Soraya Rodríguez

ESL and Teacher Trainer/ Language Professional

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I. Why I am Targeting Spanish ESL Students.


I. Why I am Targeting Spanish ESL Students.



We, Spanish ESL learners, were not taught how to articulate English phonemes in classrooms -most of you would know that. I am not going to talk about in how many ways previous methodology made us invest hours and kept failing us as there is no point in moaning about how things should have been done though they weren’t -mainly because they weren’t. We have to move on and fix it.

I’ll tell you what this is about. I have been taking part in many courses that tried to address this issue and make things better for Spanish ESL learners once they were adults. All of them pointed at very specific difficulties that Spanish adults would face when it came to speaking and they were all very well defined.

However, while most of them would point at the difficulty itself and try to explain how to articulate that sound properly in English, most of them fail in tackling how to fix it by explaining what it was that a Spanish person was not doing properly –for which a little knowledge of Spanish phonetics would have been really handy. This, not surprisingly, was the issue. ESL pronunciation classrooms did not take into account that a Spanish student will face different articulation issues compared to a German one and failed to adapt general methodology to them. ESL trainers were generally unprepared too.

Spanish adults will rarely articulate an English phoneme they have been articulating incorrectly and adapting to the closest Spanish phoneme for years by making them repeat what it should be a thousand times even if they hear the difference. They need to be told what it is that they do, what it is that they are meant to be doing instead, how to do what they are meant to be doing and then repeat it. They are not children, not that many can hear the difference and replicate it just like that, and that is actually the expected from an adult learner.

There is no point in repeating countless times what they cannot do and/or raise your voice either: all you need to do as a teacher is give them the tools to find out how to do it properly and let them then repeat it.

Therefore, with this in mind, I will take the chance that has been given me by (my Spanish) nature as much as by many years of experience to create a series of posts that would go through very specific issues to be addressed in the future for both ESL students –who can actually sound better in English than what they generally believe they can (Yes, we can) - as well as ESL teachers – or those who are willing to know and learn a little bit more about Spanish phonetics and are humble enough to admit that things can be done better. They can always be done better. We can move from standard models to specializing too: specialize in Spanish students if you're going to stay around.


So… 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 cannot wait! ;)
linkedin.com/in/soraya-rodríguez-a49b3412a

 

--> 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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