Bradley Hartmann is El Presidente of Red Angle (www.redanglespanish.com), a Spanish language training firm focused exclusively on the construcción industry. Hartmann has been successful improving Safety, Productivity and Profitability by speaking Spanish on the jobsite. Hartmann lived in Guadalajara, México during his undergraduate studies and later earned his MBA. Hartmann also teaches Construction Spanish at Purdue University’s Building Construction Management Program. He has authored 2 books - Spanish Twins: Start Speaking Spanish on the Construction Site with Words You Already Know and Safety Spanish: Simple Spanish Skills for Solving Safety Problems. Hartmann would love to hear your thoughts digitally at firstname.lastname@example.org or verbally at 630.234.7321.
Why has high school Spanish failed so many students?
Let’s face it - foreign language failure is acceptable in America today. Yes, I know it’s a requirement in high schools, but the vast majority of students fail to carry any real usable language skills into the real world.
This phenomena is known as Cool Hand Luke Syndrome (CHLS).
“What we have here… is a failure to communicate.”
So true, Captain. The failure to communicate started in the classroom and now impacts our ability to communicate effectively with the fastest growing demographic in the country - Hispanics.
Cool Hand Luke Syndrome affects 97.8% of all former foreign language students (Source: unknown). Below are some of the hallmarks of someone with Cool Hand Luke Syndrome:
Despite at least one year of study, your active Spanish vocabulary consists largely of swear words and the Taco Bell menu.
You received passing grades for a Spanish class despite the inability to actually talk to someone in Spanish.
You memorized several irregular Spanish verbs, but can now say one form of Ir (to go), “Come on, vámonos! Everybody let’s go!” from Dora the Explorer.
If you have Cool Hand Luke Syndrome, don’t fret. It’s not your fault. You are a product of a broken system. The Good News: your Spanish language disabilities can be reversed.
The cure is in the cause.
If you have CHLS, your Spanish content failed you in three ways:
So now you know what CHLS is and how you got it, let’s cure it.
We start with PUEDE (PWAY-day) which means “Can you.”
We’ll use it like we do in English to say:
- Can you move...
- Can you install...
- Can you throw away...
We call this the Puede Payday (see image at the top for visualization) because once you lock this in, your Payday comes everyday. And it’s far more desirable than high fructose corn syrup, nuts, caramel, and nougat.
PUEDE (PWAY-day) Can you
Think of the Puede Payday.
Now we’ll cover 3 verbs.
Don’t worry - no conjugation required here.
We will install it right behind our pal Puede.
1. MOVER (moh-BAYR) To move
2. INSTALAR (een-stah-LAHR) To install
3. TIRAR (tee-RAHR) To throw away
MOVER :: to move
Take your English Move and add an R.
INSTALAR :: to install
Take your English Install, drop an L and add an AR.
TIRAR :: to throw away
OK, so you have to think a little here, but not much.
TIRAR and Throw away both begin with T, right?
Think about calling a “T” when you see garbage on the jobsite.
So now we have:
- Puede mover :: Can you move...
- Puede instalar :: Can you install...
- Puede tirar :: Can you throw away...
Relevant, timely and memorable, eh?
One last addition is the word Lo.
Lo means "it." Lo works perfectly with an extended index finger, pointing at something.
Puede moverlo :: Can you move it?
Puede instalarlo :: Can you install it?
Puede tirarlo :: Can you throw it away?
I dare you to try these out today.
Just because Cool Hand Luke dies due to a failure of communication, it doesn’t mean you have to.