Thursday, December 6, 2012

Mayor Bloomberg Can't Speak Spanish.Here is Why

News outlets are reporting that Michael Bloomberg,  the Major of New York, and its richest citizen,  has decided one more time to enroll himself in Spanish classes.

The mayor has been trying to learn Spanish  with a  private tutor for the past 4 years, as a way to connect better with Latinos in the city. Unfortunately for him, his efforts to connect with this important constituency through speaking Spanish have gotten him constant mocking by traditional media and by many others in the social networks.

See his last public intervention in Spanish:

For us, it is very clear he is a committed person who truly wants to be able to speak Spanish. You would think a billionaire like Bloomberg could afford any tutor or methodology he wants. It has been four years now since he first started his Spanish training. Clearly something is missing and we think it has to do with HOW he is learning Spanish.

Here are the 3 reasons why his efforts are not paying off better and a few tips for the Mayor  (and for any Spanish language Student) on what corrective action to take.

Reason #1 : Bloomberg is not thinking in Spanish.
After looking at the mayor addressing the public in Spanish it is clear that he is only reading prepared statements in Spanish. This suggests to us that he has not achieved a level of skill where his brain can think naturally in Spanish. As any second language student knows, your brain can get overwhelmed when you are thinking first in your own language then finding a translation for your thoughts in that new language. The result: you sound awkward.

Tip: Mayor Bloomberg, you have to start thinking in Spanish. The way to do that is by forcing yourself to speak your thoughts in a more natural way.Get rid of the prepared statements. Let your brain do the automatic switch. Painful at the beginning but the best long term habit that would make your Spanish sound much more natural.

Reason #2: Bloomberg is learning using the longest method to speak Spanish
Bloombergs's Spanish speech suggest hes is probably using the classic method of learning a new language where you first absorb a lot of grammar and rules, so you can then apply all those rules to your speaking. The problem with this method is that you only get to speak and feel comfortable about speaking after you have mastered all the grammar and the rules of Spanish. The mayor's remarks in Spanish deserved an A+ in grammar and probably his writing is very good but the speaking part cannot be left last. It should be the first skill to master.

Tip: Talk in Spanish even if grammatically is incorrect.You will sound more natural that way and you will have the chance to get grammatically correct later.Yes, we are suggesting drop the books for a while and go have real life conversations with real native speakers.

Reason #3: Bloomberg is adding pressure to his Spanish 
Bloomberg is a major public person in the United States and even the world. The fact that  he has the courage to speak in Spanish in front of millions of viewers is truly remarkable and an example for any Spanish language student out there. One of the biggest problems when you first start to study Spanish is the fear of not speaking properly in front of another person. That fear gets in the way of students progress many, many times.
Having the courage to speak in front of others is definitively the recommended action, however, if you are a public figure like Bloomberg  you would definitely get a lot of pressure in the form of criticisms from anybody who cares to have an opinion and when you are a rich politician everybody seems to have an opinion about what you do or say.

Tip: continue to have the guts to speak in Spanish anywhere and with anyone but if you are a public figure, we would suggest a quiet period, at least until corrections in the methodology you are using are in placed. This would boost your confidence and your Spanish is going to sound much better.

Finally Mayor, since you can afford it stick to a One on One tutor. Just make sure he has a methodology that focuses more on Speaking. All things equal, you would always get a much better value from a One on One interaction with a tutor than a group class. Good luck Mayor and thank you for caring to speak Spanish!

Article by 1to1languages - Spanish lessons online via Skype

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