3 years ago my youngest sister arrived in Spain for a 12 month Erasmus study abroad program with little or no Spanish. Within months she was teaching Marina who, of course, is as Spanish as you can get, new words and phrases she’d never come across before. Part of her secret ‘learn Spanish sickeningly fast’ recipe involved sitting up in bed at night reading through the dictionary, picking out words that both fascinated her and later just stuck, for good. Sickening.
Anyway, much the same approach that my sister used to get ahead in Spanish could also be applied to Spanish culture, with Valerie Collins and Theresa O’Shea’s book In the Garlic. It’s an amusingly written A-Z of practically every aspect of Spanish culture you could begin to imagine, from Almuerzo (mid morning snacks) to Zara (Spanish version of Gap, sort of), via Chiringuito (beach-side or fiesta bar or restaurant/shack), Gilipuertas (polite version of Gilipollas – idiot) and Payo (gypsy term for non-gypsies). Apply my sister’s bedtime reading technique to this dictionary of Spain and you’ll soon be teaching Marina things she never knew about her own country!
But seriously, do you need this book? Well, here’s a little test. If you know what all of the following mean then you are definitely en el ajo (in the garlic = in the know) enough not to need it at all:
Llave inglesa, pataleo, piñata, selectividad, callista, dominguero, Ikastola.
How did you do? Definitions in the comments below please, and remember, if that little list completely stumped you, the book is available here!