Password for upper level classes this week:

♦  “Allí donde fueres, haz lo que vieres.”  ♦

Word-for-word translation: “There where you may go [at sometime in the future], do that which you may see [at some time in the future].”  Smoother translation: “Wherever you go, do what you see.”  A saying with a similar idea in English is, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” or simply “When in Rome…”  

Using this expression as a password works in an upper level Spanish class on a number of levels:

• It is an authentic historical Spanish saying

• It is simple

• It uses high frequency vocabulary

• It is linguistically interesting in that it uses the almost extinct future subjunctive, which is seldom included in modern grammar resources like Barron’s 501 Spanish Verbs.

• It is valuable advice for travelers, particularly Americans, who have a reputation for not always trying to fit in to new culture when traveling.

It is important for our students to internalize the idea in this saying. I tell them that when you are a guest in another country, it is only courteous to try to fit in with the culture and partake of the local customs and language–it makes the experience so much more memorable and enjoyable for you and it honors your hosts in the country. You can often create enormous good will by eating the local food, respecting the local customs and by using the local language.

I let my students know that I try to live out this saying when I travel. On a recent trip to Korea, the people were visibly pleased to see me eating with the unique flat metal chopsticks used there, eating only Korean food, learning to bow appropriately, giving and receiving items with both hands as a sign of respect, and using the Korean language whenever I could.

This old Spanish expression also uses two verbs in the future subjunctive: fueres and vieres. This tense is no longer used commonly in modern Spanish but it still shows up in literature, in legal documents and in old, respected expressions like this one. My students are better off for having learned it.

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