Grammar presents many spanish
students with problems because they try to translate directly to english
not recognising the variations in structure between the two languages.
Some problems most frequently encountered include the following:
i) Word order in a sentence or question – The use of auxiliary verbs and negatives, especially in questions
When using adjectives with nouns, the adjective is put after the noun, e g the grass green.
A negative question + an auxiliary verb.
“ When the dog did not to walk on the grass green?”
ii) Spaniards indicate gender and number of nouns with specific definite/indefinite articles as well as using agreeing adjectives which are incorrect in english
e g ‘bananas yellows.'
iii) Singular subject pronouns and singular possessive pronouns have genders in english
but not in spanish
e g “He washed her face.” english
plural pronouns have no gender.
iv) Because spanish
verbs are structured with person, number and tense built into verb endings, subject pronouns are often omitted, but not so in english
where these changes are indicated by subject pronouns.
‘Make' and ‘do', separate verbs in english
, translate as ‘hacer' in spanish
. ‘Do' complicates matters further in its english
use as an auxiliary verb.
“I do not like your dress.” does not translate directly back to spanish
v) Spaniards use definite articles differently
e g “El Miercoles….” = “On Wednesday….”; or “Comemos la cena.” = “We eat dinner.”
vi) Phrasal verbs in english
from Germanic origins are unfamiliar to Latin-based language speakers. A common spanish
error is the omission of the attached preposition; e g “ I looked ____ the scenery
I have chosen to deal with pronunciation and spelling together because these two aspects of the english
language cause more grief to spanish
students than others.
pronunciation is difficult for Spaniards initially, because its eight diphthongs and twelve vowels to five of each in spanish
speakers also find it difficult to articulate two or three consonants in direct succession e g ‘depth', ‘twelfth', ‘fifth'.
Even my best spanish
students slip up with ‘e' before words starting with ‘s';
e g ‘estart; school; esport'.
requires much more variation in intonation as well as correct stresses and emphases on individual words, specific parts of phrases and sentences.
I have to remind students that they must articulate clearly and completely to be understood by english
Mention must be made of english
spelling, especially where its appearance bears no relation to the sound represented, and also where the same sound can be spelled in so many different ways. e g ‘half; laugh; waft; gaffe' or ‘zoo; through. flew'; flue; flu.'
At the end of the day, the only way to deal with this is constant practice, drilling and learning individual examples by heart.
While it is important for efl
students to be exposed to different accents and dialects, I believe that they should first hear well-spoken clear models of speech, so that they learn the correct sound of the language.
Listening and speaking skills are neglected in many spanish
schools where the emphasis is on written work in order to have quiet orderly classes.
Tapes or discs accompanying some course books are of such poor quality, in sound and content, that their use is counterproductive.
When they are ready to leave school many young people need to pay for extra speaking and listening lessons with private tutors
, to qualify for university entrance exams.
Taught under such a system, many students of english
will find speaking and understanding problematic in an english
Despite all these potential obstacles, many Spaniards do very well abroad, even if after an initial ‘baptism of fire.'
course Units 1 – 19
Anita Arnau Primary School, Mula as part of The Helpers Group of voluntary native english
2 years working in after school english
5 years working with private pupils from age 4 – adult.
eHow Article by Karen Farnen.
Moore F.B & Marzano R.J 1979 “Common Errors of spanish
Speakers Learning english