Are you looking for English pronunciation tips for Spanish speakers? Maybe you’re moving to an English-speaking country. Or perhaps you want to increase your chances of landing that dream job in the US or UK.
Note: In this article, we are focusing on English pronunciation tips for Spanish speakers who want to learn the American English accent. This is different from the British, Indian, Singaporean, Irish, Filipino, South African or any other native English-speaking accent.
Whatever the reason, there are fun and effective ways you can improve your English language skills. Here are five English pronunciation tips for Spanish speakers:
- Learn the English alphabet pronunciation (for Spanish speakers)
- Listen to music
- Watch English-speaking movies and TV series
- Find a language exchange partner
- Listen to podcasts
1. Learn the English alphabet pronunciation (for Spanish speakers)
Learning the alphabet may not seem like the most fun way to improve your English. Think of learning the alphabet like a pizza base. If we don’t start with it, we can’t have a pizza.
Learning to correctly pronounce the English alphabet will help us understand why English word pronunciation is so different from Spanish. Why is the word ‘wine’ pronounced like /WA-een/ and not /WI-neh/?
Start to learn the English alphabet by watching YouTube videos (like this one). Pause, rewind and repeat. Say every letter out loud. Keep an open mind like a kid first learning how to speak.
Common pronunciation problems for English speakers learning Spanish
There are some challenges in English pronunciation for Spanish speakers that you should know. The main one is that English letters, when put together to form a word, will rarely sound like a Spanish speaker would expect. This has a lot to do with diphthongs and long vowels. Here are some examples:
- A diphthong: ‘out’. It sounds like /AA-ut/, not /OH-uh-t/.
- A long vowel: ‘cute’. It sounds like /KII-ut/, not /KUH-teh/.
2. Listen to music
Now that we covered the basics of the alphabet and how to pronounce certain letters, let’s learn about a fun way to improve your English pronunciation.
One of the most enjoyable ways to improve your pronunciation is to listen to music. Make a playlist of English-language songs you love and learn the lyrics while you listen. Play them while you clean the house. Have a karaoke party with friends who are also learning! Weezer is an early 2000s rock band that has a lot of “ooh-eeh-oohs” in the lyrics, which can help you familiarize yourself with English vowels. They also pronounce each word of their songs quite clearly, meaning it will be easy for you to hear and pick out many words you’re trying to learn.
Bonus tip: When you memorize your favorite songs, you will find it easier to recognize similar sounds in other words.
3. Watch English-speaking movies and TV series
It’s time to put Netflix on. When we watch something interesting, we stay focused. Try your favorite movies or TV series in English with subtitles. Obviously, we mean English and not Spanish. What syllables do they emphasize? How do the letters sound together?
Once you get better at listening, you can try unfamiliar movies. When you hear an interesting phrase, say it out loud until you sound like the actor.
4. Find a language exchange partner
Find a native English speaker who wants to learn Spanish. They will be happy to exchange languages with you. You can meet in person at a coffee shop or online via video chat. Start with 20 minutes in each language. Correct your friend’s Spanish and let them correct your English too. A match made in heaven.
Speaking with a native English speaker will allow you to practice what you know and keep you learning new skills. It might sound a little weird, but pay attention to the way their mouth moves when speaking certain words in English. Try to mimic it. Moving your lips, tongue, jaw and neck in this way can make your mouth stronger at English pronunciation.
5. Listen to podcasts
Listening to podcasts will help you progress even faster. The great thing about podcasts is that you can find hundreds of different titles according to your favorite topics. Do you want to stay updated on world news? Listen to a news podcast while you drive. Want a scary story at Halloween? True crime is popular on Spotify right now. Podcasts are a great tool to help you get used to native pronunciation without having to pay special attention.
Ready, set, go!
Now that you have gone through these English pronunciation tips for Spanish speakers, it’s time to put them into use. Remember to always look for content that you find interesting. It’s also very important that you push yourself to speak English out loud. Repeat the words you hear. Sing the songs you like. This is what will get you from point A to B (/EI/ to /BI/ not /AH/ to /BE/) much faster.
Alison Maciejewski Cortez is Chilean-American, born and raised in California. She studied abroad in Spain, has lived in multiple countries, and now calls Mexico home. She believes that learning how to order a beer in a new language reveals a lot about local culture. Alison speaks English, Spanish, and Thai fluently and studies Czech and Turkish. Her tech copywriting business takes her around the world and she is excited to share language tips as part of the Lingoda team. Follow her culinary and cultural experiences on Twitter.