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We Want the Airwaves: No Hay Tos

Welcome to We Want the Airwaves. My name is Nia King.


 
Bienvenido a Queremos Los Ondas Del Aire. Me llamo Nia King.
 
This is a very special crossover episode with the Mexican podcast No Hay Tos. The hosts
Hector and Beto interviewed me for their podcast in Spanish and I interviewed them for mine
in English.
 
Este es un episodio “crossover” muy especial con el popular podcast mexicano
"No Hay Tos". Los anfitriones, Hector y Beto, me entrevistaron en español para
dicho espacio, y luego los entrevisté en inglés para "We want the airwaves". 
 
Don’t worry, the rest of this episode will be in English, but first I want to thank the friends
who helped me prepare for my interview in Spanish, which was one of the hardest and scariest
things I’ve ever done.
 
No se preocupe, el resto de este episodio estará en inglés. Quiero aprovechar
para agradecer a los amigos que me ayudaron a prepararme para mi entrevista
en español, una de las cosas más difíciles que he hecho.

Nia: Okay. So, both of you are—Spanish is your first language for both of you, correct?

Héctor: Mmm-hmm, that’s right.

Nia: But, you both speak English and Spanish well enough to teach both. So, I’m hoping to
learn a little more about your language-learning journey. How you got to a place where you
could not only speak both, but teach both. Cause that’s like, I think, much higher level of
proficiency. Héctor, would you like to start?

Héctor: Ahh, you put me on the spot.

Nia: [laughs] I mean, I can—

Héctor: No, I can start. I mean, I started learning English when I was very little. I was maybe
in elementary school. I think my English still has a lot of holes. Like, it’s not perfect. I can
speak it, and people can understand me, but I still have a lot of grammar mistakes, and there’s
a lot of words that I mispronounce.

For me it was, I just took lessons at school, because I went to a private school. And then,
something that happens in Mexico a lot is that people go to English school. Which is after your
regular school. So, maybe you go to school from 7-2, and then after, maybe around four, you
go to take an English class. So, I did that, maybe for a couple of years, and that helped me a
lot. And there was a point where I stopped.
And then I just, you know, I met Beto. And he lived in the US. So, I don’t know, we had this
shared interest in English, I feel, and we would listen to music in English, and watch sitcoms,
and we would talk in English sometimes. And I think that helped me a lot. Really, I think Beto
was a big influence for me to keep in touch with the language. And then there was a point
where I needed a job. And I had lived in Canada before—I mean, maybe I’m going really fast
through the whole—

Nia: No, no, no, está bien.

Héctor: —through the whole thing, I’m just trying to go to the point. But, I lived in Canada. I
had to speak English there, and also French, cause I was in Québec, Montréal. And then when
I came back, I had no idea what to do because I, you know, I didn’t go to college at that time,
yet. And I had a friend who was teaching English. And basically, I applied for the job, and just
because I knew English, they said, “Okay, we can train you to teach.” And they needed people,
so I took a test, and they said I had a good score, and then I started training, and then I just
started teaching. That was basically how I started.

Nia: Awesome. Okay, I know the next question—I know it’s Beto’s turn now, but I have so
many follow-up questions. [laughs]

Beto: For sure, go ahead. You can follow up, yeah.


Nia: Well, first of all, okay. One thing that’s really adorable—I don’t know if you guys know
this—but on your website, there’s like, an English [auto-translate] option. It says you guys are
“two teenage friends.” [laughs]

Beto: Ohh, I didn’t know that.

Nia: Which—yeah, I assume means you met when you were teenagers. Cause you’re—

Beto: Yeah. Because, in Spanish, you say amigos de adolescencia. I guess if you translate it
literally, we’re teenage friends. [laughs]

Nia: [laughs]

Beto: We met when we were teenagers. Actually, I think I was, like, twelve years old when we
met. So, I wasn’t probably even a teenager, but—

Nia: But, you guys are both in your early 30s now?

Beto: Early 30s, yeah. Early 30s.

Nia: So, how did you meet, if, Beto, you were in the States and Héctor, you were in Mexico?

Beto: Well, my family returned to Mexico in 2001. And so, I was in sixth grade. And then,
when I went to middle school, that was the same school that my brother was in, and also
Héctor. So, he introduced us. Cause he said, “hey, these two guys, they both like music, they’re
both—I don’t know, they’re similar. They’re both kind of like, introverted.”

Héctor: [laughs]
Beto: Yeah. They both play guitar. So, he introduced us, actually.

Nia: Oh, okay. I was about to ask, Héctor, if you play music. Because I can see Beto’s drum kit
in the back.

Héctor: Yeah, I mean, I don’t play—I think Beto’s more of a musician than I am. Cause, I
mean, I played a lot of music when we were in high school.

Beto: Yeah.

Héctor: But then, you know, afterwards, when I was in Canada, I played a little bit, and then
I stopped. And now I still—I mean, I have instruments with me, but I don’t play as much. It’s
just a hobby, but honestly, I don’t put too much effort into it. But, I like music. Yeah, I love
music.

Nia: Well, I understand. I’m a drummer, and I live in an apartment, so [laughs] I can’t play.
Que pena. Okay. So, you met in high school, or in sixth grade.

