Exploring the history of Phoenix, Arizona, just for fun. Advertising-free, supported by my patrons on Patreon. Thank you!

How and why to practice conversational Spanish in Phoenix and Los Angeles


If you're an adventurer, and I'm assuming you are since you're here reading this, you like to get away from the dull and boring ordinary stuff of life. You want to see new places, see new things. And if you live in Phoenix or Los Angeles one of the ways to do that is to practice your conversational Spanish. It opens up wonderful world of history. But be careful - there's a very strict etiquette about doing it.

I learned a tiny bit of Spanish way back in high school. I've rarely practiced it, but every once in a while I decide to do that. Luckily, I've lived in the Los Angeles and Phoenix area for all of my adult life, and there are plenty of people who speak Spanish there. But like I say, you have to show courtesy and respect.

Walking up to someone in Phoenix who looks as if they speak Spanish and just blurting out some Spanish is a terribly rude thing to do. And now calm down here, I'm not talking politics or anything here, I'm simply saying that by doing that you are treating a person who is in English-speaking country as if they were, as my grandma used to say, a "country bumpkin" or at the very least an ignorant foreigner. It's always the polite thing to do to speak English to people, even if they look kinda "foreign". If they don't speak English, they'll either wave their hands or maybe use a phrase that they learned to let you know.

But that doesn't mean that you can't practice your conversational Spanish, just be polite about it. When I'm hanging out with a good friend of mine who his Hispanic (he was born in the U.S., but his parents were born in Mexico), I practice a bit. And when I'm with him, for instance at a Mexican food restaurant, I will ask if I can practice my Spanish. I say it in Spanish, which I know sounds as if I were a child, and I've found most people to be delighted to help me. I know how to say, "slower, please" in Spanish, and everyone who has helped me understands. Of course you don't want to do it when a restaurant is crowded, and the server is in a hurry - but I usually go in the afternoons when restaurants aren't busy.

Speaking Spanish helps me to see my two favorite places, California and Arizona, through the eyes of history. I can see the Spanish Conquistadors, walk with Father Kino. I can hear the voice of Zorro as he fought against the oppression of Spanish rule, and supported the revolution. I hear the voices of people talking in El Pueblo before it was called Los Angeles. I can easily drift away from the ordinary and boring world to a world where the language sounds like music.

Quiero practicar mi espaƱol. Me gusto historia.

Photo at the top of this post: Gold Alley in 1914, Phoenix, Arizona.

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