Academic Master


Diversity Language and Cultural Diversity Field Experience Project

Spanish vs. English


Language is a process of expressing and communicating ideas and emotions in the form of signs and symbols. Therefore, signs and symbols are used to communicate and convey particular information. There are many different languages in the world. Therefore, the first language that a child learns from his or her parents is called the mother tongue. Thus, any language acquired through learning and training is known as second language. The process of learning and acquisition of other languages rather than the mother tongue is known as Second Language Acquisition (Saville-Troike & Barto, 2016). The process of learning and acquiring the second language is complex and challenging. This assertion can be confirmed by those who their first language is not English and are involved in learning and training processes. Therefore, it’s important for the English teachers to understand cultural and language background of students who speak other languages in order to help them comprehend English successfully. Teachers will require the information about the student language background and the level of their English proficiency. As a student involved in learning and training process of second language acquisition program, the author has acquired information about the relationship between English and Spanish with the aim of evaluating the language learning of a Spanish-speaking English language learner student (Saville-Troike & Barto, 2016).

A Comparative Study


Spanish is an ancient Romance Language, and it is a native language for more 360 million people world. Thus, Spanish is one of the ancient Romance languages known as Espanol. The dialect of Spanish arose in the 9th century in the town of Burgos in Spain. Spanish is the official language of 20 countries in the world (Kwintessential, 2018). Most the countries that use Spanish as national language are mainly from South America. Therefore, Spanish is spoken by all states of Central and South America expects Brazil. Also, Equatorial Guinea and Spain countries people speak Spanish as their official language. Therefore, the Spanish language has different regional dialects, and all the dialects are acquired from Castilian. The most common known dialects are Latin American Spanish and European Spanish. The Latin American Spanish has different phonology at some points from European Spanish. The Latin American Spanish use of /s/ sound while Castilian has /th/ sound for the words with letter z or c before vowels e or i. Overall the Spanish language is common and same among its users. It is a unique language is considered as the world most spoken native language (Kwintessential 2018).

There are twenty-seven letters in the Spanish language with 30 different sounds. The letters include ch (che), the ll (elle), the r, the rr and the ñ. Where R is a single vibration and RR is multiple vibrations. The letters “k” and “w” are listed in the Spanish alphabet; they only appear on borrowed words such karate and wolframio. The Spanish began to appear in writing in Latin religious texts, Glosas Emilianenses in the form of notes. The notes are date back to 12th century.

In Spanish nouns are used to mark masculine or feminine gender. The plural of the Spanish words ends with addition s or es; adjectives change the endings in order to agree with nouns. Therefore, since nouns are based on genders, the adjectives must change to match the gender in writing. The Spanish verbal are complex but regular their use infinite and conjugations; thus, uses imperative, indicative and subjunctive moods. Also, they use a variety of progressive tenses. For example, infinite in Spanish end in -er, -ar or –ir, e.g., Tomar (to drink). The Spanish verbs are based on present and past participles; Common Auxiliaries and Modals and Transitive vs. Intransitive Verbs. Therefore, Spanish is highly orthography language. From writing perspective Spanish can be recorded in Latin script.

Differences between Spanish and English

The distinctions between the Spanish and English languages are various; thus, making it difficult for the Spanish- speakers learning English as a second language. The contrasts mainly arise from an alphabet, phonology, grammar, vocabulary, and miscellaneous. First, Spanish uses Latin alphabet which differs slightly from the English alphabet. This because the Latin alphabet vowels take an acute accent and there is additional letter ñ. Therefore, for Spanish speaking students will have a challenge in writing English words with vowels a, e and i. Also, the Spanish students will make a mistake while using consonants h,j,r,y; since they are different names in Spanish.

Second, there is a significant contrast between the phonological system of Spanish and English especially in vowels sound and sentence stress. Therefore, the phonology difference poses a serious challenge to Spanish students in acquiring proper English accents. This obstacle arises from the fact that Spanish has pure vowels and five diphthongs contrary to English which has twelve pure vowels and eight diphthongs (Kwintessential, 2018). Also, grammar differences arise from verbs and tense. Spanish is an inflected language which is not the case for English. One of the major distinctions is that there is no correspondence between the two languages in use of tenses. Therefore, this causes Spanish learner to use simple tense rather than a progressive tense. For instance, Spanish learner might use “she has a pen” instead of “she is having a pen.

