Perhaps you want to build rapport with your co-workers, better navigate work meetings or give presentations with greater confidence. What if you’re looking for a job and want to increase your appeal to employers? Whatever the case, having a good grasp of business Spanish is becoming increasingly important for success in a globalized world.
In fact, with our smart strategies, the learning process will become as routine as your morning coffee. Today we’ll share our work plan to help you master Spanish for business and supercharge your career!
What’s the deal with Spanish for business?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of key Spanish phrases, let’s discuss why business Spanish is essential.
First of all, business with Spanish speakers is booming. U.S. Latino GDP alone accounts for the 7th largest economy in the world (if it were a country, of course). Mexico is another big area for business, as it’s the U.S.’s largest good trading partner. Not to mention emerging global economies such as Argentina, Colombia and Chile. All this goes to show that Spanish is top on the list for doing business.
At the same time, Spanish could help you get ahead at work. Spanish is sought-after by employers, with 79% of recruiters citing it as the language most in demand. There could also be a wage premium for bilingual speakers, with an average of a 1.7% boost. This salary bump could be even higher in some industries, such as nearshore software in Latin America.
Moreover, if you require Spanish at your job, we imagine that you want to feel more comfortable using it in the workplace. It’s no fun to miss a key point in a business meeting, or feel like you have marbles in your mouth when talking to coworkers. Your daily experience at the office is important.
If you’re working at the management level, there are even more great reasons to learn Spanish for business. Besides improving your workplace communication, business Spanish can help you and your company:
- Market to a wider target audience.
- Open up product channels in new international locations.
- Better understand the needs of Spanish-speaking segments.
- Hire more support staff that speaks Spanish.
- Decipher contracts (you can’t always rely on translations)
- Identify with Spanish-speaking customers and/or employees
Spanish is one of the fastest growing languages too, which means the business opportunity with Spanish-speaking countries is huge. When you learn business Spanish as an employee, manager or director, the doors open wide to new frontiers.
Learning tips for the office
As you improve your Spanish for business, you should keep in mind some tips for the office. It’s not easy to pick up a language on the go. To make it easier, you can use these learning strategies at work:
- Focus on business vocabulary. Business Spanish is largely about expanding your vocabulary to encompass terms that you’ll face in a business environment. Make a cheat sheet of the most common phrases you’d expect to use on the job. If you’re not sure what these are, write down the phrases first in English (or your native language) and then find equivalents in Spanish to keep top of mind. This cheat sheet will help you through the most important parts of your day, so that you feel confident with the basics. Over time, you may not need the cheat sheet at all.
- Practice even at lunch time and during breaks. If most of your coworkers speak Spanish, try not to switch into English with them. Make the most of these interactions to learn new vocabulary and natural phrasing. If you don’t have the chance to get Spanish conversation practice at lunch with coworkers, try taking this time to study your cheat sheet, or listen to the news in Spanish. It’s a great opportunity to double up your skills in the middle of the day.
- Keep a Spanish notebook for writing down new words you hear. During business meetings or interactions in Spanish, keep a notebook for writing down new words. This vocabulary journal is an excellent way to keep track of new things you learn, as well as those pesky words you want to look up or study later. You can use this notebook in and out of the office to log your learning over time.
- Remember to use the formal usted at first. The most important grammar to remember at first is the use of the formal usted. The majority of errors you’ll make in the beginning are easily forgiven, as your business partners and coworkers understand that you’re in the learning process. However, using tú or vos instead of usted is one of those mistakes that can bother others. Unless told otherwise, you should address business partners, managers, etc. using the formal usted. With time, you may be asked to address them informally with tú or vos. Until then, try to remember the use of usted. (Note: The custom of usted is universal among Spanish-speaking countries. However, depending on the company you’re working for, there may be a culture of using tú or vos instead. Listen up to find out what may be most appropriate.)
