Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, Nov 21 (EFE).- “Gracias, adiós, hola, encantado o hasta la vista” are just some of the favorite expressions of more than two million young Africans who are learning Spanish as a foreign language. They also approach the language through the lyrics of Latin songs and their passion for football.
The Third Meeting of Hispanists Africa-Spain brought together Spanish teachers from 18 countries in West and Central Africa in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain.
According to José Segura, director of Africa House, Spanish is gaining popularity amongst young people who may feel alienated from colonizer languages.
The director of the Cervantes Institute, Carmen Pastor, emphasized that Spanish is thriving both in Africa globally.
According to this institution created to promote Spanish worldwide, this language is the second most widely spoken mother tongue with nearly 500 million speakers, comprising 6.2% of the world’s population.
Pastor said that formal education in countries that were once French colonies includes Spanish as a second foreign language, in addition to English.
Cuba has a longstanding tradition of providing scholarships to African people to study in their country, who then return to teach Spanish to their fellow citizens.
Seydou Koné, the Head of Teacher Training at Ecole Normale Supérieure in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, emphasizes that his country is more committed to the Spanish language rather than the Spanish culture.
The Ivorian educator said that phrases like “adiós, hasta la vista” have fascinated people since ancient times, particularly in Western films. Additional expressions from soap operas and telenovelas were later included as well.
Regarding the Hispanic writers studied in Côte d’Ivoire, he explained there are some classics, such as José María Arguedas, (Peru), Gabriel García Márquez (Colombia), Miguel Ángel Asturias (Guatemala), from Latin America, and also from Spain, such as Camilo José Cela and Carmen Laforet.
Jane Nzisa, the coordinator of the Spanish language section at United States International University-Africa in Nairobi, explained that many people in countries like Kenya are keen on learning Spanish. However, the shortage of teachers seems to be a problem.
“We enjoy dancing a lot, but merely knowing salsa leaves us curious about jota or flamenco, we don’t know anything about this and we would be interested”, she said.
The language teacher at the university mentioned that most students have learnt Spanish “to have culture,” others because “they want to study in Spanish-speaking countries” and others because “it is another benefit” when seeking employment opportunities. EFE