Before you begin working your way to foreign language fluency, it helps to understand the culture behind the language you’re learning. After all, language exists to help a group of people express their ideas and beliefs. Spain is an old country with a rich history and culture. As you begin your Spanish language program, gaining a strong grasp on this history, the values, and the etiquette will help you rapidly achieve success. In particular, having a conversation in Spanish is a great way to connect with the people there, but you’ll want to make sure you avoid certain topics to gain the most from the experience.
Latin Americans come across as gregarious, friendly, and fond of socializing in groups. Latin American families are large. [The Importance of Family in Spain and Latin America], which means family ties are quite strong. Therefore, most Latin Americans have social circles that involve their family, the extended family, and the neighbors. Workmates and friends outside the family may get invited to family gatherings, such as birthday parties, christening parties, and wedding parties. Besides such gatherings, people catch up with friends in restaurants and bars or parks during picnics. Latin Americans are quite friendly to foreigners and are usually quick to invite them for meals or drinks especially if they work together or go to school together, which helps with making new friends.
Inviting friends to one’s home is a popular trend in Latin America. Turning down such an offer would easily offend the person issuing the invite. Gifts, such as a nice drink, should be brought for the person who invited you. Latin Americans greatly appreciate foreigners who make an effort to speak their language, try out their unique foods, or join in their local dancing. Foreigners usually have lots of fun in such situations. If the foreigners dare just stand during ceremonies or stubbornly turn down opportunities to join in the karaoke or the limbo dancing troupe, they risk getting the title “aguafiestas,” which means party pooper or killjoy.
The use of creative puns and raunchy double meanings form the basis of Spanish humor. The legendary comedy actor Mario Moreno Reyes alias Cantinflas was one of the greatest ever comics in Latin America who brought out this type of humor in the best possible way. He was known for his instinctive timing and mostly played the role of a mestizo country boy trying to get by with only his fast tongue and wits in the big city. His comic prowess stood out due to his ability to tie up other characters, especially authority figures in comic knots. Cantiflas exhibited exceptional verbal dexterity that shaped him into such a fantastic comedian. Songs by famous Mexican musician Chava Flores also portrayed this kind of humor in his songs.
Latin American jokes often leverage on double meanings, known as “albur,” which in most cases have sexual connotations. The banter that utilizes albur is a norm between friends in Latin America. Competitions involving albur are also held, such as verbal fencing matches where contestants have a go at each other until one fails to hit back with a jibe.
Latin Americans usually find humor in most situations and are always quick to respond to friendly jibes. However, they do not take it well when foreigners make fun of them or anything dear to them. Anyone can join in the banter and have fun, but they should, by all means, avoid banter against things such as the Virgin of Guadalupe or a favorite soccer team.
Spaniards and Latin Americans are good at small talk. They like keeping their talks light when they are socializing. They will always find things that interest you and make the conversation jocular. They will ask about your family, favorite music and food, favorite drinks, and what you think about Spain and Latin America. However, this does not give you an opportunity to bring politics into the talk. They just need to find a common ground where you can have a hearty conversation full of jokes.
Latin Americans are proud of their country, and during the conversation you should avoid any acts of criticism or negativity towards them, their country, or their culture. Given their challenging history with the US, they have grown even closer to their own country. Among themselves, they might complain of the ills in their society, the pollution levels, political scandals in their country, and the use of drugs by their peers. However, they are sensitive when a foreign visitor does the same.
They are not shy of lengthy conversations as long as the discussions are jocular and light. They are good at socializing and making new friends and they communicate with less harsh words. In most cases, they care for the feelings of other people and avoid saying anything that might hurt someone during a conversation. You can rant about technology, but only of its beauty and not the deep coding stuff unless you are in a workplace. This makes them a lot of fun to be around.