Introduction: Spanish is a Romance language and part of the Indo-European language family. It is closely related to Italian and Portuguese. Spanishis a major language, with up to 400 million native speakers in Spain, Latin America and the USA.
Alphabet: Spanish uses the Latin alphabet. The vowels can take an acute accent, and there is theadditional letter ñ. When spelling English words or writing them from the teacher's dictation, beginning Spanish students may make mistakes with the English vowels a, e, i. The consonants h, j, r, y mayalso cause trouble, since they have significantly different names in Spanish.
The English writing system itself causes no particular problems to Spanish learners. Beginners, however, may be temptedto punctuate questions or exclamations as follows, since this is how it is done in Spanish: ¿What is your name? / ¡What a goal! Punctuation of direct speech may also be a problem because quotationmarks are not used in Spanish.
Phonology: The phonological system of Spanish is significantly different from that of English, particularly in the aspects of vowel sounds and sentence stress. Thesedifferences are very serious obstacles to Spanish learners being able to acquire a native-English-speaker accent. Coe (1987) says:
"European Spanish speakers, in particular, probably find Englishpronunciation harder than speakers of any other European language."
Spanish has 5 pure vowels and 5 dipthongs. The length of the vowel is not significant in distinguishing between words. This contrastswith English, which has 12 pure vowel sounds and 8 dipthongs. The length of the vowel sound plays an important role. It is not surprising, therefore, that Spanish learners may have great difficulty inproducing or even perceiving the various English vowel sounds. Specific problems include the failure to distinguish the sounds in words such as ship/sheep, taught/tot, fool/full or cart/cat/cut....