Spanish for Missions Trips

Spanish for Missions trip

Are you ready for your missions trip to a Spanish speaking country?

You’ve booked your flight, made a packing list, raised support, and studied pictures of a country you’ve never been to. Or maybe you’re reminiscing about your trip last year as you plan to see familiar faces this year. Either way, if you’re planning on taking a missions trip with your church, school, or non-profit organization, here are some basics you’ll want to keep in mind.

Most missions trips that Americans take are to Spanish speaking countries.

Spanish for Missions trip

After all, we share a border with Mexico, and we’re in the same hemisphere as the majority of Spanish speaking countries. It only makes sense that we would travel to, and volunteer in, countries that we can reach via a quick plane ride and relatively little jet lag.

Yet many missions trip participants don’t try to learn Spanish.

Perhaps they are scarred from high school Spanish experiences, just intimidated by language learning in general, or maybe they don’t understand the importance of language learning. In any case, many people who plan to take a short term missions trip fail to plan in this area.

Speaking Spanish makes the difference in experience and relationships on your missions trip.

For churches planning to take missions trips, it’s helpful to remember the words of the Apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 14, “but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me.” That’s it. Without studying and practicing the language, we’re simply “foreigners.” Not friends, not brothers or sisters, just “foreigners.”

That doesn’t sound very positive, but think about it. How many people have you developed a meaningful relationship with here in the U.S. that have made no effort to learn English? Chances are, that number is low. So take control of your trip experience, and dive into language learning. 

You can learn Spanish more than you think – in just a few weeks

At Confidence Learning Services, our Spanish for Missions Course offers a 6-week training specifically designed for people who are planning to take a trip to a Spanish speaking country. Alongside other resources and materials customized for your particular trip, our curriculum is based on, “Spanish with a Mission” by Mirna Deborah Balyeat. This book is designed with a focus on the unique phrases and vocabulary necessary for missions work.

Spanish for Missions TripsSpanish for missions trips

You don’t have to be an expert.

You may not be able to learn everything there is to know in Spanish before you go, but you can learn something. It just takes a little practice each day to develop the skills necessary to start a casual conversation in Spanish, share a favorite song (like this one) or Bible verse, or tell a story about yourself. You don’t need to be able to give a sermon or political campaign speech, and there aren’t any grammar quizzes or essay questions on your trip. In the 6-weeks leading up to your trip, you’ll learn enough to be more comfortable and confident. But if you don’t study before you go, you may find yourself regretting the opportunity you missed to be more prepared for your trip.

We encourage you to study anywhere, any way you can.

If you’re interested in one of our Spanish for missions courses, contact us today at 1-865-226-9477 to set up a free, 1-hour Spanish for missions seminar for your church, school or non-profit organization. We’ll teach you some of the basics that you’ll need on your trip, and give you an idea of what you can learn in one of our 6 week courses.

3 Major Korean Pronunciation Errors in English

Korean English Pronunciation

If you wish to be understood clearly in English, then avoiding these typical Korean pronunciation errors when speaking in English is a must.

At Confidence Learning Services, we work with clients from many countries, including Korea, to help them improve their communication skills in English. Korea is a beautiful country, and Korean is one of few east Asian languages to have a simple, phonetic alphabet and lack the tonality that make Mandarin or Vietnamese so different from English. However, there are still some typical errors that Korean speakers make when learning English, and making sure that you avoid these mispronunciations is important.

Korean Pronunciation Error #3

Korean English Pronunciation

Some English sounds simply do not exist in Korean, which include many friction sounds such as /f/, /v/, /z/, and /ð/.  Because of this, it can be difficult for Korean speakers to differentiate between these three words. “Live from the newsroom” and “Lies from the newsroom” have two drastically different meanings, so it’s important to avoid this typical Korean pronunciation error.

Korean Pronunciation Error #2

Korean Pronunciation Errors

Korean words never have more than 2 consonants pronounced in one syllable. In this word, there are 3 consonants in a row, followed by a vowel and then two more consonants together. Thus we encounter the resulting Korean pronunciation error. In English, the word ‘Sprint’ is just one syllable, while in Korean it would have three or possibly 4.

