11 avoidable English pronunciation errors of Spanish Speakers and their solutions


It is impossible to completely dissociate your native language sounds when learning a second language. There are many scientific reasons for this phenomenon, especially for those in the adulthood stage. Today I will show you the main mispronunciation errors of "hispanohablantes" and how to correct them.

I have decided to create a corner where I can leave all those pages related to phonetics and pronunciation, which serve to achieve our main objective: to improve pronunciation in English.

In addition to the fact that in English, there are a series of vowel sounds that do not exist in Spanish (see here) when you speak English, the natives quickly know that you are a Spanish speaker because you mispronounce the following sounds:

Put the word you can't pronounce on this page. Then, a voice will tell you how it sounds.

Here I also leave a fantastic page where they teach you how to pronounce vowels.

What sounds should you pay attention to?

I will use a resembling-like symbology to represent how a Spanish speaker produces a sound.

The letter "i."

The letter "i" appears, for example, in words like a bit; it; him; tip; in.

It is pronounced as if you were going to say an "e," and you end up saying an "i" with your lips closed. It should never be pronounced like the Spanish "I," which is more open. In phonetics, it is represented by the symbol /ɪ/.

I mark it in my symbology like this: [I] to distinguish it from the normal "i." Remember, always start by saying an "e" and end with an "i"; that is, bit [bIt]; it [It]; him [hIm]; tip [tIp]; in [In].

The letter "s" appears, for example, in words like Spanish; space ); student ['stjʊ: dənt]

Since the liquid "s" does not exist in Spanish, there is a general tendency for Spanish speakers to pronounce these words as if there were an "e" in front of the "s." For instance, "Espanish" or space "espace."

Try to avoid that "e" and only pronounce the "s," imitating the sound that a snake makes "sss." The phonetic symbol is /s/. In my symbology, I point to the "s" like this: [ss], to remind you that there is no "e" in front of the "s." Always remember as "ss"; that is, Spanish [sspaenish]; space [sspeis]; student [API: 'stjʊ: dənt] [sstudent].

The letter "v."

The letter "v" appears, for example, in words like: very; verb; vampire.

Unfortunately, this sound that existed in old Spanish was lost. Currently, in español are pronounced the same "v" and "b." For this reason, this is one of my great workhorses as a teacher. Unfortunately, everyone often pronounces the word "very" like "beri," which sounds awful. So you have to try to differentiate both sounds ("v" and "b").

The "v" in English is pronounced almost biting the lower lips with the upper incisors. If you can't, try saying "f" first. It's a sound more like "f" than "b." On the other hand, the "b," as you can see if you look at your lips, is pronounced by closing your lips. Phonetic symbol: / v /. My symbol is also [v], but remembering that it is almost an "f."

The letter "j."

The letter "j" appears, for example, in words like jam, jet, John.

It is pronounced almost like a "ch." The phonetic symbol is /ʤ/. I use this symbol: [ch], which, although not exact, is the closest to the real sound. This sound does not present major difficulties, but it is often confused with the next one, the one with the letter "y." Always remember as "ch"; that is, jam [chaem]; jet [chet]; John [chon].

The letter "y" appears, for example, in words like yes; yet; young.

It is pronounced as an "i." The phonetic symbol is: /j/. I use the letter "i" as a symbol: [i]

Among Spanish speakers, there is a tendency to pronounce the "y" as "ch" (like the earlier "j" sound of "jam" or "jet"), which confuses them. Remember: always as "i"; that is, yes [ies]; yet [iet]; young [iang].

The letter "h."

The letter "h" appears, for example, in words like a hat, hot, he.

It is pronounced like an "h" inhaled, just like if you breathe on glass before cleaning it. The phonetic symbol is: /h/. I use the letter "h" as a symbol: [h].

Among Spanish speakers, there is a tendency to mispronounce "h" as "jota" for ham. Always remember as "h" "fogging up a glass"; that is, hat [hat]; hot [ hɒt] [hot]; he [hi].

My advice: You have to spend several days trying to imitate the sounds in the examples.

What to do with all these new sounds?

You have to memorize them. I repeat to be very clear: you have to remember the sounds of English. Why? Because if you read it, you will never make them yours and, therefore, you will continue speaking with an accent that seems more like "Spanish with an English tone" sign that you are speaking Spanish with an English tone) and, worse still, you will not understand what they say to you.

