Discussing Common Cultural Practices in Spanish-Speaking Countries

Instructor: Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo

Yolanda holds a CELTA Cambridge, a Juris Doctorate, and a Master of Public Administration. She is a published author of fiction in Spanish.

The Spanish-speaking world is very rich and diverse in terms of cultural practices. However, there are some common cultural practices that you can learn about and discuss by using the vocabulary this lesson gives you.

What Are Cultural Practices?

Think about your community. Do people usually go to art galleries? What festivals do they celebrate? What food do most people prefer? Cultural practices are very broad as they include daily life customs regarding food, music, and ways to communicate. Also, events that people in a community celebrate at specific times of the year are also part of cultural practices. In Spanish, the term 'cultural practices' simply translates as la cultura (lah kool-TOO-rah) to refer to the wide range of aspects that characterize the Spanish-speaking world. While each country is different and even each city and neighborhood has its own cultura, this lesson explores the common cultural practices in the Spanish-speaking countries. Let's get started.

Common Cultural Practices

So that you can easily learn some vocabulary related to common cultural practices in Spain and Latin America, we look at different topics. Within each topic, we learn from a native speaker to see how Spanish speakers express their cultural customs. Also, since we learn about 'practices,' the vocabulary in this lesson includes verbs.

Family, Friends, and Religion

Here are some common cultural practices that have to do with family and religion, which is la familia y la religión (lah fah-MEE-leeah ee lah reh-lee-hee-OHN). Of course, keep in mind that the Spanish-speaking world is changing rapidly because new generations have different interests. In addition, not everyone in the Spanish-speaking world takes part into the following cultural practices.

  • reunirse con la familia (reh-oo-NEER-seh kohn lah fah-MEE-leeah): get together with family
  • almorzar en familia (ahl-mohr-SAHR ehn fah-MEE-leeah): have a family lunch (this is still a daily common practice in Latin American countries, particularly in cities that are not so big and where work allows people a two-hour break at noon for lunch)
  • salir con los amigos a comer o a tomar algo (sah-LEER kohn lohs ah-MEE-gohs ah koh-MEHR oh ah toh-MAHR- AHL-goh): to go out with friends to eat or to drink something
  • ir a misa los domingos (eer ah MEE-sah lohs doh-MEEN-gohs): go to mass on Sundays

Translation: Many people in the Spanish-speaking world are used to having lunch with family.
eating

Let's see what Daniela, from Ecuador, says about these cultural practices.

  • En mi país, es muy importante reunirse con la familia al menos una vez por semana. (In my country, it is very important to get together with family at least once a week.) También, es importante almorzar en familia porque así podemos hablar sobre cómo nos va en nuestras actividades. (Also, it is important to have a family lunch because, this way, we can talk about how we are doing with our activities.) Personalmente, me gusta mucho salir con amigos a comer. (Personally, I really like to go out with friends to eat). En mi caso, no tengo la costumbre de ir a misa los domingos pero el resto de mi familia sí va. (In my case, I don't have the habit of going to mass on Sundays, but the rest of family does go.)

Keep in mind these expressions:

  • es muy importante... (it is very important...)
  • no tengo la costumbre de... (I don't have the habit of…)

The Arts

In the Spanish-speaking world, many people have deep interests in a variety of arts, which is las artes (lahs AHR-tehs). Some common cultural practices are:

  • asistir a un concierto de música clásica (ah-sees-TEER ah oon kohn-see-EHR-toh deh MOO-see-kah KLAH-see-kah): to attend a classical music concert
  • ir a un museo (eer ah oon moo-SEH-oh): to go to a museum
  • ver una exposición de pinturas (vehr OO-nah ehks-poh-see-see-OHN deh PEEN-too-rahs): to see a painting exhibition

Now, let's talk to Eduardo and his wife, who love the arts. They are from Mexico.

  • Siempre que hay un evento cultural en la ciudad, mi esposa y yo vamos. (Whenever there is a cultural event in the city, my wife and I go.) Nos encanta asistir a los conciertos de la Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional. (We love attending the concerts by the National Symphony Orchestra.) Además, nos interesa mucho ir a un museo o ver una exposición de pinturas. (In addition, we are very interested in going to a museum or seeing a painting exhibition.)

Keep in mind these expressions:

  • nos encanta... (we love...)
  • nos interesa... (we are interested in...)

Entertainment

Different people in the Spanish-speaking world choose different sources of entertainment, which is el entretenimiento (ehl ehn-treh-teh-nee-mee-EHN-toh). The most common practices are:

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