Korean Pronunciation Error #1

Korean Accent Reduction

In Korean, consonants are not released unless they are followed by a vowel in the same syllable (eg 맛이 – mashi ), and word final consonants are never released (eg 맛 – mat). Because of this, Koreans learning English often add an extra ‘u’, or ‘i’ vowel to the end of each English word that ends with a consonant.Thus “Fish” may become “Fishy”, a word with a totally different meaning.

Most of our Korean clients enjoy great success in improving their pronunciation and accent, and are able to communicate more clearly and confidently after just one 12 week session.

If you would like to learn more about improving your communication skills in English, contact Confidence Learning Services at 1-865-226-9477 for a free English Pronunciation evaluation. We will assess your pronunciation of every sound in the English language, at no cost or obligation to you, in the convenience of your own home or office via Skype.

Become fluent fast – 10 tips to help you become fluent

accent reduction in knoxville

How can you achieve fluency as quickly as possible?

At Confidence Learning Services, we often meet people who want to become fluent in the language they are learning. Here are 10 tips to help you in that process, no matter what language you are studying!

1. Fluent fast – Immerse yourself

It’s almost impossible to learn a new language, or at least to learn it rapidly, unless you begin thinking in that language. But how do you think in a new language you can’t yet speak?

Ingratiate yourself with the community and you’re halfway there!

The answer is to simply immerse yourself in it. Traveling in a foreign country allows you to continuously hear the sounds, rhythms, and inflections of a new language–spoken on the streets, in buses, on television, etc. Your brain will already start to process and interpret a new language.

Even better than simply traveling is being forced to “operate” in a new language by participating in a volunteer program, or working abroad. Best of all is being completely immersed with locals (such as living with a host family) and completely isolated from other native speakers of your language.

Immerse yourself with the locals, their music, culture, media, politics, sports, family, etc. Ingratiate yourself with the community and you’re halfway there!

2. Fluent fast – Forget translating: think like a baby!

How do babies learn language? Through imitation, repetition of sounds, and above all, by not being shy or self-conscious.

So what if your pronunciation is a little off, or you can’t remember the proper conjugation? Just start talking, even if it seems like babbling. Resisting the urge to translate everything into your native language can be the single fastest shortcut to fluency.

Rather than walking up to the restaurant or giving your host family a pre-memorized phrase for what you’re going to order, simply listen to how the locals order their food, and then imitate them as best you can. The same goes for greetings, small talk, etc. Watch their facial expressions as they say the words; study how they move their mouths.

Copy these expressions and sounds just like a baby would. Whether you understand what they mean exactly or not, eventually you will begin simply calling upon these sounds / phrases / words in appropriate situations. They’ll appear, as if by magic. This is the gateway to thinking in a new language.

3. How do you say?

Besides common greetings, the one phrase you should memorize and always have at the ready is the phrase is “How do you say that / what is that called?”

By being an inquisitive traveler, one who is always asking questions, you befriend the local people. You’ll find that over time they’ll open up to you, making it easier to initiate conversations. These daily interactions with the locals are your best teachers: set a daily goal for yourself of having X number of conversations each day–asking people about things you’re interested in, but don’t know the words for. Even if you can’t finish the conversation, you’re on the way.

4. Fluent fast – Write it down

After having conversations, jot down the things you remembered hearing but didn’t quite understand.

Then go back and use an online dictionary so that you can learn the meaning and the pronunciation. Look up the words, piece the conversation back together in your mind. Then, next time you have a conversation, use what you learned.

5. Fluent fast – Use cognates and draw links

Have you noticed that some words appear exactly the same across various languages? These are called “cognates.” Unlocking the usage of cognates instantly gives you several hundred more words to your vocabulary. For example, most words ending in “ion” in the Latin languages are the same in English.

For example: information / información, donation / donación

Similarly, words across different languages often share the same root word, so drawing on what you already know will make it easier (e.g.: cheese is fromage in French and fromaggio in Italian). Studies have also shown that when you have mastered a second language, your brain becomes becomes better wired to learn subsequent new languages.

