Four top tips for Spanish speakers

Feb 3, 2018 | Blog UK

Georgie Harding

Speech Pathologist & Founder of Speech Active
English Pronunciation Course for Spanish Speakers

With so many Spanish speakers taking our English Pronunciation Course for Spanish Speakers to enhance their pronunciation skills, we thought we’d provide these 5 tips! 

Listen to Georgie’s give a Spanish speaker helpful feedback on their English Pronunciation here.  

[1] Are you speaking too quickly

The Spanish language is usually spoken much more quickly than English. This means that many native Spanish speakers speak English very quickly too!!  Practice controlling how fast you speak English.  You’ll be amazed how much better others will understand you.

When you speak English quickly, you’re much more likely to use word stress that is too flat and make long and double vowels too short! See point 4 below on English word stress. 

[2]  Are you shortening vowel sounds?

Unlike Spanish where there are only 5 vowel sounds, English has 20 vowel sounds. English has short vowels, long vowels and double (diphthong) vowels.

For clearer English, Spanish speakers often need to improve the way you pronounce these vowels. A good place to start is with the long vowel /i:/ as in ‘seek’, and the double vowels /oʊ/, as in ‘cope’ and /eɪ/, as in ‘pain’. By improving the long vowel /i:/ it will make your English much clearer and prevent people from thinking you are swearing when you say the words ‘sheet’ and ‘beach’!

Double vowels like /oʊ/ and /eɪ/ are found in many English words.

Try saying the word ‘note’ does it tend to sound more like ‘not’ or ‘naught’? When you say ‘coat’ does it sound more like ‘cot’ or ‘caught’?

Think about when you say words like ‘aim’ or ‘main’ and compare this to when a native speaker says them. Do your vowels sound shorter than a native speaker? Does ‘aim’ sounds more like ‘em’ and ‘main’ sounds more like ‘men’?

[3] Are you mispronouncing some important consonant sounds?

Try recording yourself saying words like ‘November’ and ‘available’. When you play this back do they sound more like ‘Nobember’ and ‘abailable’? In the same way is it possible that you sometimes say ‘yob’ instead of ‘job’ or have difficulty with the consonant sounds ‘sh’ and ‘ch’?

If you find that this is the case, don’t worry; these are all common problems for Spanish speakers.

You can become a master at pronouncing all these sounds correctly with our English Pronunciation Course for Spanish Speakers. 

[4] Does your English sound flat English (word stress!)

As mentioned in point 1, many Spanish speakers use ‘flat stress’ in English words. Not using good word stress and sentence stress in English makes your English unclear. Getting a good rhythm  – so making the ‘music’ of English is very important for how easily others understand your English. 

Consider where you put stress in words like ‘development’ and ‘product’. It is worth noting that there are no multi-syllable words in English that have flat stress.

The correct syllable to stress in ‘development’ is ‘VEL’ and in ‘Product’ is ‘PRO’. Listen to native speakers and note that their speech goes up and down and that all multi-syllable words do have stress placed on at least one syllable.

For more help with syllable stress in English sign up to our free English Pronunciation Course. There are lessons on making the correct syllable stress and emphasis in English words.

For specialised, step-by-step accent reduction and English pronunciation course for Spanish speakers online course Clear, Confident English for Spanish Speakers. You will improve your pronunciation, listening skills, grammar, expression and confidence.

We look forward to helping you speak better English!

Georgie Harding

Speech Pathologist


 

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