Unidad 1: Los conceptos que debes saber

2. Comprendiendo la cultura de los países de habla española

a) Estrategia para una comunicación socialmente aceptada en el mundo hispanohablante.

As a language learner your goal is to be able to communicate in the new language with native speakers, be it for work or vacation purposes. To succeed you need to know vocabulary, grammar, phonetics and culture. The language and the culture are intrinsically linked; you cannot speak correctly a language if you don’t understand the culture. Therefore, we need to be able to speak and act according with the cultural rules governing communication among Spanish-speaking countries.

To this end, students should reply to a greeting or farewell by the professor, guests or students. Eating in front of others without sharing is considered disrespectful. For this reason, it is not recommended that you bring food to the classroom if it is just for you.

We may have a strong vocabulary base and a perfect grasp of grammar but if we don’t know the culture we are not able to communicate in a socially correct way. For example, we are very proud to be Americans, but did you know that Brazilians, Mexicans or Cubans also consider themselves Americans? “Canadians” refers to people from Canada who are also Americans. The term American refers to North, Central and South America. The definition of the word “American” is a person that lives on the American continent; and not only in the USA. The misunderstanding is generated because we don’t have a specific word in English for our nationality. In Spanish “estadounidenses” is the name of the nationality for citizens of the USA. As you can imagine, for all the other countries in the American continent it is rude that we don’t recognize them as part of the continent. Each of the countries in the American continent has its own specific name for the nationality. People from Chile are Americans but they are referred to as Chilean or in Spanish “chilenos”.

Another common misunderstanding is to call the Spanish-speaker, Latin (latino/latina). The Latin (latinos) people are all the people that speak any language that is derived from Latin. The Romance Languages such as French, Portuguese, Italian, Romanian, Spanish, Catalan, etc. are all Latin based so the countries that speak these languages are Latin countries too! Hispanic is another term that we frequently use to identify the people that speak Spanish. “Hispania” is a Latin word, the meaning is Spain (España), and this was the name that the Roman Empire gave to Spain many years ago when they ruled. “Hispanic” (Spanish = Español) is the nationality for the people born in Spain. The reason why the Latin people don’t like to be called “Hispanic” is that they were not born in Spain. To avoid misinterpretations, it is better to use the term hispano-hablantes (Spanish-speakers) to refer to all the people that speak Spanish. Given that you are now more culturally aware of the differences, “What do you call yourself in terms of heritage?

Another cultural difference in the Latin world is the number of continents. They recognize only five continents: América as only one continent divided in North America, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America, África, Europa, Asia y Oceanía (Australia and all the islands around).

A black and white graphic of an Earth map.Spanish-speaking countries on the four of the five continents:

  • América:
    • Norteamérica: México.
    • Centro América: Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica y Panamá. El caribe: Cuba, República Dominicana y Puerto Rico.
    • Suramérica: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Perú, Uruguay, Venezuela.
  • Europa: España.
  • África: Guinea Ecuatorial, Ceuta and Melilla (Spanish cities in North Africa).
  • Oceanía: Isla de Pascua.

As we continue to study the Spanish language, we will highlight each of these countries and regions. Gaining familiarity with their location, their capitals and basic information will help you understand the relevance of current events that you hear or read about in the news.

Observa video 2.1.4 para aprender los países hispanohablantes: Países de habla hispana. Take notes about the capital of each one of the countries that has Spanish as the official language.

Observa website 2.1.5 to practice recognizing many of the Spanish speaking country locations in America. This will help you further your knowledge about the countries via practice with games and matching exercises to learn the capitals of each country.

TAREA: Study the Spanish speaking countries and their capitals. In the next class you will be tested about this topic.

After you study the countries and the capitals respond to the following questions.

  1. ¿En qué continente se encuentra Guinea Ecuatorial? _________
  2. ¿Qué país hispanohablante tiene dos capitales? ____________
  3. ¿Qué países hispanohablantes son islas? _________________
  4. ¿En qué región de América se encuentra Paraguay? __________
  5. ¿Qué países se encuentran en Centroamérica? _____________
  6. ¿Son norteamericanos los mexicanos? ___________________
  7. ¿Qué nacionalidad tienen los ciudadanos nacidos en Estados Unidos? _____________
  8. ¿Qué países se encuentran en América del Sur? ___________________________________________
  9. ¿Cuál es la capital de El Salvador? _____________________
  10. ¿Cuántos países hay en América con el español como lengua oficial? ______________

En el mundo hispanohablante los Estados Unidos cuenta con dos abreviaturas: EE.UU. (Estados Unidos) comúnmente utilizado en Europa y E.U.A. (Estados Unidos de Norteamérica). Utilizado en el continente americano.


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Yo puedo: segundos pasos Copyright © by Elizabeth Silvaggio-Adams & Ma. Del Rocío Vallejo-Alegre is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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