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Become fluent fast – 10 tips to help you become fluent

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6. Fluent fast – Local TV, movies, music

American English Pronunciation Knoxville

Watch movies, listen to music, sing songs, and browse newspapers and magazines. It’s fun and helps improve your pronunciation and comprehension.

You may struggle when trying to read words in your new language, but watching the subtitles on music videos and trying to sing along will help you learn new words and pronounce them more accurately.

TV Shows, Movies and music are invaluable language learning tools.

7. Fluent fast – Non-verbal cues

Beyond words, observe locals when they talk. Body language is important, as well as appropriate and inappropriate hand gestures. Learning to understand the Indian head bobble while learning Hindi or bowing while studying Japanese, combining body language with a new tongue helps you communicate better.

Fluent fast – Get emotional!

Emotive experiences often etch impressions onto our memory. Make full use of embarrassing / funny / angry experiences by linking them to the new language.

As a child, when playing with friends and counting in Spanish for hide and seek, I mispronounced the number “veinte.” I don’t even remember how I mispronounced the word, but I remember all my friends laughing at me, and I know the correct pronunciation of all my Spanish numbers now. Make full use of embarrassing / funny / angry experiences by linking them to the new language.

Needless to say, the embarrassment helped correct my pronunciation for good! Similarly, negotiating with shady cab drivers or nasty vendors also helps you learn numbers rather quickly so you don’t get ripped off.

9. Fluent fast – Start with friends, then branch out.

While individual classes can be highly beneficial for unsurpassed attention, group classes with friends can greatly aid learning. Having a friend to practice with helps you get better, and you can also learn from the different mistakes different people make.

On the other hand, venturing out solo in a foreign country forces you to speak with local people–say the person riding next to you on the bus, or standing in line at the market. It also prevents you relying on a friend with stronger language skills to do the talking for you in key exchanges such as asking for directions or buying food.

10. Practice at every opportunity before and after you travel.

Ever felt really “rusty” and lacking confidence in a language despite having taken classes or used it (or even mastered it) at some other time in your life? Languages are alive and require exercise. Find avenues to practice wherever and whenever you can.

If you’re interested in getting some help along the way with your language learning journey, contact us today for your free consultation at 1-865-226-9477.

Why is English so hard to pronounce? English Phonology

English so hard to pronounce

At Confidence Learning Services, we readily admit that English is considered one of the most difficult languages to learn. While there are many rules in the English language about how words are pronounced, there are also quite a few exceptions and areas where particular rules do not apply. Understanding these tricky areas will help you to be more successful in communicating in English. For native speakers, understanding these areas will help you to be more sensitive to the plight of those who speak English as a second langauge.

Five Aspects that make English so hard to pronounce

English is a difficult language to pronounce. Depending on your language background, you will likely find various parts of the “phonology” or sounds of English complicated or extremely difficult to master.

Areas that are considered to be the most complex or confusing include:

  • Stress on words
  • Vowel and consonant sounds
  • Combined sounds
  • Physical attributes
  • Translation between languages

Stress on Words

In English, words that are spelled identically are stressed differently depending on their meaning. For example, with the word “record,” there is a different stress based on whether we wish to refer to the noun of a piece of music media or to the verb for the actual act of registering or putting in writing a piece of information or saving a piece of music.

This might seem overwhelming at first, although understanding that nouns tend to be stressed on the first syllable, and verbs tend to be stressed on the last syllable does help with the learning process.

Therefore, English language learners cannot simply base the pronunciation of a word on what they see. They also need to learn to look for contextual clues around that word, in order to determine the correct way to pronounce it.

Vowel and Consonant Sounds

English language learners need to distinguish between vowels and consonants, a fairly easy task. However, students must then begin studying the different English vowel sounds. Although there are about 12 vowel sounds and various diphthongs, there are only 5 “written” vowels, meaning the spelling of words is rarely phonetic, and one written vowel can represent several different sounds. For example:

  • The vowel “a” makes a very different sound in the words “bake”, “small” and “apple.”
  • Consonants can change a bit as well. A “t” in the word “tackle” is very different in sound from a “t” in the word “water” and “s” in “docks” sounds different from “s” in “dogs.”

