The linguistics of French, German and Spanish
Resources for the initial training of school teachers
provided by the Committee for Linguistics in Education
Further suggestions for links are welcome. Please send them to Dick Hudson.
These resources are intended for use in the training of future teachers of foreign languages in the UK. They complement the resources available on the website for Initial Teacher Training in Foreign Languages where you will find a great deal of information about pedagogical issues. What we offer here is information about the main foreign languages taught in UK schools: French, German or Spanish. (Other languages may be included later.)
This information is organised under four headings:
- structure (including vocabulary and meaning as well as ‘grammar’ proper)
- pronunciation and spelling
- variation and sociolinguistics
Under each heading we aim to include links to descriptions and comparisons with English. There is also a section of general introductory background material which is equally useful for all languages.
The criteria for inclusion in this list are:
- accessibility – it should be clearly written and should focus on description and explanation rather than on theory.
- reliability – it should be by and large ‘true’.
- usefulness – it should have some relevance to school-level teaching
The online material may be of many kinds including:
- recommended reference books
- reading lists (preferably selective and annotated)
- slide shows
- class handouts
- academic papers or book chapters
- online self-instruction or self-testing materials
- fun sites
- Glossary of linguistic terms
- Language Testing: Dialang: Diagnostic Tests for Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Icelandic, Irish, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish
DIALANG offers validated tests of different language skills, together with a range of feedback and expert advice on how to improve your skills. It also offers scientifically validated self-assessment activities and allows users to determine their language level, strengths and weaknesses as well as to increase their awareness of current skills and of what it means to know a language. It has been developed by more than 20 major European institutions, with the backing of the European Commission and is based on the Council of Europe’s “Common European Framework of reference”, which has become established throughout Europe as the most widely recognized frame of reference in the field of language learning.
- Introductory articles about areas of linguistics. These articles are provided by the Linguistics Society of America (LSA) and are reliable, clear and accessible.
- FAQs about language. Also provided by the LSA.
- Linguistics: Linguistic Description: Above the sentence: Weekly task sheets
At the University of Portsmouth, first year modern languages students have a course in Linguistic Description. The materials here are a complementary set to those we use in phonetics/phonology/prosody, morphology, semantics and syntax, and cover above the sentence phenomena, such as text, discourse and conversation analysis, as well as stylistics and pragmatics. The lectures are built on the analysis of English and in the tutorials students carry out comparative analyses of other languages. The assessment for the unit consists of a portfolio of weekly tasks. Students are required to find out about a language of their choice from a native speaker informant. Students have traditionally investigated their chosen language of study (French, Spanish, Italian, German, Russian), but some students have done their projects on more exotic languages such as Thai, Arabic, Cantonese, Japanese, Finnish, Swedish, Malay, Korean or Greek. We have found that the project encourages initiative, a strong sense of involvement, an attitude of enquiry, and a scholarly approach to linguistic analysis in the students. It prepares them for independent and systematic study of languages in the knowledge of the principles of organisation and use underlying them.
- Quite good online dictionaries which translate into and out of French, Spanish, Italian and English. (The site also has associated language learners’ forums)
- Charts for the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), the notation used in most descriptive material on individual languages. One of the charts allows you to click on a letter and hear the sound (but you need Quicktime on your computer; you can download this free following the links on the site.) The IPA also has an official handbook which you can buy for £16 and which includes outlines of the pronunciation of a number of languages including French and German (not Spanish), for which audio-files (which don’t require Quicktime) are also available; these include some isolated words and also a recorded passage.
- The role of phonetics in foreign-language teaching.
- An introductory phonetics course for students of French, German and Spanish.
- Do You Speak American? Excellent PBS Series with lots of online material on (American) accents, dialects and general sociolinguistic issues.
- Introduction à la linguistique française
An introduction, in French, for students of French provided by Kingston University in Canada, to all the main areas of French linguistics – phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, lexicology, semantics.
- French and the other Romance languages
Information about how French fits into the ‘Romance’ family and details of the other members of the family.
- Reading French 2000
A web-based independent learning course for French for students at the University of Calgary but freely accessible to anyone who wishes to study the course autonomously and online.
- E-pack (sample)
These materials represent a sample of the interactive online exercises developed at London Metropolitan University for beginners in French. The exercises combine sound, image and text in a single activity and provide instant feedback. They cover the main language learning skills of listening, reading, writing and grammar and involve a variety of activities, such as matching, reordering and games.
