I feel like I have some students and friends whose policy is to ignore the accent marks in Spanish. If I tell them, “copy this word: más” they will write the letters “m.a.s.” When I ask them why they didn’t copy the á with a tilde over it, they will either burst into tears or immediately attack me with a punch to the neck.
Look, I don’t care about proper Spanish. It is my job to teach it to students, but in life my friends write me however they want, I don’t go after them, they’re my friends. I do, however tell my students they should learn how to write them, because a) it’s not hard and b) there are people who will write them off as pochos. I, as their teacher, wish them success and wish that other people didn’t write them off as pochos.
I tried to be gentle about it, but I had to start bringing the hammer down when they were writing like “mi familia es muy orgullosa de ser de Mexico” (sic). Folks, you’re not really representing pride in Mexico if you’re writing me-HEE-co in Spanish. In Spanish you have to write “México.” A huevo.
I know that this is an issue with heritage Spanish speakers, the accent mark looks arbitrary to them, and they go into shame spirals when someone exposes them. I’m not trying to put them there. So I tried to develop helpful graphics. Here’s the latest.
I’m not sure if they’ll find this helpful or if it will stress them out.
The following are two examples of flow charts that I made. When I showed my latino friends, they told me, no, these two are way too stressful.
This final one is organized by final letter, and my latino friends were less stressed out by this one. So I added sight gags to it and passed it out to my students. I also passed out little game chips to them, and forced them physically move the chippy along the arrows, and when they did, they got to the right answer. However they hated it (and me) with a passion and as soon as I wasn’t looking went right back to brute force guessing. Baby steps I guess.
If anybody wants these on PDF please email me and I’ll be happy to share; or find the links on my Spanish resources page. If you’re using my material, I’d love to hear how it went over with your students.
By the way, when I learned these, it was three rules organized as bullet points in a paragraph. At this point in my career, I don’t have rules memorized, and I don’t need graphics; I just hear where accent marks are supposed to be written, even if it’s a word I never heard before. I’m still trying to figure out how to teach my students to hear where an accent mark goes. I suspect the answer will have something to do with them listening.