Spanish Grammar v English Grammar

After living in Spain for over 10 years I am still surprised by how much time, energy and effort Spanish people put into learning English grammar. One person told me […]


Jonathan Ballantine - 20 February, 2018 || English Golf Experience


After living in Spain for over 10 years I am still surprised by how much time, energy and effort Spanish people put into learning English grammar. One person told me that he had been reading grammar books for over 10 years. For this reason I wanted to understand the importance of learning English grammar for Spanish people.

Over the last seven months I have reviewed 50+ grammar components from two perspectives:

 

  1. Learner of English – where I reviewed the leading English grammar books
  2. Learner of Spanish – where I reviewed the leading Spanish grammar books.

 

My goal was to try and understand English grammar through the eyes of a Spanish person. Basically how would Spanish grammar influence my learning of English. I also wanted to explore how different are the two grammar structures. For example, if I was only to make word-for-word translations would there be any loss of meaning, how would I sound? Like Tarzan?

 

Here are the results from this contrastive analysis:

 

From the 50 components I reviewed I made three example sentences in English and three in Spanish. Each sentenced was compared based on three parameters:

 

  1. New Words (added or subtracted in either English or in Spanish) 

 

In the example below the word DID is added:

¿Qué  libro         (ella)      perdió?

What  book  did  she  lose?

 

In the example below the word LES is added:

Ricardo les dio   un regalo   a sus padres

Richard       gave a   present to his parents

 

  1. New Forms (use of verb tense or grammar form changed in either English or in Spanish) 

 

In the example below English uses a different tense:

 

Escribo una carta

I am writing a letter

 

  1. New Order (positions of words within the sentence in either English or in Spanish) 

 

In the example below English uses a different order:

 

Maria me   ve

Maria sees me

 

Based on these three parameters a scoring system was used to measure the similarities between each of the 150 sentences. Sentence Similarity (SS) was rated based on the number of similarities as a % of the sentence total.

 

In the sentence below only one word is correct (Maria) all other words change – this was rated as being 33% similar (1/3).

 

María me ve
Maria sees me
 

 

 

In the next sentence all the words are correct – this was rated as being 100% similar (6/6).

 

María está comiendo con su familia
Maria is eating with her family
 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are the results from the 150 sentences evaluated:

 

30% (or 45 sentences) = 100% similarity

 

51% (or 75 sentences) = 80+% similarity (basically only one small change per sentence)

 

62% (or 93 sentences) = 70+% similarity

 

72% (or 108 sentences) = 60+% similarity

 

84% (or 126 sentences) = 50+% similarity

 

5%   (or 7 sentences)  = 0% similarity (where all of the words changed form or position)

 

Conclusion

This exploratory investigation in comparing English and Spanish grammar systems is a fundamental step in helping Spanish people rethink their approach to learning English, and the value placed on learning grammar.

From my conversations with Spanish people I believe you are overinvesting time, energy, effort and money in the way you learn English grammar. To me it seems you are studying English grammar for a different purpose, to become a linguist or translator.

Did you know that 99% of natives would fail Cambridge Advanced? Did you know that 99% of natives do not know the definition of the Present Continuous?

The key learning from research and teaching over the last 10 years is that Spanish people are very lucky in that English and Spanish grammar systems are very similar and behave more or less the same – see results: 51% (or 76 sentences) had an 80+% similarity.

I believe that an 80% accuracy goal is more than sufficient. I don´t use English grammar 100% perfect.

What this project has revealed is that too much time is spent on reading grammar rules, definitions and completing grammar exercises. Learning English for a Spanish person is much easier than for a Russian, Japanese or Chinese person. And is probably 100 times easier than learning Russian or Chinese.

As a Spanish speaker you do not need to study English grammar as it is the same as Spanish grammar. What you have to do though is learn how to use it. This is gained from experience not through structure and information.


About Jonathan Ballantine

Jonathan has been living in Spain for over seven years. Previously he worked in the Consulting sector for companies based in London, Madrid and Sydney. Jonathan is passionate about personal development and coaching, and incorporates many coaching techniques in his teaching. He is also passionate about sports and outdoor activities.




You never forget a good teacher

English Golf Experience was founded by Jonathan Ballantine, a native English trainer, and certified by the University of Cambridge to teach English as a second language.

Jonathan has been living in Spain for over ten years. He is also passionate about sports and outdoor activities.




Subscribe to our Newsletter

and receive latest news, special offers, etc…







Contact

Address

Centro Nacional de Golf
Calle Arroyo del Monte, 5, 28035 Madrid
España
T: +34-637 046 669
e-mail: jonathan[@]englishandgolfexperience.com

Social





Please tell me what I can do for you



© Copyright 2019 English & Golf Experience English in Action - Creating amazing learning experiences - All Rights Reserved -
Web Design JM Sánchez & Development by Cien por Cien Golf humans.txt