Taco Bell :: The Key to Correct Pronunciation

No one wants to look stupid.

This is understandable.



And when it comes to speaking Spanish on the jobsite, there are 3 hurdles to overcome:

UNO: Remembering the Spanish word.

DOS: Opening your mouth

TRES: Speaking out loud.



These 3 steps do have the potential to make you look stupid. This explains why so few English-speaking construction managers speak any Spanish on the job, despite the overwhelming evidence of Spanish-speaking workers present.

This also explains why Hispanics are nearly 2x as likely to be injured or killed on the job. Construction managers are not communicating safety policies very well with the workers in need of understanding them the most.

To increase your confidence speaking Spanish (also known as “not sounding like a pandering gringo”), leverage your knowledge of the Taco Bell Menu. As the majority of Consonants are the same in both languages, let’s review the vowels….



So many things to say… so little room for a single caption.



A :: as in Taco (TAH-koh)

It’s pronounced like the internationally recognized sound of tongue depressers. Open up and say, “Ahhhhh.”   

In Spanish, the A always sounds like this:

A :: (ah)


Unlike its English cousin, the Spanish A :: (ah) sound does not change in Spanish. In English we have different sounds for A: apple vs. able vs. almond, for example. These curve balls don’t exist in Spanish – good for you.

  • taco
  • baño
  • salsa
  • adiós



Only sold in select Taco Bell Locations on Baroonda.



E :: as in Cerveza (sayr-BAY-say)

The E in Spanish is pronounced like the E’s in Cerveza. And the best Taco Bells have a liquor license.

E :: (ay)




Don’t say this out loud. It gets confusing. If you think to yourself, “Ok, that’s easy, the E in Spanish sounds like A in English.” you are toast. Too confusing. Just think of Cerveza.

Here are some examples:

  • cerveza
  • mesa
  • tequila


E :: (ay)




Burrito Gatito



I O U :: as in Burrito (booh-REE-toh)

Who doesn’t love a burrito? No, not the literal translation “little donkey,” but the caloric festival of ingenuity that occasionally arrives as big as your cabeza.

A burrito not only tastes good, but it also contains the 3 remaining vowels we have yet to cover.



First, the easy ones. The U and the O.

U :: (ooh)

O :: (oh)



As with all Spanish vowels, these don’t change. For the U, think of (ooh) as in an “aloof raccoon in a cocoon from Cancún… with a Chalupa.

Or just Chalupa.

U :: (ooh)





For the O, it’s the (oh) in Homer Simpson’s mantra, “Doh!” and the (oh) at the end of Taco.

Done. Easy enough.

O :: (oh)



Now for the I. As with the E :: (ay) auditory confusion when speaking in English, the I :: (ee) carries a similar plight.

I :: (ee)

You naturally say burrito with the (ee) sound (booh-REE-toh).

This is correct pronunciation in Spanish. That’s because burrito is SpanishLet’s see the I :: (ee) in action on the Taco Bell® menu:


  • Gordita (gohr-DEE-tah)
  • Cantina (kahn-TEE-nah)
  • Quesadilla (kay-sah-DEE-yah)
  • Enchirito (ayn-chee-REE-toh)


“OK team… how can we make this stuff more unhealthy? Ideas? Anyone?”



And since they’ve combined forces, we might as well include Doritos® (doh-REE-tohs).

I :: (ee)



Quick recap:

A :: (ah) as in Taco

E :: (ay) as in Cerveza

I :: (ee) as in Burrito

O :: (oh) as in Doh! & Taco

U :: (ooh) as in Chalupa






Bradley Hartmann is founder and el presidente at Red Angle (www.redanglespanish.com), a Spanish language training firm focused on the construction industry.


Categories: Jobsite Leadership

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