Spanish textbooks


 

Spanish books

Sometimes Spanish textbooks inadvertently include words that invoke negative connotations or just plain poor choices. For example, I’ve seen some books include “tonto” in the glossary as meaning, “silly” or “foolish.” Yes, it does mean that, but in general no Spanish-speaker uses that word unless they really want to insult someone. “Tonto” is practically a swear word in almost every context. I always warn students not to use this word, and if they do, they should be prepared to be punched. I saw one book explain the diminutive of words like “casa” changing to “casita,” and “hijo” changing to “hijito.” That’s all well and good, but then the textbook gave the example of “mamá” changing to “mamacita.” In real life, no Spanish speaker would call their mother “mamacita.” The only time you really hear “mamacita” is when the vato on the corner is flirting with a girl walking by and he says, “¡Oye, mamacita! ¡Qué chula estás!” Another book bothered me with its choice of negative examples. I prefer something that offers positive reinforcement, but, no, this textbook in explaining comparisons of inequality stated, “Estos estudiantes son más estúpidos que esos estudiantes.” What kind of thing is that to say in a classroom? “These students are stupider that than those students.” I used one textbook with all these ambiguous illustrations that didn’t really clarify the lesson at all. In one of the drawings for the lesson on reflexive and reciprocal sentences, one cowboy is removing the boot off the foot of another cowboy! Every class of mine that looked at the drawing always laughed when we did the exercise. I would just tell them it was a scene taken from Brokeback Mountain.

¡Oye, mamacita! ¿Would you like to go out with this tonto?

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David Diego Rodríguez, Ph.D.

I write about whatever comes to mind. También enseño español y escribo acerca de los mexicanos y la enseñanza del español.