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I have been teaching english in spain for several years so this article is based on my own experience and other factual information. spanish people usually hold the opinion that they are far behind in learning languages compared with other European nations. This situation is due to several facts: different historical reasons, due to the fact that in the past spanish people used to learn french instead of english (consequently older learners of english usually start from the very beginning), and also because of many differences in the structure between the two languages. spanish people also consider themselves difficult
language learners and they find it hard to gain confidence at the time of speaking. I personally think that this is mainly because of poor standard of language teaching at schools, so many parents have to send their children into private language schools if they want them to learn the language properly. There are some clear differences between english and spanish regarding phonetics, syntax, vocabulary and so on. Let´s have a look at some of these different language points: Pronounciation: spanish learners of english have a lot of difficulties with the pronounciation because of the different sound systems. english has 12 vowels and eight dipthongs, while spanish
has only five of each. spanish learners have trouble distinguishing words like “sheep” or “ship”. They confuse “v” and “b”, or they find it difficult to pronounce words starting with “sh” and not s. They usually don´t pronounce the word- beginning “h”, like for example in “hotel”. Vocabulary: There are a lot of words that are of Latin origin in english. These words usually do not cause a problem to spanish speakers, as they generally mean the same in english as in spanish. However, there are many words that are called “false friends”. These words normally sound the same or have the same spelling in english and spanish, but many times mean different things. Examples:
actually – realmente, sensible – sensato). Grammar and verb tenses: There is no one-to-one correspondence in the use of the tenses. spanish speakers might incorrectly use the present simple and progressive tenses instead of the future tense: “She studies now” (instead of “she is studying now”) or “I help you later” (instead of “I´ll help you later”). spanish speakers often forget to use auxiliary verbs when they are asking questions: (“What he does?” instead of “What does he do?”) Other grammar problems: The spanish word order is: Subject-Verb-Object, like english, although spanish allows more flexibility. This may cause badly formed sentences. spanish speakers also often omit the subject “it” in most
sentences, as in spanish the verb itself indicates the subject. (eg.: *is raining instead of it is raining).
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