Essay by birknerUniversity, Master'sA, July 2008

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During the present paper I will choose two problems of transfer between Spanish and English that I consider to be obstacles to efficient communication and I will analyse them from two points of view.

In the first place I will explain the causes of the problems as regards phonetic and phonological aspects.

In the second place I will explain how I think the problems can be solved. This will be done considering I am working within the context of a specific language course (which I will describe referring to age, level and type of students).

As regards the problems themselves, I will consider them with reference to the three "E" variables, i.e. Exposure, Exercise and Explanation. I will also refer to Brinton´s five variables: Learner, Setting, Institutional, Linguistic and Methodological.


Of course, needless to say, there are many problems we could analyse here but I will choose two and I will deal with each problem separately.

1) The first problem of transfer between Spanish and English that can impede or cause problems with communication is a segmental one. It is the fact that Spanish learners cannot produce and sometimes even identify the pronunciation of different sounds such as the ones in the words "vet" and "bet". Here the problem lies in the fact that in the Spanish language we do not have a different pronunciation for short "v" and long "b". As a consequence, it is very difficult to make Spanish speakers become aware of this difference. And once they have been able to notice the sound difference, they have to acquire the skill to produce these two sounds. It is important to mention that "v" is a labiodental fricative sound and "b" is a bilabial plosive one in the English pronunciation system.