Beto: Well, middle school. I was in seventh grade, yeah.

Nia: And that’s when you said your family came back to Mexico, when you were in the sixth
grade.

Beto: Yep. Correct.

Nia: And, Héctor, for some reason I thought that you had moved to Canada for university.

Héctor: No.

Nia: You just moved with your family?

Héctor: No, I moved there because I didn’t know what to do. Honestly, it was a—I just didn’t
know if I should go to college or not. My sister was living in Canada at the time. She was like,
“hey, you know, just come here, and you’ll figure it out later.” And that’s what I did. And when
I was there, I mean, my intention was to eventually study.

But, to be honest, it’s really expensive if you’re a foreign student, and you want to go to college
or university, whatever. It’s expensive. So I was like, “No, this is not gonna work out.” I just
worked, and eventually I came back to Mexico. And when I came back to Mexico, I did
eventually go to college. In my 20s. I was probably like 23, 24, when I started college.

Nia: And yeah, Beto, you already mentioned that you grew up partially in the US. And I think
I know, from listening to your podcast, that that’s where you picked up English. You came to
the US when you were, like, six, is that right?

Beto: I was six years old, yeah. No. Yeah, six. Six years old. And I lived in northern Florida.
So, I mean for me, I lived in Florida for about six years. When I was a kid, elementary school.
So, that’s really easy to learn a language, when you’re in elementary school. And, plus, where I
lived, there wasn’t a lot of Hispanics. I was always the only Hispanic guy in class.

So, it was—I hated it at the time, cause it was really difficult. But, now, looking back, I’m kinda
grateful that that was my situation. Cause I learned English, I mean, I was forced to speak
English for six years of my life. And, so yeah, I guess I kind of cheated. It was free, I learned it
for free. By immersion.

Nia: Yeah, you learned it by force, essentially. [laughs]

Beto: Yeah. By force. Which, I mean, did have its challenges, but—

Nia: I’m sure.

Beto: But I’m happy that’s how—yeah.

Nia: It sounds like learning to swim by being held underwater. [laughs]

Beto: Yeah, that’s a good analogy. I did have one Peruvian friend, Sebastián. But only in the
fourth, fifth grade, probably. So, yeah. It was just English, English, always.

Nia: I know this is a slight tangent, but we’ve just been talking about race on the other
podcast [laughs] because that’s all I talk about. But, you mentioned—you described yourself
as Hispanic, do you prefer this word to Latino? Does it make a difference to either of you, do
you have a preference?

Beto: Uhh, yeah, no preference. I mean, same for me. Hispanic, Latino, yeah.

Héctor: I don’t think there’s a preference. Either way.

Nia: Okay, that’s interesting. Because I feel like the—I don’t know, these words are, like, hotly
debated in the United States. Which, maybe you already know. But, I’ve heard, for example,
the Afro-Cuban [Joamette Gil] artist that I mentioned talked about Hispanic as sort of putting
the emphasis on the European aspect of the heritage, rather than the Indigenous.

Beto and Héctor: Ohhhh.

Nia: But, I don’t know. Or, I guess, Hispanic includes Latino, but Latino does not necessarily
include people from the Iberian peninsula, right?

Héctor: Spain.

Beto: Yeah, that’s true, because a Spaniard could be Hispanic, but not Latino. Yeah, that’s
true.

Héctor: Yeah.

Nia: Anyway, sorry. That was a tangent. So, yeah, north Florida. Unfortunately, not the most
diverse part of Florida.
Beto: No.

Nia: Cause if you had been in south, probably a lot more Spanish speakers.

Beto: Yeah. But then I probably wouldn’t even have learned English. I don’t know. Because I
went to Miami once, and everybody was just like ¡Hola! ¡Pásale! ¿Como está? ¡Ven a comer
aquí! And I was like, “What? Is this the US? Is this America? Where am I?” And then I went to
Texas, and I was like, okay, this is a pretty big country. That was more Mexican, of course.
Texas is almost, like, Mexico. Southern Texas, especially. Gainesville, Florida.

Nia: Oh yeah, I know Gainesville.

Beto: That’s where I lived.

Nia: So, you went to Texas before you went back to Mexico? Or, it was later in life?

Beto: Yeah, we drove from Gainesville to Veracruz, which is where I was living before I went
to the US. So, we went to New Orleans, Houston, San Antonio. I think, what else? Yeah, I
think that’s it. Those were the main cities. It’s like a road trip.

Nia: Yeah. An epic, epic gulf road trip. So, what made you guys want to become teachers in
the first place?

Héctor: I think for me it was, I just needed a job. And honestly, I think it’s one of those jobs
that, it pays a little better than your average first job.

Nia: Teaching English was your first job?

Héctor: That was my first job in Mexico.

Nia: Okay.

Héctor: Cause before, I worked in Canada. That’s where I first started working. And then,
you know, I got a job here when I came back from Canada, and yeah, I mean, for me it was the
better option. Cause otherwise, you know, maybe I could probably work in a hotel. Or, when I
was in Canada, I worked in restaurants. Doing dishwashing, or some assistant cooking. Stuff
like that. And those are very demanding jobs. They take so many hours, and it’s like, you gotta
be moving all the time.