The pronunciation of vowel and consonant sounds vary with the word in which they are used.

Combined “Digraph” Sounds

Sometimes when consonants come together, the pronunciation gets confusing. A non-native speaker would see “t” and “h” and want to pronounce those sounds separately. However, they come together to create a blended digraph sound. Another example of this is when the letters “c” and “k” come together in words as a back, rack, pack, tackle, and so forth.

The person learning English might initially see these two letters as distinct, when they really represent a single sound.

Physical Attributes of English sounds

The way in which people speak is, of course, related to physical properties of the mouth region. For example, there are some words which absolutely require speakers to put both of their lips together in order to produce the sound, (like “b” or “p”) while other sounds require sticking the tongue through the teeth (like “th”). While it seems natural to a native speaker, to learners many of these sounds require awkward mouth positions and tongue movements, a sort of yoga for the mouth.

Translation Between Languages

Often when you try to learn a sound in a new language, you look for a sound in your native language to compare it to. However, there is rarely a one-to-one correspondence between English and a learner’s background language. For example, the sounds of “th” and “v” do not exist in many languages. Therefore, learners cannot pronounce these sounds by comparing them to their native language. Often, they find a similar – but not identical – sound in their language, so that “th” becomes “f” and “v” becomes “w.”

Practice and Repetition

The only way that English pronunciation can improve is with practice and repetition. Changing pronunciation habits is very different from learning new vocabulary. Knowing “how” to pronounce a word is very different from actually pronouncing it clearly every time.

Learn more – sign up for your free English Pronunciation Assessment from Confidence Learning Services today, and you’ll get an in-depth evaluation of your pronunciation of every sound in the English language. Contact us at 1-865-226-9477 to sign up.

Adentro or dentro? Abajo or debajo? Learn these tricky Spanish word pairs

Learn Spanish

Learning the difference between two words that seem the same.

If you want to learn Spanish, you will soon encounter some words that are very similar to each other, but it’s important to know the difference. At Confidence Learning Services, we help people communicate clearly in Spanish, and we’ve noticed some problem words that pop up with many learners. Let’s take a look.

Learn Spanish

Learn Spanish – Adentro vs Dentro

“Adentro” means “inside” and is typically used as an adverb relating to motion that is going towards the inside of something.

Iremos adentro en unos minutos.

Vete adentro, luego voy yo. 

“Dentro” can also mean “inside” or “within”, and is usually used to describe the location of something that is not related to movement.

El regalo está dentro de la caja. 

Lo encontré dentro de la cubeta.

El caucho de repuesto está dentro de la maletera de mi carro. 


Learn Spanish – Abajo vs Debajo

“Abajo” can indicate motion towards a lower position, but also a position that it is relatively lower to any other reference.

La canoa iba rio abajo empujada por la corriente. 

Echaron la casa abajo. 

Se tendió. boca abajo.

“Debajo”  formed with de- plus bajo, indicates a position that it is immediately below another. In most cases, it is followed by “de” to indicate below which thing or person we are referring to (eg. debajo de la mesa).

Encontraron sus regalos debajo del arbol de Navidad. 

Ese vecino vive debajo. 


Learn Spanish – Afuera vs Fuera

“Afuera” (again, our adverb beginning with “a-“) means “outside”, and refers primarily to motion going towards the exterior, although it can also mean “outside” in general.

Vamos afuera a tomar el aire. 

Hay mucha gente afuera.

“Fuera” also means “outside”, and although “afuera” and “fuera” can sometimes be used interchangeably, typically “fuera” refers to something not in motion.

Sal fuera un momento, por favor.

Has dejado la leche fuera de la nevera.

So, do you have any questions about Spanish vocabulary? Schedule your free Spanish consultation today, and get one-on-one time with a highly-qualified instructor, and ask any question you want! Contact us today at 1-865-226-9477.

