Duke Wiki  logo
Child pages
  • Learning Spanish
Skip to end of metadata
Go to start of metadata

Each meeting we will be reviewing vocabulary that is pertinent to our project and will be useful to know before traveling to El Salvador.  The words we review will be added to this page. 

Week 1:

El cruce del rio - river crossing

Anchura - width

La elevacion - height

El alcalde - mayor

La seguridad - safety

Los fondos - funds

El puente - footbridge

La plaza - plaza (town square)

El mercado - market

El nivel de inundacion - flood level

Resistente - sturdy

La propiedad - ownership

El trabajador calificado - skilled worker

As discussed in our last meeting, the primary source for learning Spanish will be through Rosetta Stone. A trial version of the software can be attained from the library. If you wish to continue past the trial, contact Mitchel at mdg16@duke.edu.

El Salvador Culture 101: A brief overview of Salvadorian culture and customs

Ethnic Makeup/ Language:

¿ El Salvador is primarily made up of three ethnic group Mestizos, which is a combination of Europeans and Indians, Indian and European.
¿ El Salvador is densely populated.
¿ Virtually all of its land is under cultivation.
¿ Although the country was once a site of Mayan civilization, the vast majority of Salvadorans are Mestizo and the indigenous languages are rarely spoken and virtually disappeared after the 1930s.
¿ Almost all residents speak Spanish, which was brought in by the conquistadors. However, Some remnants of the indigenous language remain in everyday Salvadoran Spanish.


¿ About half the population lives below the national poverty line, able to buy food but not clothing and medicine. Over half of these families live in a situation of extreme poverty. Forty-seven percent of the population does not have access to clean water.

House Structure:

¿ Rural houses are typically made of adobe, with a large front porch where people spend most of their time when at home. The insides of houses are used mainly for sleeping and storage, and families of seven or eight people may live in one or two small rooms.
¿ Urban houses built during the colonial period typically have outdoor space in the middle of the house, making family life more private.
¿ Many of the poorest families have houses made of discarded materials such as cardboard and sheet metal.

Family Life:

¿ A marriage performed in a church is considered irreversible, and many people wait until they have children to marry.
¿ The domestic unit generally consists of a couple and their children, although other relatives also may live in the household.
¿ The extended family is very important in the national culture.
¿ Children are expected to show "respect" to their elders.
¿ Basic education is common until age thirteen, but half the children ages six to sixteen in the poorest families do not attend school. Nine of ten children of the richest families attend school, and a quarter go on to study at a university.
¿ El Salvador is 75 percent Roman Catholic but has a growing Protestant movement.


¿ The Salvadorian constitution provides for a representative government with three independent branches: executive, legislative, and judicial.
¿ The president is popularly elected and is limited to a single five-year term.


¿ During the Civil War, women began to take leadership positions outside the home. Many even became combatants.
¿ Families headed by women often live in extreme poverty.


¿ Most Western-trained doctors who work in clinics and hospitals are located in the metropolitan areas.
¿ Rural - most health issues are dealt with by health promoters or midwives who receive some training through some organization.
¿ Salvadorans often treat themselves with modern medicine.
¿ There are traditional remedies for some folk illnesses.


¿ Corn - thick tortillas that are eaten at every meal and also are served as tamales and in a thick corn drink called atol. Small red beans.
¿ Fruits and vegetables: mango, papaya, tamarind, oranges, bananas, watermelon, cucumber, lettuce, tomatoes, and radish.
¿ Rice, eggs, chicken, pork, beef, fish and seafood, and some game.
¿ Coffee is the most common drink, along with highly sugared fruit drinks.

The Arts:
¿ Literature:
o modern Salvadoran literature has focused on Salvadorian hisory. The country suffers from a lack of publishing facilities.
¿ Visual Arts:
o The village of LaPalma is famous for a school of art started by Fernando Llort, where students learn how to make a living thorugh the arts.
o The town of Ilobasco is known for its ceramics.
o San Sebastián is known for its textile art.
¿ Music:
o Most popular music in El Salvador is from the US, Mexico, and various Latin American countries
o There is a small underground movement of folk music that draws its inspiration from current events in El Salvador.

Customs, etc:

¿ Currency is the US Dollar
¿ Salvadoran women often pat each other on the right forearm or shoulder instead of shaking hands.
¿ Close friends hug and kiss on the right cheek, regardless of gender.
¿ Men shake hands with other men and with women, but they wait for the woman to extend her hand.
¿ Sometimes, only close friends and family use first names.
¿ It is rude to leave immediately after eating; guests are expected to stay for at least an hour after dinner.
¿ Never arrive on time when invited to a home. Most arrive 30 - 45 minutes late.
¿ It is considered polite to leave a small amount of food on your plate when you have finished eating.

  • No labels