The importance of oral Spanish teaching to multilingual students: A case study of USIU.
This paper explores important aspects of teaching Spanish, both spoken and written, to multilingual students, with specific reference to United Sates International University (USIU), a private institution located in Nairobi, Kenya. The beginner students of Spanish at the University speak at least 3 languages, one of which is Kiswahili. This polyglot characteristic, the strong African oral tradition and the fact that Kiswahili and Spanish have similar aspects like pronunciation, offer the students great advantages in learning Spanish. Initially, however, students generally show some resistance to learning the oral skills because their intention is to acquire writing skills. Research conducted for this paper among the University students and the foreign language teachers in Nairobi, provides useful comparisons between two methodologies of teaching Spanish (and probably other foreign languages as well) one of these emphasizes the acquisition of oral skills and the other, which involves a more traditional method of teaching, emphasizes acquisition of written skills. The research findings discussed in this paper offer strategies that can help promote the teaching of spoken Spanish, including the study of the complex grammar at the beginning level. The findings also demonstrate that acquisition of oral skills facilitates the acquisition of knowledge about the Hispanic world culture, and is also crucial to development of higher levels of oral proficiency which is essential to using the language in real life situations.
Key words: multilingual, oral skills, second language, learning, strategies.