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Theoretical Linguistics

Prepared by Jorge Guitart144


Applied Linguistics

Prepared by Karen L. Smith145

Sentence Complexity and Clause Subordination in Children's Spanish
Mary Beth Floyd

Northern Illinois University


Despite the growing interest of the past two decades in language acquisition among Spanish speakers, the development of clause subordination within complex sentences in the Spanish of children has received very little attention to date. Often development of subordinate clauses in Spanish has been considered only peripherally, i. e., as it relates to children's use of indicative or subjunctive mood within complex sentences. Studies which have treated children's use of subordination in Spanish consist primarily of doctoral dissertations, many of which have attempted comprehensive descriptions of the syntactic development of Spanish-speaking children for a particular geographic area. While such exploratory studies have contributed to the developmental literature for Spanish, most have not directed their focus to specific areas of syntactic or semantic development, such as the topic under review. Use of subordination and complex sentences among Spanish speaking children has rarely been explored as an area of syntactic or semantic development in its own right. To my knowledge, in-depth and systematic investigation of this area of language development among Spanish-speaking children has not appeared in the published literature to date.

The purpose of the present paper146 is to review the findings reported in studies of syntactic development in Spanish as they relate to children's use of subordinate clauses within complex sentences. Studies treating bilingual Spanish-speaking children will be reviewed first, then those dealing with monolingual children. Ultimately, an attempt will be made to summarize such findings as have emerged in the developmental literature to date and to suggest directions for future research into this particular and most significant area of language development among Spanish-speaking children.

The Studies

One of the major studies to date of the acquisition of grammatical structures by

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Spanish-speaking children is that by Gustavo González (1971), who attempted to establish tentative norms regarding developmental stages of Spanish among Mexican-American children in Texas. González studied the linguistic performance of 27 children from the Brownsville area, with three subjects representing each of nine age intervals from 2.0 to 5.0 years old. González observed development of sentence complexity and children's use of noun, adjective, and adverb clauses.

María Brisk (1972) attempted to determine the level of syntactic development of bilingual New Mexican children, interviewing seven five-year olds, two from urban Albuquerque and five from a nearby rural area. Among the structures Brisk observed were children's complex and compound sentences. Although the relevant discussion is brief, the observations are of interest.

Maryann McKay (1975) studied the effect of grade on the production of Spanish syntactic structures among 96 Mexican-American children in grades one through four in the San Francisco Bay area. McKay considered syntactic structures including Complex T-units (i. e., one main clause plus one or more subordinate clauses), Noun, Adjective, and Adverbial Clauses, and Total Number of Dependent Clauses.

Barbara Merino (1976), in another study of the San Francisco area, investigated developmental trends in 41 bilingual Chicano children aged five to eleven in grades kindergarten through four. Merino considered the effect of grade on both children's comprehension and their production of several syntactic structures, three of which, (i. e., «Subjunctive», «Conditionals», and «Relatives»), involved complex sentences.

Among the few studies which have treated the syntactic development of monolingual Spanish speakers is that by Samuel Gili Gaya (1972) who, in a study undertaken prior to 1960, investigated linguistic development of preschool, first-grade and fourth-grade children in Puerto Rico. Among his observations are many which relate to children's use of subordinating conjunctions and various types of modification expressed in subordinate clauses.

In a study of late stages of syntactic development among 55 monolingual Chilean children ages six to ten, Max Echeverría (1975) investigated the comprehension of several structures, including 1) subjunctive or conditional after decir [to tell], and 2) relative clauses.

Robert Blake (1980) investigated mood selection among 135 monolingual Mexico City children ages four to twelve. The types of contexts considered included adjective and adverbial clauses as well as various semantic categories involving noun clauses.

Findings: Clause Subordination in Complex Sentences

Explicit attention to sentence complexity and subordination in the developmental literature regarding Spanish-speaking children has been very limited. Before considering the studies as they relate to subordination of specific types of clauses, we note first some general observations made by the investigators regarding subordination within complex sentences in Spanish. Brisk (1972), observing complex sentences among New Mexican children, noted that subordination, in general, was «still very much in the process of development» among her five-year old informants (116). Similarly, Merino (1976) noted that among San Francisco children, the categories of «Subjunctives», «Conditionals» and «Relatives», all of which involved complex sentences, were among the most difficult structures, with significant differences observed by grade for children's production of subjunctives and conditionals (168). On the other hand, McKay (1975), in her study of San Francisco children, found no significant effect of grade on children's production of Complex T-units, noun, adjective, and adverb clauses nor on total number of dependent clauses. In attempting to explain this pattern of no growth, McKay (94) suggested that the Spanish-dominant bilingual children had already acquired Spanish before entering school. Gili Gaya, in his study of Puerto Rican children, noted their use of various subordinating conjunctions. Such forms, he suggested, have more a logical than a lexical function, and that grammatical function is defined gradually in the mind of children with continued use and practice (138).

Use of complex sentences by Spanish speaking children has often been discussed only or primarily as it relates to children's use of subjunctive mood. Gili Gaya (1972) observed use of subjunctive among preschool, first-grade and fourth-grade children in

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Puerto Rico. Fortunately, he also observed their development of various types of semantic modification, especially adverbial, and the use of subordinating conjunctions in that regard. Gili Gaya's observations will be noted in the following pages as relevant. Blake (1980), in a study of Mexico City children's selection of indicative or subjunctive mood, considered syntactic contexts of adjective and adverbial clauses and various semantic categories involving noun clauses. Although Blake found developmental patterns regarding the use of subjunctive within such contexts, unfortunately neither the development of subordination as such nor the development of specific subordinate clause types in the Spanish of the monolingual Mexican children was treated explicitly. Merino (1976), in a study of bilingual San Francisco children, included three different contexts involving subjunctive mood in complex sentences; unfortunately, however, her results were reported only «for subjunctive» as a category, rather than for the specific types of clauses included therein.

To the extent possible, the findings in the developmental literature will be considered below as they relate to specific types of subordinate clauses classified according to their grammatical function, i. e., nominal, adjectival, or adverbial, within the complex sentence. Those studies treating bilingual children will be reported first, then those dealing with monolingual Spanish-speaking children.

Noun Clauses. González (1972) reported that the use of noun clauses by Texas children varied according to the specific grammatical function the noun clause served within the matrix sentence. Noun clauses functioning as direct object after decir [to tell] (e. g., «Dime dónde está» [Tell me where he is]) were introduced by children aged 2.6 (31), were used frequently by the 3.3 year olds and older (76), and were used with verbs such as querer [to want] and saber [to know] with indicative or subjunctive mood correctly distinguished after age 4.0 (109). Relator words introducing object noun clauses at age 3.6 were que [that], dónde [where], si [if], and cómo [how] (90); at age 4.0 quién [who] was included among the relators to introduce such clauses (109). González noted that noun clause used as predicate after ser (e. g., «Este es el que lo checa» [This is the one who checks it]) (76), although introduced at age 3.3, was not observed again until age 4.6, and then only sporadically. Regarding noun clause as sentential subject, González reported only isolated instances at age 3.6 (90) and 4.0 (109); no use, however, was reported for children at later age levels. González observed a similar construction which he considered separately and described as the «es que [it's that] + sentence» construction or pattern, which would seem to involve a noun clause as subject. In any case, he observed an isolated case of this structure at age 3.3 (77) but more frequent use at age 4.0 and 5.0 (108, 137).

Brisk (1972), in her study of New Mexican five-year-olds, observed that among the rural children, noun clauses functioning as direct object were introduced by a «variety of relaters», (i. e., que, donde, como, and cuando [when]) after verbs such as querer, decir, and saber (78). She noted the less frequent use of this construction by the urban informants. When Brisk elicited among the urban children for repetition of a sentence involving noun clause after querer in a volitive context with change of subject (i. e., «Mi mamá quiere que yo vaya» [My mother wants that I go/My mother wants me to go]), she noted that they changed the subjunctive verb in the dependent clause to an infinitive (i. e., «Mi mamá quiere ir» [My mother wants to go]). Noting the urban children's infrequent use of noun clauses even when elicited, Brisk concluded that «the process of noun-clause subordination has not been fully acquired by these children» (79). She observed that noun clauses functioning as subject of «impersonal verbs» such as parecer [to seem] and ser [to be] (e. g., «Es que el negro juega mucho» [It's that the Black boy plays a lot]) were used rarely, and only by the rural New Mexican children (79, 116).

McKay (1975) found no significant effect for grade on San Francisco children's production of object noun clauses; frequency was very high among informants at all grade levels (82).

Merino (1976), in a study of the same Bay area, included in her category of three «Subjunctive» items one sentence involving object noun clause after querer in an «optative» environment (i. e., «La niña quiere que lave la ropa» [The little girl wants X to wash the clothes]) (271). Merino found that children's comprehension showed a developmental trend over grade, with older children generally out performing the younger (173-74); the differences, however, were not statistically significant.

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She reported that Spanish «Subjunctive» was one of the «most difficult» categories for subjects of all grades to understand (155). Differences in children's production of «Subjunctive» across grades were statistically significant (132). Unfortunately, however, Merino reported her findings only for «Subjunctive» as a category; no results were reported for children's comprehension or production of the specific noun-clause context noted above.

Among the studies of monolingual children's Spanish, very little mention has been made of the use of noun clauses. Gili Gaya (1972) cited examples of object noun clauses introduced by verbs of volition (e. g., querer and decir) among preschool Puerto Rican children. The subordinating conjunction que was considered to be well established already among the four-year old children (e. g., «Le dice que juegue» [He tells him to play] (60, 65).

Echeverría (1975), in his study of Chilean children, investigated the comprehension of two types of object noun clauses: 1) decir introducing subjunctive in a volitive context (e. g., «Charlie le dijo a Lucy que le comprara un helado» [Charlie told Lucy to buy him an ice cream]), and 2) decir introducing conditional in contexts of reporting (e. g., «Charlie le dijo a Lucy que le compraría un helado» [Charlie told Lucy that he would buy her an ice cream]) (116). Comprehension of structures such as 1) can be explained, as Echeverría noted, by the «Minimal Distance Principle»147, which states that the noun phrase which most closely precedes the complement verb is assigned as subject of that verb (73). In example 1) above, «Lucy» would correctly be interpreted as subject of the complement verb comprara. Sentences with decir plus conditional, however, are exceptions to the Minimal Distance Principle; in example 2) above, «Lucy» could not correctly be interpreted as subject of the verb compraría. Echeverría anticipated that such structures would be difficult for children to understand and that discrimination between the two types of sentences would be associated with later stages of syntactic development (117). The Chilean children's comprehension scores indicated that decir plus subjunctive had already been acquired by the five-year old children, but that decir plus conditional was acquired later, showing a developmental pattern between the ages of six and ten (122-22). Echeverría concluded that children were overgeneralizing the Minimal Distance Principle and applying that strategy incorrectly with decir plus conditional (126).

Adjective Clauses. With regard to the use of relative or adjective clauses by Spanish speaking bilingual children, González (1971) noted that such clauses (e. g., «Yo tengo un monkey que baila» [I have a monkey that dances]) were used frequently by the Texas children at age 3.3 (76). González's frequency data for various age levels show relatively greater use of these clauses as ages of subjects increased, especially at age 4.6 and after (cf. 124, 138).

Brisk (1972) noted that relative clauses were «seldom used» by either the urban or the rural New Mexican five-year-old children, and that the only relative pronoun used in such cases was que. She observed that three of the four spontaneous examples in her data were sentences in which the «antecedent was missing», (e. g., «Mira que yo tengo» [Look at... that I have]). In some cases, Brisk noted, the children «simply juxtaposed» sentences (e. g., «La Julia tiene la baby [quien or la cual] todavía agarra la bottle» [Julie has the baby who is still holding/using the bottle]) (79-80).

Merino (1976) included as test items sentences representing two types of relative clauses, both of which involved co-referential noun phrases: 1) one in which both noun phrases function as subject (S-S) of their respective clauses

and 2) a second, in which both noun phrases function as object (0-0) within their respective clauses


Unfortunately, however, Merino's findings are reported only for the overall category of «Relatives» and not for each of these two types of relative clauses separately. In any case, regarding San Francisco children's comprehension of relatives, Merino reported a «developmental norm» over grade with children's performance improving with age; the effect, however, was not significant. Relative clauses, she noted, were among «the most difficult items» for the kindergarten and grade-two children to understand and among the easiest items for the older children (155). As for children's production

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of relatives was usually in second or third place across all grade levels (154).

McKay (1975) found that San Francisco children's production of adjective clauses did not differ significantly over grades one through four; adjective clauses, along with noun clauses, were used very frequently by all the children (85).

As for studies of monolingual children's Spanish, Gili Gaya (1972) observed only that the relative pronoun used almost exclusively by the first-grade Puerto Rican children was que. Fourth-grade children, however, showed increased use of quien [who] (e. g., «No hay quien salve a Pedro» [There isn't anyone who can save Pedro]) (92).

Echeverría (1975) investigated the development of relative clauses among Chilean children ages six to ten. He included two types of test sentences with different underlying structures. One, type A, was a sentence in which the subject of the dependent clause, as relative pronoun, was the same noun phrase as the subject of the main verb (e. g., «El niño que empujó a la niña cayó al suelo» [The boy who pushed the girl fell to the ground]). The second, type B, was one in which the subject of the dependent clause and the subject of the main clause were two different noun phrases (e. g., «El payaso que saludó Susana salió corriendo» [The clown (that) Susan greeted ran away]) (138). Echeverría found that comprehension of relative clauses was «a difficult task» for the Chilean children. Their identification of the subject of the main verb showed a developmental pattern, although it did not reach total accuracy. However, the children's accuracy in identifying correctly the subject of the relative clause depended on its position in surface structure. If the subject of the dependent clause, in the form of a relative pronoun, preceded the complement verb (type A), identification was at about 80-95%. If, however, the subject came after the complement verb (type B), accuracy was «extremely poor at all age stages», i. e., between 20% and 40% (142, 144). In terms of comprehension of the whole sentence, children's percent accuracy was low for both sentence types, although somewhat higher for A-type sentences than for B-type sentences across all ages. Regarding difficulty of comprehension of relative clauses, Echeverría concluded that his findings supported the result that type B sentences are more difficult to understand than type A sentences for children at any age level. Echeverría noted that even for A-type sentences, however, the comprehension level achieved was «far from denoting a command of these structures by the subjects interviewed» (147). He urged that further research test subjects older than age ten in order to determine children's level of comprehension of such structures at more advanced stages of language development.

Adverbial Clauses. Observations regarding the use of adverbial clauses by Spanish-speaking bilingual children are somewhat more frequent in the literature.

In his study of Texas children, González (1971) observed that locative clauses after donde were introduced at age 2.9; although use of locative clauses was more frequent among the Texas children after age 4.6, donde continued to be the only locative conjunction used (47, 123). Locative adverbials were introduced in the children's speech earlier than were temporal adverbial clauses. González observed that temporal clauses after cuando [when] were introduced at 3.3 years, but were used more frequently after age 4.0. Cuando was the only conjunction observed until age 4.0, after which antes que [before] and hasta que [until] were introduced among the 4.6 and 5.0 year olds respectively (123, 137). Causal adverbials after porque [because], although introduced at age 3.0, were of very low frequency. Conditional clauses after si [if] (e. g., «Si no se quita la camisa, le voy a pegar» [If he doesn't take off his shirt, I am going to hit him]), although introduced at age 3.0 (60), were used somewhat more frequently only after age 4.0. González reported no instances of si clauses introducing subjunctive among the Texas children at any age. Although he did not give explicit attention to the context of purpose clauses, González cited two examples which involved such clauses introduced by para que [in order that/so that]. One was a sentence used by one of the youngest subjects at age 2.6 (30). The second Gonzalez cited as an example of «grammatical deviation» involving failure to use subjunctive by a subject at age 3.6 (i. e.,«Démelo pa'que lo pongo aquí». [Give it to me so that I can put it here]) (94).

In her study of New Mexican five-year-old children, Brisk (1972) observed that adverbial clauses, although quite numerous, were introduced by only a few relaters, i. e., cuando,

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pa'que, (<para que) and si, the latter, only among the urban New Mexican children (80). Brisk, in her discussion of «compound» sentences, observed that the causal conjunction porque (e. g., «Ella no vino porque está mala» [She did not come because she is sick]) was used «by all of the children» (82).

McKay (1975), in contrast to the pattern of no growth for object noun and adjective clauses, found that San Francisco children's production of adverbial clauses increased greatly from first to fourth grade. Despite this apparent growth over grade, McKay noted that the effect of grade on children's performance was not statistically significant. The growth was more apparent, she noted, in temporal and causal adverbials than for locatives (52-53). Temporal adverbials were observed to be the most frequently used clause type at all but one of the four grade levels.

