How to Learn Spanish Pronunciation
The first thing to remember is that developing skills like pronunciation give you confidence to speak, and speaking is absolutely necessary for you to become fluent. So be sure to spend part of your time focused on pronunciation.
Good pronunciation has several factors, but the good news is that it's just a physical skill that you can learn. If you've ever learned a new physical skill, like driving, dancing or knitting, you know that at the beginning, it seems impossible, but if you keep at it, you get better every day until it becomes normal for you.
Good Spanish pronunciation means moving your mouth in a way that English speakers normally don't find easy. So just like athletic training, you will have to train yourself in focused practice. The rolling of R's is a classic pronunciation problem for students of Spanish. Spend a few minutes a day rolling those R's over and over again as a sound just by itself to get your tongue and mouth used to that physical movement. At the beginning, just roll R's, without trying any words. Later, you can start to use a list of words with R's at the beginning.
Good pronunciation is harder to describe than to just listen to and imitate, so we don't recommend spending a lot of time reading descriptions of how to move your lips and tongue. A far more effective use of time is to repeatedly hear a sound then just imitate. Recording your pronunciation practice with playback is a great way to improve. You can get digital recorders for less than $75, use audio computer programs like Audacity or use pronunciation tools that are often included with online Spanish courses.
One of our partners, Rocket Spanish, features an online voice recording, playback and comparison tool as part of their course. This kind of tool lets you hear a sound, pronounce and record it. It allows you to compare not only the sound, but the sound wave graph of your pronunciation to the correct one. Using a tool that's designed for repeated practice is the best way to improve your pronunciation because you won't have to rewind a digital recorder or edit audio files and you'll be able to see and compare visual representations of your pronunciation practice. Check out Rocket Spanish for Free and see if it's right for you.
Remember that pronunciation is a process of starting out rough and slowly refining over time. You can think of it like making furniture from a tree. First you roughly shape it, then plane it, then you sand it repeatedly until it becomes a fine piece of furniture. It's a process of slow refinement that you should expect to go through. Just like handmade furniture, your Spanish pronunciation skills will be something that you can cherish forever.
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