I work in an area that hosts seasonal migrant workers, most of whom are Spanish-speaking. The only Spanish I know I learned from Sesame Street, and that doesn't take me very far.
I have had a couple of funny experiences with Spanish-speaking pts. One elderly gentleman was refusing his a.m. insulin with a glucose in the 400's. We keep an English-Spanish health care dictionary on our unit (it can be helpful), so I attempted to explain in Spanish that he needed his medicine. I have no idea what I said, but it must have been good, because he suddenly smiled, grabbed my hand, began kissing my hand and pulling me toward him. Of course I pulled away and wagged my finger at him, and he must have felt contrite - he did take the insulin!
I once cared for a lady who was, by all reports, strictly Spanish speaking. It is rare that we have an interpreter in our facility, so you're pretty much on your own to communicate the best you can. For TWO DAYS, I talked to this woman like a Complete Dork. Ola (sp?) is about my limit, so I mimed and pointed and smiled and frowned my way through assessments, meds, etc. Not exactly effective nursing. Finally, toward the end of the second day, someone reported to me that they thought she was asking for pain meds, but they weren't sure. I went to her, and lacking anything else to say, simply asked her in English if she was in pain. She blurted out in nearly perfect English, "Yes! I hurt everywhere, my head, my stomach, my back, my IV!" I was floored. I can't imagine what this woman must have thought of me and the rest of the staff. I think those may have been the first words of English she had heard there!