Pronunciation influenced by native language

Ask specific questions about your target languages. Beginner questions welcome!
Kraut
Orange Belt
Posts: 108
Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2017 10:37 pm
Languages: German (N)
French (C)
English (C)
Spaniish (A2)
x 153

Re: Pronunciation influenced by native language

Postby Kraut » Tue Mar 20, 2018 5:34 pm

Good overview for Spanish pronunciation

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmeHgX5ywLc

EVERYTHING you need to know about Spanish pronunciation || María Español

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppN2lyJunGU

9 palabras que PRONUNCIAS MAL en ESPAÑOL || María Español

Here she has something on "discurso conectado/encadenado"
8 GREAT TECHNIQUES to improve your LISTENING SKILLS IN SPANISH

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1k50fHKors
0 x

User avatar
eido
Orange Belt
Posts: 164
Joined: Tue Jan 30, 2018 8:31 pm
Languages: English (N), Spanish (B1), dabbling in others
x 191

Re: Pronunciation influenced by native language

Postby eido » Tue Mar 20, 2018 7:16 pm

Kraut wrote:Good overview for Spanish pronunciation

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmeHgX5ywLc

EVERYTHING you need to know about Spanish pronunciation || María Español

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppN2lyJunGU

9 palabras que PRONUNCIAS MAL en ESPAÑOL || María Español

Here she has something on "discurso conectado/encadenado"
8 GREAT TECHNIQUES to improve your LISTENING SKILLS IN SPANISH

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1k50fHKors

I watched both of these. I've seen a couple of her videos before. She speaks slowly enough that someone of my level can understand her. I was happy to find I know how to pronounce most of the words she pointed out, I just don't do it right when it comes time to actually speak. It's a weird disparity. I also like the listening and singing songs advice, since that's my favorite thing to do. When I'm home alone I belt out my favorite Disney tunes to practice intonation and the like.
0 x

Cavesa
Black Belt - 2nd Dan
Posts: 2458
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2015 9:46 am
Languages: Czech (N), English (C1), French (C2), Spanish (intermediate), German (somewhere on the path), Italian (beginner)
x 6707

Re: Pronunciation influenced by native language

Postby Cavesa » Sat Mar 24, 2018 3:13 pm

I recommend the good old repeating after audio. Coursebook audio serves, or audiobooks are awesome (the actor is chosen for the job exactly because of the nice way they speak). Later, tv series or other shows serve well. I have never been able to shadow, the inability to focus properly on either me or the audio record stresses me out, but I don't doubt it can be efficient for many people. Simple listening to the sentence, pushing the pause button, repeating as closely as possible, that works fine too and I recommend it.

About tutors: I don't want to reignite to old discussion, despite still not being convinced of their superiority to other tools. But if you want one, make sure they are good. One of the main qualities you need is strictness. I've seen a lot of teachers let mistakes fossilise. Sometimes out of laziness, sometimes out of ignorance, sometimes because of the good intention to give the student more self-confidence. Sometimes because they just think the student is going well enough and a foreigner shouldn't aspire to more.

If you are B1, you can already get the message across and put together a sentence. Now you need strictness. Without that, the tutor is worthless and just a waste of money. Try several people before choosing. Make sure they have experience with intermediate and advanced students. And if they compliment you too much and find suspiciously few problems even after you ask them to be strict (ask them. they are used to students requiring flattery), don't use their services again.

Speech therapists are a good option, but a more expensive one. And I'd recommend them more to advanced learners, to deal with "details". Around B1, we tend to make mistakes that are still typical of language learners, so why not use the cheaper option-language tutors. At the advanced level, it is hard to find a language tutor suitable for the high standard we want to reach, so it is great to widen our options.

About singing, as it was mentioned here. It can be marvelous, or not. It depends on what do you want to sing, on the strictness of your teacher (my Italian and German pronunciation has been improving a lot). But you should always keep on mind the differences between spoken and sung language and the different genres. The French opera uses the "wrong" R, for example, but the Italian doppio consonants are perfectly respected in the works. In German, there is a lot of "overdoing" stuff, which is great for practice, and it has been absolutely enlightening where normal spoken pronunciation guides were not sufficient for me (this is not criticism of those guides, perhaps I just need more obvious explanations). You can also approach singing more like a way to explore various modifications of the sounds you can make, and secondarily draw from those to improve your pronunciation. As you need to adapt the vowels to the technique (and sometimes the consonants too), you learn to work with all your muscles affecting the pronunciation and to get rid of the old habits. I have found this great and am slowly building on it. It helps me get rid of the mistakes related to my native language and my personal habits (for example, I used to have a very tight jaw in all my languages, native or foreign). Pop singing or musicals are much closer to the spoken language, so singing along helps much more directly (but again, choose the artists and songs well).
1 x

User avatar
eido
Orange Belt
Posts: 164
Joined: Tue Jan 30, 2018 8:31 pm
Languages: English (N), Spanish (B1), dabbling in others
x 191

Re: Pronunciation influenced by native language

Postby eido » Sat Mar 24, 2018 3:26 pm

Cavesa wrote:...

