“I was in a tango dancing class and told people in the class about my Spanish lessons on YouTube. They liked what they saw and said they were considering taking Spanish lessons,” he added.
He said he hoped his materials would make a little contribution to Taiwan.
“Taiwanese people seem to have this idea that all foreigners must be able to speak English,” he said. “I used to be so angry if people spoke English to me, but nothing really happened afterward. I stopped being angry and knew I needed to change my attitude. I could not tell them they should change unless I make an effort to do the same.”
Estela Lan (藍文君), director of National Chengchi University’s European Languages and Cultures Department and a Spanish professor, watched a few of Sandoval’s videos and thought they could complement the formal Spanish language curriculum at the university.
“I think the channel’s title is right, that people can learn from these videos the kind of Spanish that they cannot learn from textbooks,” she said, adding that Sandoval has made it clear that these are not classes one takes to prepare for language proficiency exams or to learn formal Spanish.
Lan said a regular Spanish class generally lasts two to three hours and needs to cover one to two lessons each time, adding that students may feel tired after each class.
“His [Sandoval’s] lesson is about one to two minutes long,” Lan said. “Because he would repeat the phrase or sentence again and again, and review what he has taught before, students can see the effects much faster than if they take regular classes.”
Students can learn the gestures, facial expressions and intonations of native Spanish speakers by learning from the examples he gave, she said, adding that “when he explained, he would also alternate the use of Mandarin and Taiwanese, which young people can easily relate to. While he taught people how to curse in Spanish, he also reminded them that they need to use these words with caution.”
Taiwan has formal diplomatic ties with 23 nations around the world, including the Holy See.
Spanish is spoken in eight of the these countries. They are Belize, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and Paraguay.
In the past, students could only learn foreign languages other than English when they went to university.
However, the Ministry of Education has started offering foreign language courses in high school since 1999, ranging from Japanese, French, German, Spanish to six other European and Asian languages.
The number of students taking foreign-language courses has increased from 11,500 in 1999 to 59,072 by the end of last year. Most Taiwanese prefer to take Japanese classes, followed by French, German or Spanish courses.