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Pronunciation speed


My Spanish learning this year has been somewhat stagnant. Though, I'm still working on it. When trying to speak or read out loud, I'm noticing some difficulties in speaking Spanish... quickly. Definitely not the easiest second language to pronounce for English speakers.

When I try to say the name Alberto, my tongue does touch the top of mouth but it slips back causing a delay and a sound I don't hear from another native speaker. When I try to say corre *rápidamente*, my tongue can´t pronounce the second word with correct stress timing and struggles to trill the r if necessary. It doesn't even sound trilled from when I´ve heard it. I still struggle the Spanish 'str' such as in destruir and my tongue slips uncomfortably unless I pronounce like in English. Once again, so many sssss sounds slow down my pronunciation pace especially when the following word begins with an r.

I already have developed tongue muscles to handle the r trill yet if it takes more lengua strength to pronounce this language like a native, I wouldn't convince any of my friends Spanish is an easy language for them to speak without a deliberate American accent. confused

updated JUL 16, 2010
posted by epicfail
Deliberate accent or do you mean detectable accent? - LateToDinner, JUL 16, 2010
When my friends try to speak Spanish with taco bueno knowledge, it sounds like mockery with English intonation. - epicfail, JUL 16, 2010

7 Answers


I think this is best program out there for pronunciation.

I recommend Javier (México).

updated JUL 16, 2010
posted by --Mariana--
That is too cool, Marianne! I could play there for hours! - LateToDinner, JUL 16, 2010
Yes, it's so much fun! - --Mariana--, JUL 16, 2010

As an American working for a German company in Mexico, I hear all kinds of different English and Spanish accents.

I must say, that I prefer accuracy over speed when it comes to both pronunciation and vocabulary.

I would rate a German or Mexican as a more fluent English speaker if they got the words and pronunciation correct slowly, than one who spoke as rapidly as a native, but with pronunciation, grammar, or vocabulary mistakes.

Furthermore, although it may seem that all native Spanish speakers speak very rapidly, as your fluency improves, you will notice that some speak faster than others. So, if you want to be a fluent speaker, there's nothing wrong with trying to mimic those native speakers who speak slowly.

updated JUL 16, 2010
edited by petersenkid2
posted by petersenkid2
Yeah that makes sense. I correct my friends or even my parents for say incorrect verb tenses, and me myself when my English speech stutters and is spoken in rush. - epicfail, JUL 16, 2010
"...there's nothing wrong with trying to mimic...native speakers who speak slowly." Perfect!! - --Mariana--, JUL 16, 2010
Was für eine Gelegenheit, ich bin eifersüchtig! ¡Qué oportunidad, estoy celoso! - LateToDinner, JUL 16, 2010
Ich kann spreche Deutsche nicht. - petersenkid2, JUL 16, 2010

Feliz said:

I would encourage you to focus on accuracy first rather than speed..

I agree 100%. This is what I did and after time I could speak faster.

The best way I found to practice my pronunciation was reading the news aloud. It's SO difficult and awkward at first, but then you'll get better.

¡Buena suerte!

updated JUL 16, 2010
posted by --Mariana--

I feel some of your pain and fustration ' Imwaytoocold' and want to encourage you not to give up in despair. I have struggled with some of the same things in the past like pronouncing destruir and some other combinatiosn of sounds. It could be that you are even trying too hard and that this will make it harder for you and compound your efforts...to succeed.

I would encourage you to focus on accuracy first rather than speed, while at the same time not worrying if you cannot prounounce every word exactly as it should be pronounced or as you think it should be pronounced....from how you can hear other native speakers say it. Fluency isn't just about speed. It is also about developing a natural flowing style of expression based upon a correct use of gramer and knowing how and when to use idiomatic expressions appropiately This comes with many years of practice and I haven't arrived yet lol You can always learn to speak more quickly later as your accuracy and confidence grows When you read a sentance out loud read each word once and just focus on the general flow of the sentance After having read the whole sentance you can go back and try to repeat the difficult word again but if that exercise become painful move on rather than become stressed over it.

