Monthly Archives: November 2018

4 tips to improve pronunciation

Compared to Spanish and many other languages, English grammar and vocabulary are both fairly easy to learn, as words tend to be shorter and there are much fewer conjugations to learn mainly because we use auxiliaries instead, although it’s true we have lots of exceptions to almost every rule in English, which can at times make things slightly more complicated.

While it is possible to learn vocabulary and grammar from books, apps and other online sources, that cannot usually help much with pronunciation, which bring us to a question that we commonly hear at our academies in La Elipa and García Noblejas: is it possible to learn perfect pronunciation in another language?

While the answer, in theory, for most people is ‘yes’, it is certainly not easy for anybody. Here are a few tips which should certainly help to improve your pronunciation:

1. Listen to podcasts, radio, etc:

While doing the housework, driving, or in the shower, listen to podcasts or radio programmes. Even if you don’t understand everything, you’ll still be picking up the rhythms and intonations, and you may hear a certain word pronounced differently to the way you have been pronouncing that particular word. As you listen, try repeating what you hear with the same rhythm and intonation as the speaker.

2. Watch videos in slow motion:

One good feature of youtube and other similar websites is that you can reduce the play speed, and as you listen you can watch what people’s mouths are doing. This may sound like a strange thing to do but it is especially good for learning to pronounce sounds that may not exist in your native language, such as the V and R sounds in the case of Spanish speakers, and watching the different movements of people’s mouths as they speak.

3. Listen, repeat, record:

Listen to the way a word or sentence is said, try repeating it to yourself a few times and then record yourself saying it a few times. Listen to the recording and ask yourself how exactly your pronunciation sounds different to that of the native speaker and try to correct that difference (don’t worry, everybody hates hearing their own voice recorded!)

4. Classes:

While all of these methods are effective, unless you have a native English teacher, or teacher of whichever language you’re learning, there to guide you, you can never really tell how well you are progressing with your pronunciation and other aspects of the language. A native English teacher with a high level of experience will be able to immediately pick up on very subtle mistakes and will no-doubt have many techniques to help you improve your pronunciation and to sound more natural when you speak.

This was just a short list of techniques tries and tested by us at the lanaguage corner. If you would like to know more about improving your pronunciation or general level of English, feel free to pop into one of our academies in Madrid (La Elipa near Ventas and Gandhi in García Noblejas) and ask about trying some classes with us.

Good luck and we hope to see you soon!

More than just English

Parlez-vous français?

Yes. Exactly that. Do you speak French? Would you like to practise? Or perhaps you don’t speak any French but you would love to learn?

Then you’ll be happy to know that at The Language Corner we also teach French (and German!) in our centres at La Elipa and La Almudena.

And if you’d like to practise or just talk for a while in French in Madrid, we’d like to invite you to a conversation class in French at Mercado Torrijos in Goya. It’s only €10 per person and comes with a complimentary serving of cheese and two glasses of wine. Come by and have a chat with our native teachers while having a good time.

These conversation classes are on Wednesdays from 20:30 to 21:30 or Fridays from 19:30 to 20:30 at General Diaz Portier, 8. It’s a great opportunity for meeting people and talking with native French speakers, about cheese or anything else really.

Keep in mind that there are limited places, so please remember to book in advance. See you there!

Improving your pronunciation in English

Pronunciation of the R sound in English.

When learning a new language we all want to be able to find an equivalent to each word, sound, etc in our own native language because that is what we have learned to work with. While the grammar in English isn’t particularly difficult to learn, pronunciation does seem to be quite difficult for Spanish speakers to grasp, which is something that we have seen quite often in our English classes. The R sound can be seen as especially difficult to Spanish speakers because they want to find an equivalent, but in reality isn’t so difficult when you realise that there is no equivalent sound in Spanish.

While there is no real way of leaning pronunciation from book or video as there is nobody there to tell you whether or not you are pronouncing that specific sound correctly, it can be said that the R sound in English is pronounced by placing the back or the lower lip against the front of the two top front teeth (the same position as when pronouncing an F, which is the ame sound in both languages) and by leaving tongue down, not raising it as if to pronounce R in Spanish.

One also has to remember that the R sound in most of the UK is usually omitted at the end of a syllable and only pronounced at beginning of word or syllable, or between two vowels even if at end of word.

For example:

Red     /rɛd/

Rabbit     /ˈrabɪt/

Door     /dɔː/  (no R sound)

Car     /kɑː/  (no R sound)

Germany     /ˈdʒəːməni/  (no R sound)

Working     /ˈwəːkɪŋ/  (no R sound)

Carrot     /ˈkarət/

Direct     /dʌɪˈrɛkt/  or  /dɪˈrɛkt/

(Leave the) door open     /dɔːrˈəʊp(ə)n/

(The) car is (expensive)     /kɑ’rɪz/

In America and most of Ireland and Northern Ireland, however, the R always pronounced hard no matter the position within each word. In Scotland it is usually pronounced very similarly to the single Spanish R, but varies slightly between different regions.

As mentioned earlier, pronunciation is best learned in person, so if you are looking for feedback on your pronunciation or want to know more about how you can improve your pronunciation, you can get in touch with us for information about our English classes in Madrid with one of our many native teachers in La Elipa and La Almudena, in the Ventas and García Noblejas areas of Madrid.

Good luck and we hope to see you soon!