English & Spanish:A Language Comparison Presented By: Carinne Karlick
BACKGROUNDThe proximity of Latin America to the United States and the growing influx of Latinos to this country have given a progressively more important place to the Spanish language here in the United States (Farrell and Farrell, 2004). A result of this influx is the increasing population of ESL students speaking Spanish as a first language (L1).
A COMPARISON OF ENGLISH AND SPANISH ENGLISH SPANISHModern English is a language that The Spanish language is one of thehas developed over time and has Romance languages developed fromevolved over 3 historical time Latin (Pinker, 1994). There is someperiods: Old English, Middle disparity in the vocabulary andEnglish and Modern English pronunciation of Spanish spoken in(Freeman &Freeman, 2004). Spain, but the Spanish spoken inThe English language has Latin America and other parts of theborrowed some of its words from world is derivative of Castillian, whichSpanish, like banana, and orange is a dialect of the Spanish province of(Pinker, 1994). Castile (Farrell and Farrell, 2004)
THE ALPHABET No alphabet has a one to one correspondencebetween letters and sounds (Freeman andFreeman, 2004). The English alphabet consists of26 letters and the Spanish alphabet contains 30letters which includes the 26 letters of theEnglish alphabet, as well as a few groupingsof English letters that createadditional soundsincluding: ch, ll, rr,and n with a tilde over it.
SOUNDSEnglish has a ch sound but it is the letter /c/ and /h/ thatwhen combined together form a digraph. In Spanish thech is its own letter. Other English digraphs are /sh/ and /th/. There is no /th/ digraph in Spanish. The Spanishletter /h/ is silent and the /j/ has a sound closer to theEnglish letter /h/ (Freeman and Freeman, 2004). TheSpanish letter /y/ can sound like a traditional /y/ sound inEnglish like in the name Yolanda or the Spanish /y/ cansound like the English /j/ the Spanish name Jarielys. The/rr/ is rolled off the tongue for the /r/ sound.The Spanish /b/ and /v/ have the same sound and are pronounced like the English /b/.
PUNCUATION There are similarities in punctuation between English and Spanish. For example, periods, commas, colons, semicolons are used in the same manner. There are differences also. In English,question marks and exclamation points are used at end of the sentence. In Spanish, these marks are written at the beginning, with the mark being upside-down as well as at the end with the mark right side up.
NOUNS Nouns are used in the same way in both English andSpanish. In English, some nouns are considered tohave gender to identify only if something is male orfemale, for example, man and woman or boy and girl.And English, gender typically makes no differenceunless there are two forms of the word like, actor andactress, for example. In Spanish all nouns are eithermasculine or feminine. This is important tounderstand because the determiners in Spanishchange according to the gender of the noun that itrefers to (Farrell and Farrell, 2004).
NOUNS….continued A determiner is a functional category that serves as aspecifier of a noun (O’Grady, 2005). Some examplesof specifiers in English are: a, the, these. Two singular determiners in Spanish is the feminine la or themasculine el. In Spanish there are plural determiners as well, which are las and los. Nouns also havesingular and plural forms adding -s or –es in addition to the irregular nouns in both languages. The preposition /de/ forms possession in Spanish whereas English nouns have a possessive case formed by adding -’s or -s’.
PRONOUNS Examples of English pronouns are: he, she, or we.Some Spanish pronouns are: el (he), ella (she),nosotros/as (we). Pronouns, like nouns, have gender,number and case and they change depending on theperson like first, second, or third person (Farrell andFarrell, 2004). Personal pronouns can be used assubjects or objects. In Spanish there are three personsand there is another alternative of using the familiar you(tu) and polite (usted) forms (Farrell and Farrell, 2004).In English, subject pronouns go before the verb in thesentence. In Spanish, subject, direct object, andindirect object pronouns go before the verb.
VERBS In English, most verbs have four tenses: infinitive, simple past, past participle, present participle (Farrell and Farrell, 2004). English does not normally conjugate verbs because there is only one inflected ending by adding /s/ to the third person singular of the present tense. In English some verb tenses need special endings: -ed, -en, or -ing. Some verbs require auxiliary verbs like: do, did, have, has, would, or could. There are irregular verbs in both English andSpanish. Spanish verbs are conjugated and endings are usedto indicate the appropriate tense like: a, as, aste, e, or ando.In Spanish, various verbs use auxiliary verbs too like: cocer (to bake) or bailar (to dance). In Spanish, verbs need to agree in person and in number (Farrell and Farrell, 2004).
