Tag Archives: linguistic competences

The importance of the pronunciation

The importance of the pronunciation

Why does Spaniards have the impression that a not-native speaker has a higher linguistic level, if he has a good, natural pronunciation? In this question, you can find the key to the importance of the acquisition of a natural pronunciation.

At the moment, there are surely many controversial discussions on the question if grammar is more or less neglected in language teaching or if one should pay more attention to a few types of exercises because of their importance for the acquisition of communicative competences. But what nobody would deny is the fact that the pronunciation is more and more excluded from the lessons, that it represents one of the most marginalized competences. Today, everyone seems to agree with this point of view, but only a few people do something to change that. Of course, it is true that some schools stipulate topics, which have to be treated in a limited period of time. Because of that, the pronunciation suffers in many classes, because there is not that much time to deal with it intensively.

Spanish is a language which is very syllable-oriented, and that is why it demands a considered, not theoretical learning of phonetics, especially for students from a country of which the language differs a lot from Spanish. In the latter, the rhythm of the language is characterized by the syllables. That means that you have to pronounce every syllable in every word. In this respect, the Spanish language differs from other languages, for example from English, which is accent-oriented; the accents of the words are here important for the rhythm, their syllables not that much. The most plausible example for the phenomenon just mentioned is the difference in pronunciation between Spanish and English: In English, there are syllables which you virtually never pronounce – you have the impression that the intonation curve is falling -, whereas in Spanish, you have to pronounce all the syllables in order to not change the meaning of what has been said. For this reason, in the Spanish lessons, we have to treat tasks which deal with questions of the phonetics and which work with this characteristic aspect of language.

Beyond that, it is important to become aware of the application-oriented value of the pronunciation in a language like Spanish. The student has to keep in mind that the tone of voice is more higher and that the Spaniards make clear with it the intentions in a conversation. Besides completely phonetic elements, others like gestures, the expressions on the faces as well as other nonverbal aspects play a big role. They emphasize the meaning of what has been said.

Now, let’s return to the question from the beginning: Why do you equate good pronunciation with a good linguistic knowledge? – Because without a good pronunciation and a feeling for the phonetics, the learning process is not completed, even if all the other linguistic competences are very well developed. For this reason, it is important to further this ability from the beginning, so that the progress will take place as quickly as in the field of other skills. The students who achieve a higher level in the field of pronunciation are able to give the person they are talking to a better idea of their linguistic knowledge. In addition to that, the nonverbal and situational factors are, of course, also important. If you keep all of that in mind, the student will achieve a good linguistic level and he will be able to manage everywhere in the Spanish-speaking world.

The learning of grammar

The learning of grammar

Grammar plays an important role in linguistic debates as well as in theories of language teaching, and it will never lose its topicality. Over the years, the view of grammar has gone through various stages: Over many centuries, it was the most important aspect in learning of foreign languages, until it was sometime completely ignored and forgotten. This chapter has been followed by the renaissance of grammar, as a result of which the grammar has received the value which it never should have lost.

Many pupils think that the learning of a language only depends on the comprehension of the grammar rules, but new theories of language teaching say that grammar represents in fact a basic competence, but it is not the only one. Grammar is therefore rightly one of the so-called linguistic competences.

The main objective of language acquisition is communication. Concerning this matter, grammar plays a very important role. It makes sure that the communication is of good quality and not only communication for communications sake and without formal importance. The following is interesting: Over the time mentioned above, in which grammar played no role in language teaching, the pupils fell into a certain ignorance. That has proved that the assumption that grammar is not important, was wrong. The pupils want to have a fixed constant to which they  can orientate in speaking and which offers them security and gives them support.

As for Spanish, grammar is what frightens the pupils the most. Although there are little complex subjects like gender and number which are very regular, there are others which are very complicated. To the second group belongs, for example, the high number of past tenses, which do not exist in this amount in various other languages (see the difference between “pretérito indefinido” and “pretérito imperfecto”). The subjuntivo should also be mentioned. In other languages in which it even exists, it is not as often used as in Spanish. Other complex subjects are the pronouns, the difference between “ser” and “estar” as well as the indirect speech. In this cases, it is important to focus the communication and not only the learning by heart, because grammar does not consist of  mathematic formulas. The learned rules are to be internalized by systematic exercises.

We give answers to grammatical questions and help, if someone has problems. Regarding this, we also orientate toward the levels of the European Framework of Reference for Languages. That can also be interesting for native speakers. We find it extremely important to give useful, clarifying and interesting assistance to the reader.