About singing, as it was mentioned here. It can be marvelous, or not. It depends on what do you want to sing, on the strictness of your teacher (my Italian and German pronunciation has been improving a lot). But you should always keep on mind the differences between spoken and sung language and the different genres. The French opera uses the "wrong" R, for example, but the Italian doppio consonants are perfectly respected in the works. In German, there is a lot of "overdoing" stuff, which is great for practice, and it has been absolutely enlightening where normal spoken pronunciation guides were not sufficient for me (this is not criticism of those guides, perhaps I just need more obvious explanations). You can also approach singing more like a way to explore various modifications of the sounds you can make, and secondarily draw from those to improve your pronunciation. As you need to adapt the vowels to the technique (and sometimes the consonants too), you learn to work with all your muscles affecting the pronunciation and to get rid of the old habits. I have found this great and am slowly building on it. It helps me get rid of the mistakes related to my native language and my personal habits (for example, I used to have a very tight jaw in all my languages, native or foreign). Pop singing or musicals are much closer to the spoken language, so singing along helps much more directly (but again, choose the artists and songs well).

The thing I have immediately at my disposal is Pimsleur. If I had an audiobook, I'd probably have to cut the audio apart, right?

I've thought about strictness with tutors too. Browsing through the profiles on italki before has made me think they just want the money based on the descriptions they write (i.e. they're not very convincing), but that could be my poor wallet just talking.

I'm just estimating my level. I've taken various tests, but I've rounded it to a B1. I wouldn't be surprised if I performed worse speaking to somebody because I rarely get speaking practice, and I rarely practice the structures I've learnt once I've learnt them. But thanks for the tip.

I did not know that much about singing as it relates to language! I will keep all those things in mind.
0 x

Cavesa
Black Belt - 2nd Dan
Posts: 2458
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2015 9:46 am
Languages: Czech (N), English (C1), French (C2), Spanish (intermediate), German (somewhere on the path), Italian (beginner)
x 6707

Re: Pronunciation influenced by native language

Postby Cavesa » Sat Mar 24, 2018 3:34 pm

eido wrote:The thing I have immediately at my disposal is Pimsleur. If I had an audiobook, I'd probably have to cut the audio apart, right?

I've thought about strictness with tutors too. Browsing through the profiles on italki before has made me think they just want the money based on the descriptions they write (i.e. they're not very convincing), but that could be my poor wallet just talking.

I'm just estimating my level. I've taken various tests, but I've rounded it to a B1. I wouldn't be surprised if I performed worse speaking to somebody because I rarely get speaking practice, and I rarely practice the structures I've learnt once I've learnt them. But thanks for the tip.

I did not know that much about singing as it relates to language! I will keep all those things in mind.


I am not sure Pimsleur is that great, but most people around here have more experience with it than I do. I think any course will do, if you use it enough. The Audio CDs coming with courses are in general a very underestimated tool. I found Assimil to be very useful for this (the German one), but I was not that thrilled about the Spanish version, and it could be a waste of money on your level. When it comes to pronunciation, that is one of the areas I don't recommend Language Transfer for. But perhaps any beginner and intermediate podcasts could do.

Yes, it is a bit sad to see the most promoted qualities of italki teachers being focus on beginners and being supportive and helping to build confidence. That's not just in the videos, it's in the learner reviews too. I would be cautious. But I have tried a few Italki teachers (each once, because I opted for other ways in the end) and one was actually really good and strict even at a higher level. So they are there. I think being honest about your goals and directly asking in the introductory message is a good course of action. Not that anyone would tell you openly "I am not good for you", but you can guess a bit better based on the way they answer and filter some of the more suspicious ones before paying.
1 x

User avatar
PeterMollenburg
Black Belt - 1st Dan
Posts: 1733
Joined: Wed Jul 22, 2015 11:54 am
Location: Australia
Languages: English (N), French (B2-certified), Dutch (High A2?), Spanish (~A1), German (long-forgotten 99%)
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=784
x 3255