Merino (1976), in her study of San Francisco children's comprehension and production, included a complex sentence involving a purposive adverbial clause introduced by para que as one of three items in her «Subjunctive» category. As noted earlier, however, Merino's findings are reported only for the category of Subjunctive, and not for the separate semantic or syntactic contexts subsumed thereunder. No results are reported, then, for the adverbial para que context specifically. Merino also included a category called «Conditionals», which included complex sentences involving si clauses introducing feasible as well as contrary-to-fact events, and adverbial clauses introduced by al menos que [unless].148 Again, however, Merino's findings are reported only in terms of the overall category of «Conditionals», which precludes any comparison of possible differences which may have prevailed in children's recognition or use of these various types of adverbial contexts. Regarding the San Francisco children's comprehension of Conditionals as an overall category, however, performance was «usually low and fairly stable» across all grades, peaking among the second-grade children and dropping off to about 50% accuracy among the fourth-grade children, which Merino attributed to language loss (174). In terms of order of difficulty, she reported that conditionals (and subjunctive) were generally «the most difficult categories» for children in all grades to comprehend (155). As for children's production of conditionals, Merino found significant differences across grade, with such differences usually favoring the older children. She noted, however, that even the children who performed best in this category, i. e., third grade, had «considerable difficulty» with conditionals, and that by the fourth grade, the bilingual children showed evidence of undergoing language loss (169). Regarding difficulty, Merino noted that for subjects of all grades, Conditionals were «the most difficult» structures to produce (154).

Regarding the language development of monolingual children, Gili Gaya's (1972) observations of Puerto Rican children's use of adverbial modification and subordinating conjunctions are of interest. He observed considerable use by the preschool children of the pa' que and a que conjunctions within purposive clauses (66). Causal porque was also observed frequently among the four-year olds, but not as frequently as para que. Gili Gaya noted that although the preschool children confused these two conjunctions, using them indiscriminately, six- or seven-year old Puerto Rican children distinguished purposive para que and causal porque (66). Within temporal clauses, certain subordinating conjunctions were used primarily in sentences of the youngest children, especially cuando and less frequently después que [after]. Among the fourth-grade children the inventory of conjunctions expanded to include antes que and tan pronto como [as soon as] (93). Use of the conjunction of manner, como [as], was observed among the school-age children. Conditional clauses after si were used by preschool children with subjunctive or indicative mood distinguished; however, as Gili Gaya noted, the frequency of such constructions greatly increased among the older Puerto Rican children (66, 93). He observed that even the four-year olds frequently used the coordinating conjunction pero [but]; similarly, he noted, aunque in the «adversative» sense of, pero (e. g., «Tenían buenas escopetas aunque no cazaron nada» [They had good guns, although/but they didn't get anything]) (137-38) was used frequently among the school-age children. Gili Gaya noted, however, that use of aunque in a concessive sense was rare. Noting the absence of concessive aunque among preschoolers and only an isolated case by a first-grade child (93), Gili Gaya suggested that concession presupposes «una complejidad mental» [a mental complexity] that young children have not yet acquired (138).

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When we consider the finding of these various studies as they relate to use of subordinate clauses and complex sentences among Spanish-speaking children, it becomes clear that many factors operate to inhibit the formulation of generalizations at this preliminary stage in the research. Such factors include first, the paucity of systematic research regarding the topic and, second, questions related to methodologies employed in the existing literature which, in some cases, pose difficulty in interpreting the findings.

Many of the investigations to date, most of them doctoral dissertations, have undertaken exploratory or comprehensive descriptions of the syntactic development of Spanish speaking children. The nature of such studies necessarily precludes an in-depth and focused investigation of any one specific area of syntactic or semantic development. In several studies, use of subordination and complex sentences among Spanish-speaking children has been noted only as such structures provide the syntactic environment for use of subjunctive mood; in some cases, results are reported only for children's use of subjunctive, with no explicit attention to development of subordination or sentence complexity. The number of studies which have given explicit attention to the development of subordination among Spanish-speaking children remains very limited. Most of those studies which have observed use of subordinate clauses in complex sentences have noted children's spontaneous production of such structures. Study of children's comprehension of subordinate clauses has been very limited; the only environments to have received explicit attention in the literature to date are object noun clauses after decir, adverbial clauses of condition, and certain types of relative clauses.

In some cases methodological questions or problems have made difficult the interpretation of findings of particular studies; in such instances, the results reported could have been at least partly a function of the methodologies employed. Moreover, differences in methodological approach among studies which have treated children's subordination in complex sentences make comparison of findings across studies very difficult, if not impossible. In some studies the number of informants has been small; in such cases typically there has clear been very little quantification of data. All of the studies reviewed have been cross-sectional studies in which different children of specific age or grade levels served to represent various stages of linguistic development; none of the studies has been longitudinal. In some cases, especially in studies of bilingual informants, various intervening factors, e. g., degree of use of Spanish or language dominance, may have influenced the results. Many of the studies reviewed have observed only children's spontaneous use of subordinate clauses; rarely, however, has the use of such structures been elicited systematically by the investigator.

As the studies reviewed here relate specifically to the development of clause subordination and sentence complexity among Spanish-speaking children, they might well be characterized, then, as exploratory. Despite limitations regarding the state of the literature to date, however, some commonalities do emerge from the findings reported. It would be premature, of course, to formulate generalizations regarding this area of syntactic and semantic development among Spanish-speaking children on the basis of the limited literature to date. Nevertheless, examination of the results, however tentative, from past investigations can offer direction for future research into this most significant area of language development in Spanish, and merit attention within this context.

With respect to noun clauses, studies of bilingual (Brisk, 1972; González, 1971; McKay, 1975) and monolingual children (Gili Gaya, 1972) have observed early and frequent use of object noun clauses after verbs such as querer decir, and saber. Two studies of bilingual children have found that noun clauses which function either as subject or as predicate of the main clause are introduced later and are used less frequently than noun clauses functioning as object of the matrix sentence (Brisk, 1972; González, 1971). One study has shown that monolingual children's comprehension of object noun clause introduced by decir varies with the meaning of the verb and the underlying structure of the dependent clause: decir in a volitive sense introducing a subjunctive verb is understood earlier than decir in a reporting sense introducing a conditional verb. Comprehension of the latter construction apparently represents a more difficult task since it is an exception to the Minimal

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Distance Principle, which predicts the subject of the dependent clause (Echeverría, 1975).

Findings in those studies which have treated relative clauses among Spanish-speaking children seem at first glance to vary considerably. Fortunately, this is one area of clause subordination among Spanish-speaking children which has been studied from the point of view of both comprehension as well as production. Findings in studies of children's comprehension of relative clauses have shown some convergence. A study of bilingual children in San Francisco showed a developmental norm, with comprehension improving over grade (Merino, 1976). Nevertheless, both studies which have investigated subjects' comprehension of relative clauses have shown that such comprehension remains a difficult task even for older children, i. e., fourth-grade bilingual children (Merino, 1976) as well as ten year old monolingual children (Echeverría, 1975). A study of monolingual children has shown comprehension of relative clauses to be related to syntactic structure: adjective clauses in which the relative pronoun preceding the complement verb is subject of the dependent clause are more easily understood than are relative clauses in which the subject of the dependent clause does not precede the dependent verb (Echeverría, 1975). However, findings among those studies which have observed production of relative clauses, especially among bilingual children, are more divergent. Studies of bilingual children sometimes have reported low frequency (Brisk, 1972; Merino, 1976) and ill-formed structures (Brisk, 1972); other studies have reported early and frequent use among school-age children (McKay, 1975) and even among pre-school children (González, 1971).

With respect to adverbial clauses in the Spanish of children, investigators have typically observed their use in relation to semantic categories, such as temporal, locative, causal, and hypothetical. There is evidence that clauses of purpose after pa'que (<para que) appear early among monolingual (Gili Gaya, 1972) and bilingual children (Brisk, 1972). Regarding temporal clauses, studies of bilingual children have either suggested (González, 1971) or have shown (McKay, 1975) a develop mental trend. Evidence suggests that cuando is the first temporal conjunction used among both bilingual (Brisk, 1972; González, 1971) and monolingual children (Gili Gaya, 1972); investigators of both bilingual (González, 1971) and monolingual children (Gili Gaya, 1972) have observed that among older children the range of temporal conjunctions expands to include después que, antes que, hasta que, and tan pronto como. Evidence of developmental patterns for bilingual children's production of adverbials of cause (McKay, 1975) and of condition after al menos que and si (Merino, 1976) has also been offered. Locative clauses were observed to be introduced very early among Texas bilingual children; frequency of their use, however, increased only among the older children (González, 1971). In another study of bilingual children, production of locative clauses showed a pattern of growth over grade, although the pattern was not a very marked one (McKay, 1976). Other investigators of children's Spanish have made no mention of locative modification. The lack of mention of adverbials of concession in studies dealing with bilingual children and the specific mention of their rarity among even school-age monolingual children (Gili Gaya, 1972) suggests that concessive adverbials may have a later development than other types of adverbial modification. In other cases, however, attempts to discover commonalities in the findings of the literature to date are frustrated. For example, only one investigator has mentioned the confusion of causal porque and purposive para que among young monolingual children (Gili Gaya, 1972); such confusion has not been noted in other studies of Spanish-speaking children's use of complex sentences of which I am aware.

In general, then, an overview of the developmental literature as it relates to complex sentences and subordinate clauses in Spanish suggests that while children make developmental gains in this regard from the ages of two to ten, neither bilingual nor monolingual children at age ten have yet acquired the full range of semantic and syntactic expression characteristic of adult's use of subordination in complex sentences. Very few observations regarding Spanish-speaking children's use of dependent noun clauses have surfaced in the developmental literature to date. Even the limited literature on children's use of dependent noun clauses suggests that such structures develop variably according to the grammatical function they serve in relation to the main clause in complex sentences. Comprehension of relative clauses has been seen to

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be a difficult task for even ten-year old monolingual children, with difficulty related to the grammatical structure of the relative clause. The existing developmental literature suggests that children's use of adverbial clauses develops variably by semantic categories, with some types of adverbial modification appearing early, e. g., temporal, and other, e. g., concessive, not yet manifest in the Spanish of even fourth-grade monolingual children. The literature suggests, too, that the various semantic categories of adverbials have their own development, with the range of adverbial conjunctions in a given category expanding among older monolingual and bilingual children.

As for future research into this particular area of language development among Spanish speaking children, it goes without saying that the topic deserves to be the focus of concentrated and systematic investigation. While the early exploratory and comprehensive studies (e. g., Brisk, 1972; Gonzalez, 1971; Gili Gaya, 1972) were necessary and have contributed greatly toward our understanding of language development among Spanish-speaking children, the need exists now for in-depth and focused investigation of specific questions related to development of sentence complexity among Spanish-speaking children. In order to elucidate patterns in children's Spanish which are truly developmental, rather than dialectal, the norm of behavior against which children's language is measured must be the children's own language variety or dialect, rather than an external dialect, perhaps a standard dialect, to which the children have not been exposed. Systematic investigation of development of sentence complexity among monolingual Spanish-speaking children is of critical importance. Such studies would have the added benefit of providing a basis for comparison with investigations of bilingual children's language development, in which external factors may operate to mediate the developmental process. In order to identify features of bilingual children's Spanish which are truly developmental, efforts must be made to control for such factors, e. g., language dominance or degree of use of Spanish, which may otherwise confound the results. The effect of syntactic difficulty on children's development of subordinate clauses has been given limited consideration in the literature to date. Evidence from past studies suggests that this factor may influence the development of various types of noun and adjective clauses.

Efforts must also be made to determine to what extent semantic or cognitive development may also affect the development of subordination and sentence complexity in Spanish. The current literature for Spanish suggests that children's use of adverbial clauses is related to semantic development. To my knowledge, such questions have not been systematically addressed in the language acquisition literature for Spanish. Also, since subordinate clauses provide the syntactic environment in which subjunctive mood verb forms are used in Spanish, the development of subordination should also be studied in relation to children's morphological development, particularly, the morphology of the Spanish subjunctive. Attention should also be given to the possible relationship between development of sentence complexity and clause subordination in Spanish and corresponding development for other languages. The psycholinguistic literature includes a growing number of studies on the topic, especially as it relates to English.

Another interesting area of inquiry would be the relationship between first-language development and that of second-language acquisition regarding development of subordination and sentence complexity. Future studies of development of sentence complexity among Spanish speakers would also profit by greater attempts to relate empirical language data to theoretical issues and approaches to language acquisition. Fortunately, some work in this regard has begun for relative clauses in Spanish (Echeverría, 1975; Merino, 1976). The example which some of the studies have established, with larger numbers of informants and greater and more systematic quantification of data (e. g., Echeverría, 1975; McKay, 1975; Merino, 1976), is also one that might well be emulated in future studies of sentence complexity among Spanish-speaking children. Efforts such as these may well be expected to contribute significantly toward the growing literature on language acquisition in general and language acquisition in Spanish in particular.

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Works Cited

Blake, Robert James. 1980. «The Acquisition of Mood Selection among Spanish-speaking Children: Ages 4 to 12». Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Texas at Austin. Ann Arbor, MI: University Micro films, No. 8100873.

Brisk, María Estela. 1972. «The Spanish Syntax of the Pre-school Spanish American: The Case of New Mexican Five Year Old Children». Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of New Mexico. Ann Arbor, MI: University Micro films, No. 73-16585.

Chomsky, Carol. 1969. The Acquisition of Syntax in Children from 5 to 10. Cambridge, MA: M. I. T. Press.

Echeverría, Max Sergio. 1975. «Late Stages in the Acquisition of Spanish Syntax». Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Washington. Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms, No. 76-17457.

Gili Gaya, Samuel. 1972. Estudios de lenguaje infantil. Barcelona: Bibliograf.

González, Gustavo. 1971. «The Acquisition of Spanish Grammar by Native Spanish Speakers». Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Texas at Austin. Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms, No. 71-11540.

McKay, Maryann. 1975. «Spoken Spanish of Mexican American Children: A Monolingual and Bilingual School Program». Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Stanford University. Ann Arbor, MI: University Micro films, No. 75-13557.

Merino, Barbara Jean. 1976. «Language Acquisition in Bilingual Children: Aspects of Syntactic Development in English and Spanish by Chicano Children in Grades K-4». Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Stanford University. Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms, No. 77-7132.

Rosenbaum, Paul. 1967. The Grammar of English Predicate Complement Constructions. Cambridge, MA: M. I. T. Press.

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Teaching Elementary Schools

Prepared by Gladys C. Lipton149

A Treasure Trove of Materials for the FLES Teacher
Peggy J. Hartley

Appalachian State University

Folklore of Hispanic countries can provide the FLES teacher with a wealth of instructive and entertaining rhymes, jingles, and games. The integration of such activities can aid in the achievement of goals in listening, speaking, and cultural understanding when used in a meaningful communicative context. Alan Maley, talking about poetry and song as forms of language use, points out:

Because the very function of poetry and song is to enhance our experiencing of existence, in however humble a particular; it follows that they offer significant input for learners. This sets them apart from much other language learning material: They have a content (affective or cognitive) which really means something and is not simply cooked up for the supposedly fragile digestion of language learners.


For example, the teacher who uses a little rima de sorteo to choose a leader for a classroom activity is providing input which is both comprehensible and culturally authentic. Although the children may not know the meaning of each and every word, they do know the purpose of the rhyme. (And, after all, how many native speakers of English know «Eenie, Meenie, Minie, Mo...» but who can define «eenie?») Furthermore, as MacRae reminded us in 1957, through hearing the language in larger units, of three or four lines rather than simply words, the learner can begin to imitate the intonations and melody of spoken Spanish (149).

By carefully choosing rhymes, games, and jingles which are related to the curricular con tent, the FLES teacher provides an easy way for students to become comfortable with the vocabulary. Soon they will be able to manipulate the familiar words much more efficiently and effectively than when taught by rote memory, drills, or simple repetition of lists.

Since many of the activities involve the body in some way, they take advantage, as Asher says, of that «powerful effect that the kinesthetic sensory channel has in making a second language learnable for most children» (Foreward).

In addition, the authenticity of the materials allows the children «to penetrate a new culture through meaningful experiences with cultural practices and cultural phenomena that are appropriate to their age level, their interests, and the classroom setting» (Curtain Anderson and Pesola, 150).

The purpose of this article is to offer a sampling of the many rhymes, jingles, and poems identified as part of the oral tradition. Included at the end of the article is a list of a few sources for the teacher who wishes to explore further this treasure trove of folklore.

Rimas de sorteo: (These little rhymes, said frequently and casually by the teacher, will soon be echoed by the children as they vie to choose leaders for their activities).

Pinto, pinto, gorgorito
¿Dónde vas tú tan bonito?
Voy al monte a trabajar,
pinto, pinto, pinto, pan.

Pito, pito
¿dónde vas
tan solito?
Por la senda
pin, pon, fuera.

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Un, dos, y tres
Pedro, Juan y José
Lima, naranja, limón
rosa, clavel y botón
unillo, docillo, tresillo, cuatrana
color de manzana
que arruga la tela
será hasta mañana.

Carlos y Clemente
se fueron a la fuente.
Carlos se cayó.
Clemente se levantó.
Pasó por allí una mujer
y dijo, ¿De quién es este diente?
De Carlos y Clemente
que se fueron a la fuente.

Papandero, oro, oro
¿Cuántos días has estado en Francia?
Lunes, martes, miércoles, jueves
viernes, sábado, domingo
y otra vez lunes.

Carratilla, zapatilla
pies de gato
veinte y cuatro
veinte y cinco
veinte y seis
veinte y siete
veinte y ocho
veinte y nueve

Pin uno, pin dos
pin tres, pin cuatro
pin cinco, pin seis
pin siete, pin ocho.
Dan las ocho
con un palo
bolillo, telera
pambazo y afuera.