And I was like, no man, I don’t wanna do that anymore. So I said like, okay, teaching sounds
better. Even though I had never taught before, and I gotta be in front of people, and maybe
explain things. And it could be kids, or it could be adults, or teenagers. I mean, it still sounded
better than doing something more physical.

Nia: Yeah, I have worked food service before, I know. Anything sounds better than being on
your feet all day and covered in food. [laughs]
Héctor: [laughs] Yeah, no. I mean, when you’re a teacher, you gotta be on your feet the
whole day, too. Or, maybe, I don’t know, like, as many hours that you have to work. But, still,
it was a little more comfortable.

Nia: Yeah. So, you were teaching English in a classroom before—I know you both as teachers
on italki, but were you both teaching in person before you started teaching online?

Héctor: I started doing it, like, maybe, five, six years before I started teaching online. Maybe
a little more, like, seven years. And, I don’t know, Beto.

Beto: Yeah, same. I mean, I never taught group lessons. I was doing one-on-one with like,
business executives in Veracruz. But, I hated it. I like teaching, but I like being able to choose
my own students. I like being able to say, no, look, this is not a good fit, I don’t wanna teach
you [laughs] I like having my own freedom. I don’t like having a boss. I hate it. That’s another
thing, so yeah.

Nia: Yeah. I guess, you both described yourself as introverts. And so, I’m curious, standing in
front of a classroom… sounds horrible. [laughs]

Beto: Yeah. I have never done that.

Nia: Right, right. Yeah, this question is for Héctor. [laughs] But, I guess like, how did you get
over that fear?

Héctor: I just did it. I mean, I didn’t even think about it. I mean, obviously I thought about it
a lot, and the first year, the first six months, the first twelve months, they were really hard.
Like, cause I didn’t know anything, and sometimes teenagers, they can be tough and—

Nia: [laughs] Yes.

Héctor: I mean, to be honest, it’s weird, but I feel like if you know what you’re doing, if you
know what you’re gonna explain, and these people don’t know—it’s like, you’re basically
teaching them how to speak, a lot of times. Some of them don’t know any English. There’s
people in Mexico that don’t know any English at all.

Beto: Yeah.

Héctor: We didn’t have that experience, but, so—once you know and they don’t know, that
gives you a little more confidence, I feel. You know where to take them, or what to say, in a
way. So, it’s not—I’m not trying to impress you, or anything. I’m trying to teach you the way,
I’m trying to help you.

Beto: Help you.

Héctor: Yeah. Help you walk. Or, whatever, crawl first. So, I think that gives me a little more
confidence to be in front of people. But, if I were to, I don’t know, like, do a presentation about
something with a hundred people, or something like that, it would be a different story.
Nia: Yeah. No, that totally makes sense. I think it’s important to remember that to teach, you
don’t have to know everything. You just have to know more than the people you’re teaching.
[laughs]

Héctor: Yes.

Nia: Okay. So, we’re established that you, well, we haven’t, but I think it’s implied that you
both started teaching long before you started podcasting, correct?

Héctor: Mmm-hmm.

Beto: Oh, yeah.

Nia: So, what made you want to start the podcast?

Beto: Uh, I think we noticed there was a gap in the Spanish learning resources thing. Because
people were sounding like—well, we have had hundreds of students, probably. Thousands of
lessons. And we were like, okay, most people don’t know—I mean, they sound kinda like
textbooks, like Spanish textbooks, and they’re using a lot of words from peninsular Spanish.
Because that’s what they teach you, I guess, in the US, maybe until recently, that’s all you
learned. “Barthelona,” and that kind of pronounciation. [laughs] And we were like, that’s cool.
We like that accent, but—a classic example: Some American guy who’s telling you, okay, my
gardener is Mexican, and I don’t understand what he’s saying, he’s like saying, la madre,
pendejo, cabrón—

Nia: [laughs]

Beto: And he’s like, what is that, I don’t know. I mean, I learned jostia, and tío, and I think
there would be a lot of people interested in learning how Mexicans talk. Not formally, just
informally, normal people in Mexico. Uses of la madre, chinga tu madre, me vale madres, or
—et cetera. That’s how we got the idea. We actually, originally, wanted to make a course. Just
a normal ten-day course or something. But then we decided that’s gonna be too difficult. You
gotta do video production, and lighting, and editing—

Nia: Which you’re already doing, because you have a Youtube channel, no? [laughs]

Beto: We’re doing it now, three years later. Now we’re doing video. But, we said, you know,
audio would be better, we don’t have to show our faces, we don’t have to look good for the
camera. And yeah, that’s how we started. And then we said, you know what, why don’t we just
record all this on video? Why don’t we post all of this on Youtube as well? And people seemed
to like it. They were like, yeah yeah yeah yeah. They told us the mouth movements, they like to
see exactly how we’re saying words. So, yeah. Now that’s a new thing we do. Youtube. Yeah.

Nia: How long have you guys been podcasting now?

Beto: Probably four years?

Héctor: Mmm-hmm.
Beto: Yeah, four years.

