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Dar un discurso en inglés si no es tu lengua materna, no es nada fácil, ¿cómo se las apañan algunos famosos cuando hablan en inglés?

Did you catch King Felipe’s speech in the British parliament this week? What did you think of his English? Although we can imagine that he’s had access to the best language training that money can buy, I think we should feel pretty impressed by his English language skills. Here’s another example of his English, from the European Award Ceremony in 2010.

Queen Letizia doesn’t do too badly either – here she is in Vienna in 2014 at the inauguration of an exhibition of Velazquez’s work. She displays very measured diction!

So how do our elected leaders fare? Well, not so positively, it has to be said. It doesn’t matter what side of the political spectrum you’re looking at, in general, politicians don’t seem to be the best communicators of English. Although some of them definitely get top marks for trying. Here are a few examples:

Firstly, José María Aznar, interviewed in 2012. He’s definitely improved over the years and he’s using some good expressions and collocations* here, but he still needs to work on that intonation.

His wife, Ana Botella, her Olympic speech and her relaxing cup of café con leche went viral back in 2013. Looking back it seems to me that she was over-coached; she’s definitely understood that a more pronounced intonation is essential to speak good English, but she’s taken it too far.

It’s all in the delivery: a lesson that Jose Luis Rodríguez Zapatero also needs to heed. He’s obviously prepared his talk for Oxford University, but he doesn’t sound – or look – very comfortable.

At least they tried… here’s the current Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, recently dodging a question in English at a press conference.

But there are others who communicate more ably. Here’s the ex-minister and ex-Secretary-General of the EU Council, Javier Solana in 2009. It’s not perfect, but it’s more spontaneous and you can see that there’s real knowledge of the language behind what he says. Not surprising, when you know that he spent six years in the US in the 60s.

Someone who’s spent a lot of more time in the US is actor Antonio Banderas, and to finish off we’re going to look at how speaking another language has affected some other famous figures. Antonio’s story is interesting; in this UK chat show he talks about how he got his first role in English.

Since then he’s been married to Melanie Griffith (and divorced) and created an English-speaking family. He now speaks effective English, not perfect English, and preserves his Spanish identity in the way he speaks. There are mistakes, but his delivery makes up for it!

Melanie didn’t do quite so well with her Spanish, but she tried as we can see here at the Goya Awards in 2012:

Another celebrity who definitely tried was ex-Real Madrid player David Beckham. Here he is at the end of his stay in Madrid. Ok, his level is low, he’s stumbling, and he lacks confidence. But he communicates. And he doesn’t complain about the smell of garlic (although Victoria has since denied she ever said that**)

Finally, actress Gwyneth Paltrow, speaker of Spanish thanks to the time she spent in Talavera de la Reina as part of an exchange programme she took part in when she was 15 years old. And perhaps supporting the argument that it’s better to start learning another language when you’re young!

* Collocations refer to groups of words that often go together or that are likely to occur together.

** http://www.europapress.es/chance/gente/noticia-victoria-beckham-nunca-dije-espana-huele-ajo-20140121163628.html