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Mac's Poll - Let's Vote

Curious to know what the general opinion is? Cast your vote and let's see!!

POLL : How well do you speak Spanish? Have you improved?
10 September 2019 @ 15:03

George Orwell wrote in 1938: "The only way I could get along was to carry everywhere a small dictionary which I whipped out of my pocket at moments of crisis. But I would sooner be a foreigner in Spain than in most countries. How easy it is to make friends in Spain!"

 More than 70 years after the publication of Homage to Catalonia, hundreds of thousands of Orwell's fellow countrymen have followed his lead, eventhough many have now returned due to the crisis. The British are still the largest contingent of foreigners in Spain. But how well does that population speak Spanish? 

 

These are a few views of expat journalists, expat politicians and locals on the subject:

 

  • "Brits tends to live in a bubble. With more and more information available in English, there's less reason to learn Spanish and, as a consequence, less opportunity to understand the local culture. Many residents speak no more than 10 Spanish words in an average week – usually restaurant Spanish – and they pride themselves on 'getting by'.”
  •  "By moving to Spain, most have opted out of the rat race, substituting social responsibility for social activity within the numerous Brit clubs, amateur theatre and charity groups that have mushroomed over the entire Costa Blanca." 
  • "It's difficult. I try to practise my Spanish but people come back to me in English."
  • "British people do not seem to integrate terribly well.They are very good at societies, book clubs, social organisations of different kinds but, in general, they seem to associate more often with other expats.”

Can you relate to any of these thoughts?

Research has shown,  using Spanish in everyday situations and sticking to regular classes can help prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease, say, doctors.

Learning a foreign language could put back the first signs of dementia by at least five years, 

Expatriates in Spain are at a particular advantage since those who regularly use the language they have learnt are even more likely to fight off Alzheimer's than those who have merely studied one and let it lay dormant. Whilst crosswords, sudokus and other 'thinking' puzzles have long been lauded as a tool for fighting off memory loss and confusion in old age, experts believe that those who speak two or more languages have even more chance of retaining their mental faculties.

They say learning a language is a more powerful type of mental exercise, and builds up a bank of 'spare' brainpower which helps the mind to keep working for longer and more effectively, slowing down the debilitating effects of Alzheimer's.

Medics behind the research, which took place at York University in Toronto, Canada, say this is rather like keeping a spare battery for your mobile phone or an emergency tank of petrol in your car.

"It means your brain can keep going for longer because there is more in the safety tank," they say.

The part of the brain that controls memory, decision-making, reasoning and expressing oneself in words is made stronger, more flexible and more resistant to damage by learning and using a foreign language.

Doctors claim the sooner a person starts to learn a language, the more beneficial it is for slowing down the process of dementia and age-related confusion.

Researchers found that the average Alzheimer's sufferer began to see the early symptoms of their condition in their mid-70s, or younger, where they only spoke one language.

But those who spoke two or more languages - or were actively learning one - tended to be in their 80s before they were diagnosed with dementia.

Additionally, the process of the mind breaking down - including loss of short-term memory - took hold much more rapidly in monolingual patients.

However, they warn that learning a language will not actually prevent Alzheimer's - it will simply slow down the associated mental deterioration and stop the condition from manifesting itself for much longer.

 

6 years ago we ran this poll and the results were not that surprising for some...

 

 

I thought it might be interesting to see if the EOS members have improved at all in recent years and if there is now a larger percentage of Spanish speakers amongst us...

 

To help clarify some of the options :

  • "Fluent", I would describe as having no difficulty discussing any topic that you could discuss in your mother tongue. The odd grammatical mistake may happen, even as it does when using your mother tongue. We all make grammatical errors every day without realising it most of the time, but they normally go unnoticed. You would also have very good control of the phonological features of the language.
  • "Having a decent conversation" is basically being able to talk about most topics that you would in your mother tongue but you may be occasionally limited by vocabulary or grammar but most certainly able to communicate with a good degree of fluency although with some degree of hesitation. You would also have good control of the phonological features of the language.
  • "Enough to get by and be understood" would fall short of being able to produce well constructed and extended discourse, but you would be able to communicate and be understood. But your vocabulary is limited as would be your phonological control of the language.

So please cast your vote:

 

 



Like 1




11 Comments


pommers said:
10 September 2019 @ 16:53

I think last time you took the poll I probably said the same!
I am slightly deaf and find is soooooooo hard to "hear" what people say to me as they speak too quickly for me. Plus we live in a village where many of the villagers speak Valenciano - and when they do speak Castellano they speak it with an strong accent and have their own patua.
When we first moved here we had an amazing Spanish teacher who told us it was akin to moving to Newcastle on Tyne - where she had been to study English and sympathised with the fact that we were struggling!


