A few pronunciation tipsThe first thing to remember is the Spanish words are said exactly as they are written, which simplifies things considerably. Vowels only have one sound each, while the 'h' is never sounded. So 'Hablo español' (I speak Spanish) is pronounced 'ablo español'. Spanish also carries an extra letter 'ñ' which is sounded similar to the English suffix 'ni'. So 'España' sounds like 'Espania' and 'español' sounds like 'espaniol'.
Spanish may be spoken in many countries around the world but pronunciation and vocabulary both vary wildly depending on where you are. In Spain itself, it can be challenging to get to grips with how 'gi/ce' and 'ci/ce' sounds are made, but things are simplified in places like Argentina and Mexico where English influence from the US has steadily worn away these sounds. You may also be familiar with the trilled r sound that is used at the start of words beginning with r and where the double r is used. Give it a try but don't stress out if you can't manage it as people will still understand you.
Let's learn some phrases!Basics
The following phrases are usable in the vast majority of Spanish-speaking countries.
¡Hola! - Hello!
¿Qué tal? - How are you? (Informal)
¿Cómo estás? - How are you? (Formal)
Muy bien, gracias - Very well, thank you.
No hablo español - I don't speak Spanish
¿Hablas inglés? - Do you speak English?
Me gustaría eso - I would like that.
Me llamo… - My name is...
¿Cómo te llamas? - What is your name?
Vale - OK.
La cuenta, por favor - The bill, please.
¿Dónde está el baño? - Where is the bathroom?
¿Cuanto es? - How much?
¿Tienes una mesa? - Do you have a table?
¿Puedo tener un menú? - Could I have a menu?
¿Tienes…? - Do you have… ?
Remember that no matter how bad you sound, people will be grateful for your efforts in trying their language. Such encounters can be a great icebreaker and you'll likely get a smile and better service for your trouble.
¡Buena suerte! (Good luck!)