You know some Spanish already |

You are planning your Camino de Santiago. If it’s the first one, you probably have tons of questions:

How much should I train?

What mochila should I get? How much stuff should I pack?

What are the perfect shoes?

Should I get a guidebook? Or maybe an app?

Should I learn some Spanish?

Most of these questions don’t have just one right answer. What works for me might not work for you and what works for you might not work for me. So read and listen to as much advice as you want, but then do what’s best for you. Make the Camino your own.


However, the last question, should I learn some Spanish?, is a different story. Of course you can survive without any knowledge of Spanish. Well, the truth is that you know some Spanish already, even if you don’t know it yet. But, anyway, when you go through the pros and cons of learning the language… there are no cons, really! It’s all benefits:


language is the only thing worth knowing
  • First of all, learning another language is good for your brain: it slows down aging, it improves your memory and your decision-making skills, it boosts your self confidence… and the list goes on.

Those alone should be enough to convince you to start learning a new language now!

But let’s concentrate on the benefits of learning Spanish for the Camino 

Not everybody in Spain speaks English. English speakers are easier to find in the bigger cities, but you’ll be going through a lot of rural areas and small villages populated by older people who do not know a word of English.


  • The locals will be more receptive to you if you try to speak Spanish (and they might even invite you to whatever they are doing) just because you made the effort. 
  • Learning at least some basic Spanish means you don’t need to rely on other people to communicate your needs.
  • It also means you are not dependent on technology either (my phone’s battery tends to die just when I need it most!) 
  • The fact that you don’t need to rely on other people or technology will make you feel more confident and independent; it will reduce the stress and anxiety you will feel if you need to get an important message across (maybe you have a health issue, you need to book accommodation…).


OK. So, you are convinced now and have decided to learn a bit of Spanish.

For some reason, when we start learning a language we focus on all the stuff we don’t know: vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation… And it can be overwhelming.


What if I told you that you know a lot of Spanish already?

Yes, there are many words that are the same, or almost, in English and Spanish. Maybe a tiny spelling change. Most likely a different pronunciation. But still very similar. Let me give you a few examples:

Hotel, teléfono, restaurante, menú, taxi, chocolate, delicioso, animal, doctor, kilo, local, municipal, región, religión. 

Did you need the translation? I didn’t think so.


A few weeks ago I interviewed Kelli, an American pilgrim, about her experience on the Camino. In the second part of my conversation with Kelli, she gives you a tip to automatically increase your Spanish vocabulary:


Words in English that end in -ity will be the same in Spanish but replace the -ity with -idad.


So electricity becomes electricidad; spirituality > espiritualidad; tranquility > tranquilidad and security > seguridad, just to mention a few.


The good news is that this is not the only tip to increase your Spanish vocabulary:


  • Many English words ending in -al are the same in Spanish. Again, the pronunciation will be different and there might be minor spelling changes but nothing that will prevent you from recognising the word. You don’t believe me? Check these examples: 

hospital, normal, dental, total, inicial, oficial, profesional 


  • Some of the English words ending in -ist will end in -ista in Spanish:

dentista, ciclista, especialista, realista, turista, racista


Warning! You will find exceptions but they’ll be mostly words you won’t need for the Camino. So, what are you waiting for to start increasing your Spanish vocabulary?


Can you think of any other tips? Please share them in a comment.


Today’s Spanish words


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¡Buen Camino!