Remember that your visual memory is much more potent than your auditory one, and since you can read, you only remember how words are written. That is knowing how to read in Spanish, but in no case, learning English.

If you do not make an effort to erase the Spanish sound from the words and replace it with the natural sound in English, you will never master the pronunciation or understand well what they say to you.

I don't know if an example will make what I'm saying even more apparent for you. But, for example, I often teach that the word "money" in English is not said [moni] but [mani]. Well, I can correct the pronunciation of this word ten or twenty times to the student, and the next time he will continue saying "moni."

Why? Because he visualizes it in the brain and reads it in Spanish. Therefore, I had to be very drastic and make him repeat the word many more times than, in principle, it seemed necessary.

How are these sounds memorized?

A good way is to take an audio file and the audio transcription, that is, a text in which you can follow the sound and the corresponding written words.

This exercise should not be taken as a hobby but as a job. You put the audio on, and you hear a phrase first, you hit "play" again, and you hear the sound again reading at the same time; then you repeat out loud what they said.

It is about erasing the sound in Spanish that has stayed with you since you learned to read. When you are used to it (after ten or twenty times of hearing a phrase), you stop reading the text and listen. Since it can be tedious, try to find audios on topics that interest you. The goal is to get bored as little as possible and learn simultaneously.

If you can think of another alternative method of memorizing sounds (for example, listening to songs), give it a try, always keeping in mind that it is about "erasing the sounds of Spanish from your head" and "replacing them with the authentic sounds in English."

Other things you should know:

The link of words: When you speak any language, you paste one word with another, turning it into a single sound. The feature is called connected speech, and it has many variations (Ellison, assimilation, Delayed plosion; Catenation; Intrusion).

The faster you speak, the more you will link one word to another. At first, when you haven't mastered the pronunciation yet, you should talk slowly. I repeat: speak slowly.

If you speak fast, you increase the chances that nobody will understand you. So then, little by little, you should start to paste one word with another. Notice in this program how the tutor links and tries to imitate it. Then, find your exchange (or teacher) and ask him specifically if you are doing well.


1) The first step is to learn the phonetic alphabet. To do this, you must listen to all American English sounds, an exceptional tool that teaches you the phonetic alphabet with exercises, on your computer.

Why do you have to learn the phonetic alphabet? No, it is not nonsense, nor a waste of time, as it may seem at first. On the contrary, the phonetic alphabet becomes essential, especially if you intend to learn English on the internet and without the help of a teacher.

Since no word in English is pronounced the same as it is spelled, it is necessary to learn the sound on the one hand, and on the other, how the word is written. This does not happen in Spanish, whose pronunciation rules are always the same, and, consequently, it does not present significant difficulties.

Besides, there are differences regarding the stress patterns that regulate the speech of a native speaker and advanced phenomena known as Isochrony. For example, the English language is called stressed timed language, while Spanish a Syllable timing language.

But in English, the only correct way to transcribe the sound is by employing the "International Phonetic Alphabet" (API). Since the sounds of Spanish are too far from those of English and do not serve as a reference; Especially if you don't have a native by your side to correct your pronunciation.

Whenever you read a word in the dictionary, pay attention to the phonetic transcription next to the word. If you already know the phonetic alphabet, you will have a reasonably close idea of ​​how the word sounds. In wordreference.com, many words have sound and phonetic transcription. Hit "play" until you get tired and simultaneously look at the phonetic transcription.

You can keep practicing the sounds with this table. (British English)

If you are interested in American English, look here. Also, look here. These pages have been recommended by Simonusa, a visitor to the forum. Thanks, Simona!

In this video of British English, they explain the sounds of English very well. It is highly recommended. Thanks, Shakti!

Download this program in its "trial version" to see how correct you are when pronouncing. With this program, you listen to a teacher say phrases or words, and then you record the exact phrase, or word, with your voice. The program will indicate your degree of accuracy with a percentage. For example, you approximate 20-30-60% to native pronunciation (English or American).


Don't be discouraged if you get too close to native pronunciation. Think that when an Anglo speaks Spanish, he says all the words with an accent, but that doesn't mean you don't understand him. The goal is not to speak like a native speaker but to improve your pronunciation to understand when talking perfectly.

I leave here an excellent article (in English) on how to improve your pronunciation. I highly recommend reading it.

Start practicing what you have learned with this video (American English):