- French for Beginners and General French Grammar
Interactive exercises for French created using ‘Interactive Language Learning Authorware’ designed by Steve Cushion, Guildhall University. The materials come in two files (A and B) which are compressed files that can be self-extracted by clicking on them. The programs run using a web browser and can be started by clicking on the ‘home’ icon.
The realfrench.net website is a collection of free online French-teaching resources developed by the Department of Languages and the Department of Information and Communications, Manchester Metropolitan University. It includes a large number of interactive vocabulary games, grammar notes and interactive exercises, links, Internet worksheets and messageboards.
- Introductory books:
- A widely used reference grammar in English is: Price, Glanville. A Comprehensive French Grammar.
- Another is Hawkins and Towell, French Grammar and Usage.
- Grammar question bank
This bank of over 1,000 questions was created using Question Mark Perception. It was aimed at first year Undergraduate students of French. The grammar topics covered include possessive adjectives, partitive articles, demonstrative adjectives and pronouns, relative pronouns, direct and indirect object pronouns and verb tenses. Question types are either Selection (student chooses correct item from drop-down list) or Fill in Blanks. All questions have minimum feedback of correct answer; many have differentiated feedback and marking. The questions have been drawn mainly from GramEx French or devised using the Astcovea French concordancer. The bank can be used by institutions running Question Mark Perception to create diagnostic, formative or summative tests.
- Difficultés de la langue française
This 2-semester grammar course is essentially geared towards English Learners of French and is intended to improve students’ writing skills. Its main aim is to improve writing accuracy at noun phrase and sentence level; nevertheless, it also aims to strengthen students writing techniques and text-production/text-transformation skills through a review of linguistic processes of pronominalisation. It originated from the observation (i.e. via several error analyses conducted between 1997 and 1999) that foreign learners of French recurrently make particular mistakes when they write and that this is often due to a lack of grammatical knowledge. Thus, it is hypothesised that these mistakes can be avoided thanks to an introduction to/a revision of basic grammatical concepts (i.e. What is a Part of Speech? What is a Grammatical Function? What do Gender and Number mean? Etc). Further, though the course mainly focuses on writing skills, register differences, and in particular stylistic differences between written and oral expression, will also be underlined. Finally, this programme also reviews central difficulties linked to the choice and use of tenses in French (second semester).
- Translation: part science, part art (on translating from French into English)
- French to English translation ‘problems’ (Ranges of meaning, gaps, deceptive cognates, units of translation)
- A reliable and readily available book on French pronunciation is:
‘An introduction to French pronunciation’, Glanville Price. Oxford : Blackwell, 2005 (2nd ed)
- The IPA Handbook includes a sketch of French pronunciation, for which audio files are available.
- Listening Comprehension – Club Méditerranée – transcription exercise
This is an audio transcription exercise aimed at first year Undergraduate French students. The recording gives information on the holiday firm Club Méditerranée and the kind of clients it attracts. There are buttons on screen which the user can click at any time to hear the whole recording or a short section of it. The user is advised to begin by listening to the whole recording at least once without trying to type anything, and then to listen section by section, typing what they s/he has heard. The user is allowed 3 attempts at each section, after which the work is checked for mistakes and automatically marked. The “Show Answer” button brings up the correct response and allows the user to proceed without scoring any points. During the course of the exercise the full correct transcript is compiled on the right of the screen. This exercise was created using Authorware. Provided the resources are in the same folder, double clicking the file ‘3clubmed’ should launch the programme.
- Links to various sources of information about French dialects, including audio samples.
- Good – but non-expert – pages on French, regional varieties & dialects.
- Pages on the broad rural dialects of northern France.
- Corpus of Spoken French
Ce corpus contient les transcriptions de 95 entretiens, de longueurs variées, enregistrés sur le vif dans le Lot, le Minervois, à Paris et en Bretagne. Les thèmes de discussion comprennent une gamme de fonctions linguistiques différentes: transfert d’informations sur une région, instructions, narrations, argumentations sur les relations familiales, le racisme, la politique ou linformatisation de la société. Les thèmes de conversation ont émergé des centres d’intérêt des locuteurs. Les locuteurs, dont 45 hommes et 50 femmes, sont âgés de 7 à 88 ans et incluent un éventail de niveaux d’education. Le Résumé des entretiens détaille sous forme de table les donnes démographiques, sociologiques et contextuelles (identité, longueur en minutes, sexe, âge et niveau déduction) de chaque entretien/locuteur.
