Monthly Archives: March 2019

Which is more difficult – English or Spanish?

Which is more difficult – English or Spanish?

Here at The Language Corner, particularly in our basic level groups, students often ask during their English classes which is more difficult: English or Spanish? Obviously, the answer to this question depends greatly on the person – if your native language is Italian, you will probably find it easier to learn Spanish than to learn English, and if your native language is German, you will probably find it easier to learn English than to learn Spanish. While opinions vary on this topic, there are some points which can be considered and compared:

VOCABULARY

English words, especially at the more basic levels, do in general tend to be shorter and often only contain one syllable, which can arguably make them easier to memorise, for example:

book –   libro

hot –   caliente

pen –   bolígrafo

chair –   silla

PRONUNCIATION

As English has a lot more sounds than Spanish does, especially vowel sounds and combinations of vowel sounds, pronunciation in English does seem to be significantly more difficult than in Spanish, or at least there are more new sounds to learn. There are also many sounds in English, such as θ and ð which have very subtle differences and to the unaccustomed ear can sound identical, but for native speakers, the difference in these two sounds can change the meaning of the word itself.

In addition to this, the pronunciation of words in English can vary greatly between regions and countries. A simple word like ‘bus’ in most regions is pronounced /bʌs/, but in the North of England and in the Midlands, it tends to be pronounced roughly as /bʊs/.

Though in Spanish this also happens to some extent.

GRAMMAR

Yo hablo, tu hablas, ella habla… In English, we rarely conjugate. In fact, most verbs will only have a maximum of 5 variations (e.g. speak, spoke, spoken, speaks, speaking). We also use auxiliaries to indicate tense (have spoken, will speak) and to indicate negativity (don’t speak, didn’t speak). Because of this use of auxiliaries, there is more simplicity in English grammar and much less to memorise. We do, however, have to use the personal pronouns (I, you, we, they, etc), which are often omitted in Spanish as the conjugation already indicates the subject of the sentence.

We also have no grammatical gender of nouns in English, with a few exceptions for job titles. To Spanish speakers, grammatical genders may not present much difficulty at all, but for an English-speaker, having to modify articles and adjectives based on grammatical gender can be quite a challenge at first.

READING AND WRITING

English is by no means written phonetically. In this sense, writing in Spanish is far easier than writing in English, and because of this if you know the rules on spelling and pronunciation you can look at any new word as it is written in Spanish and know exactly how it is pronounced, and vice-versa. In English, however, this is not the case; words such as rough, through, though and Slough highlight this point perfectly. Even as a native speaker of English myself, I will still occasionally come across a new word and not know how it is pronounced.

In conclusion, there are some points which are more difficult in English, and some which are more difficult in Spanish, There are also some points which are easier to learn in English, and others which are easier to learn in Spanish, and much of this also depends on the individual who is learning, and learning a new language is rarely ‘easy’ for anyone!

If you would like more information or help with learning English in Madrid, feel free to visit one of our academies in La Elipa and La Almudena, near Ventas, Madrid, where you can speak with our native English teachers, who are always happy to help.

We hope to see you soon!

3 WAYS TO LEARN A LANGUAGE FOR FREE ON THE INTERNET

30 years ago Tim Berners-Lee wrote his first proposal for what would be the World Wide Web. His idea was an open initiative that would give everybody access to a universe of information. For this reason, here at The Language Corner, we would like to celebrate the birth of the World Wide Web by listing 3 if the many ways you can learn a language for free using the internet.

As with any new skill, learning a language requires practice – lots and lots of practice! The best way to do this is to try to dedicate as much time as possible to this new activity, but also remember that consistency is more important than perfection.

Having someone who can help you learn a language is always a good idea, and our native teachers at The Language Corner in Gandhi and La Elipa in Madrid would be delighted to help guide you through this learning process and answer any questions that you may have. However, if you are looking to boost your learning, or even start learning a new language from scratch, there are so many resources readily available at your fingertips online which you don’t even have to look hard for!

Here are 3 tips to get you started:

1. Be organised:

Yes, organisation is very important. It is also very important to have clear and specific goals and targets to aim for, as well as setting reminders for yourself and having specific time-slots to dedicate to learning a new language. Services such as Google Calendar or Outlook can be extremely useful tools which can be used to schedule the time you want to use during the week to learn a new language and to set reminders for yourself. These reminders can be daily, weekly, or even monthly.

It is one thing to say ‘I am going to learn Italian‘ and another to actually follow it through. If you write down your objectives and have more specific goals in mind (e.g. ‘by the end of this year I will be reading Umberto Eco in Italian’, ‘I will have watched 20 Italian films’ or ‘I will have successfully given my presentation in English this time next year‘) you will be far more likely to conquer those goals and reach your targets.

2. Have fun while studying.

With so many resources readily available online, it should be no problem whatsoever finding the right material to learn a new language. Duolingo is an excellent example of this, as well as other sites such as this one which offers 48 different languages. The most important thing is to find a way that you like and would actually enjoy dedicating some of your time to.

3. Immersion, immersion, immersion.

It is extremely important to try to increase your exposure to the language that you are trying to learn as much as possible. On sites such as Youtube, you can find many different types of videos in different languages, as well as music to listen to in other languages, which is always an excellent way to help learn another language. On Internet Archive you can also find a large number of films to watch in other languages.

Podcasts are also a great way to learn languages, as they allow you to listen to your other language while you are carrying out different activities during your daily routine.  Here you can find some of the best podcasts to learn another language.
As well as podcasts,  twitter can also be a useful way to keep yourself up-to-date or simply to give you access to conversations in other languages. For example, on @TheLangCorner, you’ll see Phrasal Verbs and Idioms of the week, as well as all the news of our activities and events. You can also see all of this on our  Facebook page!