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Learn Spanish
By: Christopher Howard M.A.
Ways to Avoid Sounding Like a Gringo

In Mexico and Central America a gringo is usually defined as a U.S. citizen, but can refer to any foreigner. Most Gringos stand out by the way they dress, social customs, behavior and common errors they make when speaking Spanish.

If your goal is to sound like a native Spanish speaker and not be viewed as a foreigner, try the following suggestion: Learn the correct Spanish vowel sounds. Most English speakers "stick out like a sore thumb" because they don't know their Spanish vowels. Learning the correct vowel sounds can make a world of difference. Also practice rolling your r's. Remember that an r at the beginning of a word or two r's together are pronounced the 
same - much like a car purring. The d between vowels or at the end ot a word sounds more like the th in 'thus' than the English d. Nada is pronounced 'natha.'Both the c and z are pronounced like the English s. But c is pronounced like a k before a, o or u.

The double ll or y are pronounced like the y in 'yes.' In Spanish, the letters b and v are pronounced almost like the English b. J is pronounced as an h. 'H' at the beginning of a word is silent. Spanish requires more spoken formalities than English so you should make every effort to say "hello", "good-bye", "good morning", etc. Skipping over these formalities will label you as a foreigner. Avoid using "yo-ismos." Instead of saying yo quiero say quiero or creo instead of yo creo. Most native speakers eliminate "yo" unless they want to emphasize the subject of a statement. Try to learn as many idioms and useful phrases as you can. Like English, Spanish is very idiomatic. Most Spanish courses don't teach you these handy phrases. Also, learn the proper gestures that Spanish speakers use.

Spend as much time as you can with native Spanish speakers.  This will help you learn Spanish like it's really spoken and to become familiar with all the necessary social customs.

Here is your Costa Rica expression for this week: Al pueblo que fueres, haz lo que vieres - When in Rome do as the Romans.

Christopher Howard M.A. conducts monthly one-of-a-kind exploratory 
trips for those wanting to live in Costa Rica in conjunction with LIVE 
IN COSTA RICA TOURS. Please call toll free 800 365-2342, e-mail: 
crbooks@racsa.co.cr or see www. liveincostarica.com. 

Mr Howard is also
the author of "The New Golden Door Door to Retirement and Living in Costa Rica", Living and Investing in the New Nicaragua" and "The Costa 
Rican Spanish Survival Book" and cassette. For more information call 
800 365-2342, access: www.costaricabooks.com or AMAZON.COM 
 

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