Spanish Vowel Pronunciation: My 3 Best Tips!

In this video I share the 3 tips I use to explain Spanish vowel pronunciation.

Follow up comprehension questions:

(1)What are the 5 vowels in Spanish?

(2) What is a tense vowel? Which vowels are tense in Spanish?

(3) What is an example of a vowel sound that we use in English but not in Spanish?

See below for answers.

1. A, E, I, O, U

2. Our muscles are more tense and engaged when we pronounce tense vowels. All vowels in Spanish are tense vowels (A, E, I, O, U).

3. Answers will very. Some include the “A” in “cAt,” the “I” in “kId” or  “fIt,” the “uh” in “bUg” or a relaxed pronunciation of “edUcation.”

I have found that when students are able to answer these questions about Spanish vowel pronunciation, they are able to analyze and self-correct their own pronunciation.

By answering these questions, students demonstrate that they know  which vowels to stick to, which vowel sounds to avoid, and physically how Spanish vowels are pronounced in contrast with the lax vowels in English pronunciation that so often interfere with their Spanish pronunciation.

This tense vs. lax distinction is superior to the “short” versus “long” vowel explanation commonly found in textbooks because it allows students to make a physical connection to the vowel pronunciation (by placing the hand on the cheek to feel the tense cheek muscles.)

Furthermore, vowel length is variable, so the “short” versus “long” distinction can be unclear and cause confusion.

Do you have any other tips you think should be included in Spanish vowel pronunciation instruction?

¿La pereza agudiza el ingenio?: Actividad para practicar el pretérito versus el imperfecto

La pereza 1Under the heading “La pereza agudiza el ingenio” I came across a funny list of interview responses to the following question: 

“20 estudiantes fueron preguntados cuál es la cosa más perezosa que jamás han hecho. Algunas de sus respuestas fueron geniales…”

The answers not only seemed like something my students would get a kick out of, but also many are excellent examples of authentic sentences for practicing preterit vs. imperfect. I adapted 10 of the classroom appropriate responses to a simple grammar activity. I have students work on the activity sheet in pairs. It includes conjugation practice (conjugate verbs to preterit or imperfect to fill in the blanks in the sentences) as well as a conversation and writing prompt. Here you will also find a Powerpoint presentation for going over the activity as a group (or you could do it all together from the start). Download the activity sheet, answer key, and Powerpoint with the links below! Also, I´d love to hear any of your students´ interesting responses to the conversation prompt in a comment!

La Pereza: Hoja de actividades (PDF)

La Pereza: Clave de respuestas (PDF)

La Pereza: Presentación Powerpoint