4 Capítulo 1: Sección 3: La pronunciación y el alfabeto

Section Goal

In this section, students will learn how to spell out words.

Foam letters and numbers meant for children to play with in the bathtub.
“Alphabet Soup” by Roger Smith is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
Pronunciation is the foundation of spoken language. Mastering pronunciation is essential to building confidence in oral communication. It is very important to practice and master each of the sounds and master their uses. If you cannot pronounce the words correctly, you will not be correctly understood. If you can pronounce the words correctly, you will be able to.

In English, many letters represent several sounds. Sometimes this depends on regional dialects. Sometimes it depends on the other letters in the word. Vowels, for example, may have up to five sounds. In general, this is not the case in Spanish.

In Spanish, phonetics (sounds) are much simpler. There are five vowels: a e i o u (like English, sometimes y). Each vowel has only one sound associated with it. Sometimes vowels have a written accent above them (á é í ó ú). The written accent does not change the world.

The key to your Spanish pronunciation and comprehension is mastery of the vowels. There is only one way to pronounce each of these letters. The name of the vowel is pronounced the same and written the same as the vowel itself.

Observamos

Vocales (A-E-I-O-U)

Vowel

Name of vowel and sound

a

a (ah) as the “a” in father

e

e (eh) as the “ay” in say

i

i (ee) as the “e” in me

o

o (oh) as the “oa” in oak

u

u (oo) as the “ue” in Sue

¿Cómo se pronuncian las vocales en español? Here’s a TikTok video with very useful pronunciation tips.

Isolating the vowel sounds in a phrase is very helpful to practice pronunciation.

But vowel sounds alone can also carry a lot of meaning in Spanish. Associate each of the sounds below with the meaning you think they convey:

Cartoon image of red lips and how they look when pronouncing each of the vowels


This TikTok video may help to see (and hear) how this would work in practice:

 

Are vowel sounds similar in the language(s) you speak?

Can you use vowel sounds to convey these or other meanings in other languages?

¿Tienes cuenta de TikTok? ¿Sigues cuentas de TikTok para aprender idiomas?[1]

El alfabeto

The Spanish alphabet is based on the Latin and, as such, is very similar to the English one. However, there are a few notable differences in the presence of some additional letters. Watch the video above about the Spanish alphabet and then repeat the letters.

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A, a

a

B, b

be

C, c

ce

Ch, chê

che

D, d

de

E, e

e

F, f

efe

G, g

ge

H, h

hache

I, i

i

J, j

jota

K, k

ka

L, l

ele

Ll, llê

elle

M, m

eme

N, n

ene

Ñ, ñ

eñe

O, o

o

P, p

pe

Q, q

cu

R, r

ere

Rr, rrêê

erre

S, s

ese

T, t

te

U, u

u

V, v

ve

W, w

doble ve

X, x

equis

Y, y

I griega

Z, z

Variaciones

As with any language, regional variations exist within the Spanish language:

  • Some countries call the letter V “uve” instead of “ve”
  • W can be “ve doble,” “doble ve,” “uve doble,” or “doble uve.”
  • Some countries call the double R “erre” and others call it “doble ere.”
  • In some countries, the letter Y is called “ye” instead of “i griega.”
  • The Y and LL are pronounced like a “shuh” in Argentina and Uruguay.
  • In Spain, the letters Z and “ce” and “ci” make a “thuh” sound instead of the “S” sound.
  • For the letter X, there are a few words that make a “huh” sound instead of the KS. They are older words (usually names), like México and Don Quixote.

ALGUNAS FRASES ÚTILES:

¿Cómo se escribe . . . ? – How is . . . spelled?

Se escribe . . . – It’s spelled . . .

¿Qué quiere decir . . . ? – What does . . . mean?

Quiere decir . . . – It means . . .

Actividad 13. Descubrir

Instructions: Read the following examples to figure out what the questions and answers mean.

Profesora

Estudiante

¿Cómo se escribe tu nombre?

Se escribe M – A – T – E – O

¿Cómo se escribe el nombre de tu mejor amigo? (your best friend)

Se escribe R – O – B – E – R – T – O

¿Cómo se escribe el nombre de tu madre?

Se escribe M – A – R – Í – A

Actividad 14. ¿Cómo se escribe?

Instructions: Practice out loud with three classmates using the following questions. Use the listening and the video as examples of how to do the activity.

  1. ¿Cómo se escribe tu nombre?
  2. ¿Cómo se escribe el nombre de la universidad?
  3. ¿Cómo se escribe el nombre de tu madre?
  4. ¿Cómo se escribe el nombre de tu padre?
  5. ¿Cómo se escribe el nombre de tu mejor amigo?
  6. ¿Cómo se escribe tu correo electrónico (email)?

In Spanish the @ symbol is called “arroba”, and the dot is called “punto”.

Actividad 15. Dictado

Write down 5 random words.

Spell the words as a dictation for a classmate to write down.

Now switch roles.

¡A ver! y ¡A hablar!

Actividad 16. Hablando

You will practice your speaking skills and your ability to introduce yourself to others in Spanish through a video presentation. You will practice your listening skills by watching a Spanish instructor introduce herself and then by watching and responding to the introductions of two peers.

Task: This activity has three parts:

  1. An observation of the activity modeled by a Spanish instructor
  2. A video recording introducing yourself to your peers
  3. A final video response to two peers’ video posts

Paso 1. Watch a Spanish instructor introduce herself and spell her name. She will then ask you five questions: ¿Cómo te llamas? ¿Cómo se escribe tu nombre? ¿De dónde eres? ¿Cuántos años tienes? ¿Cuántas clases tienes?

Paso 2. Use a computer or a smartphone to record a short video in which you introduce yourself in Spanish. You will introduce yourself by answering in Spanish the five questions the Spanish instructor asked you in the video prompt.

Paso 3. Watch the video introductions of two of your peers. Respond with a video comment in Spanish that includes the following: (1) An appropriate greeting for the time of day, (2) a brief self-introduction (your name), and (3) a “nice to meet you” comment.

Criteria: The components of this activity add up to 100%.

Paso 1 & 2. 50% of the grade is earned in this portion of the activity. Watch the video example of a Spanish instructor introducing herself and asking you questions about yourself. Record your own video introducing yourself in Spanish by answering her five questions in a single video file (if you make mistakes, it is okay and expected; start over from the beginning of the sentence and keep recording). Each response in the video is worth 10%.

Paso 3. 50% of the grade is earned in this portion of the activity. Choose two peers and watch their introductions. After watching your peers’ introductions, record and upload a video in Spanish in which you (1) greet your peer, (2) tell your peer your name, and (3) tell your peer “nice to meet you” (if you make mistakes, it is okay and expected; start over from the beginning of the sentence and keep recording). Each video response to your peers is worth 25%.

Ejemplo:

Taylor watches the video of the Spanish instructor introducing herself and spelling her name. He records a single video in which he answers the five questions the Spanish instructor asked. Even though he made a few mistakes, he earned 50% of the points for this activity by successfully finishing and posting his original video on time. Taylor watches the introductions of two peers in his class. He can’t understand one of them at all, so he sends his instructor an email to let them know. He then finds a different peer on the discussion board and watches their introduction. Taylor records a unique video response to each of his two peers in which he uses Spanish to greet them by name and introduce himself; he says “mucho gusto” and “encantado,” respectively, to close out the conversation. Taylor earns 25% for each polite video response to his peers because he answers on time and includes a greeting, self-introduction, and a “nice to meet you” in Spanish.

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Libro Libre: An Introduction to Spanish I and II Copyright © 2022 by LOUIS: The Louisiana Library Network is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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