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English is a very complex language. It is full of complex grammatical rules and intention-based words in which even native English speakers make mistakes at times. Spanish is the most studied foreign language in the United States, and there are many differences between English and Spanish.
Spanish speakers actively make the decision to learn English as their secondary language. The reasons for this can include, education, employment, and PR, among others. There are so many institutes that require Spanish speakers to demonstrate their spoken skills in English to pass the TOEFL exam (Test of English as a Foreign Language).
It is important that Spanish speakers who are learning English, quickly recognize the context and grammar rules, so as to quickly grasp the language. Building a base is the hardest part and things get easier with time.
Table of Content
- Challenges for Spanish Speakers Learning English
- Vocabulary Difficulties
- Spelling and Punctuation Difficulties
- Subject-Verb Agreement
- Verb Tense
- Omission of the Subject
- Pronunciation Difficulties
- Literal Translations
- Gender Confusion
- How to Learn the English Language Fast?
- Best Way to Learn English
Challenges for Spanish Speakers Learning English
Here are the 12 most common challenges Spanish speakers face when learning English.
1. Vocabulary Difficulties
There are many similarities between the English and Spanish language which holds both advantages and disadvantages for students who are trying to learn English. Many pair words may sound alike, but their meaning greatly differs in most cases.
Some of these false cognates in English and Spanish include “assist” and “asistir;” “college” and “colegio;” “exit” and “éxito;” and “library” and “librería.” In addition, Germanic components of English, such as phrasal verbs like “look for,” are often more difficult for Spanish speakers than the Latin or French-derived vocabulary.
2. Spelling and Punctuation Difficulties
Because of the difference in phonetic systems, native Spanish speakers have a lot of trouble with English spellings. The different ways to spell the same sound in English can cause problems, as in words like “tough” and “fluff.” A large number of vowel sounds and diphthongs are also troublesome.
Individuals who are fluent in Spanish tend to simplify English combinations of two or three consonants and encounter confusion regarding the appropriate usage of single or double letters. They occasionally place exclamation points or question marks at the start and finish of sentences in their written communication. Furthermore, they commonly employ commas to join independent clauses, leading to instances of comma splices.
3. Subject-Verb Agreement
Improperly pairing plural nouns with singular verbs and vice versa is perhaps the most common mistake Spanish speakers make. Language such as Spanish does not have this rule or has an entirely different set of rules regarding singular and plural subjects and verbs. The most common form of this mistake occurs with forms of the verb “to be”, “is,” “are” and “am”–paired with the wrong singular or plural noun. Examples of this mistake reflect in “She is smiling” and “I am going.”
4. Verb Tense
Another thing that sets English apart as one of the more difficult languages to learn has to do with verb tense. Some languages such as Spanish have very limited connotations of verb tense, sometimes basically just present and past, making it relatively simple to grasp. In Spanish, the verb tenses change with the subject, however, English is a bit more complex.
For example, in different situations, it may be appropriate to use any of the following tenses: present, past, future, past perfect, present continuous tense or present perfect. For instance, the verb ‘keep’ can be used in the following forms depending on tense: keep, kept, or keep, which can be very difficult for Spanish to grasp.
Dialects affect the way people speak and learn English and much depends on where they spend most of their time. There are various kinds of dialects in English. This makes learning the language from the beginning a confusing ordeal, namely because no correct dialect exists, especially in American English.
6. Omission of the Subject
English grammar is particularly confusing to Spanish speakers. Because Spanish has more verb endings than English, a complete sentence in Spanish does not always need a subject. Because of this, Spanish speakers often omit subject pronouns from their English sentences, so actually it is unnecessary to say “I” or “he” or “it” in communication.
While the subject is an essential part of English sentences. But Spanish students always forget that, leading to sentences like “Are you the right person to do this job”, which in the best of times is a nice laugh.
7. Pronunciation Difficulties
Spanish speakers learning English frequently have problems with pronunciation because of the differences between the two languages’ sound systems. English has 12 vowels and eight diphthongs, while Spanish has only five of each. Spanish speakers, therefore, often have trouble distinguishing between words like “beat” and “bit.”
They also confuse the consonants “v” and “b” and the “s” as in “Sue” with the sound of “z” in “zoo.” Since Spanish has an “e” before “s” on word beginnings, they find an initial “s” difficult to pronounce. They frequently add an “e” sound, which makes “sock” into “esock.” Spanish rhythm gives syllables equal length, while English gives more time to accented syllables. The even rhythm in English for some Spanish speakers can make them difficult to understand.
