American English & Español Colombiano A language comparison Patrick HeusnerHello ESL 502 Wilkes University Hola November 2011
SimilaritiesStructurally, both English and Spanish are alphabeticlanguages (Pollard-Durodola et al., 2009) and both use theRoman phonetic alphabet, with minor variations (é, í, etc.). Both languages have suppletion, where one morpheme is changed into an entirely different morpheme to alter meaning (O’Grady, 2010).Example: to go went ir fue languages accept the Subject-Verb-Object order BothExamples: I want bread Yo quiero In both languages, the verb must agree with the subject.pan.Examples: I go, he goes Yo voy,el va
Similarities• Culturally, English and Spanish are both international languages that continue to attract new speakers with perceived value of the language knowledge(O’Grady, 2010).
Distinctions: Phonemes Of course, there are several differences between Spanish and English that provide plenty of contrast and confusion for L1 speakers of both languages. English has more phonemes in its vowel structure; variations of the /u/ phoneme are particularly challenging to Spanish speakers (Mendez, 1982).. Consider: cup, put, cuisine, cucumber, hurt, pullThere are challenges with consonants, too; English has the ‘hard’retroflex [ɹ] sound that doesn’t exist in Spanish (Spanish prefers‘rolling’ [r] sound). Similarly, Spanish speakers often struggle todistinguish between [ð] and [d] in English (Freeman & Freeman, 2004). This explains why some Spanish speaking students pronounce „they‟ like „dey‟
Distinctions: Morphology Spanish has more morphological cues than English does (Bedore & Leonard, 2000).Ex: La niña lava los platos vs. The girl washesthe platesEnglish morphology is word-based: one can drop the ‘to’ from theinfinitive and use it as a root for other constructs. Spanish isn’t likethis (O’Grady 2010).Ex: to wash wash carwash vs. laver lav Spanish marks some of its direct objects morphologically; English never does (Montrul, 2010).Ex: I saw to my friend vs. Yo ví a mi amigo
Distinctions: Syntactic structure In English, the relationship between head noun and modifier is more specific (Moreira-Rodriguez, 2006). Ex: The English „with‟, „in‟, and „on‟ can all be translated as „de‟ in Spanish in various contexts. English frequently accepts a preposition where Spanish demands an entire clause (Moreira-Rodriguez, 2006).Ex: “The money on the table”(E) vs “The money that is on thetable” (S) Spanish accepts double clitics, whereas English does not (Montrul, 2010). Ex: The Spanish sentence “Yo le dí la plata a ella” would roughly translate to “I her gave the money to her”
Data Journal: Errors of a Colombian ELL The linguistic distinctions that I discovered in my research were reflected in several errors made by my ELL student.English “Hitler arrive and create…”ProducedEnglish Hitler arrived and created…IntendedAnalysis When my student mistakenly used the present tense to discuss the past, this may have been due to the lack of morphological cues in English (compared to Spanish) that Bedore and Leonard (2000) discussed.
Data Journal: Errors of a Colombian ELLEnglish “In New Year’s Eve…”ProducedEnglish On New Year’s Eve…IntendedAnalysis When my student used the incorrect preposition, this likely reflects the more specific rules for prepositions—and resulting confusion— in English, as discussed by Moreira-Rodriguez (2006).
Data Journal: Errors of a Colombian ELLEnglish “the second language isProduced the English.”English The second language isIntended English.Analysis The misuse of articles is a common mistake among beginning ELL students from Spanish- speaking backgrounds. This reflects how Spanish requires articles for ideas that English considers too general for a definite article
Data Journal: Errors of a Colombian ELLEnglish “It makes me feel myProduced country stronger…”English It makes me feel like my country isIntended stronger…Analysis Here, my student failed to notice that he was saying that he could literally feel an entire country. The fact that this error is not glaring in English to a Spanish speaker may reflect the comparative lack of direct object markers discussed by Montrul (2010). In Spanish—which prefers ―feel to” for a direct object–the error would be much more obvious.
Classroom ImplicationsThe research regarding differences between English and Spanish provides insight into how teachers may want to modify instruction in ELL classrooms that include L1 Spanish learners.
Classroom ImplicationsSpanish-speaking students who were strong in phonetic awareness in their L1 may get frustrated when they learn that the symbols do not carry the same sounds as in English (for example, a Colombian student may pronounce the first month of the year as ‘Hanuary.’) The teacher who uses phonetic awareness in class may wish to consider teaching or reviewing the ‘English alphabet’ with Spanish-speaking students.
Classroom ImplicationsMoreira-Rodríguez (2006) is just one of many researchers who’ve chronicles the struggles that many Spanish-speaking students have with prepositions in English. For this reason, ELL teachers may wish to offer students greater opportunities to authentic English input that includes prepositions. Teachers of older students may wish to reintroduce this topic explicitly and have pairs of students examine different prepositions and create ‘rules’ about their use.
Classroom ImplicationsSpanish-speaking ELL students may also find explicit instruction of simple distinguishing English features both accessible and easy-to-remember. For example, the constant S-V-O structure of English is straightforward and helps students remember that whereas Spanish can stray from this, English can’t. Students can then use this to develop their own helpful tips (for example: if English must start with the subject, then the different definite articles aren’t as necessary as ‘cues’ as they may be in Spanish) Students can research and present their own linguistic findings.
Conclusion• While I focused mostly on implications that would benefit older ELLs (my license area) similar modifications may benefit Spanish-speaking ELLs of younger ages, as well. Whether researched solely by the teacher or collectively with students, differences between English and Spanish language can help to make the distinct aspects of the languages more understandable and less challenging.
References• Bedore, L. & Leonard, L. (2000). The effects of inflectional variation on fast mapping of verbs in English and Spanish. Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research, 43, 21-30.• Freeman, D. & Freeman, Y. (2004). Essential linguistics: What you need to know to teach reading, ESL, spelling, phonics, grammar. Portsmouth: Heinemann.• Gordon, R. & Stillman, D. (1999). The ultimate Spanish review and practice: Mastering Spanish grammar for confident communication. New York: McGraw-Hill.• Mendez, A. (1982). Production of American English and Spanish vowels. Language and Speech, 25, 191- 197.• Montrul, S. (2010). Dominant language transfer in adult second language learners and heritage speakers. Second Language Research, 26, 293-327.• Moreira-Rodríguez, A. (2006). ‘The book on the table,’ ‘the man on the moon’: Post- modification of nouns by preposition + noun in English and Castilian. Bulletin of Spanish Studies, 83, 55-67.• O’Grady, W. & Archibald, J. (Eds). (2010). Contemporary linguistics: An introduction. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s.• Pollard-Durodola, S. & Simmons, D. (2009). The role of explicit instruction and instructional design in promoting phonemic awareness development and transfer from Spanish to English. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 25, 139-161.