It has been my great pleasure to have had the opportunity of teaching people from many countries. I love the experience of getting to know about the different cultures and customs that each country has. It is a very rewarding experience and I often send out a silent thanks at having a job that allows me to meet with so many amazing and different people from all over the globe. Many times I see how similar we all are underneath it all, when we strip away language, race, culture. Most of the time we all want to be happy, and we want the best for our families and friends.
However, when learning English different nationalities have certain areas that consistently cause problems. I think that knowing this can help you gain an understanding of the specific language areas that you need to focus on and improve, especially with regards to pronunciation. In this post I am going to highlight some of the key areas that will help you to succeed with your spoken English by taking a look at some nationalities and the main problem areas they have . Equally importantly, we will also look at how to address these issues. Lets first start with Spanish speakers of English. For a concise list of resources click here.
You may have problems with pronouncing the -ed endings . There are three ways of pronouncing -ed endings, it depends on the sound of the base verb. If the sound is unvoiced then then the ed-ending takes on a t sound , as in talked (talkt). If the sound of the base verb is voiced then the ed-ending takes on a d sound, as in played (playd). If the base form of the verb ends in the letter t or d , then the sound is -id, as in wanted (wantid). One website I recommend is http://eleaston.com/pr/t-d-Id-pattern.html
This website gives clear examples of the differences between voiced and unvoiced sounds , as well as including a really helpful quiz for you to test your understanding regarding pronouncing -ed endings.
You may also encounter difficulties with word endings, sometimes dropping the sound of the final consonants . Remember that in English we pronounce all the sounds unless they are silent letters. Final sounds are especially important with -ed endings as it tells us what tense is being used. However , try not to over pronounce the letter t at the end of a word.
Ship or sheep? These two vowel sounds can cause difficulties as Spanish speakers sometimes mix them up. For example, list can sound like leest, his can sound like he's , bit can sound like bead. Things can get a bit tricky with the words sheet and peace... but don't worry here is another excellent website for you to practice the sounds of / i/ and / iy/ http://eleaston.com/pr/i-iy-pattern.html
Also try http://www.shiporsheep.com/page1.html
Other challenging sounds might include ch, sh, j and y. Check out this website for help with this,
Intonation and word stress is another area that you might need some help with as Spanish speakers tend to have strong intonation at the end of sentences, whereas in English this can change the meaning if we stress words like this. Correct intonation and stress can make the world of difference in terms of improvement, so be sure to spend time on this area. Visit http://esl.about.com/od/speakingadvanced/a/timestress.htm for a clear explanation regarding the rules for sentence and word stress.
English verbs can be very challenging to master, especially irregular verbs. Here is a handy website that gives a comprehensive list of verbs and sorts them from easy to advanced levels. The website also translates the verbs into Spanish http://www.verbbusters.com/
I hope this helps you. If you need help with English, I am a qualified ESL tutor. Happy Learning!
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