I would like to recount a true meeting with a Spanish gentleman when I was staying at a lovely hotel in Pineda de Mar (near Calella and about 1 hour away from Barcelona) I had been speaking spanish to someone (name not important) in front of the hotel and the gentleman, whose name I have long since forgotten, corrected me quite brusquely and told me that I should open my mouth more widely when I speak Spanish and annunciate each sound clearly. I was, at first, quite taken aback at his somewhat rude manner as he was a complete stranger to me but I listened politely and carefully to everything he was saying to me. On reflection he was correct about the content of what he had shared even though his manner left alot to be desired. The lesson I learned which was so vital, and the same one that I wish to share with you and other English speaking people from Uk now is that we must open our mouth wide when we speak, as this man did, if we desire to speak Spanish fluently. I beleive this man was a native Spanish speaker. mumbling like Prince Charles will not help us to speak Spanish clearly or fluently .

I hope that this helps grin

updated JUL 16, 2010
edited by FELIZ77
posted by FELIZ77
What's gramer? - epicfail, JUL 16, 2010
Grammer includes knowing how to conjugate/form verbs, and which ones to use when, how to use personal pronouns, adjectives and the kind of rules that most people prefer to forget unntil they wnat to learn a new language - FELIZ77, JUL 16, 2010
What's proper spelling? - epicfail, JUL 16, 2010
correction of my typo above want (not wnat ) - FELIZ77, JUL 16, 2010

...yet if it takes more lengua strength to pronounce this language like a native

It may not be so much a matter of strength as it is correct placement and dexterity. Of the two, you probably want to make sure that your tongue placement is correct first before trying to build up speed. For example, a word like destruir requires more of a light flick than crushing power.

For a word like Alberto, the tip of your tongue should not be touching the roof of your mouth. Instead, it should be touching the fleshy part just above your gum line (alveolus) where your incisors insert into your jawbone. This will put your tongue in the correct position to make the /r/ sound. From there, your tongue tip should slip down to the back of the incisors in order to be in the correct position to form the plosive /t/ that follows.

Here is a site that you might find useful in demonstrating, step by step, the correct tongue positioning for various sounds used in Spanish. Each one also features an animation of tongue positioning as well as examples of native speakers pronouncing examples in which the sound in question is used.


updated JUL 16, 2010
posted by Izanoni1
Neat...far out!! - --Mariana--, JUL 16, 2010
I've actually improved on pronouncing "str" and flapping my tongue over and over to make an onomatopoeic representation of a dance beat helps. - epicfail, JUL 16, 2010

yet a native still tell me I sound American and I have no idea of knowing how my "accent" could change when speaking Spanish.

I agree with the others that accuracy should be your real goal. To some extent, you will always sound American and that is o.k.! Think of a person from almost any nationality who has learned English as their second language. Although they are all speaking English, you can tell almost immediately that they are from Mexico, France, Russia, China, etc. Most people always retain a bit of an accent. However, as long as they are speaking clearly enough for us to understand, I think the accent is beautiful.

Some good advice that I did receive was to stop worrying about pronouncing words individually. It is more important to listen to the rhythm of a phrase or sentence. I think when we try to focus on pronouncing each individual word as we speak, we get ourselves into trouble. Instead, listen to how words blend together as people speak.

updated JUL 16, 2010
edited by Nicole-B
posted by Nicole-B
Great advice,Nicole - FELIZ77, JUL 16, 2010
Gracias Feliz. :) - Nicole-B, JUL 16, 2010

I wish this site would have an easier way for us to be able to share/ upload audio clips of pronouncing sentences and hearing different accents... the audio clips in the dictionary rarely do justice. While I'm able to pronounce Spanish phonetically correctly, I'd say it's virtually impossible for me to have "an accent" without changing my normal tone of voice... yet a native still tell me I sound American and I have no idea of knowing how my "accent" could change when speaking Spanish. I've already figured it's easier to sound Japanese.

updated JUL 16, 2010
posted by epicfail
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