How Speaking Spanish and Writing Spanish Vary

I went in for my Spanish interview yesterday, the first of the two this semester. Though longer than the ones last semester, being that I’m in Spanish 2 this semester instead of Spanish 1, the process went rather easily. Afterward, I saw my old teacher Sophia, and we chatted. She had previously seen me as she went into her class across the hall where the other class was doing theirs, and when I told her I had scored a 22 of 25 she was thrilled. She then said something I’ve been thinking about since then.

“Well speaking is your strong suit!”

As I thought about that, I realized she was right. My grades on all three interviews I’ve done with teachers (three total between my class and a half of Spanish so far) have all been higher than my composition grades. I do well on those also, don’t get me wrong, but where I average a B on compositions, I average about an A- on interviews.

This all got me thinking about why that was, me being an English major and someone who prides himself in his love of writing and his slightly post-middle school ability to do it ;).

The answer for why I’m a better Spanish speaker instead of writer didn’t take long for me to realize. It’s because writing it just isn’t as fun! It requires you to put accents on words via writing which is tough because I’m seldom sure what an accent sounds like. With speaking, all I have to do is sort of feel it, and to inflect a word in a way that puts the proper emphasis on the proper syllable. There’s a type of muscle memory there that I’m already finding exists in speaking related mental processes that doesn’t in my writing. I’d suspect it’s because I’ve grown up writing in English; a language relatively free of accents within words, that is the marks themselves I mean (I.E. stuff like the accent mark on é).

Theoretically though, I guess you could consider punctuation in general a form of “accenting,” thus conceivably making the transition between writing the two languages much less of a jump than I’ve previously made it out to be.

Thus, I think it’s time I spend some work sharpening my knowledge of punctation in English. I’ve known for some time that I interpret line breaks and commas a little differently when reading poetry than some of my contemporaries, so it might be time to seek guidance on what all this punctuation practically means. I think I’ll schedule an appointment for today with my local writing center and see if we can’t read some poetry together. That’ll be fun 🙂

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