II. On the way Spanish ESL Classrooms Worked. by Soraya Rodríguez - ESL for Spanish Students and Teachers - Barcelona

Soraya Rodríguez

ESL for Spanish Students and Teachers


II. On the way Spanish ESL Classrooms Worked.

II. On the way Spanish ESL Classrooms worked in the past.

Addressing issues without providing with the appropriate background is, to me, of little or no use. There are circumstances around the failure of ESL classic methodology that need to be known by both Spanish ESL adult students- so they can stop blaming themselves for issues they are not responsible for- as well as by new generations of ESL trainers who are willing to either build or broaden their career in Spain. This is the aim of this post, to highlight specific findings so that we can take it on board in order to make classrooms easier for students and consequently better:

--There is nothing in the English Phonetic System that a Spanish ESL adult would not be able to replicate physically as long as they hear it unless there is a speech/ hearing issue. That includes vowel and consonant phonemes that do not exist in Spanish. This is a fact.
Spanish ESL adults learnt English in writing and rarely trained their reading aloud, which means that whereas they are very likely to have a very solid core knowledge of anything in writing, they will have had very few hours of actual practice -and with this I mean hours of replicating single phonemes. They just need more hours of replicating to balance things out.

--Spanish ESL adults did not learn how to read the way a native English speaker did, which means that even the simplest repetition that takes place when one learns how to read by breaking words into syllables did not happen in ESL classrooms. Therefore, what we are looking at here is more related to basic phonetic articulation rather than general pronunciation against spelling rules.

--If Spanish ESL adults adapt English phonemes in order to speak -and given that this is also affected by the way they write and read in Spanish, they are thus very likely to expect English to sound differently –which is why they don’t understand when they don’t understand most of the times. In this case, it is not only an issue of training their listening-comprehension: it is also about telling them why they are not going to hear what they are expecting to hear. Furthermore, if they have issues with their listening-comprehension, this is in fact related to and affected by the way they are speaking when they do so incorrectly.

--Spanish ESL adults have never been trained in terms of linked speech. They were taught how to repeat words, single words. Having done that has brought about specific consequences such as struggling when articulating the past endings of regular verbs or more than two consonants at the end of a word -most likely to be dropped partially or altogether for physical reasons. This has nothing to do with their ability; it is yet another consequence of the way they were taught.

Knowing these all and taking them into account would definitely help students who have been struggling for years with what they interpreted as their own problem. I truly hope it helps.

And... If you’d like to keep reading about it, wait for my next post or send me a message on LinkedIn /link-tin/ if you think you can’t wait! ;)

--> Please contact me too -teacher or student- if you think you can help these posts by adding extra info, issues and/or ideas. Help me make things better!


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