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?

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Improve Spanish Pronunciation: PTK (Video)

ptk pronunciation image¡PTK! The tip I share in the video below is my favorite pronunciation tip because it was SUCH a “light bulb moment” for me when I finally learned about /ptk/ in my first Spanish linguistics class. The thing is, I had already been learning Spanish for SIX years!

I have to admit, I was a bit frustrated that none of my previous Spanish teachers had taught me this and other pronunciation tips, but it also motivated me to continue studying linguistics! Now I teach my students pronunciation throughout beginning level courses, and I am (slowly…very slowly) making these YouTube videos for students to keep practicing at home.

What are your thoughts on teaching pronunciation? How important is it for Spanish language-learners, and when/how should it be taught? I´d love to read your ideas in the comments!