Consequently, miscellaneous causes a contrast between Spanish and English languages. Thus, Spanish sound of the word and its spelling are almost similar with great correspondence. The English words do not necessarily correspond with its spelling; thus, the Spanish learner will have a problem in writing the word they meet in spoken language (Penny, 2002). Also, the problem will arise concerns the spelling of English words especially the words with cc, ll, rr. Also, the Spanish nouns have a gender which influences the type of the adjectives that are used, while in English this is not the case. There are more possessive nouns in Spanish. Moreover, the negation in Spanish is simpler than in English. The negation in English is complicated since it has different prefixes like “non”, “un”, “dis”, or “in” (Penny, 2002). Therefore, Spanish allows putting of “no” word in front of the verb to negate. The Spanish preposition is “en” while English has different prepositions. Thus, there are significant distinctions between English and Spanish.

Social and Cultural Contexts of Spanish

Spanish society way of life, from the cultural and social perspective, is much different from American life. Although as a member of the same society there are social and cultural differences exist between to social groups. First, Hispanic society possesses high regard towards authority. The Hispanics respect authoritative figures which are not the case for the Americans. Therefore, the Hispanics respect doctors, lawyers, managers, executive directors, etc. For instance, Hispanics cannot argue with a doctor by telling him that I saw an advert on TV recommending the use of certain medications (World Travel Guide, 2018). Therefore, average Latinos respect authority.

Also, Hispanics are more emotional and welcoming that average Americans. The Hispanics are kind and easy to mingle with compared with Americans. Thus, there are accommodative, and they tend to be more open and direct. Additionally, their degree of intimacy is much higher compared to average Americans.

Hispanics tend to friendlier in recognizing the presence of the others. Most likely people like their presence be recognized, the cultural aspect is pronounced in the cultural context of the Hispanics. Thus, Hispanics show more gratitude in agreeing to meet them; they maintain eye contact throughout the conversation with a tone of genuineness (World Travel Guide, 2018). Thus, there are different from the average Americans. Also, they are more comfortable in maintaining social harmony. Thus, it’s difficult for Hispanics to share their problems with an outsider; since they try to avoid social awkwardness. Therefore, it had for the Hispanics to separate personal feelings from the person they are interacting with which is different with American society. In fact, American can disagree, but it this doesn’t affect their personal relationship.

In the social circumstance, Hispanics personal contacts are extremely common. Thus, their level of interaction is higher than the American society. Therefore, Hispanics tend to have extreme personal contact; thus, they like to hug, kiss on the cheek, effusive handshakes during their personal interactions. This behavior is much different in American society especially to a person outside their families and relationships (World Travel Guide, 2018). The Hispanics will hug and kiss on cheek even people they are interacting with are little known to them. Thus, the is social and cultural differences between the two society

Specific Case Analysis

Background Information

Gloria Hernandez (a Pseudonym) is a seventh-grade student who attends a parochial school in Norfolk, Virginia. She relocated to America at the age of twelve, and she has lived here for the last one year. Both of Gloria’s parents are Argentinean. Thus, Spanish is her mother tongue. She continues to speak her native language at home. Her father is well conversant with the English language while her mother possesses little English skills.

Gloria went schools in Argentina, where all the instructions and study were conducted using the Spanish language. Also, in her previous school, she attended three English lessons every week. Currently, Gloria is a student in an American school. She can communicate, understand and write in English in the majority of her classes, expect science. She is having difficulties in Language Arts, particularly English grammar. Once per week, Gloria is subjected to learning English as second language (ESL) test which teacher uses to help her improve her reading and writing skills. At the beginning of the school she tested, and she was found in need of ESL services.

Purpose of Study

The author has learnt about Gloria’s native language and seen some of her reading and writings as a linguistic graduate student; the author became interested in understanding the areas Gloria is experienced difficulties. Therefore, the study assists in identifying particular areas where Gloria is having difficulties and make suggestions to address the identified issues in future. The phonology, syntax, pragmatics, and semantics were areas of interest. The author familiarized situation to the ESL instructors and was allowed to conduct the study.


The author acquired samples of Gloria’s work in both written and oral forms. Also, the author observed and listened to Gloria reading out aloud to the teacher while in class. Moreover, the copy of her ESL test was evaluated. Her writing tests were used in conducting the analysis below.


