Problematic Phonemes for Spanish-speakers’ Learners of English

Keywords: English pronunciation, Spanish native speakers, Contrastive Analysis, Error Correction, Interference, pronunciation activities


When learning English, learners might face a challenging task in mastering pronunciation due to differences in both languages such as sound-to-letter correspondence, size of phoneme inventory, allophonic realization of sounds, place and manner of articulation, among others. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to review both theoretical and research reports on the most problematic sounds for Spanish-speakers English language learners. Approaches to second language learners’ errors like Contrastive Analysis and Error Analysis although being criticized have contributed to identifying likely causes of errors and dealing with them whether anticipating them or providing appropriate feedback on them. Besides, first language interference and age of second language acquisition have been found as complicating factors in the English pronunciation learning process. Finally, some classroom activities have been reported as successful for facilitating English pronunciation in Spanish native speakers.

Author Biographies

Olga Lucía Uribe-Enciso, Universidad Industrial de Santander, Colombia

is a professor and a researcher in the ELT Educational program at Universidad Industrial de Santander where she teaches SLA research and English Didactics courses and coordinates a master program. She has carried out research on language learning strategies, reading strategies, L1 reading and writing proficiency in university students, L2 collocations, and formative research in ELT preservice teachers. Also, she has worked as a teacher trainer, academic consultant and curriculum and material designer for ELT programs run by the MEN and the British Council in order to qualify teachers and improve ELT practices in both private and public schools. She holds a DELTA certification, a specialization in Spanish semiotics and pedagogy, an MA in TEFL and an MA in Teaching Spanish.

Sol Smith Fuentes Hernandez, Universidad Industrial de Santander, Colombia

is a tenth- semester student in the English Language Teaching Program (ELTP) at Universidad Industrial de Santander. Throughout her career, she has been interested not only in the study of phonetics and phonology but also in the creation of materials for Colombian primary teachers in Public Institutions. She has developed some group studies about the frequency of pronunciation of the English phonetic vowel /ə/. In addition to this, she has been one of the creators of a booklet called Primary Genius 5 which is aligned with the suggested curriculum proposed by Ministerio de Educación Nacional (MEN).

Karla Lizeth Vargas Pita , Universidad Industrial de Santander, Colombia

is a student at Universidad Industrial de Santander where she studies the English Language Teaching program. She has carried out research on problematic phonemes for Spanish-speakers learners of English. Also, she has co-created the English booklet “Primary Genius” for teaching English to elementary fifth graders in Colombia. What is more, she is currently working as English teacher in the young learners’ program at Instituto de lenguas UIS.

Anderson Steve Rey Pabón , Universidad Industrial de Santander, Colombia

is an eight- semester student of the English Language Teaching program at Universidad Industrial de Santander. During his time as a student he has been interested in the teaching and/or learning of Spanish as a Foreign Language. For that reason, he participated in the International Program called Amity in the United states in the state of UTAH. His role over there was to teach Spanish culture to an English- speaking scholar community.


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How to Cite
Uribe-Enciso, O. L., Fuentes Hernandez, S. S., Vargas Pita , K. L., & Rey Pabón , A. S. (2019). Problematic Phonemes for Spanish-speakers’ Learners of English. GIST – Education and Learning Research Journal, (19), 215-238.
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