TEACHING SPANISH TO RUSSIAN STUDENTS FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF A NATIVE SPEAKER
Spanish language has the highest number of speakers among Romance languages and occupies the 3rd position in number of speakers worldwide. Since it is used as an official language in more than 20 countries and most of these countries are in America, its popularity has increased and students from both public and private schools apply to study Spanish. This popularity has been increased in Russia as well and the reinforcement of bilateral relations between Russia and Latin American countries has made possible the increasing demands for studying Spanish.
Nevertheless, as Spanish is a Romance language, it has its own characteristics not shared by other language families. This is the case of Russian, a Slavonic language. Both Russian and Spanish have some aspects that are equivalent, but there are huge differences in terms of grammar and language structure.
Most students who choose to study Spanish in Russian colleges and universities have a good knowledge of English. Very often Spanish language teachers have to resort to comparisons with English, as part of its vocabulary and other aspects are taken from the Latin language and Romance languages.
A survey has been taken among some students who are learning Spanish at Kazan Federal University (Russia) in which they have been asked what they do when studying Spanish grammar rules. Most of them said that they resorted to their knowledge of English to comprehend the rules of Spanish, especially when they tried to understand verb tenses. Spanish has more than 15 verb tenses, while Russian has far fewer. The most difficult tenses are the ones from the “subjunctive group”. English has a high number of verb tenses and there is often a correlation between tenses in both English and Spanish.
As students have studied English tenses during their school and university stages, they can use this resource, but it is not always effective. Students also noted that very often it is easier to learn Spanish words that are similar to their translation into English (Spanish and English words of Latin or Greek origin).
Russian students use their native language when there is a combination of nouns and adjectives, as both Russian and Spanish have gender and number. In addition, there are some rules that fully coincide in Spanish and Russian. In these cases, if the Spanish language teacher has some knowledge of Russian, the meaning can be translated.
However, some students said that when they could not use either Russian or English to study Spanish, they were looking for videos and texts in Spanish “to try to put themselves in the shoes of Spanish native speakers” to understand better the aspects they could not compare to any language. Also they try to develop their intuition in the language.
The aim of this article is to describe all grammar aspects while studying verb tenses and the role of the Spanish language native teacher faces when teaching and helping to get through the difficulties that may arise during the process of learning Spanish.