Spanish or Spanglish
Shall we speak Spanish or Spanglish or both? I have asserted for some time now that we are living in a “de facto” bilingual society today here in the U.S.A. Of course, I mean that we have an American English speaking population, and the percentage of Spanish speakers is on a significant rise. Further, the practice of combining English and Spanish into one phrase or sentence is what we call “Spanglish,” and that is on the increase as well. It used to be limited to the U.S. border with Mexico, but no longer.
So, is it Spanish or “Spanglish?” In a previous blog, I wrote about “Spanglish” and how it has affected our language and is used often in many public places, and on TV and radio commercials in the States. You find “Spanglish” written on road signs, billboards, and all sorts of ads. The practice is widespread across the U.S.A.
In an article from The Huffington PostLatino Voices entitled ”Meet Spanglish, The Language of America’s Future,” the author discussed the effects on our language and our commerce. It showed lots of photos of signs and billboards in “Spanglish.”
If you’re still not convinced of the upward Spanish language trend, check out the U.S. Census Bureau Hispanic population statistics and a cool interactive language “mapper” that highlights Spanish as well as other languages spoken in the continental U.S.A.
Since Spanish is the third largest language spoken in the world, it may serve you well both in U.S.A. and abroad to pick up a few bits. So, if you want to stay ahead of the game, it wouldn’t hurt to learn some Spanish, or improve on what you know.
It may not be as difficult as you think. As a native English speaker, there are many words you already know in English that have the equivalent in Spanish, like anterior, angel, capital, casino, drama and the list continues. This is one of the techniques we cover in our Super Thinking + Spanish course.
The Spanish language is an essential key to understanding Hispanic/Latino culture; thus, we at Hispanic Globe take language learning very seriously. Whether it’s Spanish or “Spanglish”, we’re always looking for resources to help “gringos” learn quickly, efficiently and with less stress. So it is with that goal in mind that we have invited Peter Smith from “OpenExam” to say a few words on the subject.
Here’s an article from Peter, who currently is secretary to the organization OpenExam. OpenExam is a learning resource that helps address the needs of students and teachers who want to improve their language learning process. Please note that you will see a few spelling differences, hence the difference between American and British English.
A recipe to banish Spanish language assessment woes?
In Language Testing in Asia 2013 John Love Joy puts his finger on a problematic aspect of language assessment: Students, irrespective of their proficiency level in L2 (speaking), are unable to perform well in exams. They are psychologically affected and hence become silent victims of the rigid testing system.
If you have ever been a candidate for a foreign language speaking exam, you may recall anxiety-induced physiological reactions – sweaty palms, headache, a pounding heart, and, worse still, memory failure.
The OpenExam organisation, formed in 2013, is looking at ways to solve this problem by providing teachers and students with the latest language lab technology for their examination preparation.
Feelings of alienation are a common reaction of students to a wide range of summative tests. Although a low level of anxiety can actually be beneficial, many researchers have concluded that fear of failure is a major factor that can impair test performance and lead to underachievement. In Alcala’s (2002) words, anxious students “frequently fail to reach their potential. Their marks do not fully reflect their knowledge of a second language”.
It has been established (Young, 1991) that students’ anxiety levels are high if the test involves ‘content that has not been taught in class’. This is likely in oral language tests because an important component of a candidate’s oral ability is the building of self-confidence which can often only come with daily practice in the foreign language.
Ideally, this is acquired through regular opportunities to practice speaking the language with a competent speaker of that language, preferably on a daily basis. However, for many teachers, especially if they have large student groups, these situations are difficult to provide. Native Spanish speakers are not always present and/or available when needed. Even if they are in the local school or community, it is hard to match individuals and even harder to engineer scenarios in which useful and developmental interactions can take place.
The OpenExam organisation aims to resolve this logistical problem of providing regular, effective dialogues between language learners by capitalizing on the spread of ‘1:1’ school policies. By allowing interactions using smart devices to communicate 1:1 with peers abroad in a competitive, collaborative yet controlled virtual environment, OE will be encouraging students to work towards desired qualifications in a more meaningful, motivational manner.
There will be a new emphasis on productive work arising directly from such collaborative initiatives. OpenExam will be rewarding effective cooperation between students across the globe and the willingness and ability of students to give foreign peers the benefit of their own innate linguistic abilities. In this ambassadorial role, they will learn to better appreciate the benefits of their own culture and those of sharing it with others. In the process, they will be equipping themselves for careers requiring precisely these collaborative and intercultural skills in our increasingly globalised society.
Online technology newly developed for this purpose will:
1. Provide the necessary opportunities for connections between students and their teachers
2. Provide ‘gamification’ and assessment themes to encourage regular involvement and increase motivation
3. Maintain the security of the desired connections
4. Provide educators with the means to assess both individual and collaborative skills
By boosting self-confidence through daily exposure to the challenges of cross-cultural exchanges, it is hoped that there will be a reduction in anxiety and alienation amongst examination candidates leading to an increase in the popularity and uptake of Spanish and other foreign languages.
The OpenExam Exchange Programme Project
The aim of the Project is to help students with practice of language examinations, while collaborating with and receiving assessment from their exchange partners.
Students will be able to practise writing, speaking, reading and listening examinations online, exchanging feedback and conducting peer assessment with their partners abroad, both synchronously and asynchronously. The project will begin with writing skills, then move onto speaking, reading and listening practice.
An element of competition, the application of familiar online technology, and the use of language for real purposes will be important ingredients in motivating students. They will know that their work will be reviewed by peers in addition to the teacher, and that exchange partners can give more rapid and authentic feedback than is possible for a single teacher with a large class size.
Click here to register interest in the OpenExam Language Exchange Project.
Peter Smith is an honours graduate of the Department of European Studies, University of East Anglia, and Dept. of Psychology, Salzburg University. He has 30 years of language teaching experience at both middle and high school levels. Since the mid 1970’s he has researched the motivational language learning and assessment possibilities offered by audio, video and online technology. As secretary of OpenExam, Peter can see the dawning of a new era in which students everywhere take more control of their language learning with the new technologies and work together for the common good.
We hope you found this article and OpenExam useful.
Many thanks to Peter Smith.
Don’t forget to look for the next Super Thinking + Spanish course here or just register here. The next course is on August 15-17 in St. Charles, MO, in which our focus is upon “relaxed concentration” using super learning techniques. Oh, and we manage to have some fun too.