) will apparently break all the rules.

Rules within aparent chaos

At first glance the way lesistas and laistas use their pronouns may see a bit random and chaotic but trust me, it isn’t. There are very clear rules about how they are used and when the official rules should be broken and when they should not.

To understand it you have to watch the video

Rather than duplicate the same information here in the blog, to understand just what Leismo and Laismo is, just watch the video. However, what I intend to do in this blog is to give you some further insights into this language phenomenon.

I practice Leismo and Laismo, but I’m working on it

After nearly eleven years of living with my beautiful leista/laista wife, I have become one myself. It wasn’t intentional, I have to say, it just happened naturally.

What has happened lately, however, is that more and more of our students are coming from the USA and so it’s very unfair to teach them a regional idiosyncrasy that doesn’t apply to Latin America.

So it’s for that reason that I’m working now on changing that. Trust me, it’s not as easy as you might imagine. Once you have your language into the ‘unconciously competent’ level of learning,  it’s a bit more of a challenge. However, by teaching it, I end up teaching my own self again.


Just as Spain has it’s variations, so do some countries in Latin America. Their issue is loísmo which is the over use of LO when they should be using LE. So, the best thing to do, to ensure that you learn it correctly the first time round is to watch this series of videos on Youtube and really get a good understanding of how they work.

AVISO: Just as a last warning, be prepared for people to correct you when you use the pronouns. However, do not accept their correction without analysing why they are correcting you. It could be leismo they are teaching you or laismo or even loismo.

Enjoy the video.

Gordon 🙂

Video for This Spanish Lesson

Audio for This Spanish Lesson