Nia: Nice. Yeah, I’m glad you spoke on that, cause I’ve definitely noticed like—I don’t know, I
think it’s really problematic that we only learn, that in the US you mostly learn Spanish from
Spain. Because, first of all, it’s only a small part of the Spanish-speaking world, it’s also like,
not the closest part, you know? [laughs]

Beto: Not at all the closest part.

Nia: And yeah, I definitely wonder if, I don’t know, if sounding like a Spaniard might kinda
make someone sound stuck up in Latin America. I don’t know if there’s a cultural connotation
there.

Beto: I don’t know. That would be really weird. To hear an American with a Spaniard accent
in Mexico. [laughs] You never hear that. But it might sound kinda stuck up.

Héctor: I think people don’t really care about the accent you have, but they could be—maybe
there are words that—cause we use different words for the same thing.

Nia: Yes.

Héctor: So, some things, some interactions could be a little confusing.

Beto: Yeah, especially with words coger, or culo. I mean, culo means butt in Spain. You could
just say culo. But in Mexico it’s more, kind of offen—

Nia: It means ass.

Beto: It means ass. But, you wouldn’t say culo in front of a child. But in Spain, they would do.
Yeah, el culo, or la caca.

[laughter]

Beto: We just don’t do it.

Nia: Yeah. No, it’s super—I think one of the hardest things about learning Spanish is that you
use the same word for different things in different countries. You know, una fresa, it could be
a strawberry, it could be a rich person. But apparently, I think, in Argentina, strawberry is like
frutilla. Or, like—yeah, I don’t know, there’s a bunch of words that mean different things in
different countries. So you’re just like, rolling the dice. [laughs]

Beto: Yeah, you really are. I had a student who told me, hey, I didn’t know the word pendejo
meant child in Argentina.

Nia: What?! [laughs] I’m—

Beto: And, I always thought it meant, like, dumbass, like, a stupid person.

Nia: Yeah, yeah, yeah.


Beto: But, I think it means, just a kid. I mean, ese pendejo.

Nia: My friend in Peru told me that in Peru, pendejo is a person who’s sort of like,
untrustworthy. Someone who’s likely to take advantage of you. So, I feel like—

Beto: Ahhh. That’s interesting.

Nia: —in Mexico, you take advantage of the pendejo, and in Peru, the pendejo takes
advantage of you. [laughs]

Héctor: Wooah, that’s a good way to put it.

Beto: Pendejo is not a good word, I don’t like the word pendejo.

Nia: But yeah, no. I love—one of the things I really like about your podcast, which is
apparently what everyone likes, is the mix of sort of, what I would call highbrow and lowbrow.
Where sometimes it’s like, advanced grammatical concepts that I have never heard of, and
sometimes it’s, like, uses of the word fart. [laughs]

Héctor: Yeah.

Nia: Which there are so many of in Mexico, it’s incredible. [laughs] Is that what, like, the
feedback—when you get reviews on the podcast and things, is that sort of like the main thing
people speak to, is that you’re filling that gap? Or like, what kind of—what do people say they
like about the podcast most? What do you find the most common feedback you get is?

Héctor: I mean, I think, what the feedback that I remember, is that—I mean, people like the
conversations. Maybe, they like the chemistry we have, and they seem to like the topics we
talk about. And the things you said, too, about speaking something very difficult,
grammatically. About grammar. Or speaking about the slang we use in Mexico. I don’t know,
people like also—I think, honestly, a lot of the times, we don’t take it too seriously. We also try
to make it a little funny, like with the examples. And Beto’s really, really good at that. He
really tries to make it as, I don’t know, as funny as possible. I mean, not really funny, but—not
have your average sentence.

Nia: Yeah, yeah. No, some of the examples are pretty absurd.

Beto: I think that, if I make them as absurd as possible, people will remember them. Like, oh
yeah, lo estupido—whatever. If it’s just a boring, plain example, they might forget it.

Nia: Yeah, no, absolutely. A friend from Mexico helped me practice for my interview with you
in Spanish last night, and I was giving very concise answers, because I was nervous. And she
told me, I can’t say it in the imperative tense, but to put more cream on my tacos. Like, to
embellish. And I was like, oh, I know that expression only because of No Hay Tos. [laughs]

Yeah, so it is—I love slang. Like, learning la jerga is one of my favorite part of learning
Spanish. But yeah, it’s always super cool when I learn something on your podcast, and then I
hear it out in the real world. It’s like, oh! I learned that! [laughs] Let’s see. What do you like
most and least about podcasting?

Beto: I think my favorite thing would be being able to reach more people, because I mean, I
teach more than 40 hours a week, I think I do 45 hours a week—

Nia: On italki?

Beto: Yeah, on italki. And that’s only, like, 40 students. And with the podcast, we have, like, I
don’t know, we’ve had tens of thousands of listeners. So, there’s no way we could have reached
that amount of people just teaching. So, I think that’s my favorite part. Just being able to
record something, and uploading it, and thousands of people, hopefully they’ll enjoy it, they’ll
laugh, they’ll learn something. But yeah, that’s my favorite thing.

