I Speak Spanish! Why Are People Speaking to Me in English?!

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By: Sophie Lakin

It feels like most of the time I try to talk to anyone in Spanish, they respond to me in English! I began to think if it was really that obvious that I was American. I immediately start thinking, am I really not that good at Spanish? Do I sound like a guiri? Do I not have a strong enough accent? 

I have been taking Spanish for about 8 years now and I’m minoring in Spanish. In fact, one of the main reasons I came to Madrid was so I could improve my Spanish, so it definitely hurts my ego when I’m spoken to in English. I spoke to one of my professors about how this is an often occurrence and she explained how as much as I want to practice my Spanish, they want to practice their English just as much. It makes sense because if I were in the United States and someone started speaking to me in Spanglish, I would be eager to speak to them in Spanish. I realize that the only places you can really practice a language is either in a classroom or an immersed environment. At home, it is definitely a lot harder to practice Spanish since I am constantly surrounded by English speakers just like how it would be difficult for an English learner to practice English in Spain

From my experiences thus far, I’ve realized that you need to take it with a grain of salt. They aren’t underestimating my Spanish speaking abilities or think I’m not smart because my grammar isn’t perfect, they simply just want to practice their English. I will say, however, it is always such a huge win whenever someone comes up to me and asks me a question in Spanish or when I am able to have a full conversation in Spanish. Moments like that I know I have made it. 

Read More: The 6 Best Places to Learn Spanish Abroad