Getting back on the wagon: 3 tips to start speaking Spanish again.

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It happens to all of us.

We enthusiastically commit to some new change in our lives only to find weeks later… it didn’t take.

We’ve fallen off the wagon.


As I follow-up with Red Angle Clients who have successfully completed our 6WK Spanish Series (6-week program requiring only 8 minutes per day & includes daily videos, CD’s, custom workbooks, and flash cards), there is the occasional wagonless soul.


It happens.

No problema. 

Get back on again.


I recommend 3 simple steps to climbing back on the proverbial wagon.

Here they are.


UNO :: Remember it’s a journey.

Even when speakers reach fluency, they’re never there.

There is no there.


Language learning is a life-long endeavor, so too your Spanish skills. If you fall off the wagon and don’t practice for a week… so what? Revisit your interest in learning Spanish (to help teammates avoid death, eliminate BS from your daily life, impress chics at the bar…. whatever.)



Improving Spanish is a journey.

Don’t rush it.

Don’t stress over it.

Don’t feel like you need to start all over.



Get out of your own head.

Get out of your own way.

Get back out there and open your mouth.



DOS :: Hit your “¿Cómo se dice…?” quota.

You’ve got a new daily quota.

Your “¿Cómo se dice…?” quota.


¿Cómo se dice…?

KOH-moh  say  DEE-say

How do you say?



Here’s how it works. There are 4 steps:

1. Walk up to a Spanish speaker.

2. Open your mouth.

3. Say “¿Cómo se dice…?

4. Point at something.



That’s it.

Do this once in the AM and once in the PM – that’s your daily quota.


This little exercise gets you speaking Spanish again because you’re in control. You wanted to know how to say something in Spanish so you asked in Spanish. That’s all. Write your new word down and continue on with your day.


The secondary benefit here is that you will naturally achieve your “¿Cómo se dice…?” quota with various workers on the job. Unless you’re a psychopath, you won’t go to the same guys day after day with “¿Cómo se dice…?” bit.


You’ll mix it up.

You’ll try it with different folks.

And when you do, you’ll be building new relationships, a critical activity to improving your leadership skills.


You’ll be demonstrating respect for the workers by meeting them halfway – I learn a little Spanish, you learn a little English and we’ll work together better.



TRES :: Follow the script.

At Red Angle, we call this script the “Hay Problemas Loop.”



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Study it.

Use it.


It starts at the top where you say:

¿Hay problemas?

(i proh-BLAY-mahs)

Are there problems?


If the answer is No – great!

Say, “OK, excelente, gracias,” and carry on.

(OK, excellent, thank you.)


If the answer to ¿Hay problemas? is some form of , then respond:





Hearing this, your new Spanish-speaking friends will show you the problem.

When they do, you say, “OK, excelente, gracias,” and carry on.


It’s a loop.

A scripted loop.


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So there is the Red Angle remedy to a wagonless Spanish-speaker.


Three easy ways to re-engage.

1. Quit taking yourself too seriously & just do it…

2. Say “¿Cómo se dice…?” a lot…

3. Use the “Hay Problemas Loop” as a script.



Now go on.

Get back on your wagon.




Bradley Hartmann is founder and El Presidente at Red Angle (, a training and consulting firm bridging the English-Spanish (and a bit of Polish…) language gap in the construction industry.

Categories: Construction Spanish, Jobsite Leadership

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