October 28

Spanish speakers

I’m having a bit of a tidy-up and came across the little book of useful notes I made to help me revise for my Diploma exam.  There were a few pages dedicated to problems which Spanish speakers can have:


  • consonant clusters – they tend to add a vowel sound or elide a consonant sound
  • they have a narrower pitch range
  • the schwa doesn’t exist
  • there are a limited number of vowel sounds
  • Latin-root cognates may have a different pronunciation e.g. study / estudiar – also often linked to the limited number of vowel sounds


  • lack of subject pronouns in verb phrases
  • grammatical gender
  • adjectives follow the noun and also show gender and number
  • freer word order
  • no auxiliary do used in questions or negation
  • similarity of form vs. similarity of function
  • The definite article is often used with a general meaning


  • false friends e.g. sensible / sensitive
  • plural of the male form
  • more likely to use Latin-root words where we might use phrasal verbs

There is a fabulous section in the book Learner English (Michael Swan and Bernard Smith) which has further information on speakers of Spanish and a wide variety of other languages.

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Posted October 28, 2015 by Teresa Bestwick in category Professional Development

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