Héctor: Yeah, I don’t know what is the worst thing, I think that there are a lot of positives
about podcasting. Like Beto said, like, the reach. And, now we do video, so we show our faces.
But if you don’t, you don’t have to show your face. You know, you don’t have to dress up.

Nia: That’s my favorite thing about podcasting. [laughs]

Héctor: It’s all through audio, and you can be very—I mean, we have a format, but I feel like
there’s so many things going on in podcasting, that there’s a lot of creative stuff, and, you
know, speaking about so many different topics. That’s great, too. And—yeah.

Beto: No, I was just gonna say, it’s so easy to start a podcast. You don’t need much. I mean,
all you need is an idea, a good idea worth sharing. And that’s it. With video, it’s a little bit
more complicated.

Nia: Yeah. Definitely. More production values, more things to think about. But, I mean, you
guys also look like you have nice microphones, nice headphones. You know, you do have to
invest, I guess, in audio editing software and time. [laughs] Like, huge, huge time
commitment.

Beto: Yeah, time.

Héctor: Yes.

Nia: Wait, let me make sure we covered the last one before I move on to the next one. Okay.
So, you said what you like most is the reach. What you like least—I’m so sorry, I feel like you
just answered this question, and I can’t remember—

Héctor: Uhh, I guess we couldn’t find anything. We just—we, yeah, it’s just—

Nia: Okay. Well, not to sour it for you, but let’s talk about how much time it takes. Like, is it
completely unscripted?

Héctor: No, I mean, we kinda like—we have some ideas.

Beto: Yeah.
Héctor: We say, okay, let’s think about a topic, and let’s try to have some pointers—and that’s
just in case we get lost, or it feels like we reached to a wall or something, and we can kinda get
out of that wall. It’s kinda like preparing for an interview, I guess. But, most of the time we
just try to improvise as much as we can.

Beto: I mean, we have basic bullet points. Like, for our last episode, cumpleaños, “Los
Cumpleaños a la Mexicana,” Héctor was like, ohh, it’s my birthday tomorrow, why don’t we
talk about birthdays? And then, like, okay, sure. Let’s talk about food, music, traditions. Just
basic bullet points. We brainstormed for like 30 minutes and then, okay. Let’s record. No
script.

Héctor: I think the important part about the bullet points is like, mentioning things that we
think people are gonna find interesting. Because we try to talk mostly about our culture and
the way we grew up. So, maybe people find those things interesting. And that’s why we write
those things down.

Beto: And the other episodes, the episodes especiales, which I don’t even know why we call
them episodes especiales, cause—

Héctor: They’re not that special.

Nia: No. They’re my favorites. I love these episodes.

Héctor: Oh, okay, okay.

Beto: So, they require more preparation. Cause have have to think about—we’re gonna
explain the definite article, the neuter article. So we have to think, what are some good
examples to illustrate how this works? And but still, we never script anything. Nothing’s
scripted. Just the basic points.

Nia: I want to follow up on something Héctor said. Like, how do you determine what will be
interesting to your audience? You think—you know, it’s a lot of people in the United States
who are listening because they want to learn about Mexican culture, and so that’s why the
cultural focus is—you know, a lot of the episodes are sort of explaining things about Mexican
culture to presumably a non-Mexican audiences. But yeah, how do you get a good read on
what your audience is gonna like?

Héctor: Honestly, we don’t know what they’re gonna like. We just—we try to talk about
things that are maybe current, like current events, things that are going on.

Beto: Yeah.

Héctor: And if that, somehow, is related to Mexico, or Mexican culture, then, I’ll say ok—
that’s a good—it kinda like covers, checks the boxes, right?

Beto: Yeah.
Héctor: So, we try to do that. And otherwise—one day, I remember one student told me, you
know, I like—you can just talk about anything. I mean, you don’t really have to think about a
topic that, okay, this is the topic people are gonna be interested in. Cause I feel like
sometimes, people just wanna just practice their comprehension skills.

Nia: That’s—yes.

Héctor: And you can just talk about anything, in a way. But you also try to find a way to make
it interesting, and find topics that are relevant.

Beto: Like, yeah, exactly. When we did the apropriación cultural. Yeah. That’s a hot topic,
kind of. The lenguaje inclusive. That’s also very—more popular now.

Héctor: Yeah, yeah, because, in that moment when we recorded it, maybe by the time we
released the podcast, it was a couple weeks old. But, there were a lot of—you know, I don’t—
I’m not in social media so much. But, it helped me to see what’s going on in the world. Or to
see what’s going on in Mexico at least. To watch a little bit the news that people are posting,
and whatever. So, that also, it’s a factor. It’s something that tells you, okay, a lot of people are
talking about this. Maybe we should cover this topic.

Nia: What do you like most and least about teaching?

Beto: Uhhh, you wanna start?

Nia: I feel like, Beto, you already sort of said, not being able to choose your clientele. [laughs]

Beto: Yeah, and I would add, really quickly, some students, I feel, are not really intrinsically
motivated. And they expect you, the teacher, to do all the work. Like, “yeah, teach me. Teach
me something. I’ll wait.”