The top 5 Spanish speaking countries


Which countries are included may surprise you

When discussing the Spanish language, many people think of Spain, images of Don Quixote, flamenco dancers and Spanish wines popping up in their minds. It is true that the language that we call Spanish today did originate in Spain, but it’s also important to keep in mind which countries have the highest Spanish speaking populations today, so let’s take a look.

#5 – Spain


Number of Speakers: 34 million

Other languages spoken include: Catalan, Basque, Galician

Cultural Contributions: The movies of Pedro Almodovar, Enrique and Julio Iglesias, the literature of Miguel de Cervantes, the art of Pablo Picasso.

#4 – United States of America


Number of Speakers: 40 million

Other languages spoken include: English, Chinese, Tagalog

Cultural Contributions: Jennifer Lopez, Sandra Cisneros, the cultural activism of Cesar Chavez, as well as playing host to many Hispanic celebrities who left their home countries, like Celia Cruz and Gloria Estefan.

#3 – Argentina


Number of Speakers: 42 million

Other languages spoken include: English, Italian, Arabic

Cultural Contributions: Jorge Luis Borges, Che Guevara, Tango music, Soccer players Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona, Pope Francis.

#2 – Colombia


Number of Speakers: 46 million

Other languages spoken include: Several indigenous languages including Chibchan, Tucanoan, Bora-witoto

Cultural Contributions: Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, Shakira, Juanes.

#1 – Mexico


Number of Speakers: 111 million

Other languages spoken include: Nahuatl, Yukatek Maya, Mixtec, Zapotec

Cultural Contributions: Artists Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Mariachi music, poet Octavio Paz, comedian Chespirito.

Were you surprised by any of these rankings? Is there anything else you would like us to include? Let us know in the comments below!

If you’re ready to improve your Spanish, contact Confidence Learning Services today at 1-865-226-9477.

How to learn Spanish with Confidence Learning Services

how to learn spanish

How to learn Spanish successfully with a fluent speaker

Between CDs, DVDs, textbooks, and the ever-popular Rosetta Stone and similar computer programs, your options when it comes to how to learn Spanish can be overwhelming! At Confidence Learning Services, we freely admit that the best way to learn Spanish is to spend time in a Spanish-speaking country. So if you can, go ahead and schedule your trip to the Dominican Republic or Mexico. But, if you’re like many of us, you may not have the freedom to pack up and head to a Spanish speaking country. That’s where Confidence Learning Services comes in as the next best thing – learning Spanish with one-on-one interaction with a fluent speaker, either in-person or via Skype. But how exactly is that going to work?

How to learn Spanish – Understand your purpose and set your goals

Every Spanish course we offer starts with a discussion of your personal goals. If you want to know how to learn Spanish, we have to start by asking why you want to learn Spanish. To communicate with extended family or an adopted child? To grow your business or boost your resume or college application? Then we will talk about what you want to accomplish by the end of a 6 or 12 week course. Do you want to perfect your interview skills, or just be able to order food in a restaurant? Setting realistic goals helps you to focus on your language learning and better understand your achievements.

How to learn Spanish – Identify your learning style and resources

Because all Confidence Learning Services are personalized, we prioritize your learning style. You don’t just want to know how to learn Spanish – you want to know how to learn Spanish in the best possible way for you. If you’re an avid reader, we may do a book study. A movie buff? It’s time to check out some Almodovar films. If you’re religious, we can find some Spanish language services in your area. Everyone is unique, and your Spanish learning experience should be too.

How to learn Spanish – Dive in

After we identify your purpose, goals, and learning style and assess your current language level, we will recommend several resources you can begin using right away. The key here is to dive in. Switch as many possible weekly activities into Spanish – watch TV, Movies, and YouTube videos in Spanish. Listen to Spanish radio in the car. Read recipes in Spanish, switch your GPS to Spanish, do your shopping and eating out at Spanish language establishments. You’ll also need to practice with websites, books, and hopefully, some conversation partners.