Annie said:
14 September 2019 @ 09:52

Native English speakers are both blessed and cursed by the popularity of their native tongue. Nearly everyone in the world learns some English at school and even those who don't come across it in day to day life. If you know English, you can get by in most other countries. My Dutch friends, when they first came to Spain, used English to talk with their Spanish estate agent.

Children pick up new languages quickly and, by osmosis, so eventually do their parents. Those who work with natives will also learn quickly. However, those who do not work need to have a social circle that includes many locals and that's where pensioners come unstuck.

If someone knows English, then they can get by in most places - which other language offers the same flexibility? I speak French fluently - not much use to me in most other countries and learning Spanish from scratch aged 70 is truly not easy.


Mike said:
14 September 2019 @ 10:22

Sadly, for years, I followed the traditional method of learning Spanish - classes, study grammar, construction etc. I became quite good at all that but could I have a normal conversation. Absolutely not.
For me the answer seems to be to follow the Stephen Krashen method. That is to say we ´aquire´a foreign language through listening and reading comprehensible input.
For me this is working.


dontknow said:
14 September 2019 @ 10:55

My problem is because I attend an Italian class, I keep mixing up Italian with Spanish as there are similarities in both languages...... when I go back to my class in Wales I often slip in a Spanish word instead of an Italian word. Re learning a language putting back dementia by five years, I was bought up bilingual welsh/English and I have since been learning three more languages, so does that mean my dementia will be set back 15 years? Lol.


marelison said:
14 September 2019 @ 11:03

I can never understand native english speakers when 70% of common word are the same in spainsh and english. - English spoken should be in shame for staying in the country of Spain with their arrogance and lazyness and do nothing about it. - No other non-latin based languages are closer. - No other.

Mar Elison
fluent speaking,
Iceland.


Gipsy Rover said:
14 September 2019 @ 11:39

While there is a great similarity where words are concerned it is the structure that is difficult also different verbs to English ones are sometimes used to describe, then there is the prepositions to take into account though the latter are not too difficult to grasp.


Besss said:
14 September 2019 @ 13:17

70% of Spanish words being similar make it much easier to understand for the English, especially when written- but fishing out the right variant of a word instantly for conversation is definitely not so easy! And Spanish words have often illogical genders, which have to agree with the other words in the sentence..


Carol said:
14 September 2019 @ 15:55

I decided to avoid english speakers when I arrived four years ago. The grammar book was too boring so I learned enough to hold a decent conversation doing language exchange with the locals. I am now finding my lack of grammar and proliferation of swearwords a handicap in some circkes si I have signed up for a course at uni to improve.


Margot Brunelle said:
14 September 2019 @ 19:14

My husband and I (Cdn) spent 6 wks in Andalucia this spring. We flew from the Yucatan, Mexico, where we also spent 6 wks. We were truly shocked when we arrived in Spain by how unfriendly most of the people were. In the Yucatan you are stopped everywhere and asked where you’re from .. why you are there .. and sent off with best wishes for a great trip. In Andalucia people did not seem to care who we were or why were there. I speak some Spanish and my husband tried too. We always make an effort to communicate with the locals. Unfortunately I think most of them are so sick of the insular arrogant unilingual British hordes, they no longer distinguish between one English-speaking tourist and another.


Margot Brunelle said:
14 September 2019 @ 19:15

My husband and I (Cdn) spent 6 wks in Andalucia this spring. We flew from the Yucatan, Mexico, where we also spent 6 wks. We were truly shocked when we arrived in Spain by how unfriendly most of the people were. In the Yucatan you are stopped everywhere and asked where you’re from .. why you are there .. and sent off with best wishes for a great trip. In Andalucia people did not seem to care who we were or why were there. I speak some Spanish and my husband tried too. We always make an effort to communicate with the locals. Unfortunately I think most of them are so sick of the insular arrogant unilingual British hordes, they no longer distinguish between one English-speaking tourist and another.


Virginia Pilkington said:
15 September 2019 @ 08:24

We live on a very large Urbanisation where the occupants are predominantly British, who mostly do not learn Spanish. We have persevered over the years, and have reached a reasonable level. It is difficult to practise, as there are so few Spanish residents, and the Spanish who work in the service industries on the Urbanisation have now learned enough English to communicte with their clientele, and when you speak to them in Spanish, they generally respond in English, as they want to practice English. Also, a generation of bi-lingual British children have grown up here, and are now working in the service industry --- it's most frustrationg for those who wish to improve their level of Spanish. One is living in Spain, and it's difficult to practise the language. However, we'll keep on trying!



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