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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.
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:
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.