Useful Spanish Phrases For Volunteering Abroad in South America

An important thing to keep in mind if you are planning to volunteer abroad in South America is that you will need to brush up on your Spanish if you do not already speak it fluently. Some people you encounter may be able to speak English, but for the most part it is courteous to at least speak some conversational Spanish. This is especially important when you are participating in a MEDLIFE Service Learning Trip. Whether you are working in one of our Mobile Clinics, on a Reality Tour, or working hand-in-hand with a local community on a development project, knowledge of common Spanish phrases will allow you to communicate and connect better with our staff and community members.


Here are some common Spanish phrases that may come in handy while you are on a Service Learning Trip:


Hola – Hello

Buenos dias – Good morning

Buenas tardes – Good afternoon

Buenas noches – Good evening

¿Cómo está? – How are you?

Bien – Good

Me llamo _____ – My name is ______

Soy de los Estados Unidos – I am from the United States

Adiós – Goodbye


Por favor – Please

Muchas gracias – Thank you

De nada – You’re welcome

Disculpe – Excuse me

Lo siento – Sorry

Si – Yes

No – No

Quizas – Maybe

No lo entiendo – I don’t understand

Common Phrases in the Mobile Clinics

Termómetro – Thermometer

Balanza – Scale

Talla – Height

Presión – Pressure

Pararse – To stand

Sígueme – Follow me

Espera – Wait

Respirar – To breathe

Manga – Sleeve

Silla – Chair

Boca – Mouth

Brazo – Arm

Pierna – Leg

Pararse – To stand

Sentarse – To sit

If you are looking for ways to learn and practice Spanish before you volunteer in South America with MEDLIFE, resources like Duolingo, Lingopie, and Babbel are excellent online sources to help you gain more confidence in your Spanish skills. There are also countless resources on Youtube that are incredibly helpful and specific to your needs.

If you are interested in joining an upcoming Service Learning Trip with MEDLIFE, you can visit our website to learn more about the locations we work in and our mission.


Hear it From MEDLIFErs

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Reya Seby
Western University

This trip motivated me more to pursue a career in the healthcare field so that I can use my resources to help those who need it the most, similar to MEDLIFE’s mission.

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Victoria DiCanio
University of Connecticut

It was most enjoyable to finish the hard work and see how big a difference a group of individuals can make. It was such an amazing experience.

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Anita Woo
University of Toronto

I enjoyed the mobile clinics the most, especially the dental and triage portions. I would definitely recommend a MEDLIFE trip, it was a great experience.

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David Saff
Maclay High School

The most enjoyable part of my trip was hanging out with the amazing group of kids I was with. I would highly recommend a MEDLIFE volunteer trip to others.

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Sydney Sansone
Nova Southeastern University

This trip made everything that I was learning in my public health courses come to life and immersed me in a new culture while also learning about medicine.

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Abygail Youmans
College of Charleston

Being involved with MEDLIFE is not like joining another club - its bigger than that. It is about joining a movement that seeks to help change people’s quality of life for forever.

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Emi Hofmann
University of Central Florida

Not only was I able to participate in a week long Mobile Clinic, shadowing doctors of all types of specialties including pharmacy, dentistry, gynecology, and more, but I was also able to learn about the culture and visit incredible places.

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Julian Takagi-Stewart
University of Toronto

One thing that I really loved about this trip was that MEDLIFE made sure that the volunteers got an understanding of the complexity of issues that lead to underprivileged people in communities outside of the main city

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Hannah Van Hofwegen
University of Ottawa

Whether it was basketball with the local kids, assisting the doctors, talking with families, building washrooms, holding babies, or spending time with the people who were on the SLT with me, this was an amazing opportunity that I would do over and over again.

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Isabelle Holt
Cornell University

I loved learning about the patients MEDLIFE has followed and how they offer real help to people with chronic/urgent conditions. It is amazing how the organization formed real connections with the communities.

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Valerie Lindeborg

Our family had the privilege of participating in multiple trips with Nick [founder] and his amazing staff. Their expertise made the trips unforgettable while instilling in my boys the fundamentals of good character: selflessness, compassion, and empathy.

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Harry Vildibill
University of Georgia

As an aspiring physician, MEDLIFE motivated me to further continue my goal of becoming a doctor. In fact, I enjoyed the Tanzania Service Learning Trip so much that I decided to go on another trip to Cusco, Peru.