Common phenomenon in the Spanish-speaking children when learning English

When we learn a new language, we also learn its culture. Sometimes, when children are under this process, they can considered to have language barriers or delays. This page provides some typical errors that Spanish-speaking children have learning English. These errors are common; therefore, they should not be considered a language disorder.


Spanish pronunciation is different than English


English has 24 consonants while Spanish only has 16. Spanish has five vowels, while English has 30. The pronunciation of English and Spanish are different. These are some of the characteristics of Spanish-speaking children: 


For example:

  • "S" and "z" are pronounced the same (for example, "zoo" and "Sue")
  • Add an extra syllable in front of the word if the starts with a"s" (such as "school" as "eschool")
  • "Sh" and "ch" are pronounced the same (for example, "cheap" and sheep ")
  • "i" and "ee" are pronounced the same (for example, the "bit" and "beet")


English grammar and Spanish grammar are not the same


There are very common mistakes that Spanish- speaking people have when learning English. These are some of the errors you might hear when your Spanish- speaking child speak English:


  • "He has a shower" Instead of "He is having a shower."
  • "I want that you open the door." Instead of "i want you to open the door."
  • Do you saw him? rather than "Did you see him?"
  • "I no see him." rather than "I did not see him."


These speech characteristics and others are expected in the Spanish- speaking children when learning English. These patterns shouldn't be interpreted as red flags for a language/ speech disorder.  Please remember that you can transfer the abilities that your child has in one language to the other one. For example, if your child has good Spanish reading abilities, these ability will help your child when reading in English.


More information related:

Visit this bilingual page with information about tools to help children to read  and to have better language abilities.

Visit a website from the department of education that provides information about Spanish- speaking school children. This website provides frequently asked questions, publications, general information and financial aid. 


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