CLASSES OF SPANISH AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE IN A UNIVERSITY FOR RUSSIAN SPEAKERS FAMILIAR WITH ENGLISH
Kazan (Volga Region) Federal University (RUSSIAN FEDERATION)
About this paper:
Conference name: 6th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 7-9 July, 2014
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:Teaching a foreign language is always more effective when the teacher takes into account the students’ knowledge of their native language and other languages. Thus many difficulties and typical mistakes can be easily predicted and avoided, and less time is spent on explaining the aspects, which are probably familiar to the students.
In Kazan (Volga Region) Federal University Spanish is taught as a first or a second foreign language to students specializing in philology, translation, interpreting and pedagogics. Most students speak Russian as their native language and have at least pre-intermediate level of English. The present article is aimed to outline the aspects of the Russian and the English languages that may facilitate, or sometimes complicate the process of teaching Spanish to such students.
For example, Russian is a Slavonic language and uses the Cyrillic alphabet, but during the classes of Spanish there’s no need to spend much time teaching the Roman alphabet, as all the students already know it from their classes of English. The teacher can just focus on specific Spanish letters, such as ñ, ll, rr, and practise the Spanish pronunciation of the other letters. In Russian there’s no such part of speech as the article, and again there’s no need to explain to the students what it is, because the English language, as they know, has articles.
In other cases Russian can help, where English is of no use. There’s no verb conjugation in English, but there is in Russian, so students won’t have problems with understanding it, only in memorizing certain forms.
And, of course, there are aspects, where neither Russian nor English can help. When it comes to the grammatical gender of the nouns, students are sure to make a lot of mistakes, because in many cases Spanish and Russian words with the same meaning will have a different gender. Absence of grammatical gender in English complicates things, because students easily get used to naming objects ‘it’, but they tend to think of them as having the same gender in the English and the Russian languages.
The role of the teacher is to guide the students through all these difficulties and to teach them to use their early experience to their advantage.
Keywords: Spanish as a foreign language, interference, Russian speakers, English speakers.