Obviously me gusta is an important phrase in Spanish 1 classes, but sometimes we tend to over simplify things and forget that another word also means “to like”: caerse bien. When we like things and activities, Me gusta is the way to go, but when we like people, we have to be careful. In English, saying you like someone can be confusing.
Teenage girl: What do you think about Jon?
Teenage friend: He’s nice, I like him.
Teenage girl: Yeah, but do you like him, or like-like him?
We all know that liking Jon would be that she likes his personality; that he is a nice person. And we also know that “like-liking” him would be more in a romantic sense. English is confusing! Lucky for us, Spanish gives us two separate words for this to avoid confusion.
Me gusta = like-like, in a romantic sense. (Me gustas, quiero ser tu novio)
Me cae bien= like, as a person. (Un gusto conocerte, me caes super bien)
So to say “Me gustas” to someone is really an awkward phrase, unless you want to date them! To compliment them as being buena gente, use “me caes bien”.
I think this can be more easily explained with some authentic resources. Let’s consider the following memes in Spanish:
To help make this clear for your students, we have this ME CAE BIEN/MAL vs. ME GUSTA graphic organizer to help understand the difference.