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R.R. - Spain said:
Problems for learners of english in SpainIn Spain the problems that arise from teaching english can be divided into pronunciation difficulties, vocabulary, grammar, spelling and punctuation as well as the cultural and geographical differences. Pronunciation Difficulties. The main problems arise from the difference between the two languages phonetics. spanish has 5 vowels and 5 diphthongs, while english has 12 vowel sounds and 8 diphthongs. Just the other day I was in class observing and the younger students had trouble with the word "comfortable." They couldn't say the word without pronouncing "table" the way it normally sounds on its own. With some drilling they soon learnt the difference but then "vegetable" popped up. They all said "table" the same way it usually sounds on its own. This and many other examples produce problems that unless are looked up in a dictionary for the phonetics or drilled using repetition and other exercises are easily made but with practice are learnt over time. Vocabulary Difficulties. There is a lot of similar words that exist between spanish and english, some helpful and some confusing. These false cognates such as "carpeta" and "carpet" the first meaning folder in spanish and the second meaning that warm fluffy stuff english users put on there floors can create problems. In spanish "alfromba" is the fluffy texture on our floors, these and many other words in my daily life cause funny moments but also headaches (my wife is spanish, I speak very little of the language, she's speaking better english everyday). In the classroom when two similar words that have the same meaning arise its a bonus as these words are absorbed very quickly into the students vocabulary. Example words "falso" in spanish, and "false" in english make for quicker learning, and can be used in fun activities in the classroom. Grammar Difficulties. The hardest thing for me learning spanish is the structure of simple sentences. This can be reversed for spanish learners of english. Talking to friends In english here, I constantly hear the wrong order of words. "You do surfing?", is a common mistake and the spanish equivalent "¿tu surfeas?" where literally translated means "you surf?" The english subject-verb-object order is commonly mixed up with spanish word order. This is one example, there are many others to delve into. Spelling and Punctuation Difficulties. The way english words are spelt create many problems for native spanish speakers. The different ways we spell the same sound such as "much" and "touch," with the large number of vowel sounds and diphthongs making it troublesome also. The way they write questions (using double ¿ - ? at the beginning an end of questions) appears in there english punctuation. When double letters appear such as "chatter" it is often written as "chater" because of they way it would sound to them when said aloud. The use of "ll" in spanish to create a "y" sound often causes problems when they relate it to english using "ll." Cultural and Geographical Difficulties. Depending on where you are in Spain can greatly assist or hinder your progress in teaching english. When in bigger cities a lot more students are exposed to english but this greatly depends on the individuals situation. Some people are shy, some don't meet foreigners for whatever reason this may be. I live in the Basque country where the younger generation mainly speak the Basque language. No matter how much spanish I learn its still impossible for me to get my head around their language, its completely different. This makes explaining simple things to very young students very difficult, and the use of gestures and imagery come into play more so than with native spanish students. But saying this the town is very tourist driven and therefore they are exposed to a little english, and most speak spanish too, so they´re already bi-lingual and have a higher learning curve with a new language such as english. In summation, the english learners in a country such as Spain with english speaking European countries relatively nearby, makes it easier for learners than say a New Zealander learning spanish in New Zealand. Exposure to the language is the most important thing. Subconsciously learning by listening and having to use the language for communication. I know of a man from Senegal (native language is french) living in my town, who in one year living on the streets with no formal study is fluent in Basque, spanish, and gets by in english. Where as most spanish don't and won't speak french. Problems can be overcome by need and desire, and letting go of cultural barriers. References: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_grammar, http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk , http://www.uiowa.edu/~acadtech/phonetics/ , http://esl.fis.edu/grammar/langdiff/spanish.htm

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