Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN15 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Pages: 2585-2590
ISBN: 978-84-606-8243-1
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2015
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Modern languages began to enter school curricula in Europe in the eighteenth century. By examining the evolution of language teaching it can be observed, since then, a concern for understanding how to teach a language when it is not the native or the mother tongue. It was in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century when linguists began to propose an alternative method for teaching different from the previous models used to teach classical languages. However, now at the beginning of the century, the search for an effective method for language teaching still continues.

According to the latest edition of the EF English Proficiency Index, conducted in 2014, Spain has one of the lowest levels of English in Europe. The education system in Spain invests great amount of time and money in teaching English as a second language and these poor results are a problem. One possible explanation for this issue is the difference that exists between the educational system of the first language –which begins developing the oral communication skills (listening and speaking)– against the educational system of the second language –which begins developing the written communication skills (reading and writing)–. Consistent with this possible explanation are two of the most common causes that are identified when discussing the problem of low level of English in Spain: on the one hand, the dubbing to the Spanish of films originally spoken in English and, on the other hand, the pronunciation problems that are caused by the differences between the phonological systems of the two languages.

This article proposes as a possible solution for the learning English as a second language in Spain the imitation of the learning system used in the acquisition of the mother tongue, which means that in the first courses only the oral skills of listening and speaking must be developed –avoiding dubbed films and increasing efforts to improve phonetics, among other measures–, and only when the students already dominate them, the written skills of reading and writing will be introduced. Students should listen and speak before reading and writing.
Language, English Proficiency, educational system.