British expats are not known for their language skills. Sadly, I would say that the majority of British residents have limited Spanish skills. This important lack of language skills is obviously not limited to the British. The Spanish also have problems learning a foreign language. In some ways I agree with that age-old British expat claim that the Spanish should have better English skills when you consider that half the British population comes here on holiday and has been doing so for the last fifty years. But times are changing and Spanish parents have an enormous appetite for their children to learn English. It is a major talking point for parents who go to great lengths with after-school classes and even summer camps to Britain. I have an idea. Majorcans want to learn English and the British should really learn Spanish, so why don´t they get together and help resolve the problem. Probably one of the best ways to learn a language is to converse with a native speaker. Imagine if Brits came together with Majorcans for a chat once a week to further their language skills and at the same time learn about each other. I know it sounds amazing but there are a considerable number of British residents who have little contact with Majorcans and of course vice versa. So problem solved, set up conversation classes. The local authorities are always talking about integrating foreign residents into the local community. Well this would be a way forward.

 

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Liz Murray / Hace over 2 years

Dear Jason,

I’m the outgoing chairman of ESRA South East (English Speaking Residents’ Association) and thought you might like to know that your suggestion of a language exchange on the island is already up and running within our organisation.

As incoming chairman last February it was the first thing that I initiated, seeking out the right point of contact within our local Town Hall and press ganging a very able ESRA member into co-ordinating the idea. By the time I leave office at the end of this month, 15 or more of our members will have signed up for the scheme, regularly meeting with 15 local Spanish residents. We mostly meet with our partners on a weekly basis and the exchange is either one way, with only English being spoken, or an inter-cambio with half the conversation in English and half in Spanish.

It’s a very enriching experience for both the ESRA members and their partners, since it gives us the opportunity to understand and learn about our Mallorquin neighbours and their way of life, whilst giving our language partners the opportunity to practice their conversational English with a native speaker. Many language partners are becoming friends and those members that choose to do so are rapidly improving their spoken Castilian.

The programme is now so popular, with word spreading, that we have people waiting to be partnered up with our members. They are mostly, but not exclusively, teachers and hospitality workers, and always adults.

If any of your readers would like to participate in this scheme, and live in the South East region, they simply have to join ESRA South East, which meets every Tuesday morning from 11 to 12.30 at Bar Sa Residencia in S’Alqueria Blanca, or they can contact the Membership Secretary, Mark Ratsey, on: mark@ratsey.com.

Liz Murray Chairman ESRA SE

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