Language consists of a series of sounds (phonemes) and a series of symbols to represent these (written language). Some languages, such as Spanish, are phonetic – you write, speak and read with the same sounds – while others, like English, are not. However, there are similarities between Spanish and English. While both languages share many of the same vowels and consonants, they are not pronounced the same way.
A vowel (una vocal), in any language, receives this name because its sound is made by the vocal cords. The vowel sound comes from the lungs, through the vocal cords and depends on the position of the lips, tongue, and mouth opening, with nothing blocking the air for clear pronunciation. Vowels in Spanish always have the same sound; they never change as in English. The picture below represents the shape of your mouth, lips, tongue as you say each vowel in Spanish.
Mira, escucha, y practica la pronunciación de las vocales del vídeo en YouTube:
This video is seven minutes and ten seconds long. Please watch all of it. While it is not mentioned, you should note that the sounds of the individual letters will sound slightly different when they are linked with other letters at the word level and at the sentence level. The Spanish vowels have only one sound (ah, eh, ee, oh, and long oo as in moon), not 19 as in English.
You will often mispronounce words that look like English by using the English vowel sound instead of the Spanish vowel sound. Words like octubre, hospital, and popular are often mispronounced by English speakers trying to learn Spanish. You should practice the proper pronunciation of such words – ohk TOO bray – NOT – ahk TOO bray – ; – poh poo LAHR – NOT – pah pew LAHR –.
Often you can type “popular - pronunciation in Spanish” into Google and then listen to a native speaker say the word with a Spanish accent or a Latin American accent. Try it with popular and practice imitating the speaker (you will record yourself in the activity below).
Actividades de pronunciación
Actividad en Moodle:
Watch the video in Moodle about how to change your settings to allow you to make audio recordings. It is called, “Student Guide to Moodle Enabling Voice Recording and Using the Voice Recorder”.
Then, record the proper pronunciation of the following sentences in the Moodle assignment.
1. La historia es interesante.
2. El avión es rojo y grande.
3. El unicornio entra en la iglesia.
4. El unicornio y el murciélago son amigos.
5. Ojalá que sí.
6. La iguana no tiene pelo.
7. El unicornio tiene pelo bonito.
8. Be sure you are properly pronouncing these words before you record yourself. Then record each word by correctly pronouncing it three times:
- octubre, octubre, octubre
- hospital,hospital, hospital
- popular, popular, popular
9. Then record yourself saying the following sentences:
- El mes de octubre es en otoño y es popular. (The month of October is in the fall and is popular.)
- El hospital en Gettysburg está en la calle Washington.
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