Spanish Pronunciation and Fluency Practice

Speaking Skills: Intermediate Level

One of the biggest compliments you could get regarding your Spanish is a native speaker telling you that your Spanish accent was so good that they thought you were either a native yourself or that you have Latin roots. You will probably never speak just like a native, sorry, but it still feels good to know you are doing something right, something better than the average speaker of Spanish as a second language.

Speaking with a thick American or other non-native accent is not the end of the world though. In fact, I don’t think it is very important for communicating effectively.  However, speaking with little or no accent does have many benefits, namely earning respect of native speakers and providing them more confidence in your ability to hold a conversation with them.  Although a strong accent doesn’t mean someone doesn’t speak well, it can impede effective communication. It certainly be difficult to understand. Think about it. Remember that time you asked someone for help at a local supermarket or a tourist asked you for help and they had a rough accent, what did you think? My first thought usually is, “Wow, I wonder if they understand what I’m going to say.”

This can become a distraction.

A trick I learned to achieve more fluency in my speech was to run words together, like native speakers do rather than separate them too much.  For example, in English as you are speaking with your girlfriend or boyfriend you might say, “I think about you all the time.” In normal speed this may sound like many words stuck together, something like, “Ithinkaboutyou – allthetime,” two words, right? Well in Spanish it’s no different. Instead of separating the words so distinctly start combining them. So translating what we just said in English to Spanish you get, “Te pienso todo el tiempo,” (five separated words). Let’s combine them and make it, “Tepienso  – todoeltiempo,” again changing the word count to two.

Let’s try smaller words clusters. Consider changing the following examples.

Spanish                                                                English

Tus ojos               tusojos                 “your eyes”

Te quiero             tequiero              “I love you.”

Te lo digo             telodigo               “I’ll tell you”

Te extrano          teextrano            “I miss you”

This technique is especially helpful when you advance is your grammar and you say sentences like the these:

Spanish                                                                          English

Me lo dió.              Melodio.                                      “He gave it to me.”

Me lo regaló.      Meloregalo.                               “She gave it to me (as a gift)” (Literally- She gifted it to me.)

Se lo dijeron.     Selodijeron.                               “They told him (it).

Lo, la, le, se are examples of indirect and direct objects. Some of the examples are “it”, “me”, “them” and so on in English. What’s makes it tough is the order is backwards in Spanish. It forces you to think a few extra seconds to get it right. “Wait, um, ‘Dio lo me,’ no , I mean, ‘Lo me dio,’ no!” When you do start to get how to say them in the correct order you will probably separate them too much, thus sounding a little rough. I’ve heard other English speakers creating too many pauses in between the words. That’s why I recommend blending the words together.

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Spanish Vocabulary: Days of the Week…and how to memorize them

Learning vocabulary is the foundation of learning any language. Accepting that you need to take it one step at a time and start from the beginning will be vital  to managing your emotions and expectations while you improve your knowledge and skills to speak and understand Spanish.  In the beginning I tried to learn as much vocabulary as possible. I focused on the sets of words and phrases that would come in handy most. Describing time is extremely important. Let’s take a peek at the days of the week first and how to remember them. Then do not forget your free downloadable flashcards.

The week in Spanish starts with Monday. Let’s start there. Days of the week in Spanish are NOT capitalized.

Days of the Week in Spanish

  • lunes /LOO-nace/                            Monday
  • martes /MAR-tace/                        Tuesday
  • miércoles  /MEER-ko-lace/          Wednesday
  • jueves   /HOOAY-vace/                 Thursday
  • viernes  /VEEAIR-nace/                 Friday
  • sábado /SA-ba-do/                         Saturday
  • domingo /do-MIN-go/                  Sunday

Let’s break the week into 3 parts.

The first half of the work week: lunes, martes, miercoles

The second half of the work week: jueves, viernes

And the weekend: sábado, domingo

Focus on each part by repeating the days of that part over and over until you memorize them.

Another way to memorize them is come up with clues to remembering them, sort of like memory joggers.  So let’s try it.

  • Lunes” starts the work week and when that happens you “lose” sleep. The “lu” part of lunes and “lose” have similar vowel sounds. Sounds stupid, but trust me this stuff works.
  • Marti gras”, the holiday, or big party in New Orleans, means Fat Tuesday.  Marti and martes are very similar since both of their roots come from Latin, and both have to do with Tuesday.
  • Once you get to the middle of the week the first half is in the rearview “mirror”. So miércoles is the rearview “mirror”. Miércoles, mirror. Again the first part of the word sounds similar.
  • “Who’s” going to the party tomorrow? Tomorrow is Friday night so you would like to know “who” is going to be there. Who, jueves.
  • Don’t “veer” off now, the weekend is here. “Viernes” is finally here.
  • Saturday and sábado start with the same two letters “sa”. It’s the only day of the week that starts the same both in Spanish and English.
  • Tomorrow you will start making “dough” again. Today is “domingo” but tomorrow begins the work week when you start earning money again.