Corre la rata
corre el ratón
corre la rata
con todo y cajón.

De una, de dola
de tela canela
zumbaca, tabaca
que vira virón.
Toca las horas
que ya mero son.
Tócalas bien
que las once son.

En la calle del ocho
me encontré a Pinocho
y me dijo que contara
del uno al ocho
uno, dos, tres
cuatro, cinco, seis
siete y ocho.

Al dindón de la dina, dina, danza
Ay, qué ruido se oye en Francia
arrequeteplé, arrequechulé
al dindón, que salga usted.

Pin, pin, San Agustín,
el hijo de rey pasó por aquí,
comiendo maní,
a todos les dio, menos a ti.

En el Arca de Noé
caben todos, caben todos
en el Arca de Noé
caben todos menos usted.

Cuando Lucas se casó
todos los perros y gatos convidó,
menos a mi que me dejó.

Los perros aquí,
Los gatos allá.
Cuéntame diez
y yo me saldré.
Uno, dos, tres
cuatro, cinco, seis,
siete, ocho, nueve
y diez.

The most well-known counting-off rhyme is this one. It has many variations.

Tin, marín
de don Pingué
cúcara mácara
Pipirí fue.

Tin marín de dos
¿Quién fue?
cúcara, mácara
títere fue.

Uno, dos, tres y cuatro
Margarita tiene un gato
Tin marín, de dos pinguey
cúcara, mácara, titín, fue.
Yo no fui, fue Teté.
Pégale, pégale que ella fue.

Rhymes and Jingles with Numbers:

Uno, dos, tres, cho-
uno, dos, tres, co-
uno, dos, tres, la-
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chocolate, chocolate,
bate, bate el chocolate.

Pinocho fue a pescar
al río Guadalquivir.
Se le escapó la caña
y pescó con la nariz.
Pescó una, pescó dos,
pescó tres, pescó cuatro
pescó cinco, pescó seis
pescó siete, pescó ocho
la copla de Pinocho.

A la una como tuna
A las dos me da la tos
a las tres veo a Andrés
a las cuatro voy al teatro
a las cinco brinco y brinco
a las seis merendaré
a las siete jugaré
a las ocho soy Pinocho.

(This is a delightful rhyme to use with pantomime).

Las horas
Toco la una
con cuerno de luna.
Toco las dos
diciéndote adiós.
Toco las tres
tomando jerez.
Toco las cuatro
con un garabato.
Toco las cinco
saltando de un brinco.
Toco las seis
Así como ves.

Animals: (The names of animals form an important part of almost every elementary foreign language curriculum. Use the following little jingles with pictures, movement, and imitation of sounds).

El conejo
Dos orejitas muy largas
Dos orejas para oír
Dos ojos vivos y grandes
Cuatro patas para huir.

Come, come, come
Bebe, bebe, bebe
el perro pequeño. (Substitute other animals).

Los pollitos dicen:
«Pío, pío, pío»
cuando tienen hambre,
cuando tienen frío.
La gallina busca el maíz y el trigo
les da la comida
y les presta abrigo.
Bajo sus dos alas
hasta el otro día
duermen los pollitos.

Cinco pollitos
tiene mi tía.
Uno le canta
y otro le pía,
tres que le tocan la chirimía.

Es el gallo que madruga
que al salir el sol
se alegra y canta
no quiero flojos aquí».

Detrás de doña Pata
corren los patitos
Por allí, por allá
cuá, cuá, cuá.

Anda la rata detrás de la mata;
Anda el ratón detrás del cajón;
Anda la gallina detrás de la niña;
Anda el conejo detrás del espejo;
Anda la ardilla detrás de la silla;
Anda el gallo detrás del caballo;
Anda la vieja detrás de la reja;
Anda la luna detrás de la tuna.

Este era un gato
con los pies de trapo
y los ojos al revés.
¿Quieres que te lo cuente otra vez?

Piñata Rhymes: (Making and breaking a piñata is a wonderful way to combine an authentic cultural experience with the arts portion of the curriculum. These little verses are good ones for the students to learn to say as they break the piñata).

No quiero oro
ni quiero plata.
Yo lo que quiero
es romper la piñata.

Castaña verde
piña madura.
Dale de palos
a la olla dura.

Bajen la piñata,
bájenla un poquito
que le den de palos
poquito a poquito.

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Dale, dale, dale
no pierdas el tino;
mide la distancia
que hay en el camino,
y si no le das,
de un palo te empino.

Miscellaneous Rhymes:

(For counting buttons on a garment)

Niña, bonita, doncella, casada
viuda, olvidada, enamorada

(For plucking petals from a daisy)

¡Qué vas que sí!
¡Qué vas que no!
¡Qué tengo novio (novia)!
¡Qué vas que sí!
¡Qué vas que no!
¡Qué se llama___ !

(To remind children to remain seated)

El que va por semilla
pierde su silla.

El que sale a bailar
pierde su lugar.

(For soothing little hurt places)

Sana, sana
colita de rana
anda a comer
más manzanas.

Perhaps the best summary is found in the words of Carmen Bravo-Villasante on the back cover of her beautiful Adivina Adivinanza: El folklore es alegría, canto, danza, juego y diversión. Es, además, poesía metafórica, y también imaginación fantástica. Cuando el niño todavía no sabe leer ni escribir, se divierte y aprende con las rimas folklóricas.

Works Cited

Asher, James. Learning Another Language Through Actions. Los Gatos, CA: Sky Oaks Productions, 1977.

Curtain, Helena, Anderson, and Carol Ann Pesola. Languages and Children: Making the Match. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1988.

MacRae, Margit W. Teaching Spanish in the Grades. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, Co., 1957.

Maley, Alan. «Poetry and Song as Effective Language Learning Activities». Interactive Language Teaching. Ed. Wilga Rivers. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987. 92-109.

Suggested Sources

Alexander, Frances. Mother Goose on the Río Grande. Dallas: Banks Upshaw and Co., 1944. (Available from National Textbook Co.)

Bravo-Villasante, Carmen. Adivina Adivinanza. Madrid: Ediciones Didascalia, S. A., 1978.

Diaz Roig, Mercedes, and María Teresa Miaja. Naranja dulce, limón partido. Mexico: El Colegio de México, 1979.

Griego, Margot C., et al. Tortillitas para mamá. New York: Holt Rinehart and Winston, 1981.

Islas, García Luis. «Juegos de niños». Mexican Folkways 7 (1929): 63-74.

Jiménez, Emmaltolquin, and Conchita Morales Puncel. Para chiquitines. Glendale: Bowman Publishing Co., 1969.

MacRae, Margit W. Teaching Spanish in the Grades. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1957.

Zamora, Gloria Rodríguez, and Rebecca María Barrera. Nuevo Amanecer Circle Time Activity Book. Lincolnwood, IL: National Textbook Co., 1985.

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Pedagogy: Secondary Schools

Prepared by Marilynn Pavlik150

Recent Noteworthy Books in Spanish for Adolescent and Reluctant Readers
Isabel Schon

California State University, San Marcos, CA

The following is a selection of recent note worthy books in Spanish for adolescent and reluctant readers. Titles for serious readers grades 9 through 12 and 9 through adult are included in addition to many titles that may appeal to less eager readers. As indicated in the annotations, these books are easy-to-read with attractive photographs and/or illustrations. The reason for this wide variety of reading levels is to encourage all adolescents into the world of books disregarding individual reading abilities.


Sierra i Fabra, Jordi. El joven Lennon. (The Young Lennon). Madrid: Ediciones SM, 1988. 174p. ISBN: 84-348-2353-5. $5.00. Grades 8-12.

The adolescence of John Lennon is narrated in a fluid style by an obvious admirer of the man and his music. John Lennon's intense feelings for a mother whom he barely knew, his relationship to a devoted aunt who really cared, and his love for music are depicted in an engrossing and touching manner. This biography should appeal to adolescent readers as they deal with their own passions and tribulations.

Acosta González, María Elisa. Planea tu carrera y tu vida. (Plan Your Career and Your Life). México: Sistemas Técnicos de Edición, 1987. 89p. ISBN: 968-6135-29-4. $5.75. Grades 9-12.

Written in an easy-to-understand manner, this manual intends to assist young adults in designing a program of personal development. It emphasizes the importance of setting personal and career objectives and in following a plan of action. Each chapter includes easy-to follow exercises that readers are encouraged to do as they plan their lives.


Castelló Yturbide, Teresa and Mónica Martín de Castillo. El niño dulcero. (The Sweet toothed Boy). Illus: Maribel Suárez. México. CIDCLI, 1987. 40p. ISBN: Unavailable. $3.00. Grades 6-12.

According to the preface, this is a recipe book for children and their mothers, which means that children should not prepare these fifteen Mexican candies without the assistance and supervision of an adult. The variety and authenticity of these delicious candies from all over Mexico make this book a most delightful experience. In addition, the appealing illustrations and easy-to-follow directions will tempt many skeptics.

Marcuse, Aída E. La cocina viajera. (The Traveling Cook). Buenos Aires: Editorial Plus Ultra, 1987. 63p. ISBN: 950-21-0898-1. $4.50. Grades 8-12.

Twenty-two recipes for appetizers, vegetables, seafood dishes, meats and desserts, mostly from Central and South America, are included in this unassuming paperback publication. Perhaps the instructions are not as care fully explained as cookbooks in the English language world, but older children and adolescents will certainly savor these popular Latin American dishes.

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Handford, Martin. ¿Dónde estd Wally? (Where's Wally?) Translated by Enrique Sánchez Abulí. Barcelona: Ediciones B, 1988. 26p. ISBN: 84-406-0144-1. $10.95. Grades 5-8.

Readers are supposed to find Wally amidst a large crowd of people in the city, at the railroad station, on the beach, at the airport, in a museum, in a large department store and other places where crowds generally gather. Busy, detailed illustrations of numerous people engaged in countless activities are the main focus of this large format, attractive publication. Lovers of detail will be able to spend hours deciphering the witty illustrations of people involved in ludicrous activities.

Lluisot. ¡Quiero una medalla! (I Want a Medal!) Illus: by the author. Barcelona: Ediciones Destino, 1988. 34p. ISBN: 84 233-1629-7. $14.95. Grades 5-10.

In a most sarcastic and amusing manner, this story tells about a great general who was most distressed because in one corner of his uniform he did not yet have a medal. Hence, like all important generals, he organized a war so that he could win another medal. The general's experiences with a group of soldiers who, instead of weapons use musical instruments, makes him very angry, but ultimately affects his choice of a new career. Not surprisingly, the Great General becomes the Great Conductor who wins a medal in the competition of orchestra conductors. Witty, full page color illustrations of the great general-turned conductor and his important army add an immeasurable sense of mirth to this human story of a man's need for success and recognition. All readers will rejoice and some will sympathize.

Morante, Rafael. Amor más acá de las estrellas. (Love On This Side of the Stars). La Habana: Unión de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba, 1987. 137p. ISBN: Unavailable. $5.50. Grades 8-12.

The city of Havana (Cuba) is the setting for this fast-paced science fiction novel. Readers will be intrigued by a strange cadaver, a beautiful young woman from outer space, an intelligent police officer and their extraneous love affair. Regrettably, the physical presentation of this paperback publication -cheap paper, unappealing cover, crude black and white illustrations- leaves much to be desired. Nevertheless, young adults will enjoy this brief novel which won the David Award for science fiction in Cuba in 1984.


Bravo-Villasante, Carmen, ed. El libro de los trabalenguas. (The Book of Tongue Twisters). Madrid: Montena, 1987. 125p. ISBN: 84-397-1189-1. $9.95. Grades 4-10.

Spanish-speakers of all ages will enjoy this delightful collection of tongue twisters. The most popular word games from the oral traditions of Spain and Latin America are represented in this unassuming paperback publication. Tiny, black and white line illustrations serve only as background decorations.

Colluccio, Félix and Marta Isabel Colluccio. Cuentos de Pedro Urdemales. (Stories About Pedro Urdemales). Illus: Smuchi. Buenos Aires: Editorial Plus Ultra, 1987. 95p. ISBN: 950-21-0931-7. $6.50. Grades 6-9.

The mischievous character, Pedro Urdemales, is well known in Spain and Latin America because of his endless «scheming, smiles, lies, jokes and ingenuity». This collection of twenty-four brief stories from Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Bolivia, Paraguay and New Mexico has been grouped in four cycles: a pig cycle, a devil cycle, a cycle of «Juan Bobo» and other stories. This is a delightful sample of the folklore of Spanish-speaking people which has been handed down through several generations with amusing, albeit small, watercolor illustrations.

Muñoz Jiménez, María del Pilar. El caballito de los siete colores y otros cuentos. (The Little Horse of the Seven Colors and Other Stories). Bogotá: Editorial Kelly, 1988. 203p. ISBN: 958-9004-02-4. $18.00. Grades 6-adult.

Eleven tales that tell about the wishes, fears, dreams and ambitions of the people of Antioquía in Colombia are included in this care fully edited publication. The liveliness of these tales make them ideal for recreational reading. In addition, a well-written literary analysis of these myths and legends make this collection of special interest to scholars and serious students of Colombian folklore.

Rivera Izcoa, Carmen, ed. Cuentos de enredos y travesuras. (Stories of Mischief and Wit). Illus: by 12 Latin American illustrators.

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Puerto Rico: Ediciones Huracán, 1986. 103p. ISBN: 0-940238-89-6. $6.00. Grades 5-12.

In a lively and amusing manner, these twelve tales from Latin America tell about the pranks and antics of ingenious characters. The characters are often children, but they also include a sly fox, a brave mosquito and a crafty mother of nine children. The brevity and joviality of each tale as well as the entertaining illustrations make this paperback a joyful introduction to Latin American wit and culture.


Lemer, Ethan A. Comprendiendo el SIDA. (Understanding AlDS). Illus: Mark Wilken, Minneapolis: Lerner Publications, 1988. 64p. ISBN: 0-8225-2000-1. $9.95. Grades 5-9.

In a simple and straightforward manner, this Spanish translation of Understanding AIDS describes how the AIDS virus is transmitted, who is at risk as well as the disease's damaging effects on the body's immune system. Each chapter includes a brief story that dramatizes important aspects about AIDS and discussion questions that focus on important issues about this disease. It is unfortunate that this much-needed Spanish translation includes a few typographical mistakes-especially when one is the third word on Chapter 1, «parecar» [sic] (9) and «demos» [sic] (32).


Adam, Jean-Pierre. El mediterráneo. (The Mediterranean). Illus: Michael Welply. ISBN: 84-263-1138-5.

Chadefaud, Catherine. Los primeros imperios. (The First Empires). Mus: Michel Tarride. ISBN: 84-263-1375-2.

Coblence, Jean-Michel. Las civilizaciones de Asia. (Asian Civilization). Illus: Veronique Ageorges. ISBN: 84-263-1376-0.

_____. Las primeras ciudades. (The First Cities). Illus: Patrick Deubelbeiss. ISBN: 84-263-1067-2.

Makhlouf, Georgia. Las grandes religiones. (The Great Religions). Illus: Michael Welply. ISBN: 84-263-1367-1.

Sabbagh, Antoine. La Europa de la edad media. (Europe of the Middle Ages). Illus: Morgan. ISBN: 84-263-1373-6. Saint-Blanquat, Henri de. Los primeros hombres. (The First Men). Illus: Catherine Nouvelle. ISBN: 84-263-10 55-9.

_____. Las primeras aldeas. (The First Villages). Illus: Francois Davot and Michael Welply. ISBN: 84-263-1139-3. Each vol.: 77p. (Historia de los Hombres) Zaragoza: Editorial Luis Vives, 1988. $15.00. Grades 6-10.

This outstanding series, originally published by Casterman Publishers in Paris, France, relates the history of humankind from its origins until modern times. Young readers will be pleased by the excellent quality of each volume-numerous photographs, drawings, charts and maps; easy-to-read text; brief chapters; chronology of events, and an index. This is definitely the way to expose hitherto uninterested students to the achievements of humankind.

López Ramos, Juan Arturo. Esplendor de la antigua Mixteca. (Splendor of the Ancient Mixtecs). Mexico: Editorial Trillas, 1987. 148p. ISBN: 968-24-2613-8. $8.95. Grades 9-12.

This is a most readable introduction to the Mixtec culture of southwestern Mexico. It includes chapters on the origin, history, codexes, jewels and calendar of the Mixtecs. Numerous color photographs further testify to the splendor of this ancient civilization.

Human Relationships

Velarde, Eduardo. ¿Sabes cómo es el amor? (Do You Know What Is Love?) Bogotá: Alethia Compania Editorial, 1988. 130p. ISBN: 958-9175-023. $8.00. Grades 8-adult.

In a most readable and straightforward manner, the author asks his readers if they truly know love and if they understand the rules in a loving relationship. The author stresses that love is ruled by common sense, good judgment and lots of work. Adolescents -and all readers-can definitely benefit by this simply written, well-organized book that explains the importance of love in our lives.


