Comparison Chart

Comparison Chart

Spanish Literary Element English
Understanding how to chunk words into syllables is the most important skill in Spanish emergent literacy and it is the strongest predictor of long-term reading success in Spanish. Syllables The role of syllabification in English is not as strong as in Spanish and it is emphasized later – at around 3rd grade.
The building blocks of Spanish literacy begin with the vowels and then move to consonants to form syllables. Understanding that there are strong vowels (a-e-o) and weak vowels (i-u) determines separation of words into syllables, accent rules, and impacts comprehension. Vowels and Consonants The building blocks of English literacy are the names and sounds of each letter.
Letter names are not taught in Spanish initially as they can confuse students (la “ese” for “s” sounds as though it is the “e” and not the “s”). Names of letters are learned formally once students have learned the letter sounds and can form syllables. Alphabet and Initial Sound Knowing initial letter names and sounds are predictors of reading success in English. This is such an important skill that students are taught and tested over time for mastery.

Phonological awareness occurs through writing, not through oral language development. In Spanish, if you can say it, you can write it (though not necessarily understand), because of the tight relationship between sound and symbol.

Word families in Spanish include words whose ending changes as in flor – florería – and florero.

Rhyming and Word Families Understanding and developing onset and rime is fundamental in English to be able to decode and understand the relationship between sound and symbol as it appears at the beginning of the words (c-at; f-at, s-at). This skill is learned and taught orally.
The concept of the accent is very important in Spanish, not only as it relates to writing and spelling (the orthographic accent as in papá) but also the diacritic accent (mí vs. mi) as well as the prosodic accent. Understanding how vowels and syllables are formed is fundamental to being able to read with fluency and to use accents correctly in Spanish. Accents In English, the concept of the accent is phonological (oral emphasis on a sound), but not captured in writing, as in understanding the difference between import and import.
The need for sight words is different since all words can be decoded. A list of words that are challenging to write, and that match the word walls could be effective, but they may need to be different words than those used in English. Sight Words This is a list of words that cannot be decoded and do not follow regular rules. The list must therefore be memorized.
Because it is transparent and regular, the dictado is used to teach spelling along with punctuation and other grammar skills. Lists are not needed and may be limiting. Spelling Because it is opaque and irregular, spelling is taught through lists of words that correspond to letter patterns. (27 letters in Spanish produce 24 phonemes, whereas in English, 26 letters produce 40-56 phonemes).