How to learn Spanish – Have fun

As you continue to learn Spanish, the key is to find out what activities you enjoy and learn from the most. This is how to learn Spanish successfully – don’t force yourself to watch a TV show that you hate, find something that you love doing and keep doing it. As you do, your Confidence Spanish Language coach will guide you into new language-learning experiences and opportunities, give you the keys to unlocking the grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation you need and help clarify any confusion or misunderstandings you have as you continue in the language learning process.

So now you have a better idea of how to learn Spanish with Confidence Learning Services.

Don’t wait, schedule your free Spanish consultation today. You’ll get 45 minutes one-on-one time with a live, fluent instructor who will give you 3 personalized recommendations for your language learning – with no obligation or payment information required. Contact us today at 1-865-226-9477 to sign up!

6 English Words that Chinese Speakers mispronounce

Knoxville Chinese English

Which English words are most difficult for Chinese Speakers to pronounce?

Recently, Confidence Learning Services featured some of the most commonly mispronounced English words, when spoken by Spanish-speakers. Of course, Spanish-speakers are not the only ones learning English, so we decided to do another round of mispronounced words, this time focusing on words that Chinese-Speakers mispronounce.

Since there are millions of Chinese-speakers who have studied English, this topic is important for many people. English is a very difficult language to pronounce, and perhaps one of the most difficult languages for Chinese-speakers to learn (but also one of the most popular). Through our advanced English Pronunciation courses, tips and videos on Accent Reduction, we have helped many Chinese-speakers communicate more clearly in English. Our courses are personalized for each client (meaning we plan our lessons based on an in-depth, one-on-one evaluation with you), but there are some aspects of English pronunciation that are difficult for almost all Chinese-speakers.

“Standard Chinese” has around 6 vowels, while English has around 12. This difference makes differentiating between English vowels very difficult for Chinese-speakers. Also, common English sounds, like voiced fricatives and affricates (“v” “th” “z” “j”) do not exist in Chinese.  These result in some common pronunciation difficulties, so let’s take a closer look at the Top 11 English words that Chinese-speakers mispronounce when trying to learn English.

6. Very/Wary

The problem here is the /v/ sound, which is a voiced fricative. Most Chinese speakers struggle to get the correct position (top teeth touching bottom lip) and maintaining friction and voicing long enough to make a true /v/ sound, which makes “very” sound like “wary.” But the words have two very different meanings.

5. Seen/Sing

knoxville chinese english

Word-final nasal sounds (like /n/ and /ŋ/) are much shorter in Chinese than in English. As a result, English-speakers may not be able to identify which sound is being produced, if any at all, at the end of the word.

4. Ship/Sheep

We mentioned this pair previously as difficult for Spanish-speakers, but it is also difficult for Chinese-speakers for the same reason, because of the differences between Chinese vowels and English vowels. Chinese-speakers tend to replace the relaxed “i” /I/ with a tense “e” /i/, making it “sheep”. Chinese-speakers often make vowel sounds tense, or “long,” and confuse pairs of “short” and “long” English vowel sounds like “ship” and “sheep” both in comprehension and speaking.

knoxville spanish accent

Just imagine how this works for “sheet” and …

3. Usually

Perhaps because this word features several difficult sounds – the “L” /l/ sound, which is sometimes pronounced by Chinese-speakers to sound more like an “R,” the voiced fricative /ʒ/ sound represented by the “s” in this word, and the various vowel sounds in the word.

2. Sink/Think

In English, our letters “th” represent a sound made with the tongue between the teeth. However, this sound is very difficult for Chinese-speakers to pronounce, so it is often replaced with an “s” sound. But if you say “I sink” instead of “I think” your listeners will definitely have a different picture in their minds!

1. Dark/Dock

This is a common mispronunciation for many Chinese-speakers learning English.That’s because r-vowels (ar, er, ir, or, ur) are typically pronounced without the strong “r” sound that Americans use. This pronunciation can be even more difficult for Chinese-speakers who have studied British pronunciation, in which these sounds are not produced.

