You will hopefully discover that your favourite spanish to english in spanishformation or dictionary has a segment on pronunciation. If that segment is translation in spanish any way typical, it will deal largely with the pronunciations of individual sounds with the language. It's surely a useful beginning stage translation to spanish take intranslate to english from spanish account how you can pronounce, say, "the spanish translation rolled r" or "the translation spanish 'i' vowel" in isolation, or in specific example words. But your strategy for enhancing your pronunciation also needs english to spanish translations go beyond this letter-by-letter or sound-by-sound method.
There is more to learning a second language than simply memorizing grammar rules and vocabulary: you also need to practice and perfect your foreign language pronunciation in order to be easily understood. Most linguists agree that if you’ve started learning a second language after about seven years of age, you’ll probably never acquire truly native pronunciation; however, you can take steps to reduce your foreign accent so that you sound as native-like as possible. In this post, I’d like to list my five tips for making your Spanish accent sound more native-like. Remember, reducing an accent takes a lot of practice and hard work – these are just a few guidelines to help you get started.
Tip #1: Be a parrot….
Ok, you don’t necessarily need brightly colored feathers and a beak (unless you think the “feathered” look is “hot”) but you do need to act like a parrot as much as possible. What I mean by this is that you should listen to and mimic native speakers any time you get the chance. Listen closely when native speakers are talking, listen closely to music and TV programs in the target language, listen to anything you can… and then try to copy what you hear. I know this tip may be common sense for many, but it’s so important that it’s still worth mentioning.
Tip #2: Don’t forget the rhythm and blues….
Well, the blues aren’t really that necessary (unless you’re a singer), but you should pay close attention to the rhythm of the Spanish language. You see, in Spanish words are almost always split into syllables and each syllable is usually pronounced for the same length of time. In English, this isn’t always true. While we also usually pronounce words by syllables, we sometimes elongate certain syllables more than others (normally the stressed ones) and even have a tendency to sort of “run syllables together.”
To reduce your accent and keep the rhythm of your Spanish sounding native, you should be careful to break words into syllables (usually with one vowel in each syllable) and try to make sure that you don’t elongate any syllables unnaturally or run syllables together the way that you might in English. Practice with some of the following examples:
- Ver-da-de-ro (Verdadero)
- Bi-sa-bue-la (Bisabuela)
- A-bue-li-to (Abuelito)
- A-bo-mi-na-ble (Abominable)
Tip #3: I’d like to buy a vowel….
This tip goes right along with number two: you should always pay close attention to the vowels in each syllable of the word. Get a native speaker to go through vowel pronunciation with you and try to mimic as closely as possible. Remember that in Spanish, rhythm/flow basically goes by syllables and vowels… making sure you’ve got those two points down will greatly reduce your foreign accent. Also, if you learn to pronounce vowels correctly, consonants will follow almost automatically.
Tip #4: WhyDoSpaniardsNeverPauseBetweenWords????
You may notice that when you listen to a native speaker, words often sound as if they’re “running together.” The words probably sound that way because, well, they are running together. You see, us English speakers tend to separate words in a sentence by using pauses a little more than Spaniards do. In fact, Spaniards “link” words in a sentence based on the following rules:
- If one word in a sentence ends in a vowel and the next word begins with a vowel, linkage occurs in Spanish. For example, there is linkage between the following two words and they are pronounced as if they are one: La alfombra (the two a’s blend together to sound like one: “lalfombra”).
- If one word in a sentence ends in a consonant and the next word begins with a vowel, linkage occurs in Spanish. For instance, there is linkage between the following two words and they are pronounced as if they are one: Hablas español (the s and the e blend together).
- If one word in a sentence ends in a consonant and the next word begins with the SAME consonant, linkage occurs in Spanish. For example, there is linkage between the following two words: El lago (the two l’s blend together to sound like one: “elago”).
At first it’s hard for native English speakers to run words together like Spaniard do; however, with a little practice you should get used to recognizing instances where linkage should occur in a sentence and learn to run your words together. My best advice is to be mindful of the way that Spaniards employ linkage and try to mimic the pattern as much as possible. Also remember that linkage never occurs between sentences – it only occurs between words in a sentence.
Tip #5: Spanish isn’t English….
Remember that Spanish is not English: the sounds are not interchangeable. There are some similarities between the Spanish and English sound systems, but there are also some differences. You need to train your brain to pronounce Spanish sounds like Spanish instead of pronouncing them like English.
To illustrate my point on this, I’d like to mention an example of three sounds that English speakers often mistake in Spanish. The sounds are related to the letters B, D, and G. You see, when these letters are at the beginning of a word in Spanish, they are often pronounced like their English counterparts (for instance, the word Boxeo has a hard B and Gato has a hard G); however, when these letters are in the middle of a word or sentence, they often make a softer sound than what they make in English. Words like algo, abogado, and cerdo are pronounced with a soft G, a soft B, and a soft D…. don’t make the sounds too hard like in English.
It takes a lot of practice to get the subtle differences between English and Spanish sounds down; however, there is a website that can help. Visit the University of Iowa’s Phonetics Page and click on “Spanish” in order to hear examples of how letters and words should be pronounced in Spanish.
Nobody can change their accent overnight; however, if you follow these rules, are an attentive listener, and practice a lot, you can reduce your foreign accent substantially.
One other thing: you may wish to check out programs like Rocket Spanish when practicing your pronunciation. These programs allow you to type words and/or phrases into a box on a webpage and then hear that word or phrase pronounced by the computer. They come in many languages and can help when you’re trying to figure out how a specific word or phrase is pronounced.
I hope this post has been helpful to someone!