The stress in the Spanish language is regular and always marked. While English doesn’t necessarily have more regular consonant or vowel sounds than Spanish, how the stress is placed on some of those consonants or vowels makes it such a difficult language for Spanish speakers who are learning English. The unusual combinations and ever-present rule changes in the pronunciation of words make English much more complex to learn than it would seem.
Slang is reasonably common across the board in all languages, but in some areas, especially when talking about American English, slang is more widely used than proper grammar. To be truly comfortable communicating, someone must be comfortable speaking and be able to understand the language and how it’s spoken within an area, and different slang terms make an almost entirely different language that must be learned. Therefore, Slang is also a challenge for Spanish students.
10. Literal Translations
A common example occurs when learners use “I agree” instead of “I agree” because they have too literally translated the sentence “estoy de acuerdo” from Spanish.
English may be the most difficult language for a native of a non-English speaking country to learn, such as for native Spanish speakers. However, the potential benefits of learning English outweigh the difficulty they can face.
In the Spanish language, there is a strong correlation between sounds and their spellings, allowing for mutual intelligibility. However, Spanish speakers encounter significant challenges when attempting to learn English due to a tendency to spell a word exactly as they hear it, regardless of its correct spelling.
The primary issue arises when English words contain consecutive double letters. While Spanish features three double-letter combinations (cc, ll, and rr), English contains five instances of double letters. As a result, Spanish learners often simplify English double letters to a single instance, and conversely, they duplicate a letter when it is necessary.
For example, the word “hopping” serves as the present participle of “hope.” This illustrates how Spanish learners might incorrectly interpret and modify double letters in English words to align with their familiar patterns.
12. Gender Confusion
Not the kind of gender-related confusion one might assume. Despite their proficiency in speaking Spanish, Spanish speakers frequently encounter challenges when trying to comprehend words like “him” and “her.” This arises from their use of the pronoun “su” in Spanish, which encompasses both masculine and feminine contexts. So they tend to make mistakes differentiating gender-specific phrases in English, which can lead to confusion at times.
How to Learn the English Language Fast?
There are different ways to learn the English language fast. Let’s have a look at them.
- Volunteer work or study in an English-speaking country.
- Share property with English-speaking natives.
- Make English-speaking people your friends.
- Read English as much as possible. While reading, highlight words and phrases that you don’t understand, note them, and look for their meanings. This will help you retain the words in your mind and broaden your vocabulary. Moreover, reading will also help you in understanding grammar and how to formulate sentences.
- Some words in the English language appear more frequently than others. According to one of the researchers, if you learn 2000 words of any language then it will allow the language learners to understand 80% of the language. Therefore, you should learn English words with flashcards.
- Learn a basic level of grammar so that you can express yourself easily.
- Immerse English in your daily life by using YouTube videos, podcasts, and blog posts. Immersion techniques are more interesting than using textbooks or apps. This is the reason; they interact more closely with the situations in the English world.
- Watch English TV series and Spanish movies.
- Watch English YouTube videos
- Change your phone language to English.
- Listen to English radio.
- When you start speaking English then you will find that forming a sentence is a slow and challenging process. Therefore, learn some useful phrases that sound natural to you. This will help you speak phrases like native speakers. This process is called sentence mining.
- If you are trying to learn the English language fast then focus on essential language skills such as the English accent. If you start learning English in your first month then it will make your English pronunciation better for the rest of your life.
- Always use subtitles and a dictionary to learn the meanings of what you do not understand.
1. Best Way to Learn English
Every person has a different learning capacity. Learning a language is a combination of different learning techniques. Consuming every part of the English language is the best way to start. Whether it is listening, reading, or practicing, you have to take leverage each method.
The more you practice each method, the more you learn. One of the best ways to learn English is to start learning English by knowing verb conjugations because it provides the basis for sentence composition.
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In the Spanish language, sounds and their spellings are mutually intelligible. Spanish speakers face great problems in learning English because Spanish learners write a word whenever they hear any word from the English language.
The main problem occurs when the English word appears with double letters. The Spanish language contains 3 double-letter combinations cc, ll, and rr whereas English on the other hand contains double letters 5 times more.
Therefore, Spanish learners often reduce English double letters to a single tone. Moreover, they double a letter whenever it is required. For instance, hopping is a present participle of hope.
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