Calderón, José Manuel. Rubén Darío para niños. (Rubén Darío for Children). Illus: Rafael Contento. Madrid: Ediciones de la Torre, 1988. 124p. ISBN: 84-86587-32-8. $10.50. Grades 8-12.

Like previous titles in this series, this one is not «... for children». It is a good introduction for young adults to the life and work of the well-known Nicaraguan poet, Rubén Darío. The childish cover and sluggish black-and-

––––––––   505   ––––––––

white line illustrations also detract from its appeal to young adults who may be interested in reading about this great central American poet.

García Lorca, Federico. Poemas. (Poems). Madrid: Montena, 1987. 126p. ISBN: 84 397-1190-5. $9.95. Grades 7-12.

The lyricism in the poetry of García Lorca (1898-1936) is amply demonstrated in this selection by Carmen Bravo-Villasante. It includes samples of some of his most popular works, such as Poeta en Nueva York and La zapatera prodigiosa as well as excerpts of some of his plays and popular songs.

Niño, Jairo Aníbal. La alegría de querer. (The Joy of Loving). Bogotá: Carlos Valencia Editores, 1986. 71 p. ISBN: 958-9044-22-0. $6.00. Grades 5-9.

These fifty-five poems for young readers express in an honest and refreshing manner special feelings about first love. They tell about the joys of unexpected meetings, the sadness of unfair competition, the excitement of brief encounters, and other special moments of early adolescence.

Science and Technology

Becklake, John. El hombre y la luna. (Man and the Moon). Illus: Fred Anderson. Translated by Victor Pozanco. (Exploraciones y Descubrimientos). Barcelona: Editorial Juventud, 1987. 34p. ISBN: 84-261 2300-7. $9.00. Grades 8-12.

This title, originally published by Macmillan in Great Britain in 1979, describes the history of the exploration of the moon by man as well as the problems that had to be overcome before the landing of Apollo on the moons surface. It must be noted that this volume includes missions to the moon up to December, 1972. Nevertheless, the high quality of the numerous illustrations, photographs and charts in color and the simple text make this volume of interest to scientists-to-be.

Hoy, Ken. El joven naturalista en la costa. (The Young Naturalist on the Coast). ISBN: M-84-7655-553-9.

_____. El joven naturalista en las riberas. (The Young Naturalist on the River side). ISBN: M-84-7655-554-7. Each vol.: 48p. Illus: Adrian Rigby. Translated by Luis Ramón Gómez Rea. Madrid: Plaza Joven, 1988. $8.50. Grades 5- 8.

Young readers are encouraged to explore and observe the wide variety of animal and vegetable life on the coast and on the river side. Like previous titles in this most attractive series, originally published in Great Britain, they include engaging, colorful illustrations, easy-to-read charts, and informative texts with suggested activities that guide readers to a better understanding of nature.

Minelli, Giuseppe. Los anfibios: del agua a la tierra. (Amphibians: from Water to Land). Illus: Remo Berselli and Mario Tamer. Translated from the Italian by Manuel Barbadillo. ISBN: 84-348-2286-5.

_____. De la célula al hombre. (From Cell to Man). Illus: Lorenzo Orlandi. Translated by Teodoro Larriba. ISBN: 84-348 2224-5.

_____. Los peces: variedades y evolución. (Fishes: Varieties and Evolution). Illus: Lorenzo Orlandi. Translated by: Teodoro Larriba. ISBN: 84-348-2223-7.

_____. Los reptiles conquistan la tierra. (Reptiles Conquer the Earth). Lorenzo Orlandi. Translated by María Luisa Noreiga. ISBN: 84-348-2285-7. Each vol.: 62p. (Historia de la Vida sobre la Tierra). Madrid: Ediciones SM, 1 987. $17.00. Grades 8-12.

Brief chapters, simple descriptions and clear charts and watercolor illustrations make this history of life on Earth, originally published in Italy in 1986, a marvelous way to introduce adolescents to the evolution of the vertebrates. The attractive format of this series, including appealing covers and good quality paper, will engage the interest of most readers. Other titles in this series are Dinosaurios y aves (Dinosaurs and Birds) and Los mamíferos y el futuro de la evolución. (Mammals and the Future of Evolution).

Shapiro, Mary J. Nacimiento de la estatua de la libertad. (How They Built the Statue of Liberty. Illus: Huck Scarry. Translated by Margarite Cavandoli. Barcelona: Timun Mas, 1987. 61 p. ISBN: 84-7722-018-2. $8.95. Grades 4-8.

Originally published in the U. S. in 1985, this publication is a tribute to the designers and builders of the Statue of Liberty. In an easy-flowing narrative, it describes the planning and construction that resulted in one of the great technical achievements of the nineteenth century. The simple, black and white illustrations provide the right amount of detail and background information.

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IDEAS: Ser versus Estar: A mneumonic device that puts estar in its P. L. A. C. E.151
Keith Mason

University of Virginia

The use of ser and estar often creates problems for both teachers and students. Many textbooks introduce «to be» verbs either in too much detail or with the over simplified dichotomy of permanent versus temporary.

Most textbooks outline in great detail the rules for using ser and estar. While these rules are generally accurate and clear, they tend to provide more information than can be processed by the typical Spanish language learner, especially regarding the many uses of ser. The second main problem lies in the use of the dichotomy of permanent and temporary to distinguish ser from estar. This oversimplification causes difficulties, as exemplified by the adjective muerto/a and location. Both of these can be seen as permanent, which suggests the use of ser: nevertheless both constructions take estar.

To address the dilemma of oversimplifying ser versus estar with a permanent/temporary dichotomy, or of providing too many rules to process, one can justify the creation of simplified memory devices that help process necessary information in an abbreviated fashion. Krashen (1982: 97) discusses the need to make rules more «learnable» and «simple», i. e., make rules easy enough for the brain to use and remember.

A cursory look at textbooks shows that there are as many as eight uses of ser outlined; however the choice of ser can be reduced by focusing on the memorization of the uses of estar. The use of the acronym «P. L. A. C. E.» accomplishes this goal. Most devices aiming to outline the use of ser and estar focus on both verbs, while the present device focuses on one verb only: estar.

The present five-letter mneumonic device «P. L. A. C. E.» summarizes the uses of estar. Students need to memorize five words that end with -tion (simply re ferred to as «-tion [n] word») and form the acronym «P. L. A. C. E.»: Position, Location, Action, Condition, and Emotion. The following are examples of each category of estar use:

Position: expresses the physical position or posture of a person or thing: estar sentado, levantado, etc.

Location: expresses where places, people, or things are located (Estoy en Nueva York, El libro está en la mesa)

Action: expresses the result of an action or the progressive (El hombre está muerto, Estoy comiendo ahora)

Condition: expresses health and other changeable states (estar enfermo, sucio, lleno, etc.)

Emotion: expresses emotions such as (estar contento, triste, deprimido) but one must remember that alegre, melancólico and feliz are considered inherent character traits, and not simply experienced emotions that may change.

The usefulness of this five part mneumonic device is supported by Miller's psychological research (1956) on immediate memory. Miller showed that the brain is able to process and remember information by «chunking» it in groups of seven concepts, plus or minus two (i. e., five to nine items).

The acronym P. L. A. C. E. certainly simplifies the selection between ser and estar in that it helps students to minimize what they need to memorize. If students focus on the uses of estar, the selection of ser becomes a matter of elimination. If one needs to express something that is not one of the five -tion words, then one must use ser. Many students find

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mneumonic devices especially useful for taking tests and writing compositions; the acronym P. L. A. C. E. is simple enough for self-correction or monitoring during oral and listening activities as well. Al though students may not be able to process the entire mneumonic device before producing an utterance, they may be able to self-correct after an error with ser/estar has been made, thus contributing to their learning and use of these Spanish verbs.

Mneumonic devices such as acronyms are helpful to teachers in providing explanations to students for learning rules for structure and usage.

Works Cited

Krashen, Stephen D. 1982. Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition. New York: Pergamon Press.

Miller, G. A. 1956. «The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information». Psychological Review 63: 81-97.

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Teaching Community Colleges

Prepared by Ellen C. Nugent McArdle152


Teaching in Colleges and Universities

Prepared by Stella T. Clark and Rafael E. Correa153

Inductive Strategies for Teaching Spanish-English Cognates
David Garrison

Wright State University

English-speaking students of Spanish easily learn to guess cognates-words in the two languages that «look alike and have the same or similar meanings» (Valette, Renjilian-Burgy 7). Not only do they immediately recognize words like civilización and nación when they see them written, but with a little prompting they also soon realize that if they want to say «transportation» in their new language, a good guess will be transportación. After just a few weeks of class they absorb, often subconsciously, several such patterns of comparison.

This absorption process is obviously fundamental to learning Spanish, for it enables students to discover new words, or at least make educated guesses at them, by extrapolating from patterns they already know. Instead of learning vocabulary in discrete units, they are learning it systematically in large networks of significance. As their prowess at using patterns to discover words improves, so does every facet of their use of Spanish. A person who learns to induce unknown vocabulary words will listen, read, write, and especially, speak, far more effectively than one who does not. Indeed, even when one becomes fluent in the language, this technique will remain useful. Even Spanish teachers find themselves making educated guesses at words from time to time.

While students often tend to intuit cog nates, there is much that teachers can do to help them improve their intuitive abilities154. Above all, teachers can encourage students to search actively for cognate patterns and use them to great advantage as they learn the language. The purpose of this paper is to suggest four ways to help students make intelligent guesses and expand their personal vocabularies through the induction of cognate patterns:

1. Teachers can enhance the subconscious absorption process mentioned above by making students consciously aware of cognate patterns and how these patterns can help them learn new vocabulary. An effective way to accomplish this is by handing out a dittoed list of basic patterns and asking the students to

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guess new words based on them For example:

A) civilization -- la civilización
nation -- la nación
connotation -- la connotación
station -- la estación
investigation -- ?
transportation -- ?
ration -- ?
hesitation -- ?
equitation -- ?
B) capacity -- la capacidad
reality -- la realidad
city -- la ciudad
formality -- ?
generality -- ?
personality -- ?
C) biology -- la biología
psychology -- la psicología
ecology -- la ecología
anthropology -- ?
sociology -- ?
chronology -- ?

The teacher can introduce the first few Spanish words in each group, pronouncing them in order to establish the correct pronunciation, and asking the students to repeat. Then the teacher can simply ask people to guess the Spanish equivalents of the English words for which no Spanish equivalent is given. Each time a word is guessed, the teacher should repeat the Spanish word at least once, write it on the blackboard, have the class repeat it chorally and/or individually, and have the students write it on their dittoed sheets. In this way the word is first heard, then reinforced as people read, say, and write it.

It is especially important to check and recheck pronunciation as one proceeds, because «often the worst pronunciation mistakes occur when students are using cognates» (Allen, Valette, 77). Spanish-English cognates look so much alike that the possibility of interference from the native language is great. To pronounce nación correctly, for example, the student must accent the last syllable instead of the first, voice the a more openly than in English, and shun the «shun» sound in the suffix of the word «nation».

When all the words in a group have been guessed, the discovery process can go on if the students are asked to suggest other English words that might have similar cognates. For example, in connection with group A above, someone might suggest the word «cooperation». Instead of giving the Spanish word, the teacher should first ask the class to guess (¿Cómo se dice?). In this way, coming up with the English words and guessing the Spanish becomes an exciting game. Of course, not all cognates conform exactly to a pattern -estación needs an e at the beginning, while the other words in group A do not. Nor will the cognates always mean quite the same thing; sometimes the teacher will have to explain the differences between the Spanish and English words. If a word such as la habitación comes up, for example, the teacher should mention that the most common meaning of this word in Spanish is not «habitation», exactly, but «room».

There are false cognates to watch out for as well, of course -all Spanish teachers have heard someone say «estoy muy embarazada» in a misguided attempt to express embarrassment. The teacher can always point these words out as they come up, however, and warn the students to be especially careful in learning them. The main points to get across about cognates are 1) that there are thou sands of them in Spanish and English, and 2) that with a knowledge of some of them, one can correctly induce many others.

Besides learning new words, students are also learning a valuable lesson in gender and spelling through this guessing game. All the items cited above, for example, are feminine nouns. With little or no help from the teacher, students will correctly infer from such a list the rule that most nouns ending in ión, dad, or ía, are feminine. While they will encounter some exceptions to this rule, it will help them remember the gender of hundreds of words. They also learn that if an English word begins with s + consonant, its Spanish cognate will often begin with es + consonant. Again, there will be some cases where these rules will not apply, but it is much more useful to internalize rules like these than to know the few exceptions to them. Since most Spanish texts list vocabulary at the end of each chapter by grammatical function, it can be a revelation to students to see cognates together. Instead of wading through another list of nouns or verbs or adjectives, they see words that, brought together, reveal a method to the madness of the language. They see that many words can be learned in a systematic way.

Teaching from a list of cognates can, for several reasons, be especially productive on the first day of an introductory class. It encourages timid students by showing them that they already know many words in Spanish and that

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they can easily learn many more. It provides a good first lesson in pronunciation, because differences between the sound systems of the two languages become dramatically apparent when cognates are compared. For example, la realidad sounds substantially different from «reality», and having students hear and pronounce the Spanish word lets them know that even though they are working with words that correspond, they are experiencing a new linguistic reality. Also, this activity immediately challenges the students to do something with the language, to use Spanish right from the start. A final reason for working with a dittoed cognate list on the first day of class is purely practical: some students will not yet have the textbook.

Of course the teacher can work on cognates in this way at various points in the term, but it is best to do it at least once during the first few weeks, so that students learn the habit of recognizing and making use of cognate patterns early on. Furthermore, it can be a useful exercise at the introductory, intermediate, and even the advanced levels. In their excellent second-year college reader Album, for example, Rebecca Valette and Joy Renjilian-Burgy focus many of their vocabulary exercises on cognates selected from stories by major literary figures from Spain and Latin America. The exercises help students learn new words and identify cognate patterns they encounter in texts by greats such as Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, Emilia Pardo Bazán, and Ana María Matute155.

2. As is readily apparent from the examples given thus far, English words that have easily recognizable cognates in Spanish tend to be erudite words of Greek or Latin origin. While the Spanish words for concepts such as «civilization»; «capacity», «sociology», «idea», «scientific», «analysis», «to narrate», are cognates, those for «good», «hand», «hammer», and «to eat», are not. A general but useful rule-of thumb in the game of extrapolating cognates is that the abstract or learned words in English usually have corresponding cognates in Spanish, while the common, concrete, everyday words usually do not. It is important to point this rule out to the students and reiterate it as they attempt to discover new patterns. While it is a generalization that does not always work, it helps them maximize their chances as they attempt to «hispanize» words. Students should learn that an erudite word is likely to be a cognate, and that it is therefore always worth a guess.

An elementary Spanish class should not become a course in historical linguistics, but students find it interesting to know the basis for this rule-of-thumb. In essence, most erudite English words were borrowed from Latin, from which Spanish evolved, while the every day words are usually Germanic in origin. George F. Banta sums it up this way:

Throughout the Middle Ages, Latin was the language of technology, history, philosophy, religion, literature, education, diplomacy, first as the vehicle of... Roman culture and then of Christianity and the pervasive influence of the church. Anyone who wrote at all was trained to write in Latin, and, if an attempt was made to write in English or German (Anglo-Saxon or Old High German), the writer borrowed Latin vocabulary freely. A second wave of heavy borrowing from Latin occurred during the period of Humanism (ca. 1350-1600), along with a smaller amount from Greek.

The Norman French nearly succeeded in making their speech the language of England; even though modern English is a Germanic language in structure, an estimated seventy percent of its vocabulary is Latin in origin, often through French .


3. Inductive learning strategies may also be encouraged through testing. One might, for example, offer an extra-credit question requiring the students to guess one or more words that conform to a pattern already introduced. If, for example, a test requires students to know words such as dentista and pianista, and if it has been explained that the ista suffix on a noun often indicates profession, an extra credit question might be: «¿Cómo se llama la persona que conduce un taxi?»

Also, teachers should consider giving partial credit for a good guess on an answer to any test question if the student demonstrates an awareness of a relevant cognate pattern. Someone might write or say agricultista instead of agricultor, for example, in an attempt to express the word «farmer». While this answer is not exactly correct, it would probably be understood in context by a native speaker of Spanish, and it conforms to a common suffix pattern that can indicate profession. It is not the equivalent of the English, but it is in the same linguistic vicinity, so to speak. Such errors deserve some credit, for they show that students are taking advantage of the linguistic resources at their disposal to try to communicate. Teachers should recognize and reward such efforts. Indeed, even humorous phrases that students come up with, such as «el tocador

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del piano» instead of el pianista, are understandable and worthy of praise. A good guess should always count for something in the game of cognates. While el bargón would not be acceptable for «bargain», since it would not be understood by Spanish speakers and bears no relationship to la ganga, the teacher could still write in the margin of the exam: «¡Buena idea!» Such guesses show that the students know what is more important than knowing one word -that they know how to play the game of cognates.