Nia: [laughs]

Beto: Like, what? That’s not how it works for me, at least. I like students that ask me
questions. Like, hey, I was reading about the subjunctive, but I don’t get this part, why would I
use the subjunctive here? But, there are some students who don’t do that. They just expect you
to do everything. And then, if they don’t learn Spanish, it’s your fault.

Nia: [laughs]

Beto: It’s like, woah. Well okay. But yeah, that’s just—I just wanted to say that. But, sorry.

Héctor: No, that’s, that’s—I’m gonna agree with Beto on that one. Cause um, yeah. There are
students who just expect you to do all the heavy work, and—I don’t know, I feel like learning a
language, it’s a lot about kinda like daring to speak. And making mistakes, and people wanna
see it as a very—I mean, some people. Not everybody.

But some people want to see it as a science thing, or something very methodical, or like a very
square thing. And it’s not. I think there’s a lot of—you know, you gotta try things out, and you
gotta dare to speak, and you gotta listen, and you gotta be exposed to the language. It’s not
like, okay, yeah, I’m gonna give you all the topics, and once you learn and study all of these
things, then you’re gonna be the best Spanish-speaker. It doesn’t work like that.

And, I guess, it’s kinda related—one thing, the thing that I like the most, is just talking to
different people. Even though I’m an introvert, I still consider myself an introvert, like Beto
said. I still like getting to know people, and if we’re teaching in a platform like italki, like we
do, you can meet people from everywhere. Even just from the US, there’s so much diversity.
People from different states, and from different ages and different backgrounds. So, that’s
really cool to me. Just getting to know them.

And also, maybe this is gonna sound bad, but when they tell you about their lives, they have
that trust with you, that’s a very—to me—and see how—because at the end, the whole point of
learning a language is to communicate. So, if you can communicate, and talk about your life,
and talk about your experiences. The things that you like, the things that you hate, the things
that, I don’t know—how your mom is driving you crazy cause she keeps calling you every day.
And just expressing that, that’s the whole point of learning the language.

Beto: Yep.

Héctor: And that’s why—to me, that’s fascinating.

Nia: Yeah. It’s funny you mention that, because I feel like I have talked to Beto about this.
Cause I always feel like I overshare, every time I have a lesson with either of you guys. Tell you
all of my business. And then I’m like, why did I do that? [laughs] But yeah, it’s also interesting
to hear that you—I mean, it makes sense that you like students that are very active and
engaged. But I think, sometimes I worry that I’m like, too much. Like, “I’m like, this is what I
want to learn. This is how I want to learn it. Drill me. Let’s go.” [laughs]

Beto: No, no. That’s exactly the type of student that I like to teach. Because, I’ve not had that
many nowadays, but I used to have a lot of students who were not—I guess, that happens a lot
in Mexico. Most people, it’s not that they want to learn English, but they have to learn English
for their job. And you can tell, they’re not really interested. They’re like, oh yeah, I have to do
these grammar exercises. But with Spanish, most people, they just want to learn. They don’t
have to learn Spanish. They just like it, and they want to learn it. So it makes things a lot
easier.

Nia: Are the majority of your students from the States, or from Mexico? That you teach over
italki?

Beto: Definitely the States. I mean. I’ve had, probably, like, three Canadians.

Nia: [laughs] Okay.

Beto: And they’re always like, “No, no no, we’re not Americans. Don’t get it twisted. We’re
Canadians.” Yeah. And I had one dude from New Zealand, I think. And a couple—yeah,
probably two or three from Australia. The English-speaking world.

Nia: Okay, so when you’re teaching English, it’s also to people in the States? Mostly?
Beto: Oh, no. I don’t teach english. Only español. For now.

Nia: My bad. Héctor, you teach both?

Héctor: Ah yeah, but honestly, I think most of my students are now just people that want to
learn Spanish.

Nia: Got it.

Héctor: Before it was more like, just—it was kinda like, I started just teaching English, and
when I started doing it online, it was like, 50/50, and then at some point, I just started having
more people—maybe because of the podcast. Because that’s the audience that we have. So,
they are the ones that reach out to us and say “hey, you know what, I want to learn Spanish,
and I really like your podcast,” and stuff like that.

Nia: Yeah. I mean, that was gonna be one of my questions also. Did you start the podcast to
drum up business for italki, for teaching?

Héctor: I don’t think that was the idea. Like, definitely, we didn’t plan it that way. But it just
kind of worked out that way.

Nia: Yeah. And how were you able to build an audience? Did you say you were getting, like,
ten thousand downloads an episode?

Héctor: Like, five thousand.

Beto: Yeah, probably. I don’t know. I haven’t seen the numbers in a while, maybe I should.
[laughs] But yeah, probably, yeah—I mean, we started from zero, basically. And we just said,
okay, we’re gonna think of it like a job, basically. We’re gonna do it every Monday… forever.

[laughter]

Beto: It’s never—yeah, we’ve always put out an episode, every week, I think. And then, I
think, if you do that consistently, over years, you will get an audience. I mean, unless your
content really sucks.

Nia: [laughs]

Beto: But, I don’t think that’s the problem. I think with most people, it’s that they lack the
consistency. Doing things every week. You have to put out a video, or put out an episode, or a
blog post. But yeah, that’s how we grew our audience.

