Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The best English or Spanish to study

Spanish and English are spoken in so many different countries and have so many varieties, that often the questions arise: Which variety is the best to study? Which type of English or Spanish should I teach my children?

The point is very tenable because most people are confused, and rightly so, when they are confronted with a difficult choice in the case of English, for instance. American English or British English? Most Europeans believe that, of course, real English is the one spoken in the British Isles and that American English is a bastard tongue. I believe that Britishers think so too. I do not.

The case of Spanish is probably worse because in the US the language has been neatly divided into two distinct varieties: South American Spanish and Peninsular Spanish. However, the question cannot be waved aside so sweepingly and neatly. Each country has its peculiarities: the Spanish spoken in Mexico is not the same as the Spanish spoken in Argentina or Paraguay, all of them Latin American nations.The Cuban accent is not the same as Colombian accent.

Let me make it clear for you.

The Spanish and English languages, no matter where they are spoken, have the same grammatical foundation, the same wiring, the same scaffolding that make Spanish and English adjectives, verbs, conjunctions, nouns, pronouns act the same everywhere. Grammar, with certain differences, is the same for all and form the firm ground for rich varieties in both languages.

The basic vocabulary: tener, to have; silla, chair; nube, cloud; y, and¸ loco, crazy, saber, to know; ir, to go… are the bricks, common to all, that keep up the edifice of the language. Each country, each region within each country, will have different words at times, peculiar idiomatic expressions, and even sounds.

What is the answer then to the question above?

The best English and Spanish, regardless of origin, is the one that can be best understood by most people. Educated English and educated Spanish will stand you and your children in good stead anywhere, in any country, in any region, of the English and Spanish speaking worlds. It is that simple.

Make sure your child’s teacher -regardless where she comes from- speaks distinctly and clearly. Most teachers do, of course, whether they come from Peru, Argentina, Spain, Mexico or Guatemala. A good teacher will use an educated language, easy to understand by all.

Well spoken, distinct Spanish, is a joy to the ear, whether the accent is Chilean or Colombian.  Well spoken, distinct English, whether the accent is Southern American, Oxonian, Scottish, is a joy to the ear and will always be understood, which is the aim of language:  communication. 

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