Chapter 2: Structure of Spanish DewEtta Moss What? • 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. Examples: 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. Examples: c -- /k/ -- before a, o, and u, such as, cama and cosa. -- /s/ -- such as, cena and cita. What? • 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 articulation: – – – – – – 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) What? • 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. What? • 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) What? • 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 as: – – – – papa/papa (potato) pan/pan (bread) fabric/fàbrica (factory) red/red (net) Conclusion • Having recognized that specific vowels, consonants, blends make specific sounds in Spanish will help an ELL student to understand English phonics. • 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 strategies.