Learn English for Spanish Speakers

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¡Hola!

Are you ready to learn English Spanish speakers?

A little about me: I LOVE to travel.

It started when I was just 18.

I saved every penny I made at my after school job, and I flew to Europe for three months. Fast-forward three years, and I moved to Chile for 1 year. Fast-forward three more years, and I now find myself in Madrid, Spain.

I fell in love with it, and have been here for 1 year.

I also LOVE languages.

In middle school we had two choices for language study, French or Spanish. I chose both.

In Chile, I began teaching English.

That way I could combine my all-time favorite things, travelling and languages!

Since my very first client in Valparaiso, Chile, I have had hundreds of students. Most of them are the children I teach in elementary schools. Many of them have been private classes.

Most of my students though, have been native Spanish-speaking students.

I can now say with confidence that I know the unique struggles Spanish-speakers have in English.

So hopefully my perspective will help you navigate English.

Common Errors

  1. I have vs. I am:The origin of this mistake is not difficult to discover. Yo tengo 13 años translates into I have 13 years. However, in English we say I am 13 years old. This mistake is common when saying I am hot, cold, thirsty, hungry and sleepy. The list goes on and on! Language almost never translates exactly, so instead of trying to translate in your mind, memorize these phrases! In this way, you create a separation between the two languages which is essential to fluency.
  2. Using “of” instead of apostrophe “s”:Again it is not hard to imagine how this mistake occurs. In Spanish, one would say “la casa de mi padre” so a direct translation is “the house of my father.” However, the correct form is “my father’s house.” The apostrophe “s” is used in English to indicate possession. Avoid using the word “of” in relation to possession.
  3. Forgetting the subject of the sentence:You always need the subject in English. My students are tired of hearing me say this. In Spanish the subject is not necessary because each form of the verb is different. For example: Yo Tengo, Tú tienes, Él/Ella tiene, Nosotros Tenemos, Vosotros Tenéis, Ustedes/Ellos/Ellas Tienen In English the majority of the time, each subject has the same conjugation: I have, you have, he/she has, we have, they have We always use the subject in English, if not, we have no idea who or what you’re talking about. For example, if you want to say “You go to the supermarket every Sunday,” you can’t simply say “go to the supermarket every Sunday,” because we don’t know if the subject of the sentence is “I, you, we,” or “they.” However, if you say “you go to the supermarket every Sunday,” we know exactly who you are referring to.
  4. Incorrect plural nouns:In English we have a handful of plural nouns that don’t have an “s” at the end. Example include: homework, children, or women. There are more words like this, ask your English teacher for more examples, and never (I mean never) put an “s” at the end of these words.

Common Pronunciation Problems

  1. J vs. H: This problem comes from the strong J sound in Spanish. The H sound is very light in English. If you pronounce this too strongly, you will have a very strong accent.
  2. T and D: These sounds in Spanish are a lot softer than the English sounds. The English T and D are very strongly pronounced and require a strong puff of air.
  3. The [I] sound: This sound is found in the words sit, fit, and it. Many of my Spanish speaking students want to replace this vowel sound with the Spanish I, which makes the sound more like SEET, FEET, and EET.
  4. Pronouncing the S at the end of the word: Not sure why this one happens, but I know that my students very commonly don’t pronounce the “s” at the end of the word. That “s” is generally VERY important.
  5. “ES” instead of “S”: Can’t say how many times my students have told me that they are from “Espain” or say they are “Especial.” This pronunciation error, while small, makes a world of difference.

Great Tools for Spanish Speaking, English Learners:

Now that I have told you what the common problems are, let’s look at some of my favorite tools specifically for Spanish speakers learning English!

Books:

  1. Vaughan, Inglés gramática fácil (Spanish Edition), is my favorite book to use with my students. It introduces the topics and chapters in Spanish, and slowly changes to ALL English in the advanced levels. The books are very humanistic, with native-sounding language. They really teach grammar in a relaxing and interesting way.
  2. Any book that has English on one side, and Spanish on the other.

Pronunciation tools:

  1. To fix the pronunciation problems you see above check out the University of Iowa Sounds of Speech. Seriously an awesome tool. It shows you the correct placement of the phonetic sounds of American English. It has now become an app you can download!
  2. Rachel’s English YouTube Channel is a GREAT tool for improving your accent. She breaks down each individual sound in American English and make videos about how to pronounce them. An awesome tool for improving your accent!

Other:

  1. Como pensar en Inglés is an interesting twist on one aspect of learning English. Perhaps with this course you might even start to DREAM in English. Click Here!

Well gracias my dear readers and...

Happy Learning!