On a teachers’ mailing list, someone recently commented that some students were reading the Spanish word “hace” (pronounced Ah-say) to rhyme with “face” in English.

This error is very interesting to me.

In reading Chinese, we don’t have interference from spellings, so we get the pronunciation that is “stored” with the word. Sometimes that can be wrong, of course, but usually if it’s been input enough beforehand, the pronunciation the kid comes out with when reading will be correct (or correct within the limitations of accent).
Pronouncing hace to rhyme with “face” sounds like they haven’t heard the word enough before reading it, maybe? It’s not an accent issue (accent is just when sounds come out sounding wrong because of interference from previous language sound patterns). It sounds more like a decoding thing, where they’re using the rules they learned to sight-read in English to sound out Spanish text. It would make me worry a bit coming at it from the perspective that we use to teach Chinese reading with Cold Character Reading, because the reason the whole thing works is that the language is already there. I’d be afraid this language wasn’t “there” yet.
Reading builds language, but maybe we need to make sure that certain aspects of language are already solidly acquired before we trust too much textual input. Phonetic text is linked to the sounds of the language, obviously. The last thing I’d want is for a student to get multiple repetitions of a wrong representation of the word at an early stage.
Makes me like the way we’re doing Chinese reading these days more and more.