Spanish speakers – Top English Pronunciation Tips
Speech Active Founder & Speech Pathologist
Hello Spanish Speaker!
Start by watching this video on the Top Areas of English Pronunciation that many Spanish speakers need to improve for clearer English.
After the video, read the article below for some ideas on how to start to improve these areas that are so important for speaking clearly in English.
Make sure you sign up to our Free English Pronunciation Short Course. It’s the perfect place for Spanish speakers to start improving their English Pronunciation.
Do you get the feeling people don’t catch what you say in English easily?
I’ve had many Spanish speaking students who felt this way. The good news is that by changing a few areas of your pronunciation you can dramatically improve the clarity of your English so it’s easy for listeners to understand.
Tip 1. DO YOU NEED TO IMPROVE YOUR STRESS & RHYTHM
Over the next few days, pay attention to the ‘music’ of your English.
Does it sound flatter and more even than native speakers?
Do you sometimes put the stress on the wrong syllable in English words?
Did you know that the stress or rhythm of your English has a huge affect on how clear your English is? Research shows that it is essential to get correct word stress in order for others to understand your English easily.
It’s hard to know where to put the stress / emphasis in English words because the spelling doesn’t tell you where it should go.
In English the pitch of our voice goes up and down to make stress. Stress in words is called “word stress”. Making the correct word stress is essential for speaking English clearly.
Here are some words that Spanish speakers often use incorrect word stress in.
‘realise’ – the stress is on the first part ‘REAlise’, many Mandarin speakers pronounce it incorrectly and put the stress on the last part (reaLISE).
‘suburb’ – which part of ‘suburb’ do you stress? All the stress should be on the first part ‘SUburb’. It’s not pronounced ‘suBURB’.
Research shows that it’s the most important area affecting how clear your English is to listeners. Flat English is unclear and it can make you sound a little uninteresting or un-engaging.
From today start to pay attention to way that native speakers go up and down with the pitch of their voice (the music). Start to pay attention to the stressed syllable in each multi-syllable word. This will HUGELY improve the sound and clarity of your English.
Tip 2. ARE YOU SPEAKING TOO FAST?
Yes -it’s true… Spanish speakers are infamous for speaking English too fast! The easiest thing you can do to make things better for your listener is to not speak English very fast.
Practice slowing down your English. You will notice things improve – I promise!
When Spanish speakers speak English very fast their English often becomes very flat in pitch and rhythm. By this I mean that they don’t use the correct stress (emphasis) on the right syllables in words and sentences. This makes your English unclear!!
In the professional environment English speakers don’t tend to speak very fast. They use a good rate of speech that allows their listener to take in their message. Start controlling your rate of speech today.
Tip 3. ARE YOU MAKING CORRECT DOUBLE VOWELS
As you know, Spanish has only 5 vowels. Easy! Well, in English there are over 20 and there are 3 types – short vowels, long vowels and double (diphthong) vowels.
When you say the word ‘coat’, does it sound more like ‘caught’ or ‘cot’?
When pronouncing important English diphthong / double vowels Spanish speakers often make one vowel instead of two vowels.
This is a common problem for Spanish speakers as they are not distinguishing between short vowels, long vowels and double / diphthong vowels.
The long vowel /i:/ is also problem for Spanish speakers The main ones you should correct are the long vowel /i:/ like in ‘week’ but that’s one for another day!
Correcting the long vowel /i:/ means that are not swearing when you say words like ‘sheet’ and ‘beach’ but it is also important for being clear : )
Tip 4. DO YOU NEED TO IMPROVE CONSONANT SOUNDS
Do you sometimes say ‘Nobember’ instead of ‘November’?
Do you say ‘abailable’ instead of ‘available’.
Do you sometimes say ‘yob’ instead of ‘job’ or have difficulty with the sounds ‘sh’ and ‘ch’.
These are all common problems for Spanish speakers.
The first step you need to take is starting to try to HEAR and FEEL the difference between these sounds.
Start to pay careful attention to your mouth movements when you speak English.
Use this online voice recorder right now. Recording yourself can be a helpful first step – you need to hear the sounds before you can change them. Record these sentences in your natural speaking voice:
Are you available in November?
My job is to check the product reviews in July.
Listen to your recording and check the following:
Did you get good /v/ sounds in ‘available’, ‘November’ and ‘reviews’?
Did you get good words stress in aVAIlable, noVEMber, PROduct, reVIEWS, juLY.
Did you make a good /dʒ/ in ‘job’ and ‘July’?
Did you make a good ‘y’ sound in ‘you (or did it sound like jew?).
Did you make a good ‘ch’ sound in ‘check’ or did it sound like ‘sheck’?
Over the next week pay attention to the 4 areas above. Improving your awareness of these areas is so important for improving your English pronunciation and speech clarity.
Check out our specialised, step-by-step training specifically for Spanish speakers.
With a Speech Active English Pronunciation & Fluency Course for Spanish Speakers you’ll improve your pronunciation, listening skills, vocabulary, expression and most importantly – your speaking confidence and more.
If you’re not ready to start the full course, sign up to our free English Pronunciation short course.
We’d love to speak to you about your English speaker goals and how we can help you achieve them.
Georgie and the Speech Active team – Lorelie, Laura, Antony and James