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8 How to Pronounce Spanish Words


Hola! Welcome to the first Language and Culture lesson.Along with the mechanics of Spanish, you're also getting a great insight
into Latin American culture.

The mission for today is to help you with your pronunciation and alphabet in Spanish...

Remember your days at kindergarten? You learned the alphabet right? Well, in your first Language Lesson you'll be introduced to the
Spanish Alphabet. This will get you up and running and ready for the rest of the course. Spanish is such an easy language to speak.
It is phonetic, which means that as long as you memorize the sounds of each letter in the alphabet, you can read ANY word!

Are you ready to get started?Here we go then

The Spanish Alphabet


You can form almost every sound in Spanish using the English sounds that you already know. Look at the Spanish alphabet below.
See if you can pick out the letter that does NOT occur in the English alphabet:

a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, , o, p, q, r, s, t, u, v, w, x, y, z
If you said youd be right!

The sound is pronounced like an n followed by a yay.

Below is a guide to the pronunciation of the letters of the alphabet. Click on the audio to practice!

A (ah)

B (beh)

C (seh)

D (deh)

E (eh)

F (ef-eh)

G (heh)

H (ah-che)

I (ee)

J (hotah)

K (kah)

L (el-eh)

M (em-eh)

N (en-eh)

(en-yeh)

O (oh)
P (peh)

Q (coo)

R (air-eh)

S (es-eh - almost like S-ay)

T (teh)

U (oo)

V (veh)

W (doh-bleh-veh)

X (eh-keys)

Y (jeh)

Z (seh-tah)
Notice that the letters 'b' and 'v' sound alike. That's because, for most Spanish speakers, there is no difference between the sounds of
the two letters in Spanish: 'v' is pronounced just like 'b.'

This can make it difficult when you're trying to spell an unfamiliar word that you've only heard before, likegrabadora (tape recorder)
or vago (lazy).

If you ask someone to spell a word in Spanish for you, that person may differentiate 'b' and 'v' by talking aboutbeh grande (big 'b')
and beh pequeo (little 'v').

You may also have difficulties with the Spanish sounds 'g,' 'h,' and 'j.' They sound rather different from their English counterparts!
Both 'g' and 'j' can sound like the English 'h' (as in 'hey'). The Spanish 'h,' on the other hand, is usually silent!

By the way ... Did you know that the letter 'w' is only used in words of foreign origin,
like 'Washington'?

Pronunciation Practice
Now, see if you can pronounce the following words:

A
gata
cat

B
barra
bar

C
cabra
goat

D
dar
to give

E
edad
age

F
feliz
happy

G
gafas
glasses

H
hay, hielo, hora
there is, ice, hour

I
ida
journey

J
ja-ja, joya
ha-ha, jewel

K
kilo
kilogram

L
lado
side

madre
mother

no
no

nio, extrao
child, strange

color
color

prueba
test
Q

que
that

rojo
red

sbado
Saturday

tener
to have

t
you (informal)

vosotros
you all (informal)

xito
success

ya
already

zapato
shoe

Accent Marks
Accent marks are used for two main reasons - to indicate which syllable to stress, and for distinguishing two words that look the same
but have different meanings

For example, the following two words are pronounced in the same way, but have different meanings, so an accent mark is used in the
second example to differentiate between the two:

Si
If

S
Yes
Consider the following stressed vowels:

-
That's enough pronunciation practice for now. Remember: the more you listen, the more you'll be able to recognize words as they're
spoken!

In the next lesson we'll work on nouns: words for people, places, and things.

Culture: Spanish - More Popular Than You Might Think


How many people do you think speak Spanish worldwide? Try to guess... In Mexico alone there are 104 million Spanish speakers while
in the United States 34 million people speak Spanish at home, with an extra 10 million claiming it as their second language.

While you are doing your math you have to consider most of Central and South America, Equatorial Guinea, Occidental Sahara, the
Philippines and expats all over the world and you will get something like 350 million speakers. This makes Spanish the second most
spoken language in the world, behind Mandarin Chinese, and followed closely by English.

If you weren't already feeling good enough about learning Spanish, you should know that Spanish is the official language of 21
countries, plus four de facto nations that dont have an official language. It has also become the second business language in the
European Union, and you can find Spanish speaking communities in each of the world's seven continents. Armed with that
knowledge, there's definitely no excuse for not exercising your spoken Spanish!

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