The Role of Guaraní in my English classes

Teaching English as a foreign language in Asunción Paraguay has given me some insights concerning dealing with students with Guarani background.

According to my teaching experience, I can see differences between students with a rural Guarani speaking background and urban Spanish speakers (By “Spanish”. I mean, 98% of them being bilingual with a more Spanish than Guarani lexicon in their speech and 2% which are Spanish monolinguals). This difference might be due to an apparent relationship between Guarani speakers having less contact with the world outside Paraguay(generally of rural origin) and the Guarani language itself. The reason why I state this is because Monolingual Spanish speakers also fall into the negative transfer features that follow, but with less frequency than the Guarani ones.

In a typical English Class 1 level 1 situation, I can find a pattern that keeps repeating once I have rural Guarani speakers and urban Spanish ones in my classroom

Final consonant deletion. 





Concerning counting, a number of features are segmented:


Syllable final consonant substitution

Again, I must say that I have seen this characteristic to appear more with Guarani speakers than with Spanish speakers, but I do not have enough data to estate that because they have Guarani as their mother tongue they fall into this category:

Negative Transfer into Spanish

Patterning (Rule regularization).

Since the sequence that I follow when teaching English to beginners (usually false beginners) is “what’s your name? my name is…”; “what’s your surname? my surname is…” it is logical to think that beginner students will follow the same pattern resulting in:

A         Where are you from?

B         My from is San Lorenzo

Knowing the language spoken by our students definitely creates awareness on us, teachers of English as a foreign language. This knowledge explains the reasons why our students “make mistakes” and also helps us use appropriate techniques and strategies to deal with these specific features.


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