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10 Spanish Phrases Parents Must Learn to Communicate with Their Bilingual Nanny

Posted on by Erin | in Nannies

As an increasing number of workers in the private childcare industry are bilingual, many parents are discovering a need to become passably fluent in Spanish themselves in the interest of simplifying communication. Additionally, learning a bit of Spanish allows parents to reinforce any second language skills that they’ve acquired from time spent with their predominantly-Spanish speaking nanny. If your childcare provider’s Spanish language skills are much stronger than her English ones, here are 10 phrases that can help everyday communication a bit easier.

  1. “Repita, por favor.” – Whether you’re speaking Spanish with your nanny and her speed in her native tongue makes it difficult for you to comprehend what she’s saying, or her accent and pronunciation of a particular English word is hard to make out, there will inevitably come a time when one of you will have to ask the other to “Repeat, please.”
  2. “Yo no entiendo.” – Sometimes one of you will have to say, “I don’t understand,” in acknowledgment of a difficulty in communicating or understanding one another’s intentions. This simple phrase can help to prevent a number of misconceptions or misunderstandings before they start.
  3. “Me olvidé’ – Harried working parents with tight schedules and little downtime can be justifiably absentminded from time to time. Letting your nanny know that something slipped your mind by using the Spanish equivalent of “I forgot,” especially if you’ve forgotten something important, is a great way to get her attention and be sure that she understands your flub completely.
  4. “¿Entiende usted?” – Even if your nanny is strongly bilingual, learning the intricacies and similes of a second language is sometimes tough. Ensuring
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    that she understands her instructions or responsibilities for the day by using her native language to ask the question can help stave off mishaps born from miscommunications.

  5. “¡Escríbalo, Por Favor!” – When pronunciation is garbled or difficult to make out, being able to read what your nanny is trying to say can be very beneficial. If you’re still having trouble deciphering an unfamiliar word after she’s written it down, being able to see the exact spelling can help you look the word up in a Spanish to English dictionary or on an online translating service.
  6. “Regreso En Un Momentito.” – Quick trips to run errands or even popping into the next room for a bit still require some kind of explanation to your kids’ caregiver; if you expect to return momentarily, letting your nanny know that you’ll
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    “be right back” or being able to understand the phrase when she uses it can be helpful.

  7. “Estoy Buscando A Juan” – Kids like to slip away to hide in strange places and to generally strike terror in the hearts of their caregivers and parents. Being able to quickly and confidently share news that you’re looking for a particular child can help you and your nanny speed the process and find the tiny escapee.
  8. “¿Qué haces?” – Every person, regardless of culture or language, has their own way of accomplishing certain tasks. If your nanny’s way is different from your own and you’re curious, or vice versa, being able to ask “what are you doing” without struggle can help you both understand each other.
  9. “¿Qué Quiere Decir ‘___’ En Inglés?” – Learning Spanish is likely to be just as difficult for you as learning English was for your nanny, so you’re sure to have questions from time to time about translations and proper usage. “How do I say ____ in English?” is the quickest way to ask your nanny for help in this area.
  10. “¿Cómo Se llama a Esto En Español?” – Just as you’ll need to know how to translate Spanish words into English, you’ll also need to be able to do the opposite. Asking how to say something in Spanish when you have doubts is an effective way of enlisting the help of your nanny and polishing your second language skills.

Investing in a Spanish to English dictionary, phrase book, or Smartphone app can help you navigate conversational obstacle courses with your bilingual nanny, as the needs and demands of your individual household will likely create the need to refer back to such aides. Keep in mind that speaking more slowly might help your nanny understand you better, but increasing your volume does absolutely nothing productive unless she’s also hard of hearing. Maintain a casual, conversational tone to avoid further misunderstandings or create the impression that you’re angry.

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2 Responses to 10 Spanish Phrases Parents Must Learn to Communicate with Their Bilingual Nanny

  1. Melanie Edwards - Ella Media & says:

    While it’s appreciated that you’re trying to help the communication between a parent and a nanny, there are several issues with this. To begin, I will list two that are blatantly obvious:

    1) If the nanny is bilingual, then there’s probably no need to communicate in Spanish, as English will be understood.

    2) The Spanish phrases provided seem short-tempered and will be perceived as insulting and offensive. While the translation may be correct (for most, some need work), the tense and tone comes across as aggressive.

  2. Michelle says:

    Hi there,
    Thanks for your thoughtful comments and concerns about the article. While bilingual nannies may be bilingual in English and Spanish, or two other languages, in my experience, it seems that nannies appreciate their employers making an effort to communicate in their first language. We surely hope that employers would make any attempts to communicate in a kind and gentle manner and we understand that in electronic communication the intended tone isn’t always conveyed. If you’d like to help update the article to better reflect our intention, we’d love that!
    -Michelle LaRowe

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