This is a simple technique I developed on my own as part of the Telenovela Method years ago and I’ve just never gotten around to writing about it because it never occurred to me how much trouble most people have learning Spanish pronunciation (note: this actually works on any foreign language). This is a simple, obvious (once you understand it) technique that’s very easy to learn and, in my experience, will let you pronounce anything (I’ve used it successfully with Spanish, German, and Russian so far). Let’s get started and learn how to pronounce Spanish words. I did a quick video demo for you that I’ve included at the bottom.
What to Do
In summary: Break the word or phrase down into the smallest possible pieces, master each one individually, then slowly start connecting them into progressively larger chunks, finally speeding everything up.
- Start at the beginning of the word and master just the first syllable. Let’s use the word “aeropuerto” as an example. Click the link to hear native speakers pronounce it on Forvo. This is a word I had trouble with years ago when I was first learning Spanish and it was actually several months before I could pronounce it properly. First, just learn to say the initial “ae” sound correctly, it just sounds like the English word “eye”.
- Next: “ro”. Don’t stick the two together yet, go slow…piece by piece. “Ro, ro, ro…ae, ae, ae…ro, ro, ro…ae…ro…ae…ro, ae-ro, ae-ro, aero, aero, aero”.
- Now let’s do “pue”, it’s like “p-weh”. Just say “Pue” several times until you’re pronouncing that one particular syllable just like the native speaker.
- Let’s go back and review. Say “ae-ro” again a few times, slowly speeding up to “aero” until you’re saying it just like the native speaker and just as quickly.
- Let’s do “erto” now. It’s just “air-tow” with a rolled “r”. Say: “er, er, er, er-to, er-to, erto, erto, erto”.
- Let’s make bigger chunks by putting them together. How about “puerto”? Say: “Pue…pue…pue…erto…erto…erto…pue-rto…pue-erto…puerto…puerto…puerto”, starting slowly and then speeding up.
- Let’s slowly put them all together to form the whole word we want to say: “Ae…ro…ae…ro…ae-ro…ae-ro…aero…aero…pue…erto…pue…erto…pue-erto…puerto…puerto…aero…puerto…aero…puerto…aero-puerto…aero-puerto…aero-puerto…aeropuerto…aeropuerto…aeropuerto…aeropuerto…aeropuerto, aeropuerto, aeropuerto, aeropuerto, aeropuerto”.
That’s how you do it. The above looks tedious and it probably took you several minutes to go through all of that, doing it yourself, but that’s because you were learning how to do it and simultaneously trying to do my example of it at the same time. When you’re doing this yourself it’ll usually take something more like 15-30 seconds for a word and a couple of minutes for a whole phrase or short sentence. Here’s a video demonstration of me doing it (takes about 4 minutes but keep in mind I’m going very slowly and explaining what I’m doing along the way):
It’s really very simple: just break it down into the smallest possible pieces, master each one individually, then slowly start putting them together and speeding up. That’s it.
How to learn conversational Spanish with perfect pronunciation
If you’re particularly interested in learning spoken, everyday Spanish, with a focus on pronunciation, I strongly recommend you check out “the mimic method”, it’s detailed here on the guy’s site. I’ve tried the Spanish version myself and thought it was excellent (I’m thinking about doing the Russian one now). The inventor, Idahosa Ness, has learned five languages this way and is frequently mistaken for a native speaker. If you’re into music you’ll really like it because he tells you how to incorporate that and he himself initially learned languages by singing them.
I learned to speak conversational Spanish in six months using TV shows, movies, and even comics: I then wrote a book on how you can, too
I have a whole method and a book I wrote about it called The Telenovela Method where I teach you how to learn Spanish from popular media like TV shows, movies, music, books, etc. that you can all find online for free. It was the #1 new release in the Spanish Language Instruction section on Amazon for nearly a month after it came out and currently has 17 reviews there with a 4.9/5 stars average. It's available for $7.99-$9.99 for the e-book version depending on who you buy it from (Kindle version on Amazon is now $7.99) and $16.99 for the paperback (occasionally a bit cheaper, again, depending on who you buy it from).
It's currently available in both e-book and paperback from: