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F.D. - U.S. A. said:
Problems for learners in a country of your choiceSunny skies, palm trees, a warm breeze are typical of this area. It´s September and the classrooms in spain are filled with students of all ages ready to learn or continue to learn the Universal Language, English. The students come into the classroom and sit down. A brief introduction and question, ´´I am from the U.S.A., where are you from?´´, the response in most cases ´´I am from Espain.´´ and here it starts, the first problem for a learner in spain. Whenever they see an ´s´ they pronounce ´es´. Summer for them is read and said ´esummer´, swimmer for them is read and said ´eswimmer´ and so on. Correcting this error early on will help them better communicate in English from that day forward. The next lesson may be learning the English alphabet. The first questions asked are ´´Where´s the ´ñ´?, Where´s the ´ll´? and why do you have a ´w´?´´ All easily explained differences. The hard part comes when they learn the vowels, ´a, e, i, o, u´ and they want to call an ´e´ an ´a´ and an ´i´ an ´e´ and ´u´ an ´eo´. They read the sentence ´´I like apples.´´ with the pronunciation ´´Ee, leeke apless.´´, or ´´Europe is beautiful.´´ with the pronunciation ´´Eorop e ease beotifu.´´ as if they could read English with the same phonics as they use to read Spanish. Much repetition is needed, and an explanation of the long vowel sounds and short vowel sounds, accompanied with exercises and practice worksheets. Sometimes you get a student, even a four year old with excellent English pronunciation, but on the other hand, you may get a ten year old student that understands English (good listening, reading and writing skills) but with poor speaking skills, a pronunciation that is too difficult to understand. In the real world, what good is it if that student can´t have a conversation with another human being? Is he going to write everything down to communicate? No. Teaching pronunciation will prepare these students for the future. Another problem for learners in spain is that course books are in British English, and being an American and using American English, some vocabulary words may be different. For example, a lorry is a truck, a flat is an apartment, a jumper is a sweater, a biscuit is a cookie, just to name a few. This may really be a problem for the teacher more than the student since we need to be consistent in teaching and preparing them for exams that will be in British English. Another problem for learners in spain is them wanting to put the adjective after the noun as they do in Spanish. ´´the white house´ for them is ´la casa blanca´, so when they tranlate they want to say ´the house white´ which of course in English is incorrect. The students need to reverse the order and put the adjective first, which seems unnatural for them because of the way they were taught in Spanish to put the adjective after the noun. So hence, they look at us as being backward, and we look at them as being backward. Who is correct? Both, depending on the rules of each language! If we can accept our differences, we can move forward...not backward. Which brings me to the last problem for the learner in spain in my viewpoint. In spain, they believe that if they spend, let´s say, three months in London, england or in Dublin, ireland that they will just know all there is to know about the English language and speak it fluently when they return. It´s great tourism for england and ireland, but a misconception for the Spanish person. A language, any language, is learned over time, many years of listening, reading , writing and speaking, many years to become fluent. A crash course can be a great experience, but no guarantee that at the end the level of the language they were emersed in will be dramatically improved. In conclusion, these are what I consider to be the most obvious problems for learners in spain: pronunciation, British English vs. American English, grammer adjective location, and the beleif that taking a trip to an English speaking country will magically make one fluent in English. Thank you.