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T.H. - U.S.A. said:
Problems for English students in Mexic?Quiero hablar Englés. Puedes enceñarme?? (I want to speak English. Can you teach me?) Living in a small tourist town in the northern part of Mexico, I have been asked this question many times. For the people living in a state that borders the united states, speaking English becomes a valued asset. Here in Creel, business owners want to be able to communicate with the tourists that come into their establishments. The desire to learn English is strong, but various problems are encountered during the learning process for these students. Native Spanish speakers may have difficulties in pronunciation, word stress, spelling, punctuation, and grammar. ?Spanish speakers learning English frequently have problems with pronunciation because of the differences between the two languages? sound systems.?(1) Spanish speakers have only 5 pure vowels and so have problems with hearing and pronunciating the 12 English vowel sounds. For example, the English vowel ?e? and the Spanish vowel ?i? are often confused because they are pronounced the same. (4) Since /b/ and /v/ make essentially the same sound in Spanish, these learners have difficulty in making the distinction. (2) ?Spanish does not make voicing contrasts between its fricatives, so speakers may neutralize contrasts between /s/ and /z/.? (5) ?Since Spanish has an ?e? before ?s? on word beginnings, they find the initial ?s?difficult to pronounce.? (1) They frequently add an ?e? sound at the beginning of a word. The double r is rolled in Spanish, and may be difficult for the student to unlearn. Also, Spanish learners may ?fail to pronounce the end consonant accurately or strongly enough? or ?swallow the sounds in other consonant clusters; examples: next becomes NES and instead becomes istead.? (6) English is a stress-timed language, meaning that ?stressed syllables are roughly equidistant in time.? (3) Spanish, however, is a syllable-times language ?with each syllable coming at an equal time after the previous one.? (3) This can cause problems in understanding the Spanish speaker when he/she speaks English because the speaker ?flattens out the stress, pitch, and rhythm in a sentence.? (6) Spanish is more phonetic than English. ?Spanish has a strong correspondence between the sound of a word and its spelling.? (6) Native Spanish speakers have trouble with English words that sound the same, but have different meanings and more than one spelling; as in, ?red? and ?read?, and ?see? and ?sea?. Another spelling issue that causes confusion with the Spanish learner is that there is more than one way to spell certain sounds in English: as in ?tough? and ?stuff?. Spanish has only 3 double letter combinations, where English has 5 times as many. Spanish learners often reduce English double letters to one or double a letter unnecessarily. (6) In regards to punctuation, Spanish questions and exclamations are punctuated at the beginning and end of the sentence. The students may transfer that rule to English. ?In addition, they frequently use commas to connect independent clauses, resulting in comma splices.? (1) English grammar can be confusing to Spanish speakers. ?Because Spanish has more verbs endings than English, a complete sentence in Spanish does not always need a subject.? (1) In the Spanish language, there are different verb endings for different subjects. When these learners create sentences in English, they often omit subject pronouns. Another problem is with the use of possessive pronouns. ?In Spanish the possessive pronouns refer to both the person that possesses something and the object, so the possessive pronoun agrees with the object in number. For example, ?su hermano (his brother) and sus hermanos (his brothers).? In English the possessive pronouns only refer to the person who possesses something and do not agree with the object: His brother and his brothers .? (4) ?Spanish speakers may also have trouble understanding that adjectives appear before the noun they modify in English. This difficulty is due to the fact that in Spanish adjectives appear after the noun they.? (4) Spanish learners have problems forming interrogatives and negatives in English. ?The absence of an auxiliary in such structures in Spanish may cause learners to say: Why you say that? / Who he saw? / Do you saw him? / I no see him.? (6) By emphasizing and practicing the correct English grammar rules, the teacher can help to overcome these problems for the Spanish learner.


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