Cultural Awareness and Phonology
Diary submitted by Prince, Madrid.
Reading is one of the interesting aspects of students’ development. Especially in Spain, the intonations and the phonology of students in Spain are very interesting and are so culturally based. Most students approached the language like their mother tongues and it tend to be difficult adapting to the phonology in English.
Mostly I found it difficult as to when I should interrupt in students reading and speaking. Spanish speakers are naturally fast speakers because of their mother tongue and due to this they attempted to read and speak so fast. This went a long way to affect the time students had to reflect and process the meaning of vocabularies both in contextual and literal meaning, as well as conceptual meanings of the sentences.
In one of my sessions where I held a class for a typical Spanish business man, he was very proactive and fast to cut in and listened less so it made it a little uncomfortable how to control the session. Finally I had to resort to a more direct and strict approach. This led to the student recoiling and the class became dull and too formal which was not conducive for student to engage.
On the other hand, I had a younger student who turned out to be more engaging and didn’t mind where I directed the class but freely and happily followed along. This made it easier since the student was always focused and interested throughout and easily obeyed and accepted corrections freely without any emotional destabilisation.
Another, interesting observation I made was how people from different parts of Spain made certain errors. This I later recognised to be due to the cultural and variation difference in the mother tongue of Spanish. People from the southern part tend to find it difficult pronouncing the ‘s’ sound at the end of verbs and the usual ‘es’ pronunciations in place of ‘s’ at the beginning of words. The correct pronunciation of the letter ‘v’ was a general problem for all Spanish but people from the northwest of Spain mostly near Portugal tend to easily adapt to it than the other parts.
Spanish has a strong correspondence between the sound of a word and its spelling. The irregularity of English in this respect causes predictable problems when Spanish learners write a word they first meet in spoken language or say a word first met in written language. A specific problem concerns the spelling of English words with double letters. Spanish has only 3 double-letter combinations cc, ll, rr. English, in comparison, has 5 times as many. Spanish learners often reduce English double letters to a single one, or overcompensate by doubling a letter unnecessarily; for example hopping for the present participle of hope.
To sum it up, the generally, the orientation and cultural mannerism makes it difficult for Spanish speakers to adapt to the English accents and phonology which is based on a different perspective from the five correlated romantic languages and English.
- Coe, N. in Swan, M. & Smith, B. Learner English: A teacher’s guide to interference and other problems. (1987) Cambridge University Press.