Friday, November 14, 2008

Claire: Is Speaking Spanish to Spanish Speakers Difficult?

By Clarie Pescheret

In class on Thursday, we discussed some issues that we, as volunteers, may have encountered throughout our work this semester. One particular given encounter interested me a lot. The statement was phrased, “We have learned that it is easy to speak Spanish to native speakers.” We discussed the validity of this as a class, which allowed us all to contribute our own personal experiences. The stories that were told by my fellow students were quite interesting.

Speaking in Spanish is one thing when you speak to other students who are learning Spanish who actually speak English as a first language. In these instances, I am able to understand other’s translations, broken “Spang-lish,” and accents. It is quite another feat to attempt to speak Spanish to native Speakers. In these instances, there are many barriers that we encounter.

Generally, discrepancy between taught Spanish and spoken Spanish, including slang, can make it difficult to converse. In a school setting, though, other factors have also come into play. Primarily, when working with 3, 4, and 5 year olds, their Spanish is hard to understand. Additionally, the children attempt to speak English to me at times, which I try to understand as Spanish. Hence, I do not understand what they are saying. Through continued exposure, though, I have been able to adapt better to the speech of these children, as I am sure they have had to do with my English.

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