Chapter 2: Structure of
DewEtta Moss
Phonetically, Spanish is an easier language to learn
than English because there are 22 phonemes and 29
letters that form them.
Vowel sounds are consistent.
a -- /a/ -- short o sound in father and spa.
o -- /o/ -- long o sound in no and old.
Consonant phonemes are a little more challenging
because a few of them have more than one sound.
c -- /k/ -- before a, o, and u, such as, cama and
-- /s/ -- such as, cena and cita.
Spanish phonics instruction can improve Spanishspeaking students’ English reading abilities.
Suggested guidelines for this instruction include
teaching vowels first, then consonants, and progressing
to digraphs, blends, and vowel combinations.
The final two steps are combining consonants with
vowels to help student to decode Spanish words and
staggering the “consonant sounds to vary the type of
Bilabial (/p/, /b/, /m/)
Labiodental (/f/)
Dental (/t/, /d/)
Alveolar (/s/, /n/, /l/, /r/, /rr/)
Palatal (/ch/, /ñ/, /y/)
Velar (/k/, /x/, /g/)” (pp. 56-57)
• The printed Spanish language can be divided
easily into syllables.
• Rules to follow when dividing words are:
– Syllables should end in a vowel.
– Digraphs ch, ll, rr, are never separated.
– Prepositional prefixes are separate syllables,
unless followed by s + consonant: con-sul-tar
vs. cons-tan-te.
– Vowels forming a diphthong or triphthong are
not separated unless they are divided by an
accent mark: llu-via vs. dí-a.
– Letters l and r are not separated from the
preceding consonant unless it is part of a prefix:
a-bra-zo vs. sub-ra-yar.
– Consonants standing between vowels are
separated: pron-to.
On pp. 60-61 is a chart showing differences between
English and Spanish orthography and phonology.
Understanding these differences can give a teacher
the tools needed to help an ELL student who may be
applying Spanish language rules to reading English
and becoming confused.
Some of the phonics rules are similar:
– /b/ spelled b,
– /m/ spelled m,
– h is a silent letter.
However, there are several English phonetic
elements that can not transfer from Spanish.
Examples include:
– all short vowel and schwa sounds
– long vowels with silent e
– /v/ spelled v (in Spanish v has the /b/ sound)
• There are a number of English/Spanish
cognates (words in two languages that
share a similar spelling, pronunciation, and
meaning) which will facilitate an ELL
student’s mastery of the English language.
Examples include:
– banjo/banjo
– artist/artista
– interesting/interesante
• However, there are a few false cognates
which do not have the same meaning, such
papa/papa (potato)
pan/pan (bread)
fabric/fàbrica (factory)
red/red (net)
• Having recognized that specific
vowels, consonants, blends make
specific sounds in Spanish will help
an ELL student to understand English
• A teacher who understands the
similarities and differences between
Spanish and English phonetics will be
better equipped to guide an ELL
student to improve his or her reading

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