- Ask for help from your Spanish-speaking colleagues. Most likely your coworkers are more than willing to help you out! Ask them for help with vocab questions and Spanish coffee break sessions. You’re sure to get great conversation practice with them. In addition, for more formal situations such as a meeting or presentation, they may also have insight into how you can phrase your slides in Spanish. Speak up!
Learning tips for home
Of course, not all Spanish learning can happen at work. As you improve your Spanish at the office, you’ll want to accompany this process at home. With just a few steps, you can strengthen your business Spanish on your own time too. Here’s what we suggest:
- YouTube it. YouTube isn’t just for fun and games. There are some excellent business Spanish video series that you can access for free on YouTube. For example, SpanishPod101, Spanish and Go and 123 Spanish all have videos available to get a better grasp on business Spanish.
- Listen to a Spanish business podcast every morning. Get into the routine of listening to a Spanish business podcast. There are so many excellent ones, such as Radio Ambulante (which tells lifestyle and business stories), as well as Libros para emprendedores, LightSpeed Spanish and Un idioma sin fronteras. Whatever your business interests, there’s sure to be something up your alley. As you listen, you’ll get new vocabulary, natural phrasing and boosted listening comprehension.
- Read Spanish news, especially for your industry. You may already read the news as part of your daily routine. Now, try incorporating news in Spanish. This may be easier than you think! The benefits of reading the news for your industry are countless. You’ll get a handle on industry-specific vocabulary and stay updated on Spanish-speaking news events. If you’re looking for more general business news – that don’t have a paywall – our favorites include: El País, El Mundo, Europa Press and Expansión.
- Consider hiring an online language teacher. Sometimes there’s only so much you can do on your own. A teacher can tailor your lesson content to focus specifically on Spanish for business. The convenience factor is significant: you can set your own class times, work on problematic topics and get real-time feedback from your teacher. If you hope to learn Spanish for business , an online language program – like Verbalicity – might be right for you.
Getting up to speed on business Spanish phrases
Now that you’ve got a sense of how to learn Spanish for business, let’s go over some common considerations for beginners. When you’re first getting a grasp on professional Spanish, you’ll want to prioritize these three concepts.
Usted vs. tú vs. vos.
As we mentioned above, you should use usted when first meeting business partners and coworkers. However, you should also understand when your colleagues are speaking informally. Are they using tú or vos? Try to listen and use whatever is the most common local lingo.
Regional vocabulary and pronunciation differences.
You’ll also want to keep an ear out for regional vocabulary. Depending on where your company is doing business, you’ll hear different variations. Spain, Mexico, Argentina and others all have distinctive vocabulary and pronunciation. It’s important to try and use regional phrases in order to connect with your coworkers or partners.
At the same time, getting a sense for regional phrasing will help you understand what’s going on around you. Not sure about your business region’s vocab and accent? Check out our guide to all 21 Spanish-speaking countries.
Gendered pronouns and adjectives.
Finally, you should pay attention to gendered pronouns and adjectives when speaking. Just like he/she/it/they in English, it’s important to get these pronouns right. The tricky part is that Spanish requires gendered adjectives too! It’s typical for an English speaker to forget about the adjectives.
For example, you wouldn’t want to ask your female coworker, “Está cansado hoy?” (“Are you tired today?). That’s because cansado should be placed in the female cansada form for your female coworker. Keeping genders straight can be a bit more work in Spanish, but it’s important. Though coworkers will likely laugh off the mistake, it’s not ideal to mess up genders.
Spanish for Business Phrases
To give you a hand with some basic business Spanish, we’ve put together a list of useful phrases, verbs and nouns. Below you’ll find phrases grouped according to some common workplace situations.
Working on a project
- Me pongo a ello ahora. I’ll get on to it right now.
- Necesito hablar con X. I need to talk to X.
- Estoy trabajando a tope. I’m working hard.
- Estoy llamando para preguntar acerca de… I’m calling to ask about….
