PSLLT 2021 – Teaching Tips Presentation

We have two activities focused around task-based learning

Task-based learning can, as described in Skehan’s paper Nurturing Noticing, provide a direct way to facilitate noticing of L2 features. These tasks require students to incorporate Spanish and English phonological rules as they try to meet the goals of the activity

Detecting English influence on vowel production

The first activity deals with the difference between Spanish and English vowels. Learners are exposed to two audio clips of the same word, and are simultaneously provided with the written from. They move through four “cases” where they determine what English influence (transfer) is occurring and in what Spanish context it shows up. Students should leave this activity with an awareness of four English transfer errors: diphthongization of a monophthong, reduction of a monophthong to schwa, separation of a diphthong across two syllables, and reduction or deletion of the weak vowel in a diphthong.

In preparation for this activity, students have read material on: vowels, both monophthongs and diphthongs; schwa, how it shows up in English and that it does not show up in Spanish; and syllables, their structure, and what Spanish “likes” in its syllables.

Though not included in the teaching tips presentation, we do a preliminary activity in a virtual lab that begins with a review on the structure of syllables. Students listen to audios of words with different permisible syllable structures. They are asked to identify the syllable structures that are present in different examples.

We then draw attention to the nucleus of a syllable, highlighting that regardless of the content being a diphthong or a monophthong, each nucleus should last the same amount of time and be just one syllable. This is in preparation of the English-influence audios they will hear where these expectations are “broken”.

As they move through each case, students are asked to read the orthographic representations and answer questions as a group. This again to build expectations about what they should hear in a native Spanish production and then contrast that with the English influence.

  1. ¿Qué palabra es? ¿Cuál es su representación ortográfica (¿cómo se escribe?)?
  2. ¿Cuántas sílabas tiene?
  3. ¿Cuántas son monoptongos? ¿Cuántas son diptongos?
  4. Si tiene diptongos, ¿cuáles son los componentes del diptongo?

Students listen to the audio on the left (without English influence) followed by the one on the right (with English influence). Most groups need several listen throughs of all the audios in the set to identify “what’s not Spanish-y” about each set. Facilitators of this activity can focus students’ attention to the parts of each audio that show that type of transfer, or say the words themselves and exaggerate as needed. We end each “case” with explanation of the transfer error and where it is likely to occur. Students can have a discussion on whether they’ve noticed it before and reflect on where it shows up in their own productions.

Re-syllabification across word boundaries

In our second task, we ask students to apply Spanish syllabification rules to build phrases from resyllabified segments. Learners are given resyllabified Spanish syllables and asked to rearrange them into words that form sentences. The benefit of this activity lies in the way that it builds on learner understandings of phonological properties of the syllable to advance awareness of phonological rules at the phrase level. 

You can access the jamboard deck here. Please make a copy for your own personal use.