January 2, 2014, by Guest blog

If I can survive the Southern accent, I will be able to understand every Spanish accent in the world

Post written by Georgia Brookes.

After finding out I was going to the Universidad de Cádiz but before arriving, when telling family and friends where I would be spending the winter months of my year abroad, I kept hearing about the infamous Andalucian accent and wondering how bad it really was. Well it turns out the Spanish accent in Cádiz is almost incomprehensible to Spaniards from elsewhere in the country, let alone for little English me, just studying the language! When I first arrived I thought I had forgotten all of the Spanish I had acquired over the years; why couldn’t I understand anyone? When I began lectures at the university a lot of them were spent straining my ears trying to catch words I could understand, and my notes were full of question marks and annotations to myself to find out what on earth the topic was that week!

Over the months I have gotten used to the accent, though it is still difficult. A friend and I went to visit another friend working in Madrid, which involved a 9 hour bus journey through Spain, and when we arrived, sitting on the metro I could suddenly understand every Spanish word I heard spoken around me. I realised that in reality I hadn’t forgotten my Spanish, and if I can survive through the Southern accent, I would be able to understand every Spanish accent in the world.

GB 2

When searching for a flat at the beginning of my time in Cádiz I was determined not to live with anyone English so as to be surrounded by the Spanish language. I found a house with two lovely girls from Kazakhstan, and a German girl; all of whom unfortunately knew no Spanish, but were fluent in English. So I am surrounded by the English language at home which is more relaxing for me, but not good for my Spanish improvement!

Being on the Erasmus programme I have been lucky enough to have met people from all over the world, and I now have plenty of international friends; some of whom I speak with in Spanish, but I’m afraid most of them I speak to in English when we get lazy…which is often.

A fellow Nottingham friend also studying in Cádiz and I met a Spanish girl who lives in the new part of the city and who, after working all together in a translation class, we arranged to meet every Tuesday for what they call ‘tandem’, where we share our natural language skills. We meet in the university café and talk for half an hour in Spanish, and half an hour in English. She is studying English so these casual meetings are beneficial for all of us and it proves I am trying to speak as much Spanish as I can outside of my English-speaking group of friends.

With only about a month left in Spain, I am going to go all out with making sure my Spanish is up to par, and hopefully when I jet off to Brazil in March, it will not be forgotten!

Posted in Language acquisition