I received this interesting question via email recently.

We have just got back from a 2-week trip to Los Angeles. It’s prompted me to comment.

Whilst clearly Spanish is a major language in the area we noticed that the Spanish speaking population generally seemed reluctant to speak Spanish to us. We’ve noticed this in Spain too. We’d thought at first that maybe our Spanish wasn’t good enough, but we have been complimented on it at times and some sectors of the population DO appreciate us making the effort.

I think generally if someone speaks “only Spanish” then speaking Spanish to them is the only way to communicate. I think it’s those that speak both Spanish and English that seem to somehow ‘view you with suspicion’. Its as though they think “I’ve made the effort to learn English, so I’m not going to speak Spanish to you.

What do you think?

Is this something you or other people have come across?

Here is my reply:

I think also there is a competitive factor rather than suspicion. They think, “my English is good, so why are you speaking to me in Spanish”.

Also it depends on the context. I often meet people in the USA who are from Latin America, so it’s very easy for me to talk about having a wife from Mexico. If you can find a just a smidgeon of common ground they’ll soon open up to you.

Food is always a good one to talk about if you genuinely like and know their authentic cuisine as I do. And of course Futbol is almost universally loved in the Spanish-speaking world.