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What Are Your Thoughts About Commencement Speeches in Spanish?

Posted by on Jun. 17, 2012 at 10:49 AM
  • 397 Replies
2 moms liked this

High School Valedictorian Gives Speech in Spanish & Makes His Parents Proud

Posted by Jacqueline Burt

graduationThe way I see it, if my kid was graduating as valedictorian of his high school class, I'd be so deliriously happy and proud I wouldn't care what kind of a commencement address he gave. Shoot, he could get up there and sing Old McDonald Had a Farm -- he's valedictorian, woo-hoo! That's my boy! But I have to admit, the speech Orestimba High School valedictorian Saul Tello, Jr. gave at his graduation does kind of tug at the maternal heart strings.

It wasn't the content of the speech so much as the way he chose to deliver it: In Spanish, to honor his Spanish-speaking parents. Awww.

Of course, not everybody in the audience understood Spanish, which led to a bit of a problem.

Now, on the one hand, I get why non-Spanish-speaking audience members were upset -- it would kind of stink to not understand a word of the speech at your kid's graduation. But here's the thing: Originally, Saul Tello wanted to give the speech in both English and Spanish, but his principal, Jessie Ceja, told him there wouldn't be enough time. So Tello chose Spanish, for his parents' sake.

As a mom, I find that incredibly sweet. Plus, bear in mind that the population of California is 38% Latino. I'm sure his gesture was widely appreciated.

Apparently the school is planning to include inserts printed with both Spanish and English versions of the speech in future graduation programs, which seems like an excellent solution to me. Good luck, Saul!

Do you think giving his commencement address in Spanish was the right thing for this valedictorian to do?

by on Jun. 17, 2012 at 10:49 AM
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Replies (1-10):
luckysevenwow
by Platinum Member on Jun. 17, 2012 at 11:00 AM
33 moms liked this

I think it was his moment and he chose to address it in a way that allowed his parent to understand it. 

My original thought was "why didn't he do it in both languages?" then the question was answered. I think the school learned something for future commencements and that is what is more important.

Yes, English is the spoken language of this country, but that doesn't mean all other languages should be excluded.

annie2244
by Silver Member on Jun. 17, 2012 at 11:00 AM
50 moms liked this

The percentage of the listening audience who did not understand spanish was probably loads more than the percentage of the listening audience who did not understand english. I would have told the kid to deliver around 1/4 of the speech in spanish, or to shorten the speech up and repeat parts of it in spanish,  to be thoughtful to both those who only understand spanish and those who do not understand spanish.

It was rude to the majority of the audience, and inappropriate in a country who's official language is english, and inappropriately catering to those who have not learned the language of the country they are living in. A compromise could have be made that would have been respectful to all.

Carmel63
by Bronze Member on Jun. 17, 2012 at 11:19 AM
24 moms liked this
In a different article it was implied that this district had a large Spanish speaking population, so many in the audience was able to understand what was spoken. The student was told he earned the right to give any speech he wanted, and the principal knew ahead of time that the speech was going to be read in Spanish. The school could have provided transcripts.
mumsy2three
by Shauna on Jun. 17, 2012 at 11:22 AM
4 moms liked this


Quoting Carmel63:

In a different article it was implied that this district had a large Spanish speaking population, so many in the audience was able to understand what was spoken. The student was told he earned the right to give any speech he wanted, and the principal knew ahead of time that the speech was going to be read in Spanish. The school could have provided transcripts.

I agree with this.

PinkieRed
by on Jun. 17, 2012 at 11:26 AM
11 moms liked this
I agree with this as well. The school could have just passed out handouts of the speech in English as people were arriving for the graduation.

I would not be offended, knowing the boy did the speech in Spanish solely to honor his parents, not to exclude anyone.

And, the USA does not have an official language. English is the predominant language, but is not an "official" language.


Quoting Carmel63:

In a different article it was implied that this district had a large Spanish speaking population, so many in the audience was able to understand what was spoken. The student was told he earned the right to give any speech he wanted, and the principal knew ahead of time that the speech was going to be read in Spanish. The school could have provided transcripts.
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annie2244
by Silver Member on Jun. 17, 2012 at 11:29 AM
9 moms liked this

Just because the surrounding population is 38% latino doesn't mean all of them don't speak english. Even if NONE of those spoke english, it's still a minority of the audience. Let's say half of the 38% also speak english  - how we're down to 19% of the audience who won't understand a speech entirely in english. So the correct response to this is 81% of the audience doesn't understand a speech entirely in spanish?

There were options that would have respected all in the audience.

Reina13
by Reina on Jun. 17, 2012 at 11:33 AM
5 moms liked this

I agree with all of this.

Basically, he informed the school of what he was going to do well in advance. Nothing he did was disrespectful in the least.  The school dropped the proverbial ball by not providing handouts of the speech in English. 

Quoting PinkieRed:

I agree with this as well. The school could have just passed out handouts of the speech in English as people were arriving for the graduation.

I would not be offended, knowing the boy did the speech in Spanish solely to honor his parents, not to exclude anyone.

And, the USA does not have an official language. English is the predominant language, but is not an "official" language.


Quoting Carmel63:

In a different article it was implied that this district had a large Spanish speaking population, so many in the audience was able to understand what was spoken. The student was told he earned the right to give any speech he wanted, and the principal knew ahead of time that the speech was going to be read in Spanish. The school could have provided transcripts.


mumsy2three
by Shauna on Jun. 17, 2012 at 11:51 AM
2 moms liked this

I agree with all of this too.

At my dd's graduation a program was handed out as I would imagine most school's do during graduation. It would have been very easy to add an English version of the speech to the program.


Quoting Reina13:

I agree with all of this.

Basically, he informed the school of what he was going to do well in advance. Nothing he did was disrespectful in the least.  The school dropped the proverbial ball by not providing handouts of the speech in English. 

Quoting PinkieRed:

I agree with this as well. The school could have just passed out handouts of the speech in English as people were arriving for the graduation.

I would not be offended, knowing the boy did the speech in Spanish solely to honor his parents, not to exclude anyone.

And, the USA does not have an official language. English is the predominant language, but is not an "official" language.


Quoting Carmel63:

In a different article it was implied that this district had a large Spanish speaking population, so many in the audience was able to understand what was spoken. The student was told he earned the right to give any speech he wanted, and the principal knew ahead of time that the speech was going to be read in Spanish. The school could have provided transcripts.



momofne
by on Jun. 17, 2012 at 12:03 PM
3 moms liked this

I think since he informed them ahead of time and they couldn't make adjustments for him to do both English and Spanish then they should have given English versions with the programs or asked him if he could somehow incorporate both with the time allotted.

luckysevenwow
by Platinum Member on Jun. 17, 2012 at 5:20 PM
15 moms liked this

English is what is promanently spoken, it is not an official language. It is also not the only language this country was built on. In Cali, depending on the region you live in, whites are a minority. In the case of this young man, the town he is from is comprised of 62% Hispanic and 32% white. In this case his speech was very fitting, the dominant language is spanish and it was his speech to give.

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