Gloria had difficulties in pronouncing “weight”, thus she could didn’t pronounce the vowels ‘ei’. Thus, the word “weight” was pronounced as “wit”. Therefore, there were no contrasts between “ei” vowels and ’i’. Also, she had difficulty with the ‘sh’ sound, and she pronounced it as‘s’ sound, for instance, the word fashion.

When evaluating syntax, it was acknowledged that her work lacked prepositions, but when they were there, she misused them. In Spanish there is common propositions ‘en’; thus, she lacked knowledge about prepositions. She also demonstrated strengths in negating; thus, she properly used prefixes “non”, “un”, “dis”, or “in” well although many Spanish ELL’s have a problem in using negation prefixes.

From reviewing her writing test and writing samples, it clear that Gloria had a good comprehension of convictions of writing. She didn’t have a problem with punctuation, use of vocabulary and abbreviations. Therefore, the author noted that Gloria had a problem in the pronunciation of words, but she was good in writing. Overall, Gloria is an active student who is attentive and engaging.


There are several undertakings that would benefit Gloria in improving her second language (English) skills. First, she should practice pronunciations of /sh/ and /s/ to help her differentiate the two sounds. She should use words like sheet/sit, shun/sun, shoot/ sort to help her differentiate and pronounce the word correctly. Therefore, both Gloria and ESL instructor should consider recording the pronunciations in tape so that by replaying she can hear two different phonemes.

Also, she should focus on the use of nouns and adjectives. She should consider more literature books to understanding the use of nouns and adjectives. Furthermore, she should familiarize herself with the prepositions since her work lacks prepositions. Thus, she should also focus on understanding where to insert the collect prepositions. Moreover, Talia should read about sentence connectors to help her improve her sentence structure and allow fluency. To improve her oral skills, she should make sure that her flow when reading is smooth. By doing so, she will be able to recognize the words she has difficulties. Then research them for a better understanding. At same note, she should allocate some time in undertaking vocabulary improvement activities so to improve her writing.


The author and researcher of the activity highly benefited from the activity undertakings. Also, the insights of activity benefitted both Gloria and her teacher. The activity presented an opportunity for the author to understand Spanish language concepts. Thus, after learning the Spanish language basics, the author got a chance to work with a student. Therefore, the activity entailed research of identify particular areas a Spanish student is having difficulties in and which areas was she performing well. Thus, the student benefited in understanding the areas where she should focus on. Thus, the analysis of student writing and oral samples facilitated the outcome of the activity.

The author helped in compiling the areas where Spanish student experience challenges while studying English. Therefore, the author professional suggestions are important to not only Gloria but also to other Spanish–speaking English learners. This fact was enlightening. The teacher acknowledged the author work and asserted that the work would help in understanding other Spanish students learning issues. Since the author had already researched about the Spanish language aspects, it was easier to identify a particular area of observing and analyzing.

There were challenges in conducting research, but it was worthwhile since author learnt how to apply linguistic studies in real situations. Also, the activity helped the author to learn social and cultural aspects of the Spanish-speaking people. Furthermore, the act of helping someone understand her English learning challenges made the author feel accomplished. In general, the activity goals and objectives were met.


August, D., & Shanahan, T. (2017). Developing Literacy in Second-Language Learners: Report of the National Literacy Panel on Language-Minority Children and Youth. Routledge.

Garcia, G. E. (1991). Factors Influencing the English Reading Test Performance of Spanish-Speaking Hispanic Children. Reading Research Quarterly, 371-392.

Kwintessential. (2018). Guide to Spain-Etiquette, Customs, Culture and Business. Retrieved From Http://Www.Kwintessential.Co.Uk/Resources/Guides/Guide-To-Spain-Etiquette-Customs-Culture-Business/

Penny, R. J. (2002). A History of the Spanish Language. Cambridge University Press.

Proctor, C. P., Carlo, M., August, D., & Snow, C. (2005). Native Spanish-Speaking Children Reading In English: Toward A Model Of Comprehension. Journal of Educational Psychology97(2), 246.

Saville-Troike, M., & Barto, K. (2016). Introducing Second Language Acquisition. Cambridge University Press.

World Travel Guide. (2018). Spain History, Language and Culture. Retrieved From Https://Www.Worldtravelguide.Net/Guides/Europe/Spain/History-Language-Culture/



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