I am currently learning beginners’ Spanish in an adult education class. I am enjoying it, because I think language learning comes fairly naturally to me and good skills at mimicry help me with pronunciation. However, until this afternoon, when we did a reading task, I don’t think I had considered precisely what skills you need to read in an unfamiliar language.
Somehow, we haven’t all taken in the promise from our teacher that Spanish pronunciation is completely regular (not quite true…..!) and I heard people using analogies from their knowledge of English to work out how to say unfamiliar words, often inaccurately.
Also, it perhaps isn’t enough to say ‘don’t worry about looking up words in the dictionary’ at this stage, when people don’t know the meaning. I think it might have helped to do some choral or paired reading to get us started and to explicitly tell us to guess from the context, reading quickly and lightly in a first reading. Maybe we could have been directed to a brief glossary of likely vocabulary before we started reading, or given some strategic pointers for what to look out for.
I can’t fault our tutor for his wide range of multi sensory methods to get us learning actively, but maybe there is a place even here for training on reading strategies.
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