All of these clues are just ideas on how to help you memorize them. Any vocabulary you learn will eventually become second nature and you will not have to use goofy clues to remember them.

Get your days of the week PDF. Use card stock in your printer to print off sturdy cards and your days of the week reminder exercise.

Improve Your Spanish Listening Skills with Music: Bailando por Ahí- Juan Magan

Skill Level: All Levels

Listening skills are every important when learning another language. You can learn how to speak by predominantly studying the written language, but focusing too much on the written language can cause problems when someone is speaking to you. Sure you will still be able to understand them fairly well, but in the end if you understand what someone says then you can communicate your message even with basic Spanish sentences.

If I had to learn all over again I would have taken more time practicing with music. Nowadays with the internet it is very easy to access good materials to help you practice. The song I have chosen here has a good, catchy chorus and is upbeat. It’s currently being played often a lot on the radio stations in Orlando. Keep in mind you must listen to songs over and over again before you can effortlessly comprehend the lyrics. In Spanish lyrics are referred to as “letras”. So if you want to find a song’s “letras” you could either do a search like “bailando por ahi con letras” or simply go to my favorite site for lyrics www.musica.com.

So here is how we are going to approach and complete this exercise…

INSTRUCTIONS: Spanish Listening Skills Exercise

I. Objective. Improve your ability to hear and comprehend Spanish without translating to English.

II. Goal. Learn and memorize phrases and words by hearing them.

III. Steps.

1. Listen to song 3x- do NOT look at lyrics.

2. Listen to song 3x- look at lyrics.

3. Listen to song 2x- look at lyrics, repeat phrases, sentences or words from list.

4. Listen to song 2x- do NOT look at lyrics, repeat phrases and words from list.

(Download and print the Spanish listening exercise for this post.)

First, read the instructions above then click on the video link below. The video is a lyric slideshow. Listen to the song and follow along with the words. You can print off the complete lyrics down below as well, I got them from the “letras completas” shown link below. You will learn the song’s chorus and so I have highlighted the chorus in the printed version throughout the song.

I like this song below for this exercise because besides sounding good the chorus is catchy and simple to learn. Music is a great way to allow Spanish to be ingrained in our minds without having to translate or depend too much on the written words. My favorite website for Spanish-song lyrics is www.musica.com. They are completed by volunteers on the site and sometimes are not completely accurate, but they are more than sufficient to help us improve our Spanish listening skills.

BAILANDO POR AHÍ

Juan Magan

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4RxUJCZaqg

Letras completes (lyrics): http://www.musica.com/letras.asp?letra=1932054

Expresiones/Oraciones (Phrases/Sentences)

Significados (Meanings)

Ayer la vi bailando por ahí con sus amigas en una calle de Madrid.

Yesterday I saw her dancing there with her friends in a street in Madrid.

Tan linda como en el día que la conocí
Fueron los días más felices para mí

(She was) as beautiful like the day I met her. (Those) were happiest days for me.

BAILANDO POR AHÍ

Juan Magan

(Lyrics from www.musica.com Meant only for educative purposes.)

(Ayer la vi)
Ayer la vi desde hace mucho tiempo y..
( con sus amigas en una calle de Madrid)
Me arrepiento tanto de haberte dicho adiós
( fueron los días más felices para mí )

Coro: 
Ayer la vi bailando por ahí
Con sus amigas en una calle de Madrid
Tan linda como en el día que la conocí
Fueron los días más felices para mí

Ayer la vi bailando por ahí
Con sus amigas en una calle de Madrid
Tan linda como en el día que la conocí
Fueron los días más felices para mí ‘

Ella es loca por ritmo latino
Se prende en la pista bailando conmigo
El aroma, se toca, me mira
Y yo electrónicamente encendido
No me atrevo oh oh a decirle na’ ah
Me hago el duro pidiendo una copa
Sentado en la barra del bar ah ah
Me acerco a su lado, le cojo el pelo
Le canto canciones al oído
Tu quisieras una cita conmigo
Te sigo en el Twitter si quieres te escribo
De repente tra tra llegó su novio ya ah
Si no la vas a cuidar échate pa’atras tra

( Ayer la vi)
Es inevitable verla, una pareja se pierde en la rutina
Las cosas cotidianas de la vida
Y por eso deberías regalarle
cada día una sonrisa a tu bebé