This morning I was invited to be a “guest teacher” at the University of Manabì in Portoviejo by a friend of mine, Maria Jose. The class wanted me to go over common sayings and expressions or idioms that we use in North America but the translation isn’t always literal and aren’t typically found in traditional English textbooks. I found it interesting even explaining some of the idioms due to differences in culture, they may not use phrases or words similar even in Spanish. For example the word “creep” in particular was difficult. One definition is to crawl but I was trying to explain to them how someone may refer (in a derogatory manner) to someone who was bothering them, stalking them or staring at them in an uncomfortable way. Another fun word that I was having trouble explaining was “sweet”. Of course there’s the meaning of “dulce” in Spanish meaning a candy or other sweet food. There’s also the “preciosa” word meaning that the object they are referring to is very delightful. But then there’s just the word “sweet” meaning something similar to cool! Other terms I explained were phrases like: “What’s up?, I’m kidding, Pig out, Hang out, For Real, Feeling Blue, Couch potato” and a few others. It was overall, a fun activity and the college students are eager to learn and seemed excited to have a native English speaker to work with them!
In addition, they helped me too! They taught me a few phrases that we wouldn’t normally know and really can’t be translated literally either. “Como dos gotas de agua” means that two people are very similar and share the same characteristics. Though the expression, “every cloud has a silver lining” is a rather old saying where I’m from, they use it frequently here and in Spanish it is “No hay mal que por bien no venga”. “Mi pana” means a very close friend or brother. I child referred to as “malcriado” means they are lazy and expect their parents to do everything for them. I learned that it is more cool to say “Simòn” or “Posi” instead of just “si” for yes! Last but not least, the word used I believe exclusively here in Ecuador for “What?” normally translated in Spanish as “Que?” or “Como?” is “Mande?” I’m told that if a child says “que” to their parents or teachers, it is a sign of disrespect. They may say that to a peer, but never a person in authority.
We also spoke today about a few cultural differences with being late and how that is considered quite rude where I come from, but here is absolutely no problem. In some cases, I’ve been told it’s almost strange to come on time. For example, if a party starts at 6PM, you never go at 6PM. It is more common to show up at 6:30, 7 or even 8.
Overall, today was a lot of fun! Getting to understand and know a different culture is fascinating and can also help to break down misunderstandings for future.