Héctor: Yeah, I don’t think we’re experts on knowing how to grow your audience, cause, I
mean, we have had a growth, definitely. We still have a small, I would say, in the podcast
world, we still have a small community.

Beto: Yeah.
Héctor: There were a few things that helped us. Like, Reddit helped us, definitely. Once we
started doing videos, sometimes we started posting them on some subreddits that were about
language learning, or Spanish learning. So, that helped us a little bit.

And, I don’t know, sometimes— I mean, there was one time when we had a—I think someone
found us, and then this person had a blog. So, he made a post. And this is without us asking
him, hey, can you do this? Like, they just decided to do this. And it was like, the top ten better
podcasts to learn Spanish. And some people found us through that. There were just little
things that helped us just a little bit. But, as Beto said, I think the most important thing is
doing it consistently.

Nia: Yeah. I mean, definitely consistency. And I say this as someone who’s on indefinite
hiatus. [laughs] But, it’s extremely important in podcasting. But yeah, it’s really interesting to
hear that your growth has been so organic. Because it doesn’t seem like you guys advertise, or,
like, do any self-promoting. You’ve got the podcast, you’ve got italki. You’re not on Twitter, as
far as I can tell.

Héctor: No, and that’s another thing. We’re not really using—we don’t really have a
Facebook, or an Instagram account. Or Twitter.

Nia: And you have no sponsors.

Héctor: Well, we’ve had in the past. Now we don’t have any.

Nia: Okay.

Héctor: But, yeah, maybe if we did those things, we would have a bigger audience.

Beto: [laughs] I don’t know, I just hate social media.

Nia: That’s extremely legit.

Beto: Yeah, I just don’t—I don’t like social media. And I don’t know how we, what we could
post on Instagram. Or Facebook. I don’t know, maybe we should look into that.

Nia: I’m not trying to send you down that path, down that hole. [laughs] I just think it’s super
impressive that you’ve been able to build this audience without using social media. Because
there’s this fear that if you’re not on social media, people will either not know you exist, or
forget you.

Beto: Well, I guess Youtube is kind of a social media platform.

Nia: Yeah. So, let’s get into the economics a little bit. You know, the theme of my podcast is
making a living as an artist. Like, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that what you do is art.
[laughs] I don’t know if that’s how you feel. But, yeah. Okay. So, you both teach. You both
podcast. These are both things that take a lot of time. How do you split your time, and which
one brings in more money? What does it look like to make a living off of teaching and
podcasting together?
Héctor: Okay. I think we spend a lot more time teaching than actually doing the podcast.

Nia: Okay.

Héctor: Yeah, definitely many hours. And I don’t know, maybe eventually we want to do
more podcasts. We want to focus more time on that. But, for now, it works. As long as it works
for us, we’re fine.

Beto: Yeah.

Héctor: I mean, we get some money from the podcast through Patreon. Because we have a
Patreon.

Nia: Yeah. I think your Patreon is really good. [laughs] Like, cause I also use Patreon. And I
feel like it’s a hard model to figure out. I just feel like you guys have a really good knack for
how much to offer at each level, and you just seem like you’ve figured out how to work the
system really well.

Héctor: Yeah, I think it was all trial and error.

Beto: Trial and error, yeah. Trial and error, exactly. But yeah, Patreon, that’s our main way to
make money from the podcast. Definitely. And, I think most people don’t like ads.

Nia: Absolutely.

Beto: They just really hate listening to two-minute, three-minute ad before the content starts,
and we just prefer Patreon.

Nia: Yeah. That makes so much sense. It’s just also harder to do it that way, which is why I’m
so impressed.

[laughter]

Héctor: Yeah, I think maybe it works because at the end, I mean, I guess you could call it art,
but it’s also—it’s like a learning tool. And since people, maybe people find it—maybe we don’t
know, maybe this is something that we should get more into, but—we just try to put
something that would be helpful for the students. Like, maybe like an exercise, or share a
video that people would find interesting. What else, having the transcripts for our normal
episodes. The expression, or the examples we use—

Beto: The show notes.

Héctor: The show notes. Like, all those things, people enjoy it. Maybe different people enjoy
different things. At the end, I think a lot of people are very happy with what they’re getting out
of supporting the show.

Nia: Yeah. Absolutely. And you guys have great merch, which people should check out. I
should save that plug till the end, but that’s okay, I can edit it that way. What was the other
thing I wanted to say? The other thing you mentioned is just useful in terms of listening
comprehension. And it sounds so simple but it’s so important. I realized that, for me, talking
is way easier than understanding what I hear.

And I think I told you both this story, but I’m gonna tell it on the air. I was, like, super sick for
two weeks. And I was so bummed that I couldn’t practice Spanish. Because I was going really
hard practicing Spanish during the quarantine. And, all I could do was—like, I had no voice.
So, I was just listening. Just binging episodes of your podcast. And my friend Liz, who’s the
one who turned me on to your podcast in the first place, told me that my Spanish actually
improved during that time when I couldn’t speak. Just because I was listening to so much No
Hay Tos.

[laughter]

Héctor: That’s great.

