Courses, Latin America, Resources for adult learners, Resources for children

Gender-inclusive language in Spanish

Do you know what inclusive language is and what it means for languages with
grammatical gender like Spanish? Do you know the non-binary pronouns in Spanish?

Although the discussion has been ongoing for years, embracing the need to recognize diversity in language teaching is more important than ever.

The main issue with gender in Spanish is that men and women are not treated equally in the language.

My classes are inclusive. I embrace diversity and encourage discussions around gender-inclusive language. My aim is to help reduce gender bias in Spanish, there are many ways you can do this.

The most radical way to do this is to stop using the traditional endings entirely. With Spanish, a gender-defined language in which most nouns are assigned either a masculine -o ending or a feminine -a ending, (­-os, and ­-as for plurals), and instead replace them with -e for singular and -es for plural.

So, for example, you could say:

  • latin@ / Latinx / Latine
  • les ciudadanes instead of los ciudadanos
  • todes les miembres instead of todos los miembros
  • mis amigues instead of mis amigos

This new method is the most convenient for spoken Spanish because it’s easiest to pronounce.

The use of ‘e’ was first seen in the last five years, but is a growing trend in Argentina right now, with even the country’s president, Alberto Fernández, using it during a recent TV broadcast to the nation on the subject of the Covid-19 lockdown.

President of Argentina – Alberto Fernández

Non-binary pronouns

As an alternative to “él” (he) and “ella” (she), the “elle” (which is pronounced EH’-jeh,) pronoun is used in progressive and academic spaces, but not so much in the mainstream yet.

It is fascinating for language students to consider that grammar may not just be a matter of rules to follow but can also be a mirror of social change – and an instrument of equality.

Exams

For students sitting GCSE & iGCSE exams this year, boards such as AQA have confirmed that they will be marking inclusively but that they (still) aren’t at the stage to be able to issue any lists of vocab as things are changing so rapidly at the moment. Pearson Edexcel will soon be producing guidance on the use of gender inclusive language.

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