CarlyD wrote:... I was thrilled that I could understand their conversation, until I realized that they were making fun of "stupid white people that think they can speak Spanish."
Yes, this happens. Not only with the Spanish natives. We can often hear very unpleasant stuff about us in another language. The idea behind what you've heard is disgusting, and would be considered racist, if it wasn't a joke about the white people. The small grain of "truth" is the extremely sad attitude all over the language learning world, that "Spanish is an easy language", which means tons of people with no real interest in learning a language get a Spanish phrasebook and learn three sentences with a bad pronunciation. And they often expect to be praised for that.
But yes, I found it humiliating too, when a native Spanish exchange student in Prague asked: "oh, cool, you've been learning Spanish, what phrases can you say?" It was extremely humiliating. Yes, I spoke rather normally in Spanish, but just the assumption that I must be a moron did really hurt. Knowing you've already been judged before you open your mouth never helps. And what else didn't help? A few "fellow Spanish learners" in the group, who started acting like circus monkeys, showing off their one or two dumb phrases. These people are actively strenghtening the prejudices out of ignorance.
A good part of my job was answering the phone to callers all over the state and a large number of them were Spanish-only speakers who would call, say "español?" and then wait for a native speaker. Even though I was perfectly able to clearly ask them for their name, etc., the majority flatly refused to speak to anyone but a native speaker. It got very depressing trying to learn a language where I didn't appear to be welcome.
Well, it is in some cases possible to insist. If you're able to do your job in the language, they shouldn't just ask for someone else. Perfecting the first impression over phone, that's a reasonable precaution. Asking in Spanish, whether they really want to wait instead of just quickly proceeding, that could work.
It depends. If you've got too much work anyways, it is perfectly logical to not push the issue. But it is sad to not get your investment back.
2. How did you process the experience?
I basically stopped speaking to people and kept to translating various Spanish statements and documents that were submitted.
3. What was the outcome? Were you able to continue on your TL, or did you choose to move on?
I would still like my Spanish to be much better to watch telenovelas and various detective shows, and to read some of the books I've got. But it's hard when I don't really connect any more with the people or culture.
I've never had an issue with German--but I wonder if part of it is that I'm ethnically German (German/Slovenian) and I already think of it as "my culture" so any issue would just be with that particular person and not the people in general.
Of course it won't be much of an issue with the German speakers. Not only you are the same ethnicity, but even if you were not, the contemporary Germany and Austria have many citizens and native German speakers of various ethnicities. Germany is also a country with lots of immigrants, so people are expected to speak the language at various levels, similarly to people from various background being expected to speak English in the US. Outside of the German speaking countries, they natives still expect to be addressed in German as one of the usual options, sometimes even too much (every coin has two sides). On the contrary, the Spanish natives in the anglophone countries are not used to others learning their language, at least not more than a few phrases, and might even be bitter about having to cater to the anglophone world sometimes (my guess, based on what I hear and read).