Posted in Spanish learners

Lost in Translation: The answers to last week’s quiz

Here they are…..the answers to last week’s quiz about Spanish titles of famous English language movies.


1. Casarse esta en Griego – My Big Fat Greek Wedding
I think you’ll agree that the Spanish title is far less likely to offend than the original.

2. Milagros inesperados – The Green Mile
‘Unexpected Miracles’ is probably a better title than the original. I saw the film a few months ago and can’t remember seeing a mile…and it certainly wasn’t green!

English classes
My poor little angel

3. Mi pobre Angelito – Home Alone
The Spanish title sounds far too latino for a film starring Macauley Caulkin, probably the palest actor ever to grace the silver screen.

4. Experto en Diversion – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
I’m sensing a theme here. The Spanish titles are bland and far more literal than their Anglo-American counterparts.

5.  Secreto en la Montana – Brokeback Mountain.
There’s a mountain and it’s got a secret.

It's got a secret!!
It’s got a secret!!

6. Que paso ayer – The Hangover
‘What happened yesterday?’ is a succinct plot summary if nothing else. Somewhat lacking in inspiration these Spanish titles, don’t you think?

7. Vaselina – Grease

All together now, sing along with me:

Vaselina is the word

Vaselina is the word, that you heard

It’s got groove it’s got meaning

Vaselina is the time, is the place is the motion

Vaselina is the way we are feeling

8. Muertos de risa – Shaun of the Dead
It’s a comedy about dead people. Mmm, well it does what it says on the tin, I suppose.

old man laughing
He died laughing you know!

9. Amor y Desafio – Jerry MacGuire
As neither Jerry nor MacGuire are familiar names to the Spanish, I understand the change. Why not call it something like Jose Martinez though?

10. Perdidos en Tokio – Lost in Translation
A sensible choice, marketing the film directly at the many Japophiles in Spain.

So, how many did you get right? If you know any other amusing film titles in Spanish or English titles of Spanish movies, I’d love to hear them.

Posted in Thoughts about TEFL Teaching

Can non-native speakers of English become good TEFL teachers?

This is a source of constant debate in the TEFL world. Here in Spain, many Spaniards (employers and students) request native speaker teachers. They hold beliefs, or prejudices, such as:

British speak proper English not like Americans

My German / Dutch /Spanish teacher of English knows grammar but speaks with a terrible accent

I want to speak proper English like my British / American/ Australian / teacher

This is a complex and controversial topic and I don’t presume to know the answer. In fact, I’m not exactly sure how we can define native speakers anymore. What I’d like to do is present both sides of the argument and let you make up your own minds:

Native Speaker Teachers are better because….

  • They provide accurate pronunciation models for learners
  • They can explain lots of idioms and colloquial phrases
  • Students will use their English to communicate with native speakers
  • They can show me how to use the grammar in the way it is actually spoken / written

Non-native Speaker Teachers are better because…..

  • They use an international form of English that can be understood by everybody.
  • They don’t use these idiomatic English. They can communicate clearly and unambiguously.
  • Students will use their English to communicate with people from all around the world. English is now an international language.
  • They had to learn it as a second language so they know how to explain it in a clear and accessible way.

What do you all think? 

What other reasons can you think of why native speakers or non-native speakers make better teachers.

We love to know what you think so please add your comments.