We've all been there. You've practiced a new word, tried to use it and get greeted by a shrug-of-the-shoulders and a confused expression... they have no idea what you just said!
There is a cool little ‘rule’ which can eliminate that happening for around 95% of your Spanish (...and that’s a pretty good success rate in my book!)
Firstly, let’s go back to our school days and remind ourselves of our vowels... the A E I O and U. These are the same in Spanish and form a big part of pronunciation. Now, stay with me whilst I take this a step further...
Let’s take the Spanish word estupendo (it means ‘great’ or ‘wonderful’). Break it down into syllables: es - too - pen - doh. Great! We are on the way to getting it right.
But here’s the clever bit ….
- Go to the end of the word and counting backwards to find the last-but-one vowel (in this case it is the E).
- We are going to stretch that E sound, to really emphasise that syllable.
- This gives us es - too - PEN - doh – really stretching out and emphasising that PEN (as in PENNY)
And that’s it! We simply pick the last-but-one vowel, lift our voice a little and streeetch it out!! Here are a few more examples...
- Casa (house) becomes caaaa-sa
- Libro (book) becomes liiii-bro
- Estudiante (student) becomes estudi-aaaaaante
Some Spanish word contain a tilde (or accent). This could be at the beginning, middle or end of a word, but there will only ever be one. For these words we change the above rule and stretch the letter with the tilde instead. The accent is there to show you which letter to accent! For example...
- adiós (goodbye) becomes ad-i-os
- lápiz (pencil) becomes laa-piz
That’s it! Your secret weapon to help with most of your pronunciation. If we are taking the time to learn and remember Spanish words, it makes sense to master the final part of the formula to help us on the way to effective communication, right?
So, take some time and look closely at any new word. Is there a TILDE? Where is the STRETCH? Getting pronunciation on point and being understood is all part of building confidence and taking you closer to fluency.
That's what I call a win/win!