IamA Professor of Spanish. AMA!
La biblioteca está al este de la cafetería.
Pero donde esta la cafetería?
La cafetería está entre el centro estudiantil y el gimnasio.
Que es entre
Native spanish speaker here (Uruguay).
Which spanish do you teach (as in spaniard, mexican, argentinean or neutral)?
Which would you say are the easiest and hardest words to learn, pronounce and use accurately?
How serious do your students take your lesson?
Great questions. I am Mexican, so that's my accent. However, I try to standardize my use of Spanish, and not use many colloquialisms. Also, I use the vocabulary word that is more common in Spanish-speaking countries, even if it's not the word we would use in Mexico. For instance, I call a jacket a "chaqueta," which in Mexico is actually sexual slang.
For anglo speakers, any word that requires rolling an R is difficult, and learning how to not pronounce the U as you would in English. In terms of accuracy, the subjunctive is very complicated for them because in English we don't use it very often.
You get a bit of everything. Many students do honestly want to learn Spanish and/or get a good grade in class, so the put a lot of effort into it. In most classes there is a small percentage of students (5-10%) who have absolutely no interest in learning anything. I'm sure that happens in all fields of study.
Osea que en México la palabra chaqueta ya no significa prenda de vestir de invierno o abrigo corto? Yo no sabía eso.
En México, "hacerse una chaqueta" significa masturbarse.
some kind of combo of jacket and jacked off, I guess.
Ha. I never thought about it, but I think it's a coincidence.
Osea que tu les enseñas a tus estudiantes que no le digan burro al animal que rebuzna y que parece caballo porque en México quiere decir vagina. Que mejor le digan asno o jumento o que?
No sabía que en algunas partes de México le dicen "burro" a la vagina. En la capital nadie usa ese equivalente. No creo que sea jerga generalizada.
Entonces, ¿quieres comer un burrito?
Depende. ¿Cuál de los dos?
¿Porqué no los dos?
Soy gay. No me gusta comer vagina.
En todo México?
Creo que sí.
¿Como esta usted?
Muy bien, PescadorDorado, ¿y usted?
Hay una fiesta en mis pantalones???
Are you happy with your job? Also, is there a story about how you got your job?
I love my job. I always knew I wanted to teach at a higher ed level, but I had literature in mind. I initially got hired to teach Spanish (language) while I was a grad student, and I immediately loved it. I've been teaching Spanish since.
How does graduate school work in your field? What type of stuff did you publish?
You don't need to publish research papers if you're teaching languages, but it definitely improves your CV. I'm an author and co-author of four academic textbooks, and I've collaborated with authors on over thirty other Spanish textbooks.
What is your best "they had no idea I spoke Spanish" moment?
Once, as I was getting on a bus, a gay guy told his friend (in Spanish) that I had a great ass. I turned around and thanked him.
Foto de tu culo?
lmao. You're handsome OP
Thank you. It's not a great photo.
How do you feel about programs like Rosetta Stone or websites like duolingo?
I think Rosetta Stone is okay, but very expensive. Duolingo is free, so you can play with it and learn a few words. However, nothing will ever substitute real class time (real time conversation) when it comes to languages. I've never met anyone who spoke a language proficiently who learned it using Rosetta Stone or any other such program.
Completely unrelated follow up. My brother is doing international business with a focus in Spanish at university. He's having a fun problem where a lot of the Spanish he knows, from working in restaurants, is filled with slang. Just curious is you have a "teaching" Spanish vs a "home" Spanish. He says aside from school he uses his "home" Spanish in the majority of his use.
I definitely use a "teaching" Spanish in the classroom and a "home" Spanish with my family, which is a lot more regional (I'm from Mexico City). Having said that, I do teach a bit of slang here and there. My students seem to enjoy it.
I studied Spanish for three years in high school, then went on to get a bachelors in Spanish. While my spoken and written Spanish is very accurate, I have found that the classroom education I received was deficient in slang and "conversational" grammar. While I learned some slang, I never did learn how to speak Spanish in an informal or conversational manner. So don't be afraid to use the "home" Spanish in the classroom, is what I'm saying. At least in upper-level courses with students aspiring to real-world proficiency.
Gotcha. I think "mesas redondas" are great for that - having an informal Spanish conversation hour every week. I do that with my upper-level students. Thanks for the input.
¿Eres realmente un profesor de español?
Sí, ¿por qué lo dudas?
Donde está Chapo Guzmán?
Posiblemente en las Bahamas.
I recently went to Spain and decided to learn a little bit of Spanish using Duolingo beforehand. I was under the impression that you use the formal "Buenos Dias" with people you don't know, but it seemed like every waiter/cab driver/hotel clerk/etc. used the familiar "Hola" instead. When is it appropriate to use each? Does it vary by country?
Spaniards are very informal and laid back. Hispanics from the Americas are usually more formal. You'd never offend, say, a Mexican taxi driver if you used "hola," but people are usually a bit more protocolary in Latin America.
whats your salary?
a week? bloody hell well done
Ha. I wish.
Why don't they like to teach vosotros here? It was always in our textbooks but when I would ask about it the teacher would freak out and not wanna talk about it and we always had to cross it out on the premade tests.
That's weird that they wouldn't want to talk about it. Here's the explanation: "vosotros" is only used in Spain. If your professor is not a Spaniard, he/she would not use "vosotros" in every day speech, so it would be unfair to demand that students learn that conjugation. I tell my students to recognize it, but only to memorize it if they want to. You can go through life in any Spanish-speaking country without using "vosotros."
I ended up teaching English in Spain after undergrad. My 10 year old students said I was a little odd for being so formal. It made them feel like they were at mass.
That's funny. Spaniards are sooooo laid back.
Ellas: ¿Y porque dices jugo? Aquí en nuestro país se dice zumo. Di zumo.
E: Estás mejorando y no sé porque pero todavía suena como vienes de Sudamérica.
¿Y de los 200 millones de hablantes que usan la forma vos, es decir la forma más antigua de vosotros?
Es el mismo caso. Si el profesor lo usa naturalmente, que lo enseñe. Pero yo no lo uso, ni lo necesito cuando viajo. Si los estudiantes viajan a Argentina o Uruguay o alguno de los otros sitios donde se usa el vos, pueden usar el tú sin barreras de entendimiento.
I recently graduated from college with a degree in Spanish. In the broadest sense, how valuable do you think bilingualism will be in a job search/career world? I am a non-native speaker, but love the language. I'd love to be able to use it every day, but honestly am not entirely sure where the best starting point would be in terms of finding work. I guess I'm just wondering, what tips might you have for someone in my position?
Congratulations on your degree! I think bilingualism is extremely useful. You'll just need to decide where you want to go with your degree. I strongly suggest a graduate degree, even in a different field if you don't want to stay in academia. For instance, I have a friend who got a BA in Spanish and an MS in Psychology. He got a great job upon graduation because not many people can counsel both in Spanish and English. Same thing if you want to work in Corporate America - transnational firms always need bilingual people.
Después de volver a los EE.UU siempre ha sido difícil encontrar una manera de practicar mi español. Los que conozco que "hablan" español no hablan de un nivel bastante alta para mantener fluidez. Ayuda un poco - mejor que nada, pero no basta. Al otro lado, los grupos de charlar que he encontrado en mi ciudad por internet (que tengan un "meetup" pagina o algo) no son buenos tampoco. Estoy casi a punto de poner un anuncio por craigslist pidiendo alguien con nivel de nativo hispanohablante que quiere ganar un poco de dinero por pasar unas horas de vez en cuando conmigo... pero no me encanta esta idea tampoco.
Tienes ideas de maneras mantenerme el idioma, que ya puedo notar que esta escapándome poco a poco sin practicar más a menudo?
Es muy difícil mantener un nivel elevado si no tienes interacción. La idea de tomar una "clase" de conversación no es mala. Mientras tanto, te recomiendo que leas el periódico en español con frecuencia o que veas programas de televisión en español. Muchas universidades tienen una "mesa redonda" semanal para sus estudiantes. ¿Has buscado en las universidades locales?
Hi, I'm also a native speaker (Spain).
What are your feelings about the Real Academia Española? What current rule(s) would you like to change?
Like most people, I like to make fun of the RAE. Having said that, they have modernized several rules faster than I ever anticipated, and they have added words to the dictionary that I would never thought they'd accept (tuitear, bloguero, etc.).
I can't think of any rules that need to be changed. What do you think?
Do you think we should keep the '¡' and '¿' characters? Many people don't make the effort to write them.
No me parece mal la normativa actual, aunque a veces es difícil cambiar tus hábitos si modifican algo a lo que ya estabas acostumbrado.
I think we should keep them. In English, if a sentence starts with "do" or "did" you immediately know that the sentence is interrogative, but that doesn't happen in Spanish. You'd need to wait until you've finished reading the sentence to find out whether the sentence is a question or a statement. In that regard I'm a purist.
So that's what they are for! I'm currently learning Spanish and had been wondering about the reason behind these characters. Were they introduced because Spanish has a rather free sentence structure, as opposed to for example English, where you have to inverse the word order for a question?
I'm not sure when they were introduced, but yeah, that's their function. Without the opening question mark, there's no way to know that the sentence you're about to read is a question.
It's interesting that Japanese seems to do just fine without the equivalent of upside-down question marks. Often there's no way to tell if a Japanese sentence is a statement or a question until the very last word. Even in spoken Japanese, there's nothing you can do with your voice to indicate if it's a statement or a question.
Interesting. That's definitely different in Spanish, since the inflection in Spanish changes when you're asking a question.
Dos mas cervesa, por favor?
Dos cervezas más, por favor.*
What is the most frustrating thing when you are teaching a student Spanish?
When they are not interested in learning anything about other cultures. Once I was describing Mexican cuisine to my students, and one of them asked me (in English), "Don't they have McDonald's down there?"
So I am looking for a reliable source of medical terms in Spanish. I know enough to get by with limited casual talk but am looking to be able to perform a medical assessment with non English speakers. Any advice?
Sorry, I've never taught Spanish for medical professionals. I don't know of any books.
Leer una enciclopedia medica en espaniol y un diccionario ingles-espaniol?
I found this website: http://www.medicalspanish.com
How's the job market in Spanish?
Extremely competitive. If you're an experienced professor and a native speaker, you can get a part-time lecturer position (teaching one or two classes per semester) with no benefits. When a full-time position opens at a university, over 100 people apply for it.
Hola! Un par de preguntas, que espero sean contestadas. ¿Qué opinas acerca de las diferentes maneras de pronunciar el español? ¿Cuál te resulta más cómoda? y por último ¿Cuál es tu opinión acerca del denominado 'Spanglish'? Saludos de Chile :3
Bueno, como soy mexicano, para mí el español de allá es el más natural. Sin embargo, no creo que haya una forma de hablar que sea mejor que otra; sencillamente son usos distintos. Ideológicamente, el spanglish es también un uso más, pero confieso que, en el fondo, no me gusta nada.
Do you get the feeling that Language teachers in general are treated more poorly than other educators at universities?
I've attended about 4 universities, ranging from community college up to more prestigious research institutions, and taken language classes at all of them (Greek, Latin, Spanish, French). While the classical languages might be a special case, without fail all of my (mostly wonderful) instructors have been adjuncts, or primarily teaching other humanities courses simultaneously. Do you think that there is something to that? Is it a product of the system, or a matter of the market?
There is some truth to that, starting with the fact that there are no tenure-track jobs for language professors (anywhere, as far as I know). I think it's gradually changing, as people start to realize how knowing more than one language can make a huge difference professionally.
I'm a high school student taking Spanish, what are the main differences between Mexican and Spanish speakers?
The pronunciation of the letters S and C in combination with the vowels E and I, and the letter Z. For Mexicans it's all the same sound; Spaniards pronounce the S like "sh" and the C and Z like "th."
You are missing all the phonetic variations "X" has in Mexico. Xalapa, Xochimilco, Xoco, etc.
True. Thanks. Words of Náhuatl origin.
Favourite quote from Don Quixote?
"La misericordia brilla más que la justicia." (Mercy is more resplendent than justice.)
Pablito clavó un clavito, ¿qué clavito clavó Pablito?
Lo clavó en la calva de un calvito (maldito).
Do you teach the vosotros tense? Why/why not? I've had some teachers include it, and others avoid it.
I don't teach it because I don't use it in everyday life. It would be like having an American teach "I shall" instead of "I will" - it's a bit absurd. Having said that, I tell students they don't need to memorize the conjugation, but that they need to be able to recognize it. Even if they travel to Spain they can get by using "ustedes" instead of "vosotros."
My wife and I are both native English speakers, and we're both conversant in Portuguese. Lately, she's been making friends with a neighbor, an older woman from Peru who doesn't speak much English. So my wife has been learning some Spanish on her own to communicate better with her.
Anyway, my wife's Spanish is hilarious, constantly mixing in Portuguese idioms, vocabulary, and pronunciation. (My Spanish is even worse.). Any tips to make this easier?
There is a free app called "Duolingo" where you can learn various semantic groups. Since you and your wife already know the grammar (which is very similar) you may only need to learn a few isolated vocabulary words to communicate better. Maybe Duolingo can help.
¿Necisito ir el Baño?
No sé si necesitas ir, pero puedes ir (si tú quieres).
What is your favorite movie?
There are many that I like. From the top of my head: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Annie Hall, Y tu mamá también...
Loved Y tu mamá también. Huge title.
I used it in class a few times. Sadly, I got into trouble for doing it. Some students couldn't handle the sex scenes, despite their age and the fact that they're university students.
Hi, I'm an incoming freshman in college and I was just wondering, what could I do with a degree in a language of my choice or linguistics? I do know that I am interested in becoming proficient Italian, Spanish and Korean. Is there any advice you'd offer?
It really depends on what you like. Teaching is always an option, but you could find other less obvious jobs as well. For instance, the CIA is always looking for people who speak foreign languages.
You could also study any or all of those languages as minors and get a degree in an area that is traditionally more lucrative. Knowing a language will give you a leg up in the business world.
Notice how the world is rapidly changing. One of the most attractive things about Jeb Bush to Republicans is the fact that he speaks Spanish as a near native. In previous elections that probably would have been a detriment to Republicans. That applies to the business world as well. Knowing languages shows an interest in global thinking.
Have you visited many Spanish-speaking countries?
Después de graduarme en Enero iré a Bolivia, Peru y Ecuador :)
I've traveled a lot within Mexico, Spain, Argentina, Perú, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, and Chile. Next year I'm going to Colombia.
I've been trying to get into upbeat Latin music but I really don't know where to start, any suggestions?
Salsa is always a good starting point. Try Celia Cruz's last album, "Siempre viviré." I think it's wonderful.
La casa de Pepe está en el centro de la ciudad.
What's the purpose of the letter 'w' in Spanish?
For words that are of foreign origin, such as kilowatt, waterpolo, whisky... those words usually don't have a Spanish equivalent.
What about the letter K?
Same thing, it's for words of foreign origin that have no equivalent in Spanish: kilo, karate, karma, etc.
How come they aren't just spelled with a c or qu instead?
As the language evolves, some words eventually acquire a Spanish phonetic spelling. I assume it's pretty arbitrary.
¿Do you teach your students to insert reversed leading question and exclamation marks, or do you end up just ignoring the leading mark?
You always need to use the opening exclamation/interrogation marks in Spanish. It's not optional. Sentence structures are different in Spanish than in English. As opposed to sentences in English, Spanish requires the marks for the reader to know that they are about to read a question.
Hi! How do you deal with students who can't roll their r's? (I am an incoming freshman with 6 years of experience and can't roll my r's.) what is a typical class like? How often do you find that students cheat and get outside translations? (Just curious-- I'm not a cheater!)
There are students who have great pronunciation skills and students who don't. If I think I can help a student improve on their pronunciation, I spend some time with them helping them out. The R thing comes with practice. I base grades on improvement more than anything, so even if a student doesn't have great pronunciation skills, I expect them to speak better at the end of the semester than when they first started.
About some students cheating: As a professor, you immediately know who cheated and who didn't. There has to be a correlation between performance in class and on written papers. Also, I do mostly in-class compositions, so they have no way of cheating.
when do you use por vs. para? I asked my old Spanish teacher and he said that now a days it is acceptable to say ''pora'' if unsure...
I'm sure your Spanish teacher was joking. There's no such word.
There's a long list of uses for por y para. Here's a useful reference site: http://www.studyspanish.com/lessons/porpara.htm
I spend a huge amount of my free time practicing Spanish. It's my favorite/biggest non-work activity and deciding to learn Spanish definitely changed my life.
So I still find listening comprehension incredibly difficult. Everything else I feel like either I'm OK at it OR I will be with time. But listening, I'm just not so sure I will EVER get there.
I have read all the usual advice about watching movies, TV, etc., and I do my best with all that, I also talk through F2F or Skype with various native speakers for an hour almost every day. Of course I can hold a conversation but, say, watching a native Spanish news broadcast or a movie? No way. Not even close to keeping up.
Just wondered if you had anything more to add in terms of advice and tips?
Have you tried watching movies in Spanish with Spanish subtitles? Listening and reading simultaneously can help a lot of listening comprehension.
Tio explicame una cosa, como es que los Madrileños pronuncian su Cuidad mal? Cada dia me entero como en Madrid la gente dice Madriz, pero obviamente se pronuncia Madrid, con una D al final. Y otra pregunta que tengo...imaginate esta conversacion.
Mujer: Cuando quieres salir para Cenar ?
Hombre: En cuanto Julio se va a Dormir.
Como es que se dice " En cuanto " cuando la palabra " cuanto " define Cantidad ? Cuantos Alumnos tienes ? 35. Cuando acabas clase ? A las tres y media. Osea, en mi Ejemplo la mujer pregunta una pregunta que tiene que ver con Tiempo, pero usamos la forma de Cantidad. Entiendes lo que te quiero decir ? Lo siento si suena ilógico pero llevo dias confundido.
Ja. Lo de la pronunciación es regionalismo. Los lingüistas nunca dirían que un grupo de personas pronuncia algo correcta o incorrectamente; solo describirían el uso.
Lo otro: son dos usos diferentes. En "¿Cuántos alumnos tienes?" la palabra "cuanto" funciona como pronombre relativo, mientras que "En cuanto Julio se vaya a dormir", "cuanto" es un adverbio.
Sin embargo, es casi lo mismo decir: "En cuanto Julio se vaya a dormir" y "Cuando Julio se vaya a dormir", aunque la primera oración tiene una connotación de "inmediatamente" que la segunda oración no tiene.
Is there any kind of "pecking order" in Spanish language education? Do schools prefer hiring professors from particular countries/regions, or is it simply a matter of being proficient in the language?
Do you speak any other languages (outside of English and Spanish)?
If they have a preference, they don't express it openly. I think they prefer to have some variety.
I also speak German and Italian, but not so well that I could teach them at a higher ed level.
Hola, professor! I've taken ~6 years worth of Spanish, between middle school and High School, but because of moving between states and teachers changing, I've not really learned much at all. I've re-taken Spanish 1 and 2 to try and get a better grip on things, but I still don't feel comfortable with it. Colors and counting I have down-pat, verbs are a bit iffy, but other than that, I can only pick out a few spoken words here and there, and I can get the gist of reading conversation through text. But I can't speak a lick of it. When I try to understand, I go through the process of recognizing words and then translating what they mean to English, then piece together the sentence as best I can.... not really the most fluid way of understanding language. For example, "El gato está en casa." (I had to use google translate... so sad!) Hearing this, I would pick out "Gato" and "casa", think "Cat and home" and then extrapolate to assume that the cat is home, or is in the house.
What is the best way to go about trying to learn again? Tutor? Programs like Rosetta Stone? College courses? I'd rather learn "street" Spanish as opposed to "Academic" Spanish, as I live in Arizona. I desperately want to finish learning, as I know that learning languages gets (relatively) easier after you know more than one... and I want to go on to learn other languages as well.
You'll need to learn academic Spanish before you learn street Spanish, if only because they have the same rules. Street Spanish is just the last layer. I strongly suggest you take college courses where you meet 3-4 times per week. College professors/courses are much more demanding, and you'll have to study for at least an hour for every hour of class. By the end of the semester, you'll be much more fluent.
Why do you think that many students take required foreign language courses but never really learn to speak the language? Do you think American public school systems are doing a disservice by not educating students in foreign language from the beginning and making them elective in high school?
Yes, kids should be learning a second language from the time the start going to Day Care, if possible.
I'm not sure how to answer your first question, since I didn't go to high school in the US. My guess is that the expectations are extremely low. I've had students who had taken Spanish for five years before coming to college, and they couldn't get a score higher than second semester in their placement exams.I don't get it.
Where would I start if i wanted to learn spanish?I have a friend who speaks mainly spanish and I would like to communicate with her better. I speak spanglish now lol.
If you just want to learn a few words and terms on your own you can use a free app called Duolingo. If you actually want to learn the language, you'll have to enroll in a proper class.
¿En qué estado de México naciste? ¿Por qué te fuiste a los Estados Unidos? ¿Que estilo de vida te gusta mas?
Nací y crecí en el DF. Vine a Estados Unidos a estudiar una maestría y poco a poco me fui quedando. Hay cosas que me gustan de ambos países, y cosas que me disgustan. Ahora vivo aquí con mi esposo, pero eventualmente nos iremos a vivir a México.
Hola Robert. I have taken 4 semesters of college-level Spanish (my most recent semester was actually in Barcelona). Next semester I'll be taking a Spanish film class (just watch movies in Spanish and talk about them). I'm pretty excited for that because I really want to keep improving. It seems like no matter how much I try to learn on my own, a good college class just teaches me so much more and so much faster.
Do you have any tips for someone who wants to teach a language? I would love to live in Spain for a bit but since the economy isn't good it seems like my best opportunity would be to teach English. I know it's very different than the path you've taken, since you're teaching at a university in the US and everything, but I guess you might still be able to pass on some general advice about teaching and foreign languages.
That film class sounds great. I'm envious.
I've heard of Americans going to Spain to teach English, but I don't know how they got their jobs. I know there are agencies in the US that will hire you to do that. I think the pay is horrible, but if your goal is to just go and live there for a while, it can be a good way to do it.
Hola profesor, gracias por su tiempo. Yo soy un hablante nativo de español de México, pero he estado viviendo en los U.S durante toda mi vida con mi familia. Quiero mejorar mi español, específicamente por escrito y leer. ¿Qué libros recomendaría usted para un joven como yo?
Lee los libros de Enrique Serna, David Miklos, Yuri Herrera, Juan Villoro, Jordi Soler... son autores excelentes y contemporáneos.
Cual ha sido tu experiencia enseñando la diferencia entre "ser" y "estar".
Hace un par de dias me di cuenta que mis compañeros angloparlantes pasaban un mal rato entendiendo cuando usar una u otra.
¿Cómo lo explicas tu?
Hay explicaciones largas y detalladas, pero la forma más abreviada es la siguiente: "estar" es transitorio y "ser" es más permanente. Por ejemplo: "Juan está feliz" (hoy está contento) "Juan es feliz" (es una persona feliz) "Verónica está guapa" (hoy se arregló con esmero) "Verónica es guapa" (siempre, por naturaleza)
Do you want to build a snowman?
I watched a documentary about slums in Central America, and they used the word "ba" (phonetic spelling) a lot at the end of sentences. What does it mean and what word are they using? I am assuming it means "right?"
Maybe it was "va," from the verb "ir" (to go). It's often used as "right?" or "okay?"
Do you have any (affordable) recommendations for language programs for teens?
Rosetta Stone is too expensive. It depends on your goals. If you just want to learn a few basic things for fun, there are many apps you can use. Duolingo is free and fun for a while (the activities get a bit repetitive eventually).
I took many years of spanish and have yet to explore different countries and cultures. Where would you recommend traveling to/living in for a great immersive experience?
It depends on what you like, small towns or urban destinations? I prefer the latter. If I were an American looking to live in a Spanish-speaking country for six months to a year, I would go to one of the big cities: Mexico City, Madrid, Buenos Aires, Barcelona...
How would you advise someone who struggles with Spanish a lot, but wants to learn the language, to succeed in college courses? Any tips to make the language come more easily? What do you tell your students who are genuinely interested in the language but have a really hard time with it?
It's a difficult situation to be in. Some students are good at math, some are good at languages. There's such a thing as natural skills and talents. To students who struggle I suggest that they come to my office hours to practice, and to get a tutor if they can afford one. They will eventually learn the language, but they'll have to work a lot harder than the ones who have inherent skills.
I am a high school student who is very interested in languages, and decent at Spanish. I can always communicate what I want to say, if not always the actual translation. When it comes to speaking, however, I'm not so great all the time. I've been told I talk too quickly by other students (no teacher has called me out on it though so I'm not sure if that's true or not). For me, writing the language is like ten times easier than speaking. Any advice?
Also, do you speak any other languages? I'm hopefully taking Mandarin in the fall. Any advice for learning a non-Romance language? Thanks!
I speak Italian and German, but I don't have specific advice for learning Mandarin. I know it's a very difficult language (some say the most difficult to learn).
So there are four language skills: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. It's normal for skills not to develop at the same pace. Writing and reading are often easier than listening and speaking, because you have time to translate in your head. If you continue practicing Spanish, you will get to a point where you no longer need to translate in your head at all before speaking, but it takes a while.
I see you work at MIT...as a Hispanic in Boston do you find it hard to find good food, music, nightlife, and things that overall come hand in hand with a Hispanic community? I'm used to living in a very Latin area and I find I miss a lot of my old restaurants & nightlife (dancing!). Any recommendations?
I no longer teach at MIT (I teach at a different college), but I still live in Boston. Yes, there is no good Latino nightlife in Boston. As to restaurants, there are a few that are okay (Casa Romero, El Centro, El Zócalo), but I definitely miss 100% authentic food.
I'm going on exchange to Peru at the end of the month. I'm pretty nervous because while I did well in my HS Spanish class, I am definitely not fluent. Any advice or words of encouragement?
You'll pick up Spanish as quickly as you're willing to learn it. Avoid befriending people only because they're willing to have conversations in English with you. Use every opportunity to practice your Spanish, even at the risk of making mistakes. Carry a pocket dictionary with you, but try to use sparingly. Don't spend too much time worrying about accuracy, which usually comes from practice, not from overthinking. Enjoy yourself, and have lots of ceviche.
I can hardly understand anything she's singing, sorry.
What is the history of cinco de mayo?
During the French Invasion of Mexico (in the 1860s), Mexico defeated the French in the Battle of Puebla (on May 5, 1862) against all expectations. It's a minor holiday in Mexico. However, the Mexican brewery that makes Corona beer popularized it in the US so that they could sell more beer. It was a very successful marketing ploy.
What's the best thing about being able to speak more than one language?
When you learn a new language you're not just learning a language, but rather a whole new culture. It expands your mind, both literally and figuratively. That - in my opinion - is the best thing.
No tengo pregunta, solo quiero decir que actualmente me he esforzado más en aprender español, y vale la pena (especialmente con respecto a la comprensión).
He disfrutado mucho aprender la juerga mexicana (¿dijiste que eres mexicano, sí?) como "no manches", "güey", cosas así. Sé que necesito tener cuidado con esa, ¡pero me fascina!
Gracias. La jerga (juerga significa "fiesta") en otras lenguas siempre es lo más difícil de aprender, pero lo más divertido.
Do you prefer teaching your classes in Spanish, or teaching it in both English and Spanish?
My old university teachers taught in Spanish, which for me was incredibly difficult. After a while, my mind would learn to equate the Spanish word with its English equivalent, but I can't "think" in Spanish (which was the goal of teaching in Spanish). I was unable to focus in class because the teacher would say something, and I would know what it meant, but I'd have to translate it into English for my brain to make sense, and by that time the teacher would have called on me and my brain would just turn to fog. Same with reading Spanish, too.
Ended up failing Spanish 101 twice and thus failing out of college because of this. XD I'd get to a certain point, and then my brain just couldn't translate it anymore...
In Spanish 101 there needs to be some room for students to be able to ask grammar questions in English. A grammar explanation in Spanish at that level is often way too difficult. But most of the class should be used for practice, not for explanations (that's what the book is for). Teachers should follow their syllabus perfectly so students know how to prepare for class. If they prepare for class, the should be able to understand what they're practicing.
I'm sorry you had a bad experience learning Spanish.
I took 6 years of Spanish, but all I can remember is chicle en la basura and quete la jaketta (sp). Why can I only remember what was yelled at me?
Ha. I'm not sure. You either had a bad teacher or you were a bad student, or a bit of both. Six years to learn that seems like a waste of time IMHO.
Donde está la biblioteca?
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