ADJECTIVES Adjectives are used the same in English and Spanish(Farrell and Farrell, 2004). But when using comparativeadjectives in Spanish, they are a single word which isdifferent than the suffixes -er, -est that are used in English.Adjectives come before nouns in English and must agreein gender and number. This is not the same, however, inSpanish in most cases. There are some exceptionsto the rule, like for example, whenthe words have different meanings depending on placement.
ADVERBSAn adverb in English is often formed by an adjective and asuffix, like, –ly as used in the work quickly. In Spanishadverbs are usually formed from adjectives and a suffixlike - mente as used in rapidamente (quickly). In Englishthere are also a few irregulars that show comparison like:better, best. There are four irregulars that showcomparisons in Spanish, which are: bien, poco, mal, andmucho. Negatives are also adverbs and English does notallow use of double negatives but in Spanish the word“no” comes before a verb. There can be more than onenegative in a sentence in Spanish (Farrell and Farrell,2004).
PREPOSITIONSPrepositions express place, time, and show therelationship between two parts of a sentence thatnever change form and have a noun or pronoun astheir object. English prepositions do not translatedirectly to Spanish. Conversational Englishsometimes uses prepositions at the end of asentence but in Spanish this is never done and thewords por and para are used instead (Farrell and Farrell, 2004).
CONJUNCTIONS & INTERJECTIONS Examples of English conjunctions include: and,or, and but. In both English and Spanish there arethree types of conjunctions: coordinating,subordinating, and adverbial. They work closelythe same way. In both English and Spanish,interjections express a strong feeling or emotionthat can be a single word or a phrase. Interjectionsare used to communicate emotion and follow thesame rules in both languages (Farrell and Farrell,2004).
DATA ANALYSIS BACKGROUNDTrace (pronounced Tracey) is a sixth grade English as aSecond Language (ESL) student . She was born in theDominican Republic in 1999. She and her family moved toHazleton, Pennsylvania in January of 2010 when she wasnine years old. She began school here in the fourth grade,the appropriate grade level for her age upon her arrival.Trace has a solid literacy background in her native Spanish.She can read and write in Spanish proficiently in her gradelevel and achieved good grades while in school in theDominican Republic. Trace was a complete non-Englishspeaker when she immigrated to the United States andqualified to receive ESL instruction in the HASD. She iscurrently a level 2.1.
DATA ANALYSIS ERRORS One of the repeated errors Trace made in both written and verbal language was difficulty using correct verb tense. She confused come and came, study and studies, omitted –ed on scared, -es on teaches and –s on works. More common errors made by Trace were phonetic problems with the following phonemes: /sh/ and /ch/ and /d/ and /th/ and [i] and [I]. Trace confuses the phonemes [I] instead of [i] in “teach” and “speak” and then does the reverse in “did”. Trace also confuses the phonemes /sh/ and /ch/
POSSIBLE REASONS These are most likely a developmental errors. InEnglish /d/ and /th/ are separate phonemes but inSpanish both sounds are spelled with a /d/. Also,Spanish words do not start with /th/. This is probablywhy Trace often says and writes /d/ instead of /th/ in“mother”, “with” and “that”. Trace will eventuallyrealize the differences in the two languages in writtenform first, because she is such a good speller, andthen orally with more speaking practice. She may bereplacing the sound because as a new Englishlanguage learner she may be overcompensating usage.In Spanish the vowel /i/ is pronounced like /e/ inMaria or si which could explain Trace’s confusionbetween the sounds.
SUGGESTIONS FOR EDUCATORSMy suggestions for ESL teachers would be to first, methodicallyteach English. It might even mean starting with teaching simplevocabulary, common phrases and basic parts of speech. Theteacher should then increase difficulty with a guided pace. Inaddition to direct instruction, educator should immerse thestudents in language. It is a good idea to label materials and objectsaround the classroom. Role play or act out scenarios to give thelearning experience an authenticity and relevance. Teachers shoulduse technology and auditory materials whenever possible. Find abalance for providing correction to remedy certain errors but stillprovide positive feedback and encouragement. The ELL teachershould set the learner up for success at every opportunity while stillchallenging the student. Most important, ensure a comfortablelearning environment and provide wholeclass activities that include ELL’s andmake them feel accepted into the group.
REFERENCES Farrell, E. R. & Farrell, C.F. (2004). Side by side: Spanish and English grammar. 2nd ed. NewYork, NY: McGraw-Hill. Freeman, D. and Freeman, Y. (2004). Essential linguistics: What you need to know to teach reading, ESL, spelling, phonics, and grammar. Portsmouth, NH: Heinneman. O’Grady, W., Archibald, J., Aronoff, M., & Rees-Miller, J. (2005). Contemporary linguistics: An introduction. (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Bedford St. Martins. Pinker, S. (2007). The language instinct: How the mind creates language . New York, NY: Harper Collins.
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