Pronunciation Problems

Where Learning English is FUN!

Pronunciation Problems

Thank you for all your e-mails and questions!


One question I would like to address is from Ivan in Mexico. He asks, “como se pronuncia las palabras” How do we pronounce the words?

Spanish students have a big problem when it comes to  English pronunciation because the mentality for a Spanish pronounciationspeaker is to pronounce every letter in a word as it is written.   In Spanish, individual letters have one sound and you normally pronounce them the same way. Unfortunately, in English this fact is very different. Vowels have long sounds, shorts sounds, and combined letters have other sounds, not to mention the diphthongs and schwas that happen among the letter and word combinations.  All of  which can be very confusing to the learner of English as a second language.

A possible solution to this problem is to rethink pronunciation.  Look at words in patterns rather than letter by letter.  For example  look at the following group of words: pan, hand, stand, cat, bank, black, had, sad. These words all have the same “a” sound. Just choose one word in the list that you are familiar with, which might be “cat”, and pronounce all the other other words with the  exact same “a” sound. The short “a” sound, as found in the above list, is similar to the Spanish “a” as in “gato”

Here is another list to practice which is not similar to the Spanish sound: week, tweet, sweet, beet, steep, creep, heel, kneel. Pick one word that you know how to pronounce, or use a dictionary voice recording that can be easily found on the internet to help you. (The double e, “ee” is pronounced like the Spanish letter “i”,  or the “i” in pizza.) Then read the list aloud without changing the “ee” sound.

With this exercise, you will start to notice that you can auto-correct yourself when learning to pronounce new words. Make your own lists of words with similar letter or vowel combinations and practice reading them aloud.

I hope this was helpful for you Ivan and to anyone else who might have the same pronunciation problems.

Thanks again and happy studies!

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