Early Intermediate Spanish Podcast 3 – How to Order Food in Spanish in a Restaurant

How to order food in a Spanish restaurant.

In this intermediate Spanish lesson, we walk you through one of the most important activities when on holiday: waiter drinksscaleHow to order food in Spanish in a restaurant.

Just like in a bar, there is a certain etiquette to ordering in a Spanish speaking restaurant.

How do you get the waiter’s attention?

In many phrase books and beginners Spanish work books they tell you that when you want to attract the waiters attention you simply shout:


This is the imperative tense and means, “Hear” which doesn’t translate very well but is equivalent to the English, “I say!”

The problem is that this is NOT the most common way of shouting for the waiter and what is more, in the wrong region it can sound a little offensive.

Certainly, in central Spain it is not what people say. In the ten years that I have been eating in restaurants in Madrid I haven’t heard anyone shout it at a passing waiter.

So why do they put it in the books?

The answer to this is easy. It’s in the books because it’s one of those standard phrases that everyone is supposed to use but hardly ever does. We could ask why Spanish speakers learn the greeting: “Hello, how do you do?” when, in fact, it’s used only in very formal situations and rarely at that!

The other issue is that many of the Spanish text books out there were written decades ago and just keep getting reprinted with the same old, archaic Spanish in them. Not only that but it is very difficult to offer a Spanish that is used throughout the entire Spanish speaking world.

This is a real challenge and so, when we produced this podcast about how to order food in Spanish we tried to provide you the kind of language that would travel and could be used in all countries.


Our advice is always this: Use what you have learnt until you find the place that you really want to spend time in. Once you are there, start listening to what the locals say when they order food in Spanish and copy them. Even from region to region in Spain there exists different vocabulary and verbs that that area prefers to use in conversation.

That’s why it’s important to start with something non-polemic and very general and work from that as a base.

In this podcast we help you with:

What should you expect when the waiter comes to the table?

What do you order first?

What else can you say other than “La cuenta, por favor.” when the meal is over?

Listen in as we give you the most important vocabulary to use when you are in a restaurant.

You can sound just like the natives do. ¡Que aproveche!

A mountain of additional information and guidance can be found in the comprehensive Spanish help-sheets.

Audio for This Spanish Lesson

Beginners Spanish Podcast 14 – Tell Time in Spanish

Do speakers tell time in Spanish like we do, or do they have a totally different system?

Listen to this Spanish lesson for beginners as we explain their straight-forward process and show you what it means when you say things like “It’s seven less fifteen.”

For your greater understanding, all the additional information and guidance can be found in the comprehensive help-sheets.

Video of This Spanish Lesson

Audio for This Spanish Lesson

Beginners Spanish Podcast 15 – Weather Vocabulary in Spanish

Although the weather isn’t quite as important a subject for some as it is for others, this is an absolute must for any Spanish student.

Come and join us as we help you learn how to describe every kind of weather from freezing cold to baking hot!

Of course, all the additional information for this beginners Spanish lesson can be found in our Spanish help-sheets, which have been designed with the learner in mind.

You’re sure to love them!

Video of This Spanish Lesson

Audio for This Spanish Lesson

Beginners Spanish Podcast 18 – Four Important Spanish Verbs

In this Spanish lesson for beginners we help you learn four important Spanish verbs and their, at times, strange structures. You simply can’t get by without these ones! Listen in as we coach you step by step through their usage and help you become comfortable with their conjugations.

As always, please note that all the additional information and guidance can be found in the comprehensive Spanish help-sheets. They were written and designed especially with the learner in mind. You won’t be disappointed.

Video of This Spanish Lesson

Audio for This Spanish Lesson

Must-Use Important Spanish Sayings – VERGÜENZA AJENA

veguenza-ajenaLet’s take a look at one of the important Spanish sayings that describes feeling shame or embarrassment but not for oneself; vergüenza ajena,  Who hasn’t felt vergüenza (shame) before? In particular ourselves as language students, as we test our newly acquired Spanish skills only to find out, all too often, that we’ve said something terribly rude, risqué or both! ¡Todos hemos estado allí!  It’s certain that each of us have experienced our personal shame, another of the popular Spanish sayings, which is-“verguenza propia” or, simply “vergüenza”.

But, did you know there’s another type of shame?  One in which you do not feel shame for something you’ve done, but rather shame on behalf of someone else?  To describe this you would use; “vergüenza ajena”.  This vergüenza can be experienced as pure shame or embarrassment, making you laugh or irritated, or it could be experienced as “pena” (pity/sorry) for the other person.

Not sure you’ve ever experienced it? If you’re familiar with Ricky Gervais’s sitcoms you’ll be very familiar with this feeling.  Or if you’ve ever watched one of the programmes in which people clearly think they know how to sing, dance… only to find out they are terrible at it. How did you feel when they were giving their best? Yes! There! You felt vergüenza ajena, or “Spanish shame”!

This is a normal emotion for any human being who feels empathy: you put yourself in their shoes and you can feel it too as it if were happening to you. Check out this funny sketch from Fawlty Towers, another series that causes ‘mucha vergüena ajena’.

So, what does “ajena” mean? Something “ajeno” is something outside of us or something belonging to someone else. It’s the opposite of “propio”, which means your own.

Sentir vergüenza ajena” is a phrase commonly used in the Spanish speaking community, so it’s good to know it exists!

I will show you some examples:

–        El protagonista actuaba tan mal que sentí vergüenza ajena.

–        The main character acted to badly that I felt ashamed on his behalf.


–        Me dio vergüenza ajena cuando todos se rieron de él.

–        I felt embarrassed on his behalf when they all laughed at him.

Empatía. Qué regalo más bonito para el corazón humano.

Empathy. What a beautiful gift for the human heart!

For more interesting looks at nuances of the Spanish language, why not join us in the LightSpeed Spanish Facebook group?