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What “Kind” of Spanish Should Your Kids Learn?

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What “kind” of Spanish should your kids learn? Should they learn Spain Spanish, Mexican Spanish, or Spanish particular to any other country? In a way, it doesn’t really matter. As long as your kids are learning the structure of the language, they will be able to communicate with Spanish speakers anywhere.

To help understand this we can look at our own language, English. We would all agree that the structure of the English language is the same across all countries where it is spoken, like in the U.S., England, Ireland, etc. But, some vocabulary varies as well as pronunciation and slang. You would probably agree that anyone, if they learned the structure of the English language, would be able to communicate with any English speakers, allowing for some time to adapt as needed.

Years ago I had a roommate from Ireland. She went home one year for a visit, and when she came back, she brought videos she had taken with her family. When she played them for me, I had a very hard time understanding what they were saying. Their accents were so different, and they were using some words I didn’t know. But, as I watched longer, my ear began to adjust, and I understood more of what they were saying. And, I was able to ask about some words I didn’t understand. For example, I learned that they call the trunk of the car a “boot” and a shopping cart a “trolley”!

In my own experience learning Spanish, there was never a label given to the Spanish I was learning. In high school it was “Spanish”, and in college, as a Spanish major, classes were taught by professors from various Spanish speaking countries using the texts they had chosen. The focus was on learning the Spanish language and then, over time, developing the ability to communicate across country lines. This comes from practice communicating with native speakers. As a student learns a new language, he/she begins to pick up vocabulary and pronunciation variances specific to those people he/she practices with.

As a student I spent several months in Spain. At that time, I began to speak more like a Spaniard from Southern Spain. After college, when I worked in exporting, I spoke with people from many different Spanish speaking countries. I found the Spanish from some countries easier to understand than others. But, with practice, I could communicate with them all.

And, today, I have neighbors who are from Mexico, and once again I have had to adapt to their style of Spanish. Now and then I hear them say words I don’t know, and then I ask what they mean. For example, I always knew the word for “backpack” to be “la mochila”. My neighbors say “el moral”.

So, if you are asking “What Spanish should my kids learn?”, I would say “it doesn’t necessarily matter”. As long as you choose a program that teaches your child the structure of the language, it will be sufficient. To ensure the structure is learned, you want something that includes learning verb conjugation and grammar via whatever method the program uses.

At the same time, your child will learn whatever vocabulary and pronunciation the program provides, and that is ok. Vocabulary and pronunciation will vary from country to country, but for the most part, it will be universal enough to be able to communicate, and as your child becomes more proficient, he or she will develop the ability to adapt as needed.

Debbie

PS – Spanish for You! teaches what I call “middle of the road” Spanish. This means the Spanish is not tailored to any specific country, but rather provides the formal structure of the language so as to prepare learners for communicating with Spanish speakers from all Spanish speaking countries.

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