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Spanish L6: Example 2

Example 2: Spanish food

Las comidas en España son muy differentes de nosotros. ¡Cómo echo de menos los cereales y las salchichas con huevos fritos … ¡y hasta el porridge! Por las mañanas desayunamos todos juntos a las ocho. Tenemos un café con leche y unas galletas o unas tostadas con mermelada. No es muy divertido … todos los días lo mismo. Pero el domingo pasado era el cumpleaños de mi papá español y comimos churros. ¡Qué deliciosos!

Context and text type

Michael, a student who is on an extended visit to Spain and living with a host family, writes an email to his Spanish class in New Zealand about his experiences. In this extract he shares his opinion about the food.

Text type

Email, informal. Productive.

Examples showing how the student is:

Communicating information, ideas and opinions beyond the immediate context

Michael compares Spanish food, which is new to him, with the food he is familiar with:

  • Las comidas en España son muy differentes de nosotros.

Michael reveals the extent to which his identity and taken-for-granted habits are being challenged when he names the foods he misses most:

  •  ¡Cómo echo de menos los cereales y las salchichas con huevos fritos … ¡y hasta el porridge!

He describes a Spanish breakfast:

  • Tenemos un café con leche y unas galletas o unas tostadas con mermelada.

He uses the imperfect and past simple tenses to describe a setting and record an action that took place in the past:

  • El domingo pasado era el cumpleaños de mi papá español y comimos churros.

The expression, 'differentes de nosotros', is Michael’s own version of Spanish. Three aspects of this expression are of interest:

  • Spanish speakers would normally say, 'diferentes a las nuestras'. At NZC level 6, learners of Spanish often use the personal pronoun in situations where a possessive pronoun would normally be used, as they are still developing their knowledge of these forms.
  • To communicate the same message, English speakers would say, 'different from us'. Being an English speaker, Michael translates the English construction into Spanish.
  • Michael gives an English form to the Spanish word 'diferentes'. Learners of Spanish often use the double consonant because it is so common in English. But in Spanish, only a double 'r' and double 'l' exist.

Michael writes 'tenemos un café' instead of the idiomatic 'tomamos un café'. Again, this is very common amongst English speakers, who use the verb 'to have' in food and drink contexts, whereas Spanish speakers typically use the verb 'tomar' ('to take'). Confusion between these two is very common among learners of Spanish. Given that Michael is communicating with his classmates, they are unlikely to have a problem understanding his meaning.

Michael shows that he has internalised the difference between 'estar' and 'ser' when he uses the appropriate verb in this sentence:

  • Pero el domingo pasado era el cumpleaños de mi papá español y comimos churros.

Expressing and responding to personal ideas and opinions

Michael starts a sentence with 'cómo' to make it clear that he holds this opinion very strongly:

  • ¡Cómo echo de menos los cereals …!

He expresses his view on breakfast, making an implied comparison with what he is used to at home:

  • No es muy divertido … todos los días lo mismo.

He expresses much greater enthusiasm for the food he ate at an event:

  • ¡Qué deliciosos!

Communicating appropriately in different situations

Michael summarises his overall experience and reaction:

  • Las comidas en España son muy diferentes de nosotros.

To connect with his readers, Michael emphasises how much he misses particular New Zealand foods:

  • Cómo echo de menos los cereales y las salchichas con huevos fritos … ¡y hasta el porridge!

He then describes what he has for breakfast so that his readers will empathise with his feelings:

  •  Tenemos un café con leche y unas galletas o unas tostadas con mermelada. No es muy divertido … todos los días lo mismo.

In fact, Michael may not particularly like porridge, because he appears surprised to find himself missing it:

  •  ¡Cómo echo de menos los cereales y las salchichas con huevos fritos … ¡y hasta el porridge!

He clearly finds himself in an intercultural space, where he is comparing new experiences with what he is used to, and making discoveries about himself in the process.

Understanding how language is organised for different purposes

As this is an extract, we do not have the opening greeting or concluding farewell that would be typical of an email.

Michael observes the conventions of written Spanish. For example, he uses exclamation marks appropriately:

  •  ¡y hasta el porridge!

He turns the English 'porridge' into Spanish by assigning it masculine gender:

  •  … el porridge.

He knows his readers will understand the Word, given the context.

Expressing feelings is a feature of this type of communication:

  • ¡Qué deliciosos!

Michael may have gone on to describe 'churros' (a type of doughnut) in the next part of his email. His readers may or may not know what these are, how they are made, and the place they have in the Spanish diet:

  •  Pero el domingo pasado era el cumpleaños de mi papá español y comimos churros.

Opportunities for developing intercultural communicative competence

Teachers could encourage students to explore a range of texts, looking for similarities and differences between Hispanic and New Zealand cultures in: families eating together, the foods they eat, specialty foods or treats (for example, 'churros'), and meal times.

How might students apply this knowledge when communicating with other speakers of Spanish in a range of contexts and text types?

Students could explore birthdays and associated practices in different cultures. This is an ideal context for a reflective approach to culture and culture-in-language.

Last updated January 16, 2013



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