When you start to learn a new language, mastering pronunciation is arguably one of the hardest tasks you face. Indeed, many students complain that, even after many years of studying, they feel their pronunciation is off. To improve your Spanish pronunciation, it is important to practice it daily, even if your level is low.
That’s why, today, we will focus on how to improve one of the most important sounds in Spanish: vowels.
Indeed, one of the easiest things in Spanish (and paradoxically one of the hardest for foreign speakers) is the fact that we only have five vowels:
You might think: Well that’s the same as English, right? Wrong. Although the letters are the same, English counts at least 14 different vowel sounds. That’s nine more than Spanish. These are the Spanish vowels:
So how can something so simple become so difficult? Let’s take a look:
There are, as I said, 5 vowel letters in Spanish, which means 5 vowel sounds. If you want to practice them, just click in each letter below to hear how each word is pronounced. Try listening, recording yourself and repeating:
Letter a: pan – cama
Letter e: verde – leche
Letter i: crisis – imprimir
Letter o: loco – como
Letter u: plus – puf
The tongue twisters
Another good exercise to improve your pronunciation and overall diction is by repeating the same sentence with different vowel, try practicing with this, for example:
El español es un idioma muy bonito
Al aspañal as an adama ma banata
El espeñel es en edeme me benete
Il ispiñil is in idimi mi biniti
Ol ospoñol os on odomo mo bonoto
Ul uspuñul us un udumu mu bunutu
Watch out for the last vowel
Now, let’s take a closer look at the last letter of each word. Watch the video while paying attention to the vowels, can you see the difference in despacito, chicharrón, ceviche, chile verde, … ?
As you can see, speakers from the U.S. tend to add a diphthong at the end of each word (despacitoe, chicharrown, cevichay, chilay, verday and so on). Try practicing with these common words:
Can you pronounce these words? Try and check by clicking on them… These audios were extracted from Forvo, a great site where you can find pronunciation for many Spanish words and sentences:
I hope you enjoyed this post, comment below with more Spanish words that are difficult for you … y ¡nos vemos en clase!