SINCE lockdown kicked in, my Spanish teacher Carola has been holding our lessons via Skype.
This comes with the obvious benefits of wearing pyjamas and dipping out of view of the camera for a quick snack – all while learning verb conjugations.
Despite my heavy workload – writing a never-ending stream of coronavirus articles while blitzing through The Office UK and Tiger King – lockdown seems to have helped my Spanish.
- IN NUMBERS: How Spain’s economy will shrink by unprecedented 9.2% this year due to coronavirus crisis as government hopes for sharp rebound in 2021
- Has Zara-founder Amancio Ortega won over his hardened critics with his contributions to Spain’s COVID-19 crisis?
It is not because I have been watching Spanish TV and films, although I do intend to finally start La Casa de Papel soon and hopefully see Dolor y Gloria.
No, I think it is more to do with the Spanish memes that have landed in my WhatsApp messages from both English expats and native speakers.
My regular lessons have, of course, played their part in improving my speech too, but the crazy vocabulary of ‘memery’ seems to have worked wonders.
“Os voy a enterrar a todos.”
This is the phrase from a recent meme for the Queen’s 94th birthday, which sees the words superimposed on the Piccadilly Circus big screen next to a giant picture of our scowling monarch.
It translates as ‘I’m going to bury you all’, a darkly appropriate message for the current crisis.
What I liked about this – other than the thought of our Liz decking people in with a shovel – was that I learnt the verb enterrar (to bury).
The meme also uses os voy, a reflexive plural personal pronoun. This is the vosotros form, meaning the person using it, in this case the Queen, is telling a group of people that she will do something to them.
I regularly read Spanish newspapers as part of my job and I would highly recommend this to aid your learning, especially as a lot of papers tend to write in a very formal style.
But if you’re slow like me, a whole article may take half an hour to digest whereas a meme can be understood in seconds and will likely imprint itself on your brain.
For students who now feel like they have a good enough grasp of Spanish to be able to explain quite a bit about themselves, there is much to be gleaned from memes, including help with different tenses.
“Pues al final no era tan difícil cortarse el pelo uno mismo.” This is a meme making fun of the idea of cutting your hair at home.
It roughly translates as ‘Well, in the end it wasn’t that hard to cut your own hair’. First of all using ‘pues al final’, is a great way to casually start a sentence.
It also conjugates the verb ser (to be) in the imperfect tense, using the he/she/it form – era.
This is a doorway into the complexities of conjugating estar’s tricky sister verb. Once you can do this, you’ll be chatting away at the bar in no time – at least once we’re allowed back out for a caña.
In the meantime, mug up on those memes.