The Beth and Jim Conversations 10

[Jim] Hi Beth!

I don’t know about your experience with different Spanish accents, but here’s what happened to me this morning…

In addition to working on Speekee, I also own a guesthouse in the town where Speekee was filmed: Arcos de la Frontera in southern Spain. This weekend there is a music festival going on in nearby Jerez and we have music-loving guests staying in the house from various regions of Spain.

Now, this is going to sound ridiculous I know… but after 20 years of learning Spanish, I found myself asking someone from Madrid – of all places, the capital of Spain, where they speak a pretty standard and accentless form of Spanish – to repeat what they had just said to me.

Oh, and we are not talking about obscure words or complex grammatical constructions; it was a simple enough sentence, but so attuned have I become to a strong Andalusian accent, I just couldn’t ‘hear’ right what was being said to me. I guess the Spanish was too pure!

Beth, do you think a child with just a few years of laerning Spanish would have similar trouble tuning in?

[Beth] As a native English-speaking woman who studied her Spanish in American schools followed by living in Chile to live the language I am very, very aware of the various accents and dialects within the Spanish language.  (Not to mention mixing in my summer in Mexico and being married to a man with a mother from Cuba and a father from Spain!)  I have received praise for my ‘near-native accent’ from hundreds and criticism for my ‘gringa accent’ from several.

Jim, I have found that most Spanish-speaking people simply applaud the fact that a Florida-born gal would take the time to really learn and live their language as her own second language.  As for a young child learning a second language that has such a wide spectrum of accents and dialects I am a firm believer that he or she will not be hindered in their language acquisition when presented with a word they don’t recognize or a sound they don’t find familiar in that target language.

Why?  It all starts at home as we know – be it discipline, learning a language or learning common courtesy.  Whatever the child is learning via the home front is what the child will gravitate towards.  The understanding of the nuances of the target language might throw them for a loop at times, but it all shakes out in the end.

Happy Educating!  ¡Sea feliz educando!

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