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?
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 latina.com, 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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