Problems for Learners in Spain/Catalonia There are common issues that all
There are common issues that all learners inevitably face. : The complexities of future tenses, modal and phrasal verbs. Aside from this, study habits and memorization of vocabulary are other hurdles that all students must jump. But each country, region, city or village will have its unique set of issues that will make language acquisition more complex. Having lived and worked in the region of Catalonia for the last 3 years a number of complexities of English learning have been brought to my attention Though the problems for learners in Spain/Catalonia may not be altogether unique in all aspects, I will attempt to clarify those that seem of particular issue in my short experience teaching here.
The culture of language acquisition has become a larger issue as Catalans have incorporated their native tongue into the schools. This means that not only do students study Catalan; they are also required to study Castellano, the national language and of course, English. On top of this, many students choose to study another European neighbor language, French, Italian or German. This means at the very least students are expected, along with their other coursework, to become fluent in no less than 3 languages at a very young age. The Catalan educational system, though it continues to change, still favors English teaching with non native speakers and heavily dependent on course books and grammar and very little on speaking. It is nearly impossible for a native qualified English teacher to enter the educational system without passing a series of oral defenses in Catalan. And in classes younger than secondary school, no formal training in English teaching is necessary. These challenges have found students at the end of 10 years of studying English disappointed, disillusioned and convinced that they cannot learn the impossible language of English.
In addition to demanding scholastic days which often end after 6 o'clock, students also have study heavy afternoons in tutorials and academies. This is where most qualified English teachers have been locked into a late afternoon schedule of private classes and certificate conscience students abound. Students are mentally exhausted at the point they enter the academy and in most cases are there by demands of their parents in an attempt to improve the students' likelihood of learning to speak the language or at least pass the certificate exams. These issues are all major difficulties that must be addressed by the teachers.
In contrast a Spanish adult who has spent very little time studying English has their own unique problems of language acquisition. Spanish, linguistically, is a very rigid language. Sentence formation and verb use has a very specific purpose and is directly related to meaning, idiom and humor. Adult Spaniards, at some point in their learning career, will need to break from this rigid idea of language and be creative with English language production. This is no easy task. This stumbling block of always wanting to know the precise correct form of expressing something leads many adults to difficulties in fluency and speaking with confidence.
Adult students also have difficulties in addressing cultural connections with English vs. American accents. Both countries have had a long standing history in Spain. Most adults have formed an opinion about the country and the people and have decided which accent they would prefer to learn from and have connected it with which is more difficult to learn. (And, which is more ugly or inhospitable, etc.' I have heard a number of comments) When in contact with a new teacher, it is very important for the students to learn this information (though they can rarely identify it) and they then decide accordingly. This is a very difficult hurdle for both the students and the teachers for the obvious reasons. Both accents are important in learning to understand, because they both exist, but how does a teacher remedy what seems like racism of accent'
English Language acquisition in Spain and more specifically in Catalonia and the problems therein, is something of great interest to a number of people in the educational profession here in Catalonia. As a native speaker working in this field, I have had a few experiences that have enlightened me to a few of the difficulties I have to face and will need to work through. In conclusion, these are just a few of the many issues I have identified and have spent some time thinking about, but books have been written about challenges of Hispanic/ English acquisition. Pronunciation issues alone can fill volumes.
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