Beto: Wow, nice.

Héctor: I think at the end, you’ve just gotta do anything. Anything that you enjoy doing. And,
you know, you’re challenging yourself also by doing that. Either listening or speaking, reading,
you could even be reading. But, yeah, as long as you’re doing it consistently, there’s gonna be
improvements.

Beto: Yeah. Some people, for example, some people like, they love flash cards. And others
just hate flash cards. Like, it’s so boring, I just don’t—all I do is listen to podcasts and Netflix.
And that’s cool. If that works for you and that’s sustainable, if you can find a way to do that
consistently, then do that. Yeah.

Nia: Yeah, no. I think, I mean, definitely, people learn in all different ways, and it’s great that
you guys are so multimedia and provide so many different types of resources. Yeah. I know
we’re short on time, so my last questions are going to be, what you think is the hardest thing
about language learning, and the hardest thing about language teaching.

Beto: I mean, I think the hardest thing is just accepting the fact that it’s gonna take a while
for you to really—I mean, it depends on what your goals are. If you really want to become
fluent, and have conversations with anyone, any Spanish-speaking person, it’s gonna take a
while. Probably years. I mean, two, three years. If you do it consistently.

Nia: Three years for becoming fluent? I’ve been doing this all wrong! [laughs]

Beto: No! But, if you do it every day for three years, two hours a day, probably. I think that’s
the hardest part of language learning. But, if you like the challenge, and you’re willing to do it
for years, yeah, then it’s great. But, most people are not. They don’t have the patience. They
want it in two to three months. It’s microwave culture.

[laughter]

Nia: Microwave Spanish.

Beto: Yeah, microwave Spanish. No, no existe.


Nia: Que pena. [laughs]

Beto: Que pena, que pena.

Héctor: Yeah, I think the worst part about learning a language is that there’s no end to it.
You’re always gonna be learning things. And it’s always gonna be—you’re always gonna reach
a point where it’s like, oh man. Maybe you feel like you peaked, like, this is the highest I’m
gonna get. And, I mean, at the end, you can just learn forever. There’s no end to it. That kinda
sucks.

[laughter]

Nia: But it’s also really cool!

Héctor: And it’s also cool. That’s why you gotta enjoy it. You really gotta enjoy the process
and find it fun, and that’s the only way you’re gonna keep doing it, and you’re gonna keep
improving.

Nia: Yeah. So, that was the hardest thing about learning. Hardest thing about teaching?

Héctor: I don’t know. I think for me, I just think that teaching—it’s also been a kind of
evolution thing. I started, like I said, with teaching English, and it was all very structured.
And, you know, I had to use a book, and I had to use a program. Whatever. And now it’s
become a little more fluid, in a way. And, I guess, the worst part is just the beginning, when
you don’t know what you’re doing, and maybe you feel nervous, and you don’t know what to
do. And now it’s a little better. It’s a little easier for me to do.

I think the worst part, maybe, it’s when you have to work long hours, and, I mean, it’s very
easy, cause you can just do it sitting down or standing. But, it’s really, I feel, tiring. The mental
part. Cause you always gotta be paying attention to your students. You always gotta be
correcting things, and saying, okay, it’s not this way, it’s this way. And, again, be engaged.
After, I don’t know, maybe four, five hours, six hours a day of doing it. Like, it’s tiring.

Nia: Yeah. Do you schedule lessons back-to-back or do you give yourself some time in
between?

Beto: I do, probably, my max is two hours back-to-back. So, that could be two one-hour
lessons, or four 30-minute lessons. And then I definitely need a break. At least 30 minutes. I
try to do an hour break for every two hours of lessons. But yeah. Also, I think, finding your
way. What kind of teacher you’re gonna be. Because you could be like us, we do mostly
conversations.

We don’t have a structure, it’s just, we’re gonna talk about, I don’t know. The Dust Bowl, or
the Cuban missile crisis. We’re gonna talk about your grandpa, or anything. But, some other
teachers, they don’t feel comfortable doing it that way. They’re like, no, I have to prepare the
subjunctive or the ser-estar. So, finding that, your way of teaching. I think that can also be
challenging. But, once you’re do it, you’re set.
Nia: Can I just say? I think you’ve mentioned the subjunctive twice while we’ve been
recording in English.

Beto: [laughs]

Nia: And the fact that you mentioned the subjunctive in your video on italki is the reason I
chose you as a teacher. I was like, maldito subjunctive is killing me! [laughs] I can’t.

Beto: Yeah, yeah, yeah. People have a love-hate relationship with the subjunctive. They like
using it. Ojalá que te vaya bien. But, they hate all the triggers and all that stuff.

Nia: No es facíl. But, thank you both so much for your time. For having me on your show, for
being on mine. It’s been such a pleasure to talk to you, and yeah. I’m definitely gonna
encourage people to check out your podcast, and also to book lessons with you guys. I’ve
worked with both of you, and you’re both really great teachers.

Beto: Thanks.

Héctor: Thank you for inviting us, and yeah. I hope people enjoy the episode.

Beto: And we hope you’ll be back soon.

Nia: Thanks!

Transcribed by Amirah Mizrahi

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