In the first class for App design, the instructor helped the students create an account in App Inventor. It was a difficult task at first because there is not a way to change the language during sign-up. Some students ignored the long contracts and warnings, and simply clicked on buttons like “Accept” and “Continue,” understanding enough English to move forward. Other participants had to constantly ask the instructor or myself for help because they were unaware of what the text meant. I helped a few students, and would speak to them in Spanglish, using the English word whenever it was clear on the screen. Each time I said an English word, they would look up at me, trying to connect my identity with the lack of accent in my English. For me, my visual and audio inputs and outputs between English and Spanish were so fluid and interlocked between each other. Never once did I consciously categorize between the two languages. For students who understand English or have been exposed to it, they also would easily translate between the English text and what words or phrases were synonymous in Spanish.
These tools were all built and designed in English. Although it’s possible to change the language, many words and phrases remain in English. The instructor almost never used English during the workshop. He would point to the word on the screen and translate it or explain the concept immediately. Every student could follow along thanks to the real-time translations. If this were a workshop in the States using tools in Spanish, I’m sure many students would be lost. Even though we are exposed to Spanish pretty regularly here (through food labels, advertisements, and in the market), there is not an explicit need for students who speak English as their first language to learn or absorb Spanish consciously. Knowing, understanding, and speaking English in a third-world country is more useful than learning programming. English dominates all the resources for digital tools and programming, and a student who only knows Spanish will be limited to using programming in a Spanish-speaking country. This was the first time I saw the privilege of understanding English within a context not based on socialization, but use of a tool.