With so many Spanish speakers taking our courses to enhance their pronunciation we thought we’d provide you with these 5 tips specifically designed to help those from Spanish speaking countries to communicate better in English.
 Speaking too quickly
The Spanish language is usually spoken much more quickly than English. This means that many native Spanish speakers speak English at a rate that is difficult for the listener to understand. Practice slowing down when you speak English and you’ll be amazed how much better you’ll be understood. The main problem with too fast a pace is that the correct syllable stress (or emphasis) on the right syllables is often lost. This can make spoken English sound very ‘flat’.
 Shortening vowel sounds
Unlike Spanish where there are only 5 vowel sounds, English has more than 20. Some are ‘short vowels’, others ‘long vowels’ and some ‘double (diphthong) vowels’.
To speak more like a native English speaker you need to improve the way you pronounce these vowel types. A good place to start is with the long vowel /i:/ as in ‘seek’, and the double vowels /oʊ/, as in ‘cope’ and /eɪ/, as in ‘pain’. By improving the long vowel /i:/ it will make your English much clearer and prevent people from thinking you are swearing when you say the words ‘sheet’ and ‘beach’!
Double vowels like /oʊ/ and /eɪ/ are found in many English words. Try saying the word ‘note’ does it tend to sound more like ‘not’ or ‘naught’? When you say ‘coat’ does it sound more like ‘cot’ or ‘caught’? Think about when you say words like ‘aim’ or ‘main’ and compare this to when a native speaker says them. Do your vowels sound shorter than a native speaker? Does ‘aim’ sounds more like ‘em’ and ‘main’ sounds more like ‘men’?
 Common consonant errors
Try recording yourself saying words like ‘November’ and ‘available’. When you play this back do they sound more like ‘Nobember’ and ‘abailable’? In the same way is it possible that you sometimes say ‘yob’ instead of ‘job’ or have difficulty with the consonant sounds ‘sh’ and ‘ch’?
If you find that this is the case, don’t worry; these are all common problems for Spanish speakers. By recording yourself and by speaking the words in front of a mirror you can start to hear and feel the difference between these sounds. Pay careful attention to the movements of your mouth when you speak English.
 Speaking flat English
As mentioned in point 1, it is very easy for Spanish speakers to use ‘flat stress’ in English words. This flatness makes it difficult for others to understand the words being spoken. Consider where you put stress in words like ‘development’ and ‘product’. It is worth noting that there are no multi-syllable words in English that have flat stress.
The correct syllable to stress in ‘development’ is ‘VEL’ and in ‘Product’ is ‘PRO’. Listen to native speakers and note that their speech goes up and down and that all multi-syllable words do have stress placed on at least one syllable.
For more help with syllable stress in English sign up to our 5 free lessons. Lesson number 5 focuses on making the correct syllable stress and emphasis in English words.
For specialised, step-by-step training for Spanish speakers enroll in our 15 week online course Clear, Confident English for Spanish Speakers. You will improve your pronunciation, listening skills, grammar, expression and confidence.
Please call us to chat about your English pronunciation on 0117 318 2182.
Georgie Taylor -Speech Pathologist Star Pronunciation