4. The induction of cognate words by the students can be encouraged in almost every class by asking «¿Cómo se dice?» instead of simply telling students new words. For example, in a beginning college textbook the phrase, el aspecto físico is used in one of the readings. The teacher might ask, after this expression has been presented, «¿Cómo se dice 'the philosophical aspect?' 'the theological aspect?' 'the psychological aspect?' 'the biological aspect?'» Once students are aware of this pattern, the teacher can introduce another pattern of -al words in English by asking, «¿Cómo se dice 'the mental aspect?' 'the spiritual aspect? 'the sexual aspect?' 'the psychosexual aspect?'» The habit of using patterns to guess words, and the knowledge of the rule-of-thumb mentioned above, will stimulate the students to infer these erudite words -first filosófico, teológico, psicológico, and biológico, then mental, espiritual, sexual, and psicosexual. The habit of searching for words, and the awareness that it is possible to find them on one's own without resorting to a dictionary, encourage students to participate actively in the process of learning vocabulary.

Since language study necessarily involves much memorization of vocabulary, inductive strategies can lighten the load of this kind of work. Indeed, learning vocabulary patterns and using them to guess words is an exciting mental game that makes every class session livelier, more interesting, more challenging. Instead of being told new words, students learn to discover Spanish for themselves156.


A. Brief List of Other Common Cognate Patterns

-ate suffix (English) - -ar verbs (Spanish):
indicate - indicar
vindicate - vindicar
extricate - extricar
syndicate - sindicar
syncopate - sincopar
contemplate - contemplar
create - crear

-ction suffix (English) - -cción suffix (Spanish):
inspection -- la inspección
abstraction -- la abstracción
action -- la acción
satisfaction -- la satisfacción

-ant and -ente suffixes (English - -ante and -ente suffixes (Spanish):
important -- importante
arrogant -- arrogante
distant -- distante
tolerant -- tolerante
evident -- evidente
present -- presente
excellent -- excelente
different -- diferente

initial s + consonant (English) - initial es + consonant (Spanish):
spirit -- el espíritu
state -- el estado
style -- el estilo
space -- el espacio
scandal -- el escándalo
special -- especial
stupendous -- estupendo

ph (English) - f (Spanish):
photo -- la foto
sapphire -- el zafiro
physics -- la física
phase -- la fase
telephone -- el teléfono

Works Cited

Allen, Edward David and Rebecca M. Valette. Classroom Techniques: Foreign Language and English as a Second

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Language. New York Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1977.

Aspatore, Jilleen V. «But I Don't Know All the Words!» FLA 17 (1984): 297-99.

Banta, Frank G. «Teaching German Vocabulary: The Use of English Cognates and Common Loan Words». MLJ 65 (1981): 129-36.

Valette, Rebecca M. and Joy Renjilian-Burgy. Album. Lexington, MA: D. C. Heath, 1984,

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Portuguese Program Development: Past, Present, and Future
Margo Milleret

University of Tennessee

Program development for attracting and retaining students is not the exclusive concern of those teaching Portuguese. Certainly, instructors of languages with large enrollments also must address this concern. But minor programs, like Portuguese, have been especially resourceful in making their programs known on college and university campuses. Most of the efforts over the past thirty years have focused on building visibility for Portuguese and on creating a cultural community for those who decided to study the language. The history of that resourcefulness provides valuable examples to others who might want to start a Portuguese program.

Recent developments in French and Spanish applied linguistics have produced new teaching methodologies that are now being adapted for use in Portuguese. Soon these new materials, that can strengthen program development from within the classroom, will be accessible to all Portuguese instructors. The potential of these new teaching materials to do a better job preparing students and building bridges between lower- and upper-division classes bodes well for small programs like Portuguese.

Portuguese Programs 1945-1979

It has been ten years since Bobby Chamberlain edited Building a Portuguese Program, a collection of essays by distinguished scholars and teachers of Portuguese. The collection offers a thirty-year history of patience and dedication on the part of those who struggled to introduce Portuguese on campuses nation-wide. It is a testimony to the perseverance of its contributors, but it is also a handbook of useful information for future program builders. The underlying theme of the collection is that Portuguese programs are always «under construction»; and that they are never fully built. Proof of this can be seen in the number of panel discussions dedicated to program development that regularly appear on conference programs both at the national and regional level157.

Several contributors offer explanations as to why Portuguese programs are always being built. As Jon Vincent suggests in his article «Brazilianist in a Wheat Field» minor languages are always expendable (7). This means , of course, that Portuguese programs are less able to defend themselves against budget cuts, or hiring demands for other languages, to name only the most common pressures exerted by administrators and even colleagues. Unfortunately the position of being a minor language does not seem to be changing. Enrollment figures for the years 1977, 1983, and 1986 show significant changes in the number of students enrolled in Portuguese, (up 14% from 1983 to 86), but no change in the ranking of Portuguese as the eleventh of twelve languages, surpassed by Spanish, French, Italian, German, Chinese, Japanese, Greek, Hebrew, Latin and Russian. Only Arabic has a lower enrollment figure («Enrollment Survey» 10).

Ronald Harmon proposes several additional reasons for the precarious nature of Portuguese programs in his essay «An Eclectic Approach to Portuguese Program Development»: He comments that Portuguese does not enjoy visibility at the secondary level since it is only taught in a few high schools on the East and West coast. Students do not think about enrolling in Portuguese classes at a post-secondary institution because they probably have never heard of it before. Portuguese does not have a large or vocal group of native speakers living in the U. S. A, except for a few regions on each coast. Finally, according to Harmon, the name of the language does not bring to mind an image of global importance, nor of cultural refinement (20-28). While Harmon does not offer suggestions as to how to change these handicapping conditions, he, like the other contributors to Chamberlain's edition, has numerous useful suggestions on how to counteract them.

The essays in Chamberlain's book offer excellent suggestions in the areas of recruitment, public relations, and especially program

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visibility. All the contributors agree that in order to gain both financial and administrative support from the university community one has to increase visibility. Here visibility means campus awareness that Portuguese is taught and that it is a valuable language to study. Among the suggestions made are the following applications of mass media advertisement: fliers, advising materials sent to new students, ads on bulletin boards and in campus newspapers, etc. After a basic awareness of the program has been established, most of the contributors advise that language requirements be changed to include Portuguese for Latin American Studies programs, that scheduling of classes be done at attractive times, that overflow students from other languages be directed to the Portuguese classes, and that scholarship and fellowship moneys be found to support Portuguese students. The contributors also agree that it is important to furnish students with numerous extracurricular activities that are pleasant and informative, such as a carnival party, song fests, «feijoadas», films, and lectures by available visiting or resident Luso-Brazilians. Finally, all the contributors stress the need for teaching excellence and resourcefulness, but they do not give specific details on how to develop these qualities.

Foreign Language Enrollment in the Eighties

The academic environment that served as a background for Chamberlain's collection has changed in the years since its publication. Unlike the period in the seventies when foreign language enrollment, like military service, became voluntary in many institutions, most students of the eighties will be required to enroll in a foreign language. For Liberal Arts majors at the University of Tennessee, language requirements both for admission and for graduation have been reinstated. Furthermore, the School of Communications has recently in creased its foreign language requirement to two years. Rumors have also circulated that the Business school is contemplating the addition of foreign languages to its curriculum. These requirements are sending students into language classrooms, including Portuguese classrooms, in increasing numbers. The fact is that the majority of students at Tennessee must take one or two years of a foreign language in order to satisfy their basic curricular requirements158. These increased enrollments are a potential source for program development in all the foreign languages, but they are of special importance to smaller language programs like Portuguese. Greater enrollment can lead to a greater presence on campus which in turn can bring the recognition of administrators. More introductory level classes can also mean a larger base from which to build enrollment in upper-division classes. As is the case with other Portuguese programs nationwide, Tennessee is asking how it can ensure that some of these additional students will contribute to the long term growth and health of the program.

A New Arena for Program Development

Although they do not give details, Chamberlain's contributors stress the importance of developing superior teaching skills and materials. Óscar Fernández points out, in his essay «The Odyssey of a 'Bandeirante' in Portuguese-Brazilian Studies», that good teaching and program development go hand-in-hand. According to Fernández, program developers should never underestimate the power of students to advertise by word of mouth as to the quality of instruction in Portuguese classes (32). Certainly Portuguese programs are often characterized in the terms of the Avis Car Rental slogan, «We try harder». There is, however, more to superior teaching than individual desire. Instructors must have good materials and good teacher training. With the recent theoretical and methodological developments in applied linguistics, new teaching approaches and teaching tools are now available to Portuguese teachers.

Much of the research and development of teaching methodologies and materials that have had an impact on those working in Portuguese has been done by Tracy Terrell and several other individuals in applied linguistics. They have been aided in their task by parallel technological advances in computers and video. Most of the work and the resulting textbooks, videotapes, and software represent efforts in the major languages, especially Spanish and French. However, a new video textbook, Travessia, and an activity-based curriculum now offer Portuguese instructors access to the same kinds of innovative materials as those used in the major languages.

Terrell's work developing «The Natural Approach» has introduced several significant new

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principles to the pedagogy of foreign language instruction: 1) the classroom should be de voted primarily to activities which foster acquisition, 2) the instructor should not correct student speech errors directly, 3 ) students should be allowed to respond in either the target language, their native language, or both (121). After studying Krashen's monitor theory of second language competence and performance (as cited by Terrell), Terrell determines that language is learned through acquisition159. Acquisition occurs in a communication situation in which, «1) the focus of the inter change is on the message; 2) the acquirer must understand the message; and 3) the acquirer must be in a low anxiety situation» (123).

Both the video-textbook and the activity based curriculum rely on authentic materials using cultural information that is interesting and informative and they both encourage students to engage in communicating in realistic linguistic environments. Both have adopted Terrell's views and have put into practice his techniques for communicating in the classroom and for building confidence among beginning language learners.

Peggy Sharpe-Valadares, with the assistance of Renée Ocougne, has been developing an activity based curriculum at the University of Illinois since 1986. Ocougne reports that the classroom activities provide the environment in which to 1) introduce new vocabulary, 2) provide comprehensible input that can be used by students to acquire language skill, 3) create opportunities for oral production, and 4) create a sense of unity among class members that encourages language acquisition. The curriculum comprises thematic units based on topics of interest to the students. These units are organized in order of difficulty so that students begin speaking about personal characteristics, then progress to experiences they have had, and finally end the term expressing personal opinions. Within each topic area, grammatical and cultural units are introduced as they are needed for a particular activity. The textbook employed at Illinois, Lima and Iunes's Falando, Lendo e Escrevendo Português, serves as a resource grammar book that students are expected to master on their own or with help from the instructor during office hours.

The major characteristic of the activity based curriculum is its emphasis on group activities, which foster interaction and a sense of security, and on activities that involve hands-on learning. For example, in the unit on food only two activities in a list of twelve involve an actual presentation of information: the others provide new information within a very limited and well-defined context making them easier to understand. The complexity of the activities increases so that on the initial days when the theme is being studied students associate pictures or words with themselves and with their likes/dislikes, or with characteristics of the foods, or with certain aspects of Brazilian meals. The advanced activities require a more sophisticated use of the language. For example, students discuss which famous person each student would invite to dinner and why, where the guests would be seated, and what the menu would be. One especially noteworthy activity for this unit provides the students with an opportunity to see how their language skills are understood and carried out by others. Students form groups and write out a list of instructions, like those in a recipe, for making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Then they use what they have written to direct the teacher's actions. Ocougne's directions state that if the students fail to mention crucial points, such as using a knife to spread the peanut butter or opening the package of bread and taking out a slice, the instructor should be prepared to use his/her fingers or to spread the peanut butter on top of the bread bag.

The immediate impact of the activity-based curriculum on the Portuguese program at Illinois has been two-fold. First, it has allowed the instructors to adapt their classes with greater variety and flexibility to the students' and the instructor's interests. Ocougne also believes that the increase in enrollment from eight students in the Fall of 1985 to forty-three students in the Fall of 1988 can be attributed to such a curriculum (1-6).

The video-textbook Travessia developed by Jon Tolman, Ricardo Paiva, Nívea Parsons, and John Jensen, was produced in a preliminary edition in the Fall of 1988. It is patterned after Terrell's Spanish textbook Dos mundos that, like the curriculum at Illinois, offers a thematic approach to language learning within communicative guidelines. The text includes both a script to accompany the videos and written stimuli for oral and written practice . The workbook integrates grammatical units

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into authentic cultural activities, such as writing an agenda of the week's activities, making a shopping list, sending a friend a postcard, or filling out a laundry list. There are also traditional writing and reading activities in the workbook. Both the text and the workbook are replete with authentic materials from newspapers, magazines, and other sources160.

The video units for Travessia dramatize grammatical concepts with a visual image that reinforces what those concepts are and how they are used. The announcers of the video program properly offer short explanations in comparison with the extended time spent showing how things are used. For example, in the section on «ser» and «estar» the announcers explain the general uses of «ser» and «estar», which are then demonstrated in scenes. «Eles são pintores», «Dona Vera é ciumenta» or «A geladeira está vazia». Then a soap opera scene situates the two forms into a context. A young woman describes her new-found love to a friend «Eu tou amando, Laura...», «Eu tou apaixonada» and «Ele é moderno», «Ele é carinhoso». Interspersed with these types of activities are oral pronunciation practice, verb paradigms, cultural information (such as how people greet one an other), and entertainment (such as a rock concert with Jorge Bem).

Travessia has been used in all six sections of first year Portuguese at Tennessee since the Fall of 1988. Like the activity-based curriculum, it offers a great deal of flexibility. Teachers may manipulate textbook materials to fit the interests and abilities of the students and the class meetings per week. While the textbook itself is a major improvement over existing materials, the most important part of the Travessia package are the videos themselves. They offer cultural and grammatical information in an engaging format that is humorous and that withstands substantial repetition. They have the potential of stimulating the same kind of group action and involvement as the activity-based program at Illinois. Teachers using the video can engage their students in different levels of activities from simple naming and word association to the more complex tasks of explaining or comparing. An additional benefit of the videotapes is their ability to help the students form a visual image for vocabulary and other grammatical information. These images can help reduce student dependence on translation.

The major difference between the video textbook and the activity-based curriculum is the element of hands-on learning by doing. The instructor using Travessia must overcome the potential danger of passive observation by fully integrating the videos into the classroom. In addition to the usual activities that focus on the content of the videos, the students can be involved in discussing the video format itself. They can analyze how and why the information is presented in a certain manner and make suggestions for an alternate presentation. In this manner the videotapes can become an essential vehicle for eliciting opinions, comments, and questions, and not just another gimmick.

Teaching Innovations and Program Development

What do these two approaches have to offer the instructor developing a Portuguese program? The increased enrollment at Illinois might suggest there is a link between the activity-based methodology and program development. Moreover, additional support for this link can be found in research data. One such report was published in Hispania (Dec. 1987). The research, conducted by Tomás Graman while teaching at the University of Utah, showed that advanced Spanish students were not coming up through the ranks of the Spanish program (931). In other words, the lower-division Spanish program was not providing a classroom environment that contributed to program development.

Graman reports that most students who succeeded in upper-division classes had lived in a Spanish speaking country or a comparable Hispanic environment in the U. S. A. (Graman excluded missionaries from his study). He found that these students were not the products of lower-division classes (930). Thus, he concludes, «students must gain a degree of communicative ability in early courses which allow them to meet the expectations of upper division courses» (931). He suggests that language departments must either send all their students abroad, a policy that he realizes is attractive but difficult to implement161, or take steps toward providing an authentic communicative setting for language learning (932). Such a setting would make it possible for beginning language learners to acquire the confidence and ability to continue their studies at the advanced level.

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Graman's research suggests that teaching approaches that focus on communication have the best chance of producing students with the skills necessary to continue their language studies if they so wish. Travessia and the activity-based curriculum use authentic materials as vehicles to increase student interest and to build oral competence and confidence. They have the potential to attract and produce better students at the lower-level who would then be capable of continuing in upper-division classes.

Portuguese in the Nineties

Portuguese program builders cannot abandon what professionals of the last thirty years or more have found effective. Publicity, recruitment, and collegial support continue to be crucial for program developers everywhere. The innovations made over the last ten years, specifically the work of Terrell and others, and the applications of that work to Portuguese language teaching have provided yet another resource to be incorporated into the never-ending battle to build and maintain Portuguese programs. Research in Spanish suggests that these approaches have the potential of preparing more students for the advanced classes from that huge body of «requirement fillers». If this is true, then Portuguese instructors have an incentive to experiment with such innovations. Lower division language classes, which are often classified as service programs, can become disguised opportunities to recruit students. This is not a revelation, of course, but, unlike recruiting done in years past, recruiting done with new teaching approaches that prepare students to succeed in advanced classes is recruiting that will build up programs over the long term. Long-term growth is a desirable goal because it means that Portuguese program developers can some day free themselves from the constant nurturing that is required to keep the program going. Once freed from these responsibilities, Portuguese instructors can focus on other program needs.

Works Cited

Chamberlain, Bobby J., ed. Building a Portuguese Program. East Lansing, MI: The Latin American Studies Center, 1979.

«Fall 1986 Language Enrollment Survey». MLA Newsletter 19.3 (1987): 10.

Graman, Tomas L. «The Gap Between Lower- and Upper-Division Spanish Courses: A Barrier to Coming Up Through the Ranks». Hispania 70.4 (1987): 929-33.

