Non-Spanish speakers lose piece of heritage

By Ayana Arroyo

Students at East Los Angeles College might be losing their language roots. I believe it is slightly disappointing not knowing how to speak Spanish in a community that is of  Hispanic heritage.

It’s wrong to forget or not care to know about something which is closely tied to who you are. Learning Spanish is probably the easiest language to learn in Los Angeles.

I asked students outside my class if they knew how to speak Spanish. Out of the eight asked, three said they did not.

I took it a step further and increased the number of people asked from eight to 25 students.

Out of the 25 students, 11 said they didn’t speak Spanish.

In another class, I asked everyone in the room who knew how to speak Spanish, although a good handful raised their hands; about 40 percent of the class didn’t.

In a school with over 60 percent of students being Hispanic, according to, it’s truly a mystery how everyone doesn’t already know how to speak Spanish.

“I only understand some things. That’s why I just think, why bother?” student Carlos Gonzalez said.

Some students reported that they knew how to speak Spanish when they were young, but as the years went on they started speaking more English. Now, as adults, they find they’re not as fluent as they wanted to be.

Somewhere along the way they forgot how to speak Spanish and English became their first language.

“My dad speaks Spanish very well. All of my family around me does too. My aunts, cousins, uncles and grandparents,” student Jose Hernandez said.

“I mean, why was I never taught? I’m not entirely sure. I mean, most of the time my dad was working so, I guess that’s probably the biggest reason why I don’t know.” he said.

Maybe students’ lack of the Spanish language is because parents were too busy working and providing for their families to teach them another language.

“I never learned. The only reason I know the little that I know is because I took some courses here at ELAC,” Ashley Rodriguez said.

Besides Rodriguez, there were two other students I talked who reported they also knew some Spanish because they had taken courses, either in high school or in college.

Maybe students who find they are clueless about the language and need an extra class could register for a Spanish class on campus. It will be a fun and quick way to learn the language.

Other students said they understood some of the words and phrases, but were terrible at speaking it. Out of the embarrassment of not sounding fluent, students prefer to just stay quiet and shake their heads in agreement or disagreement.

Students who find they are embarrassed of sounding bad shouldn’t be. Most of the time people only care that you understand.

Even small steps such as ordering your food off the menu of your favorite burger place in Spanish is a great way to build up more proficient pronunciation.

With the Hispanic and Latino\a ethnicities quickly increasing within the United States, it is strange that many people do not know how to fluently speak in Spanish.

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