Friday, May 8, 2015

Spanish people can't speak English. Is that so?

Apparently, yes. Surveys say that most Spaniards cannot get by in Shakespeare's tongue (only 22% feels able to express themselves in English, according to a 2014 study conducted by the European Comission's Eurobarometer).  Public figures are no exception. In this article we show you some embarrassing moments of Spanish politicians and people in the banking, cinema and sports businesses speaking English. Warning: theses videos might hurt your ears and make you cringe.

Madrid's bid to host the 2020 Olympics left several unforgettable moments. We pick two. The first one, this super brief intervention by Alejandro Blanco, president of the Spanish Olympic Committee:

Yes, you heard right, "No listen the ask". He seemed a little bit angry, didn't he? But the star, no doubt, was Ana Botella, Madrid Mayor:

She had learnt the speech by heart, and not even so... Her "fake" pronunciation and exagerated expression made her the target of numerous criticism and most of all... parodies! Besides the legendary "Chuck Norris gets mad when he hears Ana Botella speaking English", this song is among our favourites:

Her husband, former Prime Minister José María Aznar,  also left notable contributions. The audio in this video is real:

Spanish politicians and the English language don't seem to get along very well, which most likely took its toll in international meetings. In this video, watch Aznar's successor as Primer Minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, try to explain another former Primer Minister, Felipe González's hobby: growing bonsais.  

Our difficulties speaking English go back a long way, actually. This is dictator Francisco Franco:

New generations of politicians don't seem to be off the hook. Meet Pablo Iglesias, the leader of the new political party Podemos:

Talking about macaronic English, a clear winner emerges from the banking industry. Even after having presumably rehearsed the script several times, this is how Emilio Botín, late president of Banco Santander, sounded:

Sports figures provide us with good examples, too. This is footballer Sergio Ramos' Christmas message. Priceless:

Ever wanted to know more about Santiago Bernabéu Stadium? Raúl González tells you... Let's see if you can understand...

 And here is Jesús Gil, late president of Atlético de Madrid (and former Mayor of Marbella, one of the most touristic cities in Spain), giving his view on a racist affair:

Yet another profession where good English speakers are not easy to find: actors (so it says casting director Pep Armengol in this article). And film directors, as these videos show. Watch the speeches of Pedro Almodóvar and José Luis Garci after winning the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

The list could go on... Fortunately, there also are examples of the opposite. Saying that Spaniards can't speak English, or that their English is bad, is a rather unfair generalization. Some of our best sports players (Pau and Marc Gasol, for instance) and actors (Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem) have improved and now speak English fluently. 

How did they do it? Good teachers and linguistic and cultural immersion. Exactly what you can get at our courses, and thus not sound in Spanish like the Spaniards above sound in English. The fact that most Spaniards can't get by in English is good for you as a Spanish learner. You will be able to practise the language profusely. But don't panic if you are a beginner: Tía Tula's staff can speak English well (maybe not The Queen's English, but fluent English). Although we try to get you to speak Spanish as much as possible, should we need to, we can communicate in English. 

Here is a Youtube playlist with all the videos in this article, and then some.

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