Studying a language is incredibly rewarding. It opens up a whole new world (quite literally) of opportunities. Learning a language isn't just grammar and vocabulary; it's also the study of history, culture, psychology, politics, linguistics, music, art, literature... and so much more.
But trying to explain to others what your passion for another language is another story. Everyone has their own preconceived notions and misperceptions about other languages and language learning. Also, it doesn't lead to a clearly defined career path, so people often have lots of questions. Here are a few things Spanish majors are tired of hearing:
1. “Wait, do you, like, speak Spanish? Say something in Spanish!”
Spontaneously trying to come up with something completely random to say is hard. And you probably won't even understand what I said so what's the point?
2. "Oh yeah, I speak Spanish. I took it in high school".
3. "So you've studied abroad, right?"
Some universities require a study abroad experience for graduation in this major, others do not. If you did have a chance to study abroad, this is a great chance to share your fun and life-changing experience! But if you haven't studied abroad, this question gets tiring.
I never got a chance to study abroad, unfortunately. In a lot of my classes, we started with a icebreaker question that included, "Tell the group where you've traveled internationally," and it always made me feel so inadequate to have to say I haven't been outside of my country yet.
4. "All I know how to say is cerveza and baño."
If I had a $1 for every time I've heard this, I'd be rich. Add another $1 for every time one of those words are pronounced wrong too.
5. "So... are you going to be a teacher?"
Not every Spanish major selects the teacher education concentration! I know many who are pre-med, pre-law, or double majoring in something like Poli sci.
6. "So do you speak Spanish?"
It really depends on how far you are into your studies and your background. And language learning is a lifelong experience. I am more fluent now than I ever was in school, due to real world experiences speaking with people.
7. "Do you know every word in Spanish?"
Yes, I've been asked this. And I just asked, "Do you know every word in English?".
8. "Can you help me translate ....?"
I love helping people, that's part of the fun of learning a language. But I've been asked to translate some really random conversations before. My dad likes to ask me things to tell his house painter.
9. "Hey everyone, this is _______ and she speaks Spanish!"
I don't like being put on the spot.
10. "Can you teach me a bad/dirty word?"
I hold so much power.
11. "Can you help me with my Spanish 101 class?"
I actually enjoy tutoring, but just know you can't really cram this kind of knowledge the night before your final.
12. "So where's the best place in town for authentic food?"
Just kidding, I got you, I've got a long list of awesome spots you should try.