“Qué lo qué, papi”: Giants Bridge Cultural Gaps with Spanish Classes

San Francisco Giants outfielder Luis González leaps up right at the wall to make a spectular catch of Chicago Cub Christopher Morel’s fly ball.

Nearly a third of Major League baseball players in 2022 come from countries outside the United States, and the great majority of them are from Latin America. (The Dominican Republic alone accounts for slightly more than 10% of all MLB players. We don’t know how many of the Latin American players are already Spanish/English bilingual when they arrive (many certainly are), nor do we know how many Latino US-born players are also Spanish/English bilingual. What we do know is that language and communication can’t be taken for granted on any team. Maria Guardado, MLB.com’s staff writer who covers the San Francisco Giants, wrote this April 2022 report on an unusual effort being taken by the team to help bridge a language gap.

Read it here.


1. What is unusual and newsworthy about what the San Francisco Giants team is doing? What reason does Maria Guardado give for the Giants’ sponsoring these classes? Do you think the classes are a good idea? Why or why not? Explain your response.

2. Are any other teams offering Spanish language classes for their players? English classes? We don’t know, since Guardado didn’t mention anything about other teams. Why might she not have addressed the question? Would you have been interested to read that information? Given her employment context, do you think she made a good rhetorical choice to not mention what any other teams might (or might not) be doing? Explain your reasoning.

3. LET’S TALK. Given the multilingual and multicultural composition of the US, and given the globalization of commerce and culture today, how important is it to be bilingual? More important than ever? Less? How important is it to you, personally, to enlarge your language repertoire? Why? Reflect on these questions and consider what the Giants players have said about the situation. Then, get together with a few classmates; briefly share each of your experiences with bilingualism, language instruction, informal language learning, and any related topics. (Don’t make assumptions ahead of time about anyone’s language repertoire until they disclose it; you may end up very surprised!) If you have time, discuss the questions about the importance (or not) of bilingualism. After the conversation, write a brief reflection on how, if at all, your ideas about bilingualism were influenced, and perhaps changed, as a result of the conversation.

4. AND NOW WRITE. Is foreign language instruction (or a demonstration of language competence) a requirement of your degree program at your school? Let’s suppose that your school is contemplating a change in the requirements (either making a new language requirement or removing one that is already in place). Write a letter to the administration in which you take a position about a foreign language requirement. You may want to address the requirement itself, the specific language options, the amount of coursework/competence that is being contemplated, or the means of demonstrating competence. Use your own experience and future plans to support your argument, as well as any research that you might want to include.

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