Re: Pronunciation influenced by native language

Postby PeterMollenburg » Sun Mar 25, 2018 4:19 am

eido wrote:@rdearman: I've been considering learning the IPA chart for a good month and a half now, but it's a bit overwhelming. I'm trying to figure out how to break it down into smaller, more manageable chunks so I can understand it. The only way I can see understanding it would come from knowing the definitions of the descriptions/adjectives of each sound, and then memorizing the sound. I guess I'd have to go systematically through the chart, maybe starting at the top left and working in a snake formation to the bottom right to absorb all the information. Thank you for trying to help, though. When my brain sees something it can't immediately make at least partial sense of, it gives up. Not a good quality. Especially when everyone says that anyone can do anything if they try hard enough.


Cavesa wrote:I recommend the good old repeating after audio. Coursebook audio serves, or audiobooks are awesome (the actor is chosen for the job exactly because of the nice way they speak). Later, tv series or other shows serve well. I have never been able to shadow, the inability to focus properly on either me or the audio record stresses me out, but I don't doubt it can be efficient for many people. Simple listening to the sentence, pushing the pause button, repeating as closely as possible, that works fine too and I recommend it.


For me this is relatively straightforward, but not necessarily quick. I absolutely agree with Cavesa's comments on course audio. So, when you learn a new sound/phoneme (or are aiming to perfect one), look out for it in course audio and imitate it till the cows come home. At the same time, look up words in a dictionary with IPA transcription and simply associate that sound with the IPA symbol. Sound by sound, phoneme by phoneme you will eventually acquire all the IPA symbols (it's much easier than you think) through association. Learn the sounds, hammer them in your head, learn them in context, repeat the hell out of them with good quality audio (for which courses are great), and in due course, you'll know all the (relevant to Spanish) IPA symbols, be sounding Spanish and well, Bob's your uncle.

There will be more steps though - learning intonation correctly, word stress, how phonemes change in quick succession or when linking into another word. Keep in mind the same phoneme could be represented by different letters or letter combinations. Moreover letters are not always a reliable source of reliable, same pronunciation in different parts of words or followed or preceding different letter combinations. For example a Spanish 'd' at the beginning of a word or sentence/sentence break can sound very different to a Spanish 'd' at the end of a word or sentence/sentence break. That's where IPA is your friend. Don't be overwhelmed. One sound at a time, little by little. Just ensure not to move on too quickly or too slowly. Learn something too fast and apply it sloppily, your Spanish won't sound fantastic, too slow you (arguably) risk fossilising errors.

And back to the topic of which course... I do recommend Pimsleur (I've not used it for Spanish though), as the audio is very clear and very slow (from my experience with French Pimsleur). Still if that irritates you, use something quicker, or something that will speed up after a few lessons, like Assimil. Some even find Assimil too slow, but for your purposes, slowing things down, breaking things down will help. This is what has worked for me, it may not work for others, but it certainly does work for me, and I don't necessarily need Pimsleur either, it's just extra slow, which could prove extra useful.

Take home messages - be analytical: slow things down, break things down, imitate, one small step/sound at a time, don't get sloppy, learn IPA through association.
3 x

Cainntear
Brown Belt
Posts: 1044
Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2015 11:04 am
Location: Scotland
Languages: English(N)
Advanced: French,Spanish, Scottish Gaelic
Intermediate: Italian, Catalan, Corsican
Basic: Welsh
Dabbling: Polish, Russian etc
x 2316
Contact:

Re: Pronunciation influenced by native language

Postby Cainntear » Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:31 am

eido wrote:@rdearman: I've been considering learning the IPA chart for a good month and a half now, but it's a bit overwhelming. I'm trying to figure out how to break it down into smaller, more manageable chunks so I can understand it. The only way I can see understanding it would come from knowing the definitions of the descriptions/adjectives of each sound, and then memorizing the sound.

Exactly, and at the end of the day, the IPA isn't that important because if you can understand the descriptions, that's enough, and it's actually quite easy to find good information on so-called "articulatory phonetics" just by googling "alveolar consonant" or similar.

eido wrote:I knew I was hearing a 'th' sound on some Ds. Some of these are going to be hard to learn even with the example. I didn't even know some of this was going on. :shock: Like having a 'v' sound where there's an 'f' in the spelling. Hmm.

I wouldn't worry about that too much. There is a single "phoneme" (unit of sound, almost like pronunciation's equivalent of a letter, but not quite) marked D in Spanish. English has an "alveolar D" whereas Spanish has a "dental D" -- i.e. your tongue touches your teeth (at the base, so also touching the gum) in Spanish where in English it only touches the roof of your mouth.