- ¿Me podrías reenviar el correo electrónico? Could you forward me the email?
- ¿Puede decirle al X que…? Can you tell X that…?
- Me llevo muy bien con X. I get on really well with X.
- El proyecto esta muy retrasado. The project is quite delayed.
- Tuvimos problemas con… We had problems with…
- Estoy trabajando horas extras. I’m working overtime.
- El proyecto es desafiante. The project is challenging.
- Nuestro equipo está muy ocupado. Our team is very busy.
Staying in contact
- Es un placer conocerlo/la finalmente. It’s a pleasure to finally meet you.
- Tengo ganas de trabajar con usted pronto. I’m looking forward to working with you.
- ¿Me puede dar su tarjeta? May I have one of your business cards?
- Demos seguimiento en unos días. Let’s follow-up in a few days.
- Estarémos en contacto. We’ll be in touch.
- No dudes en contactarme. Don’t hesitate to contact me.
- Espero con interés su respuesta. I look forward to your response.
- Gracias por su respuesta. Thank you for your response.
Scheduling a meeting
- La reunión comenzará a la/a las X. The meeting will start at X.
- Me gustaría reunirme con usted mañana. I’d like to meet with you tomorrow.
- Vamos a agendar una reunión. Let’s schedule a meeting.
- Van a reunirse mañana para recibir una actualización. They will meet tomorrow to get an update.
- Confirmó su asistencia. He/she confirmed attendance.
- ¿Podrías reservar la sala de conferencias? Could you reserve the conference room?
Discussing items in a meeting
- Vamos a asegurar que estemos en lo mismo plan. Let’s make sure we’re on the same page.
- No inventemos el agua azucarada. Let’s not reinvent the wheel.
- Me gustaría presentar el proyecto. I would like to present the project.
- Tienes la palabra. You have the floor.
- Estoy de acuerdo. I agree.
- No comparto tu opinión. I don’t share your opinion
- Se trató de un pequeño malentendido. It was a small misunderstanding
- ¿Cuándo firmamos el contrato? When do we sign the contract/agreement?
- ¡No te preocupes, todo está arreglado! Don’t worry, everything is settled!
- ¿Puedes dar una actualización del proyecto? Can you give a project update?
- ¿Estamos en camino de completar el próximo hito? Are we on track to complete the next milestone?
- Hagámoslo breve. Let’s keep it short.
Spanish for Business Verbs
In addition to business Spanish phrases, here are some verbs that you may hear often at work. To use these correctly, you should make sure to conjugate the verb according to the situation.
- Estar liado – to be tied up
- Enviar un correo – to send an email
- Desarrollar un plan – to develop a plan
- Colaborar – to collaborate
- Dar seguimiento – to follow-up
- Llegar a un acuerdo – to reach an agreement
- Subir la barra – to raise the bar
- Empezar de cero – to start from scratch
- Profundizar – to do a deep dive
- Quedarse dentro del presupuesto – to stay within budget
- Dar luz verde – to give the green light
- Generar rentabilidad – to turn a profit
- Administrar el proyecto – to manage the project
- Asistir a una reunión – to attend a meeting
- Dirigir la reunión – to direct the meeting
- Entregar – to deliver
Spanish for Business Nouns
Finally, to wrap up our business Spanish guide, here is a shortlist of top nouns that you’ll likely need to know.
- Lluvia de ideas – brainstorming
- Bien hecho – well done
- Fecha de entrega – deadline
- Lo antes posible – ASAP
- Entregables – deliverables
- Los valores corporativos – corporate values
- La planificación – planning
- La retroalimentación – feedback
Ultimately, learning Spanish for business can take time. While there are no shortcuts to getting to fluency, you can use these smart learning strategies to get a solid foundation in business Spanish. By combining our tips for the office and home, as well as practicing our list of phrases, you’re sure to improve your Spanish for business ASAP. Or shall we say lo antes posible?