Lima, Emma Eberlein O. F., and Samira A. lunes. Falando, Lendo e Escrevendo Português: Um Curso Para Estrangeiros. São Paulo: Editôra Pedagógica e Universitária, Ltd., 1981.

Ocougne, Renée. «Atividade, Comunicação, Aprendizado». Mountain Interstate Foreign Language Conference, Knoxville, TN, 5 October 1988.

Terrell, T. D. «The Natural Approach to Language Teaching: An Update». Modern Language journal 66.2 (1982): 121-32.

Tolman, J. et al. Travessia (Preliminary Edition), vol. 1. Washington, DC: Georgetown UP, 1988.

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Americans Viewed by the Spanish: Using Stereotypes to Teach Culture162
Camille Kennedy Vande Berg

Western Michigan University

Who has blond hair and blue eyes, is as muscular as Rambo, rides a horse for transportation, and drinks beer with his morning pancakes and peanut butter? According to a group of young Spaniards studying English in Madrid, the person who fits this description is none other than the typical American male. Stereotypes like these -inaccurate characterizations of Americans by foreigners- can be used in the classroom to help our students evaluate their own preconceived ideas about other cultures. Furthermore, exercises based on such stereotypes offer the linguistic benefit of providing ample opportunity for practicing speaking skiffs in the foreign language.

Students often bring with them to their foreign language classes skewed notions about the people whose language they are studying. At best these cultural stereotypes might lead our Spanish students to believe that Spain is a quaint, old-fashioned country, full of picturesque villages without electricity or running water, populated by women dressed in black and men outfitted like bullfighters. More dangerously, derogatory attitudes toward Spain and its inhabitants may cause our students to develop an ethnocentric disdain for Spanish culture, making them believe it is inferior to the American way of life. One of the proclaimed goals of foreign language education in the United States is to encourage students to abandon this type of inaccurate notion, to widen their cultural horizons and thus to become more accepting of other peoples' customs and values163. Unfortunately, many students complete their language study without having left behind the stereotypes which they held when they first enrolled, as Johnston found in her 1967 study (76).

Foreign language teachers will agree that stereotypes about the people of another culture can prevent students from gaining accurate insight into how members of that culture really five and think. Students may be satisfied with their «knowledge» about the foreign country and fail to recognize their need to learn more. If, for example, students are convinced that Spanish cuisine consists of tacos, enchiladas, and other spicy foods, they will make no attempt to discover what is really eaten in Spain, since they think they already know. More harmfully, negative stereotypes can cause students to dislike or scorn the foreign culture so much that they may find it unworthy of study or appreciation. Cultural stereotypes can, in other words, «create barriers to understanding and prevent the development of empathy» (Omaggio 393). The logical first step in studying another culture, then, involves analyzing one's own preliminary beliefs about the culture and dismissing those which are not based in fact.

Seelys notes, however, that students must be trained to evaluate statements about a culture, learning to distinguish between stereotypes and accurate descriptions (55). This is not an easy task, since students are likely to think that their preconceived notions do constitute adequate descriptions of the foreign culture. It is important, then to find activities which allow students to understand the nature of a cultural stereotype so that they can abandon these erroneous judgements and be ready to accept accurate information about the culture.

A particularly effective method for encouraging students to identify and abandon their own cultural stereotypes about Spain and the Spanish (and, eventually, about other foreign cultures as well) is to discuss with them some of the typical stereotypes which a Spaniard might believe about the United States and its inhabitants. Many of these notions are likely to strike American students as laughable overgeneralizations; the instructor can then point out that most of the typically held stereo types concerning the Spanish strike Spaniards as equally laughable. By recognizing the inaccuracy of Spanish ideas about Americans, American students can be led to question their own beliefs about the Spanish.

While in Madrid during the summer of 1987, I asked the members of my intermediate EFL class -Spanish high school and college

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students between 15 and 21 years of age- to comment on a list of cultural stereotypes which an unsophisticated American might believe about the Spanish. I emphasized that I myself did not believe these descriptions to be accurate, nor, certainly, did any of the students' American acquaintances. I explained that conversations I had had in the United States with people who had never traveled to Spain had led me to believe that these were so me typical American ideas about Spain and the Spanish164. This is the list I gave my students along with some of the class's reactions:

-Spanish women often dress like flamenco dancers and Spanish men often dress like bullfighters. (Students reactions: «How could anyone possibly believe that?» «Maybe during fiestas»).

-Typical Spanish foods include tacos and enchiladas. («What are tacos and enchiladas?»)

-Unmarried couples aren't allowed to go out alone; they must be accompanied by an older female relative. («That was true a long time ago, but it never happens now».)

-Spanish people don't like to work very hard; if you ask someone to do something, his answer is usually «mañana, mañana» («That's true». «Things are changing now».)

-Most women usually wear conservative black clothes. («Only very old women in small villages»).

-Spanish men are among the worst male chauvinists in the world. (Female students: «Yes, that's true». Male students: «Ridiculous».)

As we discussed the stereotypes, I repeatedly stressed that these would not be the typical opinions of an American who had traveled to Spain, who had studied Spanish culture, or who had achieved a high level of cultural awareness; rather, one or more of these notions might be held by an unsophisticated American.

I then asked the students to work in small groups to compile a list of the cultural stereo types which unsophisticated Spaniards might hold regarding Americans. I reminded the students that these were not to be their own views, but those of someone who had never been to the United States and had no American friends. Here are some of the stereo types they came up with:

Physical Appearance and Dress

-Most Americans are very tall with blue eyes and bland hair.

-All American men are as handsome as movie stars.

-Men in the U. S. have muscular builds; they resemble Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone. American men like to wear short, sleeveless T-shirts to show off their physiques.

-American women are either unusually fat or unusually thin, never of normal build.

-Women in the U. S. wear a lot of make-up.

-Americans wear very bright colors and mixed patterns, and they wear summer clothes even in the winter. They have no sense of style.

-The typical American «native dress» is jeans, cowboy boots, and a cowboy hat.

Work and Leisure

-Americans spend almost all day at work; they have very little free time.

-Although they are extremely punctual and efficient in their jobs, Americans don't consider their work important; family comes first.

-The first two things an American wants to discuss are salary and age.

-The two favorite leisure-time activities in the U. S. are movies and rodeos.

-Young people usually just take walks for fun, because they're not allowed to drink or go to discos.

Home Life

-Most Americans live either in skyscrapers or on farms.

-In big cities everyone has a large car like a Cadillac, but outside of cities people usually travel on horseback.

-Americans divorce repeatedly and have very complicated private lives.

-In marriages in the U. S., the wife always dominates.

-American cities are so dangerous that a person has a good chance of being killed in the street; therefore, American men either know kung-fu or carry a gun.


-Americans eat almost nothing but hamburgers, hot dogs, popcorn, and Coke.

-Americans generally eat fast food Monday through Saturday, but never on Sunday.

-American men are always drinking beer, even at breakfast.

-American breakfasts are huge. A typical one might consist of eggs, toast, bacon, and pancakes with peanut butter.

Communication and Social Interaction

-Americans speak very quickly and very loud. They use their hands a lot, often gesturing in an exaggerated way when they talk. Their strange intonation makes their speech sound like singing.

-American English is extremely difficult to understand since people talk as if they were chewing gum.

-Americans say «OK» a lot, at least once per sentence.

-The typical American is very rude, often putting his feet on a desk or table and frequently belching in public. He yawns a lot, never trying to hide it. In international affairs as in personal life, Americans do whatever they want and don't care what other people think.

It should be noted here that the typical Spaniard has far more exposure to «authentic» American culture-through television, movies, and the printed media-than the typical American has to Spanish culture: U. S. press coverage of Spain sometimes seems to be limited to annual stories on the running of the bulls

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in Pamplona. Therefore, however far-fetched some of these stereotypes may seem to American students, they are no doubt more accurate than many of the notions which Americans typically hold regarding the Spanish.

These stereotypes can provide material for a variety of activities which benefit learners in two important ways. As has been suggested above, the Spanish students' overgeneralizations about the United States could be useful for helping American students enrolled in a culture course evaluate their own ideas about Spain and its inhabitants: any activity which encourages the class to analyze statements about a country and its people, and to identify stereotypes as inaccurate exaggerations, will prepare learners to gain a greater understanding of the customs and values of another culture. It should also be noted that activities based on these stereotypes have important linguistic benefits, since they hold the potential of providing opportunities for students to engage in authentic communication. Chastain, in discussing communicative grammar drills, isolates some features which are characteristic of classroom activities involving realistic oral discourse. He notes, for example, that «learners must use language to create a meaningful message», that students should have the opportunity to express «their feelings and knowledge», and that speakers should maintain their utterances «for a sustained period of time as in an extended answer to a thought provoking question or in a report or to interact with other learners in a conversational situation» (165). Other language educators, most notably Krashen (103-04), have suggested that learners' speech should mimic that of native speakers in that message should predominate over form: students should be concentrating on the meaning they wish to convey rather than on the details of syntax and morphology which serve to transmit that meaning.

Classroom activities based on the stereotypes about Americans have the potential of conforming both to Chastain's suggestions for communicative exercises and to Krashen's requirement that meaning predominate over form. The stereotypes can offer a rich source of inspiration for activities which correspond to Chastain's characteristics of authentic oral discourse: the role-plays, debates, and reports which can be easily designed around the stereotypes are examples of activities in which students must convey a meaningful message, express real feelings and knowledge, and speak for an extended period of time. Krashen's criterion is also fulfilled: in order for meaning to take precedence over form, speakers must be highly involved in what they are saying; they must, in other words, have a message they want to express. Because of their inherently controversial nature, the Spanish students' stereotypes are likely to elicit strong reactions among Americans, with participants in the discussions genuinely concerned with expressing and defending their own point of view. These lively debates necessitate linguistic functions such as persuasive argumentation, supported opinion, and polite contradiction. In addition to paving the way to better cultural understanding, then, these stereotypes can offer an excellent basis for exercises involving speaking practice. While the linguistic sophistication displayed in such activities will depend on the proficiency level of the students, the animated exchanges which discussion of these stereotypes can be expected to elicit should help intermediate- or advanced-level students develop communicative strategies leading to oral proficiency.

The following activities suggest ways in which the stereotypes could be used to enhance cultural awareness while at the same time offering speaking practice.

1) As a subject for class discussion: Have the students make a list of the stereotypes that an unsophisticated American might believe about the Spanish. (It is likely that some of the descriptions on the list will reflect notions held by the students themselves). Then hand out the Spanish students' stereotypes regarding Americans. Ask the class to evaluate each one, discussing to what extent the notion is true. This part of the activity is likely to elicit disagreement and debate among class members. This controversy should be encouraged, since it gives the students an opportunity to voice their beliefs and to support their opinions. Finally, ask the students to analyze their list of American stereotypes about the Spanish. How true are they? Here again, disagreement among the students is desirable.

2) As a discovery activity for small group or whole class work: Distribute lists of the Spanish students' stereotypes, perhaps with a few distracters included. (Under Food, for example, the instructor could

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add: «Americans put catsup on everything», or under Communication and Social Interaction: «Americans never touch each other unless they're intimately related»). Ask the students to evaluate the stereotypes, identifying the distracters, those descriptions which the Spanish students did not include in their lists. (Since many of the included ideas will no doubt appear unbelievable to the American students, it is not indispensable to add invented items to the original list). It is unlikely that all group members will hold the same opinions regarding which of the stereotypes are distracters, but here again, any debates or disagreements resulting from the exercise should be encouraged, as they provide excellent speaking practice. Finally, tell the class which of the descriptions were actually included and which, if any, were invented, and discuss any results which are surprising to the students.

3) As a class research project: Discuss the Spanish students' stereotypes about Americans, and then have the class members interview friends and relatives about their notions of the Spanish. Make a list of stereotypes commonly held in the community. Use the list of stereotypes as the starting point for the culture component of the course: if, for example, the students find that people in the community think the typical Spaniard is an enthusiastic fan of bull fighting, the instructor could dispel that specific notion by preparing a lesson on the long-existing debate between aficionados and animal-lovers. Alternatively, each student could choose one of the typically found stereotypes as the subject of an individual research project. Each student's project could be presented to the rest of the class as an oral report.

4) As the basis for role-play activities: Students act out scenes where the «typical» Spaniard encounters the «typical» American («typical» according to the respective list of stereotypes). The scenarios might take place in a variety of everyday settings such as the work place, the home of a married couple, or the lunch counter of a neighborhood restaurant. As a purely linguistic activity, these role-plays give students the opportunity to create original utterances in the context of a lengthy conversational exchange. As a cultural exercise, the dramatizations allow students to appreciate how exaggerated and unrealistic the portrayal of the «typical» American seems, and this will enable them to understand that the portrayal of the «typical» Spaniard is equally erroneous.

These are only a few suggestions as to how these stereotypes could be used as the basis for classroom activities; creative instructors will no doubt have many more ideas. While, participating in these exercises, American students might be surprised and dismayed to see how their way of life is viewed by members of a foreign culture, their initial shock will soon turn to a recognition that they themselves believe many inaccurate notions about other countries. In coming to understand the nature of a stereotype, our students will be better prepared to explore the belief systems and patterns of living of another culture.

Works Cited

Chastain, Kenneth. «Examining the Role of Grammar Explanation, Drills, and Exercises in the Development of Communication Skills». Hispania 70 (1987): 160-66.

Johnston, Marjorie C. «How Can Modern Language Teachers Promote International Understanding?» In Michel, 1967: 72-90.

Krashen, Stephen D. Second Language Acquisition and Second Language Learning. New York: Pergamon Press, 1981.

Michel, Joseph, ed. Foreign Language Teaching: An Anthology. New York: MacMillan, 1967.

Omaggio, Alice C. Teaching Languages in Context: Proficiency-Oriented Instruction. Boston: Heinle & Heinle, 1986.

Rivers, Wilga M. Teaching Foreign Language Skills. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968.

Seelye, H. Ned. Teaching Culture: Strategies for Intercultural Communication. Lincolnwood, IL: National Textbook Company, 1984.

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On Fixed and Fluid 'Texts': The Singer of Tales and the Natural Approach of Tracy D. Terrell
Frederick R. Worth

Randolph-Macon College

Before sharing with you some reflections on teaching with the Natural Approach, it might be worthwhile to review very briefly some basic operating principles of this methodology. One of the early formulators of the Natural Approach, Tracy D. Terrell, has singled out the following primary considerations: 1) immediate communicative competence [not grammatical perfection] should be the goal of beginning language instruction; 2) instruction should be directed to modifying and im proving the students' grammar [rather than building it one rule at a time]; 3) students should be given the opportunity to acquire language [rather than be forced to learn it]; and 4) affective [not cognitive] factors are primary forces operating in language acquisition [«A Natural Approach» 329].165

I should also like to establish the context of the «fixed text» and the «fluid text» appearing in the title. A «fixed text», or classroom agenda, is one in which the material to be learned is taught in isolation (fragmented from the language system as a whole) or within rigid boundaries. Conversely, the «fluid text» would designate a manner of presenting the same material which would permit those boundaries to expand and perhaps even dissolve, while keeping language acquisition anchored in the language system as a whole.

The framework for these comments is as much Albert B. Lord's The Singer of Tales as it is Tracy Terrell's formulations of the Natural Approach. To my knowledge, Lord's important little book has never before been associated with language teaching methodology; yet, Lord's landmark study of techniques for oral composition among unlettered singers of Yugoslavia and other South Slavic regions certainly is an exposition of a highly refined methodology. That methodology relates very specifically to language acquisition and mastery with one significant difference: the «language» studied by Professor Lord is the language unique to epic verse-making by the use of oral formulae.

Lord's theory of composition during oral performance is an extension of the work ol his Harvard mentor, Milman Parry, and is founded on Parry's definition of the formula as «a group of words which is regularly employed under the same metrical conditions to express a given essential idea» (Lord 4). The way in which the oral poet uses oral formulae in the process of composing in performance is a unique and prodigious process in which «oral composition and oral transmission almost merge; they seem to be different facets of the same process» (5).

This observation lends itself to some of the most successful learning techniques that we use in the language classroom which are perceived by the student -consciously or unconsciously- to be different facets of the same process. The student, after all, is learning a language. The student is not in our class room to «cover» ser and estar, the uses of the subjunctive, irregular future stems, etc. Rather, s/he is there to learn a language system which most commercial texts have broken down into highly artificial abstractions isolated from their living contexts. One of the most attractive points of the Natural Approach is that it seeks -and succeeds admirably in initial stages- to return language learning to the living context and maintain the relationship between isolated fragments of language and the language system as a whole. Moreover, it does this in a way that promotes respect for the essential humanity of the student involved in the process of language acquisition and learning.

It is interesting, in this regard, to remark that in The Singer of Tales, Albert B. Lord expressly compares the experience of the apprentice singer of tales to that of a child learning words. Indeed, the apprentice singer is learning another language, the special language

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of oral poetry. Consequently, it is tempting to trace some interesting parallels between the instruction of Lord's apprentices and that of our own language students. Tracy Terrell, principal exponent of the Natural Approach, posits three important stages for beginners on the way to language acquisition. They are: «comprehension (preproduction), early speech (one-word responses), and speech emergence (sentence production). The existence of a 'pre-speech' stage gives the students an opportunity to concentrate on binding without the added pressures for speech» («Acquisition» 214). («Binding» is the word Terrell uses to describe the «cognitive and affective mental process of linking a meaning to a form»).

