English Communication Confidence Blog

English Pronunciation For Native Spanish Speakers

Jun 28, 2022

Are you a native Spanish speaker? Do you have a problem saying the words "you" or "yesterday?"  Pronouncing sounds that don't exist in our native language is tough, but it isn't impossible. It just takes repetition. Here is a lesson I had with one of my native Spanish-speaking students, Betty. Hope it helps with your English pronunciation.


Video Transcript:

Betty: For me, it was easier the y the y. "New York." Y-ork. Yes. Yesterday. Joke. And the other one was a little bit difficult. "The Jill". "John." And one that I'm still struggling with is "January." What is the correct?

Jill: Well, that's interesting.Yeah. So, it sounds to me like you're producing the first sound well, right? So, think about this. Imagine that that "yuh" is right there. January.

Betty: January. January.

Jill: So it's not "Ja-new-ary," it's "jan-yuh." It's not that "yeh," you know the "yes" sound. "Jan-you," like you, me, you, "jan-you."

Betty : Jan-you-ary. January. Jan-you-ary.

Jill: And then here's the long stress syllable. JAN-you-ary.

Betty: JAN-you-ary. JAN-you-ary.

Jill: JAN-you. JAN-you. JAN-you.

Betty: JAN-you. JAN-you-ary.

Jill: And then link it. JAN-you-ary.

Betty: JAN-you-ary.

Jill: Yes.

Betty: JAN-you-ary. JAN-you-ary.

Jill: Yes. Success!

Betty: Okay. Very good. Thank you for the tip on the /y/. Ok. January.

Jill: Good. Awesome. So I heard that immediately, when you said hello to me -- that you've been working on it. So did you then, did you get in front of the mirror and do it every day? Tell me about that part.

Betty: Yes. I did it in front of my screen, on my phone, and it was every day in the morning and afternoons, you know? I also look for more words in the dictionary, starting with those letters. I practiced every day, and probably twice a day.

Jill: How long did you practice when you practiced?

Betty: For a short time, not too long. But, like, three/five minutes.

Jill: You did! Okay. So, because that's a long time. You really only need to do it for a minute, but it's the consistency. So it proves that when you put in the time and the commitment it's just one week and I hear the difference.

Betty: Yes.

Jill: I'm so excited. No I am, because a lot of people don't like to do this, and they don't do it. I make the suggestion and they don't really do it. You did it, it showed up. Let's hear how they sound here, okay?

These are words that maybe you did not practice. Let's start. I like to go down the left column, then we'll go down the right column. Then we'll go left, right, left, right, left, right. And then we'll finish by reading the sentence. So can you go ahead?

Betty: Left column. Jess. Jam. Jet. Juice. Jack. Joke. Gel. Good.

Jill: Stop there. That G is pronounced like "juh," just like as if it were J. It's the same? It's the same pronunciation. It's just a different spelling of the sound. Now, the best one you said was "Jack" and "gel." Okay? So, I need to hear a little bit more of that D so that you bring the sound forward instead of giving me a little bit of a yeah, yeah, yeah. I don't want a mix. I want it really clear, "Jess."

Betty: Jess.

Jill: Yes. Think in the front of the mouth, and let the D explode. Jam.

Betty: Jam. Yes. Jet. Right. Juice. Right. Jack. Right. Joke. And -- Gel. Great.

Jill: Really, really nice. Now let's try this one. Okay? Again, back here. And just so I can tell you, this word here rhymes with juice. So it's use, not use. It's two ways of spelling, two different pronunciations, but you can pronounce it like juice. Let it rhyme with juice use. Okay? You want to say this word for me?

Betty: Use? Yes. Perfect. Use.

Jill: Yeah. And again, it has that Y. It starts with the "you" like Jan-you. Jan-you-ary. Okay? Good. Let's go down this column.

Betty: Yes. Yam. Yet. Use. Yack. Yoke. Yell. Perfect.

Jill: You just need to say here, "use," like "his use of the internet is too much!" Like it's a noun, it's not a verb here. Use. Use? Yeah. Like a C instead of a Z. It's not use-z. It's use.

Betty: Use. There you go. Yep.

Jill: We have the same spelling, if it's a noun or a verb.

Betty: Is it the same sound as the -- "yuh" -- the juice? What's the question? Is it the same position of the tongue -- as the J? As the J? As Jill?

Jill: No, no, no. We're in the other column here. It's like that.

Betty: Use. Use.

Jill: It's the same as this column. Yes. Yam. Yet. And that you pronounced correct ly. I just wanted to tell you that this sound, you probably don't use this word as a noun, but when you do it's "use" and not "use -z."

Betty: Okay. So this is like a noun. It's a noun.

Jill: Okay? Use. Okay. So, now you did a great job. Now we're going to go from the left. Excuse me. To the right, pronouncing. So you can follow my bouncing ball. We're going to go from here to here, to here to here. Let's try it.

Betty: Okay. Jess. Yes. Jam. Yam. That's an M. Yam. Yam. Yam.

Jill: Now, make sure you start back here, y-y-yam. Don't get your teeth involved. Yam.

Betty: Yam. Do it again. Jam. Yam. That was it. Jet. Yet. Good. Juice. Use.

Jill: That's it. Give me more explosion here, J.

Betty: Jack. Yack. Joke. Yoke. Gel. Yes. Yell.

Jill: Good. I have to say, I mean, it really, really sounds good. Now the next step, I would say do this for one more week. I'll send you this as well. You want to be able to go a little quicker, Jess? Yes. Jam? Yam. Jet?

Yet. Juice? Use. Jack? Yack. Joke? Yoke. Gel? Yell. You know, you want to be able to have that ability to go a little faster. I would say that's your challenge for the next week, to go a little faster. Okay. All right?

Now let's try over here. All of these J's are "juh," and all of these Y's are "yuh." Actually there's just that one Y here. So let's try it.

Betty: Julia. Julia yeats. Yeats? Yup. Yeats. Eats? Yeats.

Jill: No, with a Y. Yuh, yeats.

Betty: Yeats. Yeats? Yeats. Julia Yeats will marry -- will marry Judge Jeffreys in June. Yes.

Jill: And I'll send this to you. You want to get that to flow too. Julia Yeats will marry Judge Jeffre ys in June.

Betty: Julia Yeats. Julia Yeats will marry Judge Jeffreys in June. That's it. Getting there.

Jill: Good. And then, you know, the other way to play with it that's fun -- start at the end, add one word at a time. June. In June. Jeffreys in June. Judge Jeffreys in June. Marry Judge Jeffreys in June. Will marry Judge Jeffreys in June. Yeats will marry Judge Jeffreys in June. Julia Yeats will marry Judge Jeffreys in June. It's a nice exercise. Do you want to try it?

Betty: Yeah. Yes.

Jill: So, start here, June.

Betty: June. In June. Jeffreys in June. Judge Jeffreys in June. Good. Marry Judge Jeffreys in June. Will marry Judge, Judge Jeffreys in June. Yeats. Yeats will marry Judge Jeffreys in June. Julia Yeats. Julia Yeats will marry Judge Jeffreys in June. Good.

Jill: The production of the sound itself is good. Now you just want to work on the speed, right? But maintain the correct pronunciation. Okay. Awesome. Congratulations.

Betty: Thank you.

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