We no speak americano

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Let me write something off the record… during the last few days the spanish media has been talking about a very important topic nowadays. A couple of articles, one by the Huffington Post and other by El Confidencial, are creating some discussions between the spaniards. Why? Because we (the spaniards) don’t speak English, even though we start studying the language at the age of three.

In the first one, Raúl Fernández, professor in the Adam Mickiewicz University of Poznan, says our problem is based on our education system, namely our English professors don’t have a proper level of the language to teach it. Consider someone with a B2 level and a high qualification(degree) title is able to get into the public education. For example, a lawyer who reached a B2 in English can be an English professor or teacher.

Well, to be honest I never considered that chance like a problem. I grew up in a country where you can be very proud of your B2 – I will deal with this in more detail later. It is so much so that the university where I used to study is trying hard to give B1 titles to the students before they finish their degrees, and they still think that’s too difficult… Once I am living abroad for a long time I notice I need to improve a lot if I want to compete with europeans students – time will say.

B1 Level

Now let’s check quickly the article by El Confidencial. “We are not allow to be waiters in London. We don’t speak English” says the title. And this is it. Hundreds, maybe thousands of young people have left the country heading London. There they try to get a job, even when conditions and salary are awful just because they are able to improve their English. Engineers, lawyers, musicians, psychologists… serving in restaurants. But they don’t want us anymore because our language skills are quite poor.

Yet, they haven’t spoke about what I consider the two main problems: expectations and embarrassment.

  • Expectations or conformism refers to goals, to limits and success that a student can achieve. We are not genetically weaker than the rest of the europeans, we are not silly or retarded. It is true that I have been studying English since I was three years old, but it is also true that my A+ marks would not have been A+ in another environment.Then the problem are not the students or the professors, our fault is to not ask more to ourselves. We did not and we do not care if our knowledge is not enough, all that matters is what our marks say.If we want to improve we will need to rise the requirements and motivate the educators. Unfortunately, when Education suffers cuts of 2.000 millions euros this task seems too hard to me…
  • Embarrassment is all about our culture. English phonetics are not familiar at all to the spaniards as it is to the Germans for example, so every time a student tries to pronounce properly a word the rest of the class just starts laughing. So the only feedback that student has is embarrassment, will you keep trying when 29 more students are laughing at you? I don’t think so.

Fortunately young people is are starting to notice how difficult, tough and critical the situation is and our behavior facing language studies will change soon. It is up to us…

ps: feel free to correct my grammar mistakes.

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4 thoughts on “We no speak americano

  1. Hm, I’m not sure but shouldn’t it be “Young people are starting to notice…”? Btw. it’s good to see that at least some of you (the spaniards) really see the problem. I must say that the reputation you all have is quite bad, however, I’ve already met some people from Spain who actually speak English at the level enabling to lead comfortable conversation. Keep on working!

    • For me speaking English is just… mandatory, specially because it is the only way I have to talk to my girlfriend. But also because I am living in Germany and my German it’s not really good yet. Anyway, that bad reputation is based on facts: only the 32% of the young population (18-30) is able to speak English… and would like to know what do they consider “speak English”.

      Thanks for correcting and comment!

      • I was once working in a hotel and my boss asked me:
        -Do you know why my son besides English speaks also German, Polish, French and Mandarin Chinese?
        -Because he travels a lot? – I replied
        -Yeah, that’s first. But second is, because he had a woman in each of these countries. And it’s the best way to learn language as he spent so much time with them- having breakfasts in the mornings, sighseeing during the day and… You know, sometimes in the night you also have to say couple of words.

        I see that also works for you. Cheers!

  2. Well, we are very bad speaking English because we speak Spanish. That means we speak a language who speaks, like the first language, more people than Englis. So, we don’t need really improve our English, we speak yet English better than English people speaks Spanish.

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