Phonemes have things called "allophones" -- i.e. variations in pronunciation that don't vary meaning. If you were to write the sentence
Susie sees the differences in the esses in this sentence. quickly, you would find that there are several slightly different shapes. The first S in sees and in sentence should be near identical, as should all the final ESes. The ones in the middle might vary a bit. This is because your hand is influenced by where it's coming from and where it's going next. However, all these Ses are likely similar enough that you don't even think about which one you're looking at when you read it.

Allophones are the same, and the "th" sound of D (AKA "soft D") is just a minor variation. It doesn't sound like it to the untrained ear. Why? Because in English, D is at the roof of the mouth whereas TH is at the tip of the teeth. Thus to an English ear D and TH are very "distant".
The soft D of Spanish is basically when you go to say D, but your tongue doesn't quite touch the teeth, instead hanging in the air behind them, and the air escapes around the tongue rather than being stopped by it. It's an easy (lazy?) pronunciation -- when you've got a vowel either side of it, it's just much simpler to do it that way. The difference between the hard and soft D sounds is only a millimetre, if that. It's physically negligible.

People who use an English D sound and an English TH sound find accents impossible, because they teach the brain to think of the two Ds as different sounds. Pronouncing a Spanish D correctly, even if you only use the hard D, will make it easier to understand both people who use the soft D and people who don't.
2 x
A year of Tatoeba recordings: 40 / 365 One donated recording every day in 2017.

User avatar
tastyonions
Blue Belt
Posts: 779
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 5:39 pm
Location: Dallas, TX
Languages: EN (N), FR, ES, IT, DE, PT
x 1425

Re: Pronunciation influenced by native language

Postby tastyonions » Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:41 pm

Probably the quickest way for an English speaker to make their D more "Spanish-sounding" is just to use the "soft" D everywhere. Since it's a sound they already use every day.

Good word for practicing those approximant ("soft") allophones: abogado ;)
0 x

Chung
Green Belt
Posts: 307
Joined: Mon Jul 06, 2015 9:39 pm
Languages: SPEAKS: English*, French
STUDIES: German, Italian
MAINTAINS: Finnish
STUDIED: Azeri, BCMS/SC, Czech, Estonian, Hungarian, Korean, Latin, Northern Saami, Polish, Russian, Slovak, Slovenian, Turkish, Ukrainian
DABBLED: Bashkir, Chuvash, Crimean Tatar, Inari Saami, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Latvian, Lithuanian, Meadow Mari, Mongolian, Romanian, Tatar, Turkmen, Tuvan, Uzbek
x 1113

Re: Pronunciation influenced by native language

Postby Chung » Mon Apr 02, 2018 7:53 pm

eido wrote:
tastyonions wrote:You don't have to learn the whole chart. Just learn the sounds relevant for Spanish: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Help:IPA/Spanish

Each sound listed there has a link to a page with a sound file you can play.

Alright.

I knew I was hearing a 'th' sound on some Ds. Some of these are going to be hard to learn even with the example. I didn't even know some of this was going on. :shock: Like having a 'v' sound where there's an 'f' in the spelling. Hmm.

EDIT: I didn't see Chung's post before I posted this.

Chung wrote:A cheaper alternative to the tutor for improving pronunciation is some drilling with FSI Basic Spanish or similar. I haven't studied Spanish but your question reminds me of what I went through with Hungarian many years ago. Before getting "Teach Yourself Hungarian" as the first "real" course, I actually began learning the language by working with these tapes just to get a sense of the prosody and minimize the chance of making egregiously bad connections as a raw beginner between the letters and sounds lest I let things get fossilized to the point where I would be stuck speaking Hungarian (more) fluently with a brutal accent (as opposed to a mild one).

A tutor's advantage for learning pronunciation is definitely the instant feedback, although it might not work as advertised (and you'll be out of pocket for the sessions no matter the result) since it can be hard for the student to imitate the tutor because the student may simply not hear the tutor correctly in the first place. English phonological interference shows up especially strongly in vowels - we use diphthongs and/or reduce and/or (un)stress plain vowels in ways that can be jarring to others.

Ah, FSI. People seem to like it on this forum. I tried it but I didn't really know how to use it. I guess some Googling is in order.
The bolded part is the stuff that intrigues me. There's terms in there I don't know or have never really thought about before. I assume that most people haven't either. I'd like to really study more about it.


