Spain is still one of the most popular holiday destinations for us Brits, with cheap flights and inclusive packages making it appealing for any budget. But really how many of us go to Spain without knowing a single word of Spanish? I for one would love to learn Spanish and it’s been on my ‘bucket list’ for years. You could definitely try your hand at learning the language with an app like Duolingo or tutoring services like Listen & Learn or Babbel. In the meantime, though, pick up on a few basics here:

What you already know

You probably know way more words in Spanish than you think. Since they are your favourite dishes after all, paella and tapas are are great place to start. Add quisierain in front of either of those and you are already ordering your dinner! Other basics you’ve heard include si (yes) and no (no), hola (hello) and adiós (goodbye), and por favor (please) and gracias (thank you). As well as siesta, which is something you might be hoping for after you’ve eaten all that food!

A little conversation

Even knowing a few simple phrases for when you arrive can be useful. Buenos días, ¿cómo estás? (good morning, how are you) is a good way to start, and bien, ¿y tú? (well, how about you) is a good way to answer. Lo siento (sorry) is good to know, as is perdón (excuse me). And of course you can always fall back on ¿habla usted Inglés? (do you speak English) if you get stuck.

What will be useful?

Travelling with children hopefully won’t result in a visit to la farmacia (a pharmacy) but it’s both good to know the word for it and how to get there (¿dónde está el…?). Directions (¿cómo llego a …?) might take a little gesticulating to figure out where you are supposed to go, but once you know the basics (izquierda, derecha, recto— left, right, straight ahead) you are well on your way.

Another important phrase you’ll want to learn is ¿cuánto cuesta? (how much is it), closely followed bymas barato (cheaper) if you’re bartering over souvenirs. ¡No funciona! might come in handy if you’re in a resort and your air conditioning isn’t working, and a general yo necesito esto (I need this) will get you far if you need something but don’t know how to ask.

Making learning fun

Ordering food in another language or simply labelling the things you pass can be just as much fun for you as it can be for the kids. Whether it’s a walk in el parque (a park), a day at la playa (the beach), or queuing for rides at el parque de atracciones (an amusement park) there is an opportunity to practice a little Spanish whatever you are doing.

Being prepared

Of course, learning a language should probably start before you leave for your holiday, and whether that learning takes the form of a few phrases or an actual course it should ultimately be whatever is convenient for you. But keeping the kids excited as the holiday approaches can also be done with a little Spanish. You can pack tu equipaje (your luggage), plan a day at el carnaval (a carnival) or festival, and learn the words for all the other things you want to see and do.

Wherever you are travelling to in Spain this year, ¡viajes felices!