- Language resources
A gateway to French learning resources, produced by the School of Modern Languages, University of Salford. It contains links which include Contemporary Society, Culture and Business French.
- Dialectic disarray, The Guardian , February 17, 2004
Elizabeth Cripps on research that shows how the French find it hard to distinguish their own regional accents.
- A guide to resources for learning German; written by and for Americans, but very relevant to Brits.
- A complete beginner’s course in German
- German for Beginners and General German Grammar
Interactive exercises for German created using ‘Interactive Language Learning Authorware’ designed by Steve Cushion, Guildhall University. The materials come in two files (A and B) which are compressed files that can be self-extracted by clicking on them. The programs run using a web browser and can be started by clicking on the ‘home’ icon.
- A standard reference grammar in English is Durrell, Hammer’s German Grammar and Usage.
- German grammar question bank
This bank of over 1,000 questions was created using Question Mark Perception. It was aimed at first year Undergraduate students of German. The grammar topics covered include definite and indefinite articles, adjective endings, personal pronouns, demonstrative adjectives and pronouns, relative pronouns, indirect speech and verb tenses. Question types are either Selection (student chooses correct item from drop-down list) or Fill in Blanks. All questions have minimum feedback of correct answer; many have differentiated feedback and marking. The questions have been drawn mainly from GramEx German or devised using the Astcovea German concordancer. The bank can be used by institutions running Question Mark Perception to create diagnostic, formative or summative tests.
- Angelika’s German Web Pages
Reading comprehension exercises for beginners, threshold and intermediate levels. They can be used to supplement the Themen neu course books, and are intended for independent study.The exercises are part of my website which, in part, is a portal to Internet resources.
- The Maschler German-English Online Dictionary
- German grammar handouts from the US Naval Academy
- 1. Case Forms : Articles, personal pronouns, main uses of cases…
- 2. Descriptive Adjective Endings
- 3. Compound Past (Present Perfect) Formation
- 4. Relative Clauses
- 5. Subjunctive
- 6. Conjunctions
- 7. Prepositions with an ATtiTOod (Attitude)
- 8. Two-Way Prepositions – Direction vs. Location
- 9.Preposition Notebook
- verbs with dative objects
This is a grammar exercise aimed at first year Undergraduate German students. It provides practice in the use of German verbs with dative objects. A list of 50 verbs is provided. The user is given a random selection of 20 sentences in English (from a library of 48) to be translated into German. Some vocabulary help is provided and the user can have up to three attempts at each question before the correct answer is displayed. This exercise was created using Question Mark for Windows. Institutions with a licence for Question Mark for Windows can copy the .qdt and .qdl files into their folder with Question Mark Presenter. Others must copy these files into a folder with Question Mark Testview (provided). Clicking on Testview (or Question Mark Presenter) should bring up a menu; select the programme and click ‘Run’.
- The sounds of German (with audio files) compared with English.
- The IPA Handbook includes a sketch of German pronunciation, for which audio files are available.
- How the German spelling reform works.
- Descriptive Grammar of the Standard Spanish Language
Covers pronunciation, morphology and syntax (briefly).
- Spanish and the other Romance languages
Information about how Spanish fits into the ‘Romance’ family and details of the other members of the family.
- Spanish linguistics website [Login: Pedro; password: sevilla5]
This Web site, by Prof Ian Mackenzie from the University of Newcastle, is a clear and excellent introduction to Spanish linguistics. Divided into three sections, Spanish phonetics, Spanish syntax, and varieties of Spanish, the site offers concise explanations of the salient points of each area. ‘Phonetics’ covers: vocal organs and vowels; consonants and semi-vowels; phonemes; allophones; neutralization; orthography; syllables; stress; and sandhi phenomena. ‘Syntax’ includes outlines of: word order; noun and verb phrases; embedded finite clauses; infinitives and gerunds; and equative construction. It also includes a section on varieties of Spanish and an overview of the history of the language.
- Spanish for Beginners and General Spanish Grammar
Interactive exercises for Spanish created using ‘Interactive Language Learning Authorware’ designed by Steve Cushion, Guildhall University (also available for downloading from www.lang.ltsn.ac.uk). The materials come in two files (A and B) which are compressed files that can be self-extracted by clicking on them. The programs run using a web browser and can be started by clicking on the ‘home’ icon.
- Material for Spanish oral classes
This pack contains beginners, intermediate and advanced classes. Each section includes: instructions and information for the teacher, the topic and learning objectives of the lessons, how to organise students and to conduct each activity, the role/s of the teacher; summary of grammatical points which will be used in the activity or indications of those which need to have been seen before carrying out the activity; suggestions about how to explore the topic of the lesson further by practising other language skills (writing, reading, etc.); and teaching material (ready to photocopy).
- Contemporary Language and Culture
This is a specialist online language and culture course for students who have achieved an advanced level in Spanish because they are in the final year of their University degree, have spent time in a Spanish-speaking country or are false native speakers. The course has been devised to reinforce and develop the language through reading, writing and speaking. The materials in the components follow each other closely and complement vocabulary expansion with development of linguistic structures. The contents of the course cover contemporary cultural issues such as TV, cinema, family and work, and linguistic minorities in the Spanish-speaking world. The cultural-linguistic diversity of Spain and Latin America is exploited through a selection of authentic materials showing different styles, accents and media. The course is structured to develop transferable as well as language skills through hands – on experience of IT use and language activities. The materials can be easily adapted to meet the requirements of students in secondary schools, sixth form colleges or Higher Education. The website also contains pages to help teachers to adapt their own materials or to produce their own courses.
- E-pack (sample)
These materials represent a sample of the interactive online exercises developed at London Metropolitan University for beginners in Spanish. The exercises combine sound, image and text in a single activity and provide instant feedback. They cover the main language learning skills of listening, reading, writing and grammar and involve a variety of activities, such as matching, reordering and games.
- From the caves to modern graffiti
This is a specialist language course for students with an advanced knowledge of Spanish.The materials cover the history of the Spanish language from pre-history to modern times. Language artefacts are taken from disciplines such as archaeology, anthropology, history, historical linguistics and popular media. The course looks into geographical and social varieties of Spanish from a historical as well as from a linguistic perspective.
- Los Peruanos
A sample of a programme developed on the theme of Los Peruanos which includes linguistic and cultural work on web documents, simplified texts and videoclips. The materials are for intermediate level and can be used in combination with the work done in the classroom or as part of an independent learning programme.
- El problema del agua, de la seguía y el Plan Hidrológico Nacional
WWW material covering the topic “El problema del agua, de la seguía y el Plan Hidrológico Nacional” which includes personal photographs with texts, links to other www sites relevant or relating to the topic, and exercises aimed at year 2 students to develop reading/summary writing skills and to increase knowledge of this topic.
- The Grammar Survival Kit (Spanish)
Explains, in English, the terminology found in Spanish and English grammars of Spanish.
- Accelerated Reading and Writing in Spanish
The materials are devoted to the development of lexical structures in Spanish. They contain explanations, descriptions and exercises which will help the learner build up a solid lexical structure. The coursebook is made of 15 dual units (Spanish-English) for accelerated vocabulary acquisition. During the first 10 units the most productive processes for word recognition and word derivation are presented. The second 5 units add more advanced passages, taken from the literature of the Spanish-speaking world, and present vocabulary of high frequency and practical use. The materials in the course go from survival to Advanced Creative Spanish. The first 10 units consist of a Basic Passage, based on survival lexicon and intercultural issues, followed by a Reading Passage connected in topic but at a higher level. The last 5 units present a more literary style followed by practical exercises aimed at using this type of structures and vocabulary.
- Spanish grammar question bank
This bank of over 1,000 questions was created using Question Mark Perception. It was aimed at first year Undergraduate students of Spanish. The grammar topics covered include uses of ser and estar, definite and indefinite articles, object pronouns, prepositions, comparative and superlative adjectives, verb tenses and the subjunctive mood. Question types are either Selection (student chooses correct item from drop-down list) or Fill in Blanks. All questions have minimum feedback of correct answer; many have differentiated feedback and marking. The questions have been drawn mainly from GramEx Spanish or devised by Spanish tutors. The bank can be used by institutions running Question Mark Perception to create diagnostic, formative or summative tests.
- A useful list of grammatical points for learners.
- Spanish grammar handouts from the US Naval Academy
- A simple website with words linked to audio files.
- The sounds of Spanish (with audio files), compared with English.
- Clare Mar-Molinero. 1997. The Spanish-Speaking World: A Practical Introduction to Sociolinguistic Issues