Knoxville Chinese English

Are you guilty of any of these? Have you heard any of these before? Chinese-speakers can learn to speak English fluently, and master the American Accent, by starting with a free consultation or assessment! Contact us at 1-865-226-9477 to schedule your free session with a language instructor today.

7 Errors that English Speakers make Spanish

English Spanish Errors

Are you making these common Spanish errors?

There’s a lot more to Spanish than saying “Hola” and “Gracias por la cerveza” with perfect pronunciation. Just like Spanish speakers make some regular pronunciation mistakes in English, at Confidence Learning Services we also see English speakers make some regular mistakes in Spanish, both when it comes to pronunciation and usage of particular words. Here’s a set of seven words that seem similar, or are even derived from the same word root, but have different meaning and are often used incorrectly by Native English Speakers.

Spanish Error #1: “El Cuento” is actually “A story / tale”

Don’t mix this word up with the word for “account” or “bill” – when using this word as a noun, it usually means a story or a tale. Some examples:

Ricardo lee un cuento de pirata. Los cuentos son casi tan antiguos como la vida misma.

Ricardo reads a pirate story. Stories are almost as old as life itself.

English Spanish Errors

Spanish Error #2: Contar (una historia) is actually “To tell a story/to recount something”

Be especially careful with this word and “cantar” which is “to sing.” English is not always as particular about vowel usage, so sometimes we can get a little lazy with our vowels in English and it will not affect our meaning. Spanish, however, places a lot of emphasis on vowel usage, so it’s important to get it right. If you say you’re going to “cantar” and then proceed to tell a story, everyone will be very confused.

This verb gets even more confusing thanks to its stem-changing nature.

Contar (Present Indicative)

Yo Cuento Nosotros Contamos
Cuentas Vosotros Contáis
Él/Ella/Ud. Cuenta Ellos/Ustedes Cuentan

That’s right, “yo cuento” has a different meaning than “el cuento”, and “él cuenta” has a different meaning than “la cuenta” (coming up).

Let’s look at some examples.

Su padre les cuenta un cuento antes de dormir.

Los testigos cuentan los hechos a la policia.

Te cuento todo.

Their father tells them a story before they sleep. 

The witnesses relate the facts to the police.

I’ll tell you everything. 

Spanish Error #3: “Contar” (el dinero) is actually “to count”

English speakers learning Spanish may struggle with the multiple meanings of this already difficult verb, although many English words also have multiple meanings. While the same word can mean “to tell a story”, it can also mean “to count,” and this time the meaning is entirely dependent on context. The verb conjugations remain entirely the same.

La niña sabe contar hasta veinte.

Contamos el dinero cuando vamos de compras.

The girl knows how to count to twenty.

We count money when we go shopping. 

Last, we can use the phrase “contar con” to mean “to count on.”

Cuentan con la tecnología.

They count on technology.

Spanish Error #4: “La cuenta” (bancaria) is actually “An account”

English Spanish Errors

This word is used to represent an account, like a bank account or a customer account.

La compañía acaba de adquirir dos cuentas nuevas.

El saldo en la cuenta del banco está $4000.

The company just acquired two new accounts. 

The balance in the bank account is $4000.

Spanish Error #5: “La Cuenta” (cálculo) is actually “A sum”

Yet another meaning for this tricky noun! “La cuenta” can also mean the sum or result of a calculation.

El alumno debe realizar una cuenta de dividir y una de multiplicar.

The student should calculate the result of division and multiplication. 

Spanish Error #6: “La Cuenta” (restaurante) is actually “The bill/check”

Did you think we were done with “la cuenta”? Yes, another meaning for this word is “bill” or “check”, when referring to a bill in a restaurant or hotel. Otherwise, a bill is typically “una factura” while a check from a checkbook is typically “un cheque.”

El mesero nos traiga la cuenta.

The waiter brings us the bill.

 English Spanish Errors

Spanish Error #7: “Cantar” (canción) is actually “To sing”

Finally, as mentioned before,”cantar” means “To sing” as in “to sing a song.”

Las mujeres cantan canciones lindas.

The women sing beautiful songs. 

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