Not only does Albert B. Lord cite very similar stages, but his explanations of what transpires in each stage are illuminating for the foreign language teacher of any methodological persuasion.

Like our beginning students, Lord's apprentice singers do not seek originality or fine-ness of expression. They seek expression of ideas under stress of performance, and the expressions they use and the manner in which they use them are the result of a long process of acquisition. The apprentice singer has no sense of learning this or that formula or set of formulae. He is immersed in a process of imitation and assimilation through listening and much practice on his own. But the singer's development, like that of Terrell's student, advances in three stages.

During the fast stage, Lord's young apprentice just sits and listens while others the community elders-sing. The youth may not have consciously decided that he wants to sing himself, but nevertheless he is eager to hear what others have to tell and he is, consciously or unconsciously, laying the foundation common to all singers. He learns the major elements of the stories, learns the names of the heroes and their adventures, the names o f faraway places and the habits of long ago. As Terrell defines «acquisition» as the process said to lead to «subconscious knowledge about language», a kind of «feel» for correctness, Lord's apprentice singer is engaged in acquisition: the themes of the poetry become familiar and the singer's feeling for them gets shaped. At the same time, he is floating on the rhythms of the singing, the rhythms of the thoughts and expressions used to convey them. Already at this stage the singer-apprentice is absorbing the often repeated phrases Lord calls formulae. Terrell's Natural Approach posits something sur prisingly similar, particularly in its emphasis on the primary importance of developing the student's listening and of preparing the ground for future development right here in the total experience of language and in a non-threatening environment which cultivates the student's appreciation for the new language. The philosophy is similar, too, in that laying the foundation has an element of innocent non-intentionality about it. We get the idea that «picking up a language» is a largely subliminal, outwardly passive process.

The second stage -the stage of application of one's learning, what Terrell calls early speech- begins when the apprentice opens his mouth to sing. It is similar to that moment when our students begin to risk making their first utterance with the difference that, in Lord's process, the accompaniment of musical instruments plays a fairly major role. Obviously, this accompaniment establishes the rhythm and melody and doubtlessly provides a useful crutch as well, serving as it does as the primary framework for the expression of the singer's ideas. The framework of the Yugoslav songs is quite rigid, and the singer's apprenticeship trains him for fitting thought s and their expression into this rigid frame by rhythmic patterns. Finally, having spent many years imitating and assimilating the songs of the older singers, the successful apprentice will from this point on continue to expand his repertory and continue developing his capacity to compose new expressions by analogy with the formulae and formulaic patterns he has already assimilated well. When he has sung a song all the way through before an audience, the third stage of the singer's apprenticeship will have been completed. In this and all subsequent stages, the singer's audience begins to play an increasingly more important role in the poet's evolving art, and the singer «never stops in the process of accumulating, recombining, and remolding formulae and themes, ever perfecting and enrich ing his art» (Lord 26).

Subsequent chapters from Lord's study of oral composition in performance might well be of less relevance to the purpose at hand, but what is most interesting is that, through out Lord's description of the singer's apprenticeship,

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at no time does the Yugoslav singer of tales have the impression of learning a fixed text. In fact, nothing could be more foreign to him and the traditional context of his activity. The apprentice singer, Lord insists, does not even have a sense of learning this or that formula or set of formulae for composition. What Lord observes is a process of imitation and assimilation through listening and much practice on one's own, but there is nothing «fixed» or predetermined about the tradition or any of its songs. A song is equated with specific subject material, with specific themes, perhaps specific rhythms and even specific formulae (word groups), but never with specific words as is the case in literary traditions. No, the text is completely fluid, open to the needs of the moment, the environment created by individual audiences in each successive rendering of the tale. Lord explains that even in instances where writing might have left its effect on the oral tradition -instilling a preference for the fixed text- it has not. What happens is that the oral singer continues to compose songs orally even in the presence of written song books. The habit of oral composition by formulae is too well inculcated to be changed (Lord 128 30). Everything in the experience of the apprentice singer supports and celebrates the primary fluidity of the oral tradition.

Now what does this have to do with foreign language teaching? Certainly none of us teaches a «fixed» or a «fluid» text. We don't teach texts, we say that we teach languages. Tracy Terrell writes the following in this regard: «In most first year courses a very small part of the time is spent on actual communication; most of the efforts are directed towards exercises and drills to teach morphology and syntax» («A Natural Approach» 326). Professor Terrell further argues that the amount of structure which is taught in most first year courses is probably not absolutely essential for normal communication with native speakers. In real communication, most difficulties in the interpretation of an utterance stem from lexical barriers rather than syntax. He adds that «most of the problems in interpretation stem from the fact that the sentences uttered in the classroom by the teacher or student have no communicative context since they are created for the practice of some morphological or syntactical item being studied» (loc. cit.). Terrell concludes that «the preoccupation with grammatical correctness in early stages of L2 [second language] teaching is essentially a felt need of language teachers and is not an expectation of either language learners or most native speakers of L2...» (loc. cit.).

Speaking from my own experience, the methodology of Tracy Terrell's Natural Approach belongs to a completely different tradition of language instruction than does the audio-lingual method I learned as a T. A. in graduate school. In that tradition, the text -the dialogue, the pattern drills, and written exercises- reigned supreme. Students memorized dialogues with the assistance of the language lab and the insistence of teachers. Teachers battered and beat down student resistance with pattern drills and military-like classroom environments. Since that time I have seen many methodologies come and go, have participated in their coming and going, but the Natural Approach alone was a real eye opener to me personally and has proven to be a landmark in my own professional evolution. I was not so readily convinced by its philosophy and theory, but rather impressed by its practical results. I am very much aware of the potential deleterious influence of what I call (recalling Lord) «fixed texts» or fixed text activities in the language classroom. Our students, like Lord's apprentice singers, are always learning a foreign language. True communication is so much more than the isolated word of our print culture. It is the sight as much as the sound, even the taste and touch of objects, situations, events. The Natural Approach challenges us as teachers always to put language in a living context, ostensibly because this is more «natural».

One very simple technique which I continue to use as often as possible at all levels of language and literature is to direct attention and verbal utterances towards visual stimuli. The results that I received when I tested ser/estar with audiovisual cues and then with a printed exercise indicate that the results with the audiovisual cues were far superior!166 I venture to conclude that language, real language, involves a richness and complexity of feelings that the printed grammar exercises simply cannot approximate. Perhaps Parry and Lord's work in oral composition by formulae might alert us to the very real possibility that we are dealing with not just different language skills -listening/speaking vs. reading/writing- but with correspondingly different styles

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of mental functioning as well.

Unlike Lord's Yugoslav singers, our own students are literate and have the ability to monitor grammatical skills (often with interference from their monitoring habits in English) as they advance in L2 proficiency. However, as teachers we should take care that our very laudable concern for correctness of structure -or for the abstraction of the text we have adopted- not get in the way of the reality behind the abstraction. We can't teach language and leave out life.

Works Cited

Krashen, Stephen D. and Tracy D, Terrell. The Natural Approach: Language Acquisition in the Classroom. Oxford: Pergamon; Hayward, CA: Alemany, 1983.

Lord, Albert B. The Singer of Tales. New York: Atheneum, 1965, [Reprint of Harvard Studies in Comparative Literature, 24 Harvard UP, 1970.]

Parry, Milman. «Studies in the Epic Technique of Oral Verse-Making, I: Homer and Homeric Style». Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 41(1930): 73-147.

Terrell, Tracy D. «Acquisition in the Natural Approach: The Binding/Access Framework». Modern Language journal 70 (1986): 213-25.

_____. «A Natural Approach to Second Language Acquisition and Learning». Modern Language journal 61(1977): 325-37.

_____. et al. Instructor's Manual to the Natural Approach, in Dos Mundos: A Communicative Approach (Instructor's Ed.). New York: Random House, 1986.

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Hispania Notes

Prepared by Theodore A. Sackett167


Sobre las variantes de /s/ en Mazatlán, Sinaloa

Margarita Hidalgo

San Diego State University

1. En su clásico artículo «Sevilla frente a Madrid» (1962/1941), el maestro de la filología española, Ramón Menéndez Pidal (MP), trata de los orígenes y la distribución geográfica de los fenómenos peninsulares conocidos como ceceo y seseo. Cuando la norma conservadora de Toledo cedió el paso a la nueva norma madrileña, el idioma español sufrió cambios tan radicales que habrían de modificar para siempre su historia. Las cuatro sibilantes medievales ss, ç, s y z se redujeron primero a dos fricativas (sorda y sonora), y a su vez ss dio lugar a // y /ç/ cambió de dental a interdental //. En Andalucía y en Hispanoamérica las cuatro sibilantes quedaron reducidas a una sola s, predorsal convexa o coronal plana con timbre seseante. A la caída de Toledo contribuyó el engrandecimiento cultural andaluz, favorecido por la conquista de Granada y la colonización de América, evento que elevó a Sevilla a centro de riqueza y cultura innovadora. Según MP, «la preponderancia andaluza, sevillana, en el desarrollo interno y en la expansión del idioma, iba a ser realmente amenazadora frente a Castilla durante esos siglos de oro literarios» (105). La rivalidad sevillana frente a Madrid se manifestó principalmente en la debilitación de las africadas dentales ç (ts) y z (dz), y consecuentemente cesó la voluntad de distinguir estas articulaciones de las fricativas apicales ss y s168. El seseo, surgido originalmente del çeçeo, se hizo la norma general de las clases educadas de Sevilla en el siglo XVI. La expansión del seseo en Andalucía tiene serias repercusiones en la América hispanohablante, ya que la investigación posterior a MP, demuestra la superioridad numérica de andaluces en colonias americanas y el marcado tinte andaluz de las zonas costeras del continente169. El seseo en tierras americanas tiene dos manifestaciones principales: a) la conservación de la s, y b) la aspiración y omisión de la misma. MP propone que la realización de la s se puede distribuir en tierras marítimas o «de la flota» y tierras interiores. Esta oposición geográfica parece haber dado paso a dos variedades lingüísticas diferenciadas que según MP, «se perciben claramente sobre el territorio mejicano» (143).

Para MP, la Ciudad de México representa el habla cultista y cortesana por ser «guía soberana en la formación del lenguaje colonial más distinguido» (158). Esta actitud purista y conservadora de la colonia más rica de España se refleja en la conservación de la s en posición final, que para MP es una s de «tipo andaluz, convexa prepalatal, derivada de la antigua ç, siempre silbada y no relajada» (143). Por otro lado, «la relajación de la s es el carácter que más distingue del centro mejicano la costa de Veracruz, en la cual se pronuncia canahta, buhcar, lagrimoneh, etc.» (144). La aspiración y pérdida de s están ampliamente documentadas tanto en Andalucía (v gr. Alvar 1973) como en Hispanoamérica. Los estudios comparativos de Lipski (1984a y 1984b) indican tanto los países hispanoamericanos como las regiones de España en las que se encuentra este fenómeno; estos estudios también detallan los porcentajes de aspiración en cada posición (v. gr., final de sílaba, final absoluta, ante pausa, entre vocales, etc.). No obstante, la pérdida y la aspiración de la s en México no han sido estudiadas aún porque la zona del altiplano centro-meridional ha sido la preferida

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en los estudios sobre el español mexicano. La s mexicana de la norma superpuesta se considera tensa y larga, con punto de articulación coronal o predorsal convexa, y se presume que se conserva en todas las posiciones . Hay noticia, sin embargo, de que en México se aspira la s (en posición final de sílaba o final absoluta, en posición intervocálica, e incluso en posición inicial) en los estados de Sinaloa, Veracruz, Tabasco, Guerrero y Oaxaca (López Chávez 1977). La información sobre la aspiración de la s mexicana es más bien escasa, dado que la retención de la s tensa parece ser la norma que rige la Ciudad de México y poblaciones circunvecinas (Ávila 1973).

2. Esta breve nota ofrece información descriptiva sobre la pronunciación de la s en la comunidad más importante del Pacífico mexicano, Mazatlán, Sinaloa, con una población aproximada de 250,000 habitantes . Nueve horas de grabaciones formales e informales con 15 habitantes escogidos totalmente al azar atestiguan la existencia de cinco realizaciones de /s/, a saber: 1) la [s] plana, tensa y larga; 2) la [s] predorsoalveolar convexa que puede ser tanto tensa y larga como relajada y corta. La calidad de esta s depende fundamentalmente del punto de articulación y de la tensión del predorso lingual170. Presumo que la s plana tensa puede relajarse cuando el hablante cambia -aun ligeramente- el punto de articulación. Si mantiene la lengua plana, realizará una s tensa; si por el contrario, relaja los músculos del predorso, éste tiende a bajar y puede producir una s ligeramente convexa, apoyada débilmente en los incisivos inferiores. 3) La aspiración laríngea [h] y 4) la omisión de s [Ø] son resultados posteriores al proceso de relajación. 5) Finalmente, creemos haber escuchado una s interdentalizada [], que no sólo ha sido documentada en Sinaloa, sino en otras regiones del mundo hispanoparlante.

Esta interdentalización parece estar vinculada a una realización peninsular descrita por Alvar como «interdentalizada fricativa sorda con tendencia a la asibilada predorsal con el ápice de la lengua en los incisivos inferiores y el corono-predorso asomando levemente entre los dientes» (Alvar 1973; Mapa 1706). Este tipo de s ocurre en las provincias de Sevilla, Málaga, Jaén y Alicante. Canfield (1981) la documenta en algunos países de América Central y en las costas de Colombia y Venezuela. Caravedo (1983) da cuenta de ella en Lima, Perú. Por otro lado, Gavaldón (1971) sugiere la existencia de esta variante en un hablante de Múzquiz, Coahuila, mientras que García Fajardo (1984) observa la misma en Valladolid, Yucatán.

3. En Mazatlán grabamos la voz de 6 mujeres y 9 hombres cuyas edades fluctúan entre los 16 y los 68 años. Todas las mujeres son originarias de Mazatlán, mientras que sólo dos hombres son mazatlecas, y seis de ellos indicaron provenir de pueblos o rancherías cercanos tales como Potreros de Carrasco, El Recodo, Concordia o Zavala. La escolaridad de los sujetos femeninos fluctúa entre los 5 y los 15 años de educación. Las mujeres de esta pequeña muestra tienden a utilizar con mayor frecuencia la s tensa, aunque pueden alternarla con la s relajada en posición final de sílaba o posición final absoluta. La s relajada puede alternar con la aspiración -casi exclusivamente en posición intervocálica-, o con la variante interdentalizada [] que se realiza con algo de tensión como la variante plana. Esta variante interdentalizada se produce cuando el hablante apoya con fuerza la punta de la lengua contra los incisivos inferiores y asoma ligeramente el dorso lingual entre los dientes. El mismo hablante puede realizar una variante predorsoalveolar relajada cuando relaja la lengua y afloja el punto de articulación. Sin embargo, esta realización interdentalizada sólo se observó en dos de las seis mujeres. Una de ellas tiene 8 años de escolaridad y la otra dijo tener sólo 5. Esta última informante alterna las realizaciones de s tensa, s relajada (ligeramente interdentalizada), aspiración y omisión dependiendo de factores lingüísticos y extra-lingüísticos que no fue posible determinar con precisión. Sólo podemos comunicar que la s tensa la utiliza para información enfática o inicial.

Los sujetos masculinos (cuya escolaridad fluctúa entre 2 y 10 años) alternan realizaciones de s tensa, s relajada, aspiración y omisión de la misma manera que lo hace la mujer con primaria incompleta. Sin embargo , la s relajada predomina sobre todas las otras variantes en los informantes con 9 ó 10 años de educación formal. Los informantes menos educados (entre 2 y 5 años de escolaridad) tienden a aspirar la s en posición intervocálica y a omitirla en posición final, sobre todo cuando ésta es redundante, como por ejemplo:

Posición intervocálica Posición final
el año pahado los cuarto Ø de arriba
me lo contaban mih abuelos cincuenta kilómetro Ø

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aquí en Mahatlán nohotros... cinco años Ø
¿cómo he llama? hay persona Ø que sí son
¡qué bonito hombrero! muy amable Ø

En dos sujetos pescadores de oficio procedentes de Quimiche, Nayarit, alternan todos los tipos de s aquí descritos, excepto la s tensa de la norma mexicana superpuesta. Este polimorfismo contrasta con las realizaciones de los hombres con 9 o 10 años de educación quienes usan con más frecuencia la variedad tensa, seguida por la relajada, y finalmente por la omisión en contextos redundantes, sin pasar necesariamente por la aspiración.

4. El habla de Mazatlán parece ser de extrema variabilidad, pero en casi todos los hablantes se puede escuchar la s tensa plana o predorsal, similar a la que se escucha en otras regiones de México. Esta variante formal coexiste con otras variantes, cuatro de las mismas se describen aquí, y entre las cuales destaca por su frecuencia la s relajada. Esta s puede confundirse fácilmente con la aspiración, pero este debilitamiento representa probablemente una etapa intermedia entre el extremo conservadurismo de la s tensa -emanada del centro de cultura y poder político- y las tendencias locales y regionales, que se caracterizan por el tempo rápido y la articulación relajada como las que se perciben en algunos países centroamericanos, del Caribe, o en la misma Andalucía. Aunque la mayoría de los mazatlecas tienen acceso activo o pasivo a la norma nacional (de tempo moderado y articulación tensa), la variedad local manifiesta gran vitalidad entre los hablantes menos educados así como en los contextos y estilos informales, en los cuales se observan los fenómenos de relajación, aspiración, omisión e interdentalización descritos aquí. Sólo me resta especular que la subsistencia de estos fenómenos, que se dan en otras zonas del mundo hispánico, se deba a una fuerte influencia de un sustrato dialectal original que no ha sido aún suplantado por la norma nacional.

Cabe destacar que estas breves notas pueden ser de utilidad a los sociolingüistas que investigan sistemáticamente la variables desde el punto de vista del variacionismo, y a los dialectólogos que describen en la actualidad las variedades regionales del español de América. En el Pacífico mexicano, así como en la costa del Atlántico y la Península de Yucatán, ocurren interesantes intersecciones entre el dialecto regional y la norma superpuesta, así como cambios de código -perceptibles en algunas regiones más que en otras- entre el dialecto y la norma estándar. Las zonas aisladas del altiplano centro-meridional o las que se han incorporado tardíamente a la vida nacional (v. gr., Cancún, Q. R.) son fuentes riquísimas para estudios sociolingüísticos y dialectológicos que no pueden pasar inadvertidas, pues en ellas se observan fenómenos sincrónicos y diacrónicos de trascendencia incuestionable. La vieja hipótesis del maestro Menéndez Pidal con respecto a la oposición geográfico-lingüística de las tierra «de la flota» y las tierras interiores tiene plena vigencia aún, y se puede comprobar en el territorio mexicano, como él lo planteó, basado, por supuesto, en su profundo conocimiento del mundo hispanoparlante a ambos lados del Atlántico.

Obras Citadas

Allen, J. A. 1964. «Tense/Lax in Castilian Spanish» Word 20.3: 295-321.

Alvar, M., A. Llorente y G. Salvador. 1973. Atlas Lingüístico-Etnográfico de Andalucía. Granada: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. Tomo 6.

Ávila, R. 1973. «Realizaciones tensas de /s/ en la Ciudad de México». Anuario de Letras 11: 235-39.

Canfield, L. 1981. The Spanish Pronunciation in the Americas. Chicago University Press.

Caravedo, R. 1983. Estudios sobre el español de Lima: Variación contextual de la sibilante. Lima: Pontificia Universidad Católica.

Catalán, D. 1954. «Resultados ápico-palatales y dorsopalatales de -ll-, -nn- y de ll- (<1-), nn- (<n-)». Revista de Filología Española 37: 1-44.

Fontanella de Weinberg, B. 1976. La lengua española fuera de España. Buenos Aires: Paidós.

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García Fajardo, J. 1984. Fonética del español de Valladolid, Yucatán. México: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.

Gavaldón, L. 1970. «Aspectos fonéticos de Múzquiz, Coahuila», Anuario de Letras 8: 219-43.

Jakobson, R. and L. Waugh. 1979. The Sound Shape of English. Bloomington & London: Indiana University Press.

Lipski, J. 1984a. «Observations on the Spanish of Malabo, Equatorial Guinea: Implications for Latin American Spanish». Hispanic Linguistics 1.1: 69-96.

Lipski, J. 1984b. «On the Weakening of /s/ in Latin American Spanish». Zeitschrift für Dialektologie and Linguistik 1: 31-43.

López Chávez, J. 1977. «El fonema /s/ en La Cruz, Sinaloa». Nueva Revista de Filología Hispánica 26: 332-40.

Martinet, A. 1952. «Celtic Lenition and Western Romance Consonants». Language 28: 192-217.

Moreno de Alva , J. 1988. El Español en América. México: Fondo de Cultura Económica.

Menéndez Pidal, R. «Sevilla frente a Madrid: Algunas precisiones sobre el español de América». en Miscelánea: Homenaje a Andre Martinet, ed. por D. Catalán. Universidad de la Laguna. 99-165.

Young, R. 1977. «Rehilamiento of /y/ in Spanish» Hispania 60.2: 327-30.

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Hacia la emancipación de la lengua por la enseñanza de los géneros gramaticales

Adelaida López de Martínez

University of Nebraska

Tanto la especulación filosófica como las investigaciones científicas en varias disciplinas nos han convencido de un hecho innegable: la facultad de hablar, es decir la lengua, crea y delimita la realidad de lo que llamamos «nuestro mundo», o simplemente «el mundo». El acto supremo de la creación, el acto que convierte el caos en orden, la masa informe en un organismo estructurado y vivo, es un acto verbal. Nada que carezca de nombre existe hasta que lo tiene o descubre. La existencia misma de la realidad depende de que objetos, sucesos, acciones, sentimientos e ideas puedan ser expresados con palabras, es decir, mediante un sistema de símbolos capaces de abstraer la realidad objetiva.

Edward Sapir en 1970 y Benjamín Whorf en 1976 convincentemente postularon la teoría de que ninguna lengua es neutral ni imparcial, y que ninguna lengua se limita a transmitir ideas sino que, al hacerlo, les da forma y por lo tanto funciona como un programa de nuestra actividad mental. A ello se debe que los seres humanos no puedan describir imparcialmente el universo que les rodea, puesto que para hacerlo necesitan un sistema de clasificación. Una vez establecido dicho sistema, se establece también una serie de categorías totalmente arbitrarias. El cerebro humano ni ve ni oye nada directamente. Percibe la realidad interpretando símbolos verbales, es decir, abstrayendo. Este hecho, comprobado por quienes se dedican a estudiar la interrelación entre lengua, pensamiento y realidad, hace que la lengua se convierta en una paradoja, puesto que resulta ser un instrumento creador y a la vez delimitador de la realidad. Por un lado es lo que nos permite «crear» el mundo en que vivimos pero es también lo que nos confina a permanecer dentro de las categorías arbitrariamente pre-establecidas.

Romper barreras impuestas por y a la lengua, y con ellas a la realidad, es decir, subvertir aquellas categorías arbitrariamente establecidas en un sistema milenario de orden patriarcal, me parece tarea fundamental del feminismo. Es efectivamente en donde más notoria ha sido la protesta feminista y en donde más terreno se ha conquistado en la lucha por la igualdad de derechos. Lenta pero indiscutiblemente se avanza en la erradicación del sexismo en la lengua porque tanto intuitiva como racionalmente nos damos cuenta del poder que la lengua ejerce en la formación de actitudes individuales y culturales, es decir, en la diaria creación y recreación de la realidad. Ya sé que deberán pasar milenios para que se invierta el orden establecido por siglos de costumbre y civilización, pero corregir el sexismo en la lengua es indudablemente la mejor manera de empezar.

Dado el poder que la lengua tiene de crear la realidad, es evidente que quienes están en condiciones de formular los símbolos y los significados de esa realidad, tienen la ventaja de hacerlo a su favor. Han sido los hombres quienes hasta ahora han tenido la exclusividad en la creación de las lenguas, de todas las lenguas, y por ende, de toda la realidad. El orden impuesto al caos que dio como resultado nuestro universo es un orden masculino. El hombre, y en este caso me refiero al varón exclusivamente, concibió la realidad desde su perspectiva subjetiva de varón. Por eso se autodefinió como la norma y la medida del universo. He ahí, de acuerdo a Dale Spender, el origen del mito de la superioridad masculina. Un mito que, al perpetuarse por siglos y siglos, ha llegado a ser aceptado por hombres y mujeres como «algo natural».

He aquí la función primordial de la revolución feminista, como lo ha sido la de toda gran revolución cultural: cuestionar los fundamentos en que se sustenta el mito. En este caso el mito de la superioridad masculina para, delatando la falsedad de sus premisas, hacer insostenible la desigual distribución de poder y derechos entre hombres y mujeres.

El contexto de una clase universitaria, que es el que yo mejor conozco, exige un proceso en dos etapas, igual que el proceso a nivel socio-político. Primero es necesario despertar

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o reafirmar la toma de conciencia que nos descubre la existencia de un problema, y luego hay que buscar la manera más efectiva de erradicarlo. Más específicamente, en una clase de lengua hay que empezar por detectar el sexismo tanto en los códigos semánticos como en los códigos sintácticos. Ya que diccionarios y gramáticas, es decir las autoridades primordiales en cuestiones de lengua, han sido casi exclusivamente dominio masculino (y sin casi, pues todavía recuerdo que la primera vez que estuve en Madrid, en el año 1963, no pude ni visitar el recinto de la Real Academia Española, porque estaba prohibida la entrada a las mujeres) no es de extrañar que las normas del buen hablar y el buen escribir sean tan extremadamente sexistas. Bien sabido es que en español si el sujeto de la oración se refiere a cinco millones de mujeres y un solo varón, todo el enunciado adquiere carácter masculino: «Los cinco millones de mujeres y el niño que las seguía eran gordos y pequeños», es una frase gramaticalmente correcta, pero no da una imagen fidedigna de la realidad. Hasta hace veinte años, la mayoría de la gente, incluídas un gran porcentaje de mujeres, hubiera aceptado esta frase como «algo natural». La toma de conciencia que ha supuesto la revolución feminista, nos hace dar cuenta de lo absurdo que resulta una norma sintáctica decretando que en español un ente masculino singular sea superior a cualquier pluralidad femenina.

Es ya un lugar común recordar que la palabra hombre en español, en inglés y en muchos otros idiomas, ha servido para representar a la totalidad de la especie. Si la convención lingüística nos asegura que «el hombre» incluye a todos los seres humanos ¿por qué preocuparnos? Porque no siempre la convención lingüística funciona así. En la práctica, nadie duda de que el varón de la especie está incluído en frases que se refieren «al hombre», pero las mismas frases pueden resultar ambiguas o excluyentes si las examinamos en relación con las mujeres: «El hombre es un ser superior», tiene un significado inequívoco en lo que a los varones se refiere, pero tremendamente ambiguo en cuanto a las mujeres, pues para aclararlo habría que concretar si el hombre es un ser superior comparado a la mujer o comparado a otros seres. Esta es la filosofía que, unida a la frustración de pretender enseñar racionalmente algo tan ilógico como los géneros gramaticales, me ha impulsado a desarrollar pequeños trucos pedagógicos (no me atrevo a llamarlas técnicas de la enseñanza) que alivien la pesadez de la tarea a la vez que «educan» a nuestros estudiantes, y así encauzar la formación de actitudes vitales.

No basta explicar que el género gramatical es totalmente arbitrario, como puede constatarse por el hecho de que la palabra coche es masculina en español pero femenina en francés, o la palabra leche, que es masculina en francés pero femenina en español. O que incluso los signos lingüísticos utilizados para representar entidades abstractas adquieren género gramatical de manera igualmente arbitraria: la palabra muerte en español es femenina y el género ha determinado que la imagen arquetípica tanto en el folklore popular como en el arte culto haya sido siempre algún tipo de mujer. En inglés pasa lo contrario. «Death» es distinto de «dead» y, además, es siempre «He». No debe sorprendernos entonces que los estudiantes de primero y segundo nivel tengan tanta dificultad en recordar la diferencia entre «el muerto», «lo muerto», «la muerta» y «la muerte».

Tampoco debe sorprendernos que, después de haberles machacado y repetido hasta la saciedad que los sustantivos que terminan en -a son femeninos, los pobrecitos, siguiendo esa regla, empiecen su primera presentación oral diciendo que habían tenido «una grande problema» decidiendo de qué iban a hablar. En realidad, que digan «una problema» indica que han aprendido lo que les hemos enseñado. Hay tantas reglas que deben tenerse en cuenta para preparar una presentación merecedora de una «A», que no podemos esperar que recuerden que problema es una de las muchas excepciones a la regla gramatical que hemos estado machacando y machacando. Es inútil explicar que «problema» les causa problemas debido a su etimología griega, y tampoco queremos pasar horas repitiendo a coro «el problema», «el problema», «el problema». Lo que yo hago es (y procuro adoptar la expresión más traviesa que puedo) declarar categóricamente, en inglés para que no quede lugar a dudas: «Now, now, you all know that any thing that is a problem has to be masculine». La reacción es siempre muy variada: sonrisas, carcajadas, incredulidad, hostilidad, etc. etc. Y sigo: «Solutions, on the other hand, like all good ideas, are always feminine». Para el momento en que termino de decir eso, los estudiantes

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varones empiezan a moverse en las sillas sin saber qué hacer ni qué decir: Inmediatamente rompo la tensión que se puede haber creado diciendo algo como «la mejor manera de evitar este problema y otros parecidos, es desarrollar un sistema de estudio que permita la práctica diaria de la lengua, del idioma».

Esta explicación generalmente se convierte en una broma compartida por toda la clase, y a lo largo del semestre, cada vez que surge la palabra problema, se pone gran énfasis en el artículo masculino que la precede. Y desde luego los estudiantes no vuelven a olvidarse de que es «el problema», aunque se sigan olvidando de que es «el tema», «el poema», y hasta «el idioma».

Lo que yo creo que logro con esta pequeña charada es despertar la conciencia de los chicos y de las chicas, ilustrando lo ridículo y dañino que son los estereotipos sexistas y la responsabilidad que tenemos unos y otros de hacer todo lo posible por eliminarlos. Aprovecho la ocasión para recordarles que la lengua es una de las expresiones más significativas de la cultura y que, por lo mismo, refleja los prejuicios de quienes la hablamos. Por ejemplo, en español (y existen correspondencias equivalentes en otras lenguas), el mismo adjetivo puede enaltecer o denigrar según el género gramatical en que se use: hombre público equivale a estadista o político conocido, mujer pública equivale a prostituta; hombre fácil quiere decir que no da problemas, mujer fácil quiere decir otra vez prostituta; lo mismo sucede con fulano/a. Es decir, que el mismo adjetivo que en versión masculina indica logros intelectuales, en versión femenina implica connotaciones sexuales que van en detrimento de la reputación social de la mujer a la cual se aplica. Se podrían citar muchos otros ejemplos, pero baste con un par de ellos por lo que revelan: la palabra maestro, en masculino indica honor y autoridad; se usa para aludir a un varón que ha sobresalido en alguna profesión o disciplina y a ningún hombre le molestaría oírla aplicada a sí mismo; maestra, en cambio, suena a mujer modesta; significa casi exclusivamente maestra de escuela primaria y cada vez más se reserva para referirse a maestra de escuela rural. Es decir que, dentro de la jerarquía académica, maestra es un vocablo que indica un cierto menosprecio. Lo mismo ocurre con el sustantivo jefe, que en masculino indica posición de autoridad y que en femenino es una metáfora irónica para referirse a una mujer mandona, es decir, desagradable, pues a las mujeres les está prohibido ejercer o demostrar autoridad.

Suelo concluir señalando la injusticia lingüística implícita en aquellos casos en que la versión femenina del significante deshumaniza a su significado, como sucede con vidriero (fabricante de vidrios) y vidriera (escaparate); soldado (miembro de las fuerzas armadas) y soldada (sueldo que el soldado recibe por sus servicios); jinete (quien monta a caballo) y jineta (estilo ecuestre), etc. etc.

Para aligerar de nuevo el tono y el aprendizaje de los géneros gramaticales invito a la clase a jugar al «divorcio». Esta actividad da óptimos resultados si se realiza con la ayuda de elementos visuales como láminas que representan los innumerables objetos que pueden hallarse en un hogar, o, mejor todavía, si se emplean objetos tridimensionales aunque sea en miniatura, es decir, si se utilizan juguetes. El divorcio genérico consiste en una repartición de bienes, en la que los chicos se llevan todo lo masculino y las chicas todo lo femenino: sólo a carcajadas puede solucionarse el problema de asignar la cama a un bando o a otro, pues si la cama es femenino, el lecho es masculino. ¿Y a quién le toca la pasta de dientes si el dentífrico es masculino? ¿Quién se lleva las cucharas si los cubiertos deberían ir a los chicos? ¿Por qué darle a las chicas la nevera si el refrigerador es masculino? ¿Para quién serían las joyas si anillos y pendientes son masculinos? ¿Cómo dividir los cuadros si las pinturas son algo femenino? Y finalmente me gustaría saber qué haría la sabiduría milenaria de Salomón si tuviera que decidir a quién darle el dinero familiar y a quién entregar las cuentas bancarias que lo contienen.

He querido referirme a esta experiencia pedagógica porque creo que el movimiento feminista está llegando a un grado de madurez en que ya no puede limitarse a señalar los problemas que todos sabemos existen. Ha llegado el momento de empezar a reconstruir la realidad con nuevas normas, sin quejarnos ya, pero sí haciendo todo lo que esté a nuestro alcance (desde la activa participación política hasta una simple explicación gramatical) para condicionar a las nuevas generaciones a pensar y sentir sin los prejuicios de los que fueron víctimas nuestra generación y las anteriores.

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Obras Citadas

Sapir, Edward. Culture, Language and Personality: Selected Essays, ed. David G. Mandelbaum. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1970.

Spender, Dale. Man Made Language. London, Boston and Henley: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1980.

Whorf, Benjamin. Language, Thought and Reality: Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf, ed. John B. Carrol. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1976.