I'd say that FSI has its place among some of us (at least the old stuff that's in the public domain), and I think that it's best used to review certain aspects in usage because of how much practice you can get from its drills (or endless/mindless looping of the dialogues for listening practice). I should have added that certain items from DLI (especially the survival kits) seem more suitable for focused practice on training your mouth and ears as the FSI files are best used as supplemental materials for old textbooks meant for class.

When it comes to Spanish, one way to replicate for free what I did with Hungarian as a raw beginner with the cassettes from that Language 30 course is to use one of the DLI's Spanish survival kits - you need Flash in your browser if you play these on screen. You could also download the kits, but then you'd have several hundred small .mp3 files on your hard drive, many of which represent a phrase or word in the survival kit's text. It's a real pain to navigate and use unless you tediously rename all of the files and edit their metadata.

You can choose among kits for Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela with each kit divided again into guides/modules (kind of like phrasebooks) meant for certain (para)military spheres (e.g. police, medical, public affairs) in addition to a guide called "Basic Language Guide". If I were you, I'd start with the module "Basic Language Guide" (e.g. here's the "Basic Language Guide" for Colombian Spanish) and work with the sub-units Commands, Warnings & Instructions, Helpful Words, Phrases and Questions, Greetings and Introductions, and Interrogation. The remaining sub-units consist of specific vocabulary and tons of recordings of individual words which I suspect is less interesting to you than working with recordings of entire phrases or sentences. Anyway, pronouncing/hearing a word in isolation is different from pronouncing/hearing a series of words as in a phrase or sentence. Like what I did with Hungarian, you'd basically listen/read and repeat the Spanish to work on your pronunciation and listening as well as see the link between writing and sound. If I were learning Spanish and wanted to give to myself the best and cheapest possible way to reduce my accent without fear of embarrassment in front of a native speaker, I'd try this out. It'd be a little like using a Pimsleur course with a military bent but won't cost you a penny.

You could similarly use one of the DLI's Headstart courses for Latin America (in reality, it's focused on Panama), Puerto Rico or Spain. These were designed as crash courses for (para)military personnel or their dependents to learn just enough of the local language for survival purposes including reading signs. There's little in explicit instruction for grammar, but much more in listening and repeating, as well as exercises in short translation from English to Spanish. This could be helpful if you want something that falls between a language survival kit with its emphasis on memorizing phrases and words and a full-on kit for a Basic course issued for a class. The only drawback that I see is that each .mp3 file in a Headstart course is about 20 or 30 minutes long, and corresponds to one unit (or half of a unit). This isn't ideal if you want to repeat a certain exercise or jump to some section in the middle of a unit, and you'd need to edit the files with Audacity or similar into more useful/manageable tracks.

I hope that this clarifies what I meant by trying out FSI (or rather DLI) to work on your pronunciation.

---

It's hard to describe concisely how we native speakers of English pronounce words compared to speakers of other languages (it also doesn't help that my knowledge of Spanish is next to zero). For a bit of sense of what I mean about how our native pronunciation of vowels and diphthongs come off to others, check out the following:

- The differences between English and Spanish - especially the subsection on phonology.
- How do English accents sound to Spanish people?
- What do English speakers sound like when they speak Spanish?
- What does the English accent sound like to Spanish speakers?
- 5 Ways to Lose the Gringo Accent in Spanish
- 5 Sounds That Are Making Your Spanish Pronunciation Sound Super Gringo
4 x

User avatar
eido
Orange Belt
Posts: 164
Joined: Tue Jan 30, 2018 8:31 pm
Languages: English (N), Spanish (B1), dabbling in others
x 191

Re: Pronunciation influenced by native language

Postby eido » Tue Apr 03, 2018 2:12 am

Chung wrote:I'd say that FSI has its place among some of us (at least the old stuff that's in the public domain), and I think that it's best used to review certain aspects in usage because of how much practice you can get from its drills (or endless/mindless looping of the dialogues for listening practice). I should have added that certain items from DLI (especially the survival kits) seem more suitable for focused practice on training your mouth and ears as the FSI files are best used as supplemental materials for old textbooks meant for class.

...

OMG, thanks for the links. I've been searching for DLI stuff but I haven't been able to find the right ones. I will try to follow your instructions.

I guess how to use these resources should be common sense but I just don't believe in that, apparently. Thank you for the elucidation, though. I mean it. It pounded some of it into my thick head.

I will read through the links thoroughly. I've read through a couple and I've noticed I struggle with some of the common problems, like not making vowels sound "pure". "Pocouu" instead of "pocoo" and all that. I've always wondered why in English we pronounce Os like they have a U at the end. Hmm.
2 x


Return to “Practical Questions and Advice”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest