Does Selena Gomez Speak Spanish?

Selena Gomez, the talented actress and singer who starred in Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place and the film Spring Breakers, is of mixed descent. Her mother is Italian-American and her father is Mexican-American.

Considering her Mexican heritage and her Hispanic last name, many expect her to speak Spanish. But does she?

Is Selena Gomez’s Spanish Bueno or Ay dios mio?
By dephisticate [CC BY 2.0 ], Image Source

The Verdict

It looks like the answer is tricky. Selena seems to speak a little Spanish, but not much and not fluently.

In a 2010 interview with, Selena said:

I practice [Spanish], but I can understand it better than I can speak it. So in a lot of my interviews that I did recently, they would speak to me in Spanish and I would answer back in English. They were like, “You pick it up so easily,” but I don’t want to say it in Spanish because I’d be embarrassed if I mess something up.

In that same interview, Selena also said that she wanted to get Rosetta Stone so that she could improve her skills.

Selena has hinted that she used to speak Spanish. As reported by Fox News, Selena told the Associated Press:

She lost her Spanish when she began attending school, but…she is more than willing to learn it again to avoid a disconnect “with our audience.”

The Spanish Music

In 2010, Selena released a Spanish version of her hit song “A Year without Rain,” titled “Un Año Sin Lluvia,” which was probably an attempt to reach out to Latino fans on Spanish-language radio stations.

Her accent seems passable (as judged by me, a non-native Spanish speaker). But of course, being able to sing prepared lyrics isn’t the same as producing spontaneous speech.

In 2012 she told several media outlets that she had plans to release a full Spanish album with her group Selena Gomez & the Scene. It looks like those plans have been put on hold, though, as she has put aside music for the time being to focus on acting.

How Selena Can Learn Spanish

The thing is, Selena is probably closer than she thinks to being able to speak Spanish. If we can take her at her word, she said she understands a lot of Spanish but can’t speak it. That’s a pretty common problem that I touch on in my article “Can’t Speak a Foreign Language? Why Speaking is So Hard.”

But she has the base knowledge of common vocabulary and the language’s rhythms. In addition to general studying, she needs:

  • Speaking practice – She has to get used to producing and understanding speech, preferably during one-on-one time with a tutor.
  • Grammar – She doesn’t have to go overboard, but a little grammar would help her produce sentences confidently.
  • Listening – Listening to the radio and Spanish-language TV shows would help her get an ear for a language, which would translate over to speaking.

Also, if I were her, I’d forget Rosetta Stone and go with Pimsleur. It would have more carryover to her ability to speak. My full review of Pimsleur Spanish is here.

In any case, I don’t judge people for their language ability, or lack of it. I do know, however, that if Selena wants to learn Spanish, she absolutely can. And doing so would give her a rewarding accomplishment that would enrich her life.


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  • disqus_2WE5eZrg16

    I’m learning Spanish, and her Spanish definitely seems a tiny bit off, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. But I really admire that she’s releasing entire songs in Spanish. (She’s since released two more!)

    I’m having a somewhat similar problem as Selena — granted I’m taking high school Spanish, so it’s not nearly on the same level — where I can write in Spanish and understand bits and pieces when spoken slowly, but I can’t speak Spanish. Not being a very outgoing person, I have trouble speaking in general, and to add on top of that an English-Spanish filter to process my thoughts through… How can I go about getting better?

    • Ron G.

      Hi! Thanks for stopping by. I can sympathize with what you’re talking about since I’m a little on the shy side myself.

      Here are some things to try:

      – Keep reading and listening to whatever you find and can reasonably understand; the input will improve your “global” language skills and some of it will bleed over to your speaking ability.
      – Write more. Writing forces you to produce language, but there’s no “performance art” aspect to hang you up.
      – Talk to yourself. I do this all the time and it really helps.
      – Find a speaking partner you trust and that you can practice with. It’s a lot easier to speak with someone you know rather than trying to strike up conversation.

      It might be tough to find other Spanish speakers, but your Spanish teacher might be able to help you find some practice partners. Also, there’s something called “Language Exchange,” where you spend half a session practicing your Spanish and your partner spends half a session practicing their English. Maybe you could approach your school’s TESOL teacher to see if there are any students who would be willing to work with you. (Language exchanges aren’t that awkward if you have some conversation topics prepped and ready to go.)

      Good luck! Your interest will definitely help you get over any obstacles, and pretty soon you won’t be shy at all about speaking Spanish.

  • Cyn101

    Not a native speaker, but hubby es de México, so I understand quite a bit … enough to detect that some of her pronunciation is a scoch off base. Still, she does a pretty good job!

    • Ron G.

      Are you referring to her singing lyrics, or have you heard her speak recently? (Reason I’m asking is that this article is a few years old and the source I quoted was from 2010. If she’s learned more since then, I’d like to add an update. Somehow, this article ended up being a featured answer from Google, so it gets some traffic.)

      • Cyn101

        Sorry, I didn’t get a notification on this and only noticed your comment just now. I was referring to her singing lyrics. Besides short clips on YouTube that are probably a bit outdated as well, I haven’t heard her speak recently (and even in those clips then it was very brief when she spoke in Spanish – she would revert to English almost immediately).

        • Ron G.

          Gotya. Thanks! :) …btw, I caught her SNL performance a couple weeks ago. Thought she did really well. She was famous when I wrote this article, but now she’s catapulted into superstardom.

  • Bill Tremewan

    She’s an American. Americans speak English. Nothing wrong with that. If she wants to improve her Spanish, nothing wrong with that either.