Frequently Asked Questions

Here you can solve your doubts about the web and about how to work at phonetic transcriber is immensely useful

Doubts about our beliefs and methodology:

Because there are 5 false myths about the Spanish language:

  • FM1: Pronunciation = R - J - C/Z - LL    

It is very likely that in the Spanish courses you have taken you have never been taught anything about pronunciation, not even in conversation classes, right? If you know anything about pronunciation, it is only about sounds.Isn't that right? The few textbooks about Spanish phonetics, or YouTube videos, are totally oriented to improve the sounds. But there are other elements that are MUCH MORE important to understand and to be understood. For example, my friend from Chile and I speak Spanish, and the pronunciation of s and z differentiates us WHEN WE SPEAK, but our melody and rhythm are EVEN MORE different.    

  • FM2: Listening for a long time helps you improve.

My teacher is a native speaker, I listen to podcasts every day, I watch series, I read aloud... And I have an accent when I speak! Most of my students tell me this... Of course! When you are listening you pay attention to what is said, but you pay no regard to how it is said. And whenever you read without paying attention to how you say it, you use the pronunciation of your native language. Listening or reading more is not the key, you have to know what to listen to and how to read in order to improve

 

  • FM 3: You speak too fast, that's why I don't understand you.

When you are in class you understand your teacher. Then you go out or visit a Hispanic country and you barely understand a thing. And the reason is: "Because you speak too fast!" I have been there, that's what I thought the first time I visited Ireland... We speak fast, it's true, but most of the time you don't understand because you don't know the pronunciation rules that are present when speaking. You know well how we write but not how we speak. This has to do with the following false myth. 

  • FM4: Spanish is spoken as it is written 

Big no-no! Spanish is NOT spoken as it is written.  

Firstly, because a language is more than sounds (there is melody, there is rhythm, there are emotions... and all that cannot be written); and, secondly, because in Spanish some letters have more than one sound depending on the context. Because of this belief, many teachers don't know how to correct you or they tell you that, of course, since you don't get the "R" you have an accent... Has something similar happened to you? The truth is that they only detect the foreign accent but not what is wrong. 

 

  • FM5: Spanish Pronunciation is easy 

Why don't my teachers teach pronunciation? 

Because everyone thinks it's easy! 

Its absence in the classes is the tip of the iceberg, but what you don't see is that there are Spanish teacher training courses that do not include pronunciation, and that, in addition, there is a prejudice among Spanish speakers themselves.

Therefore, if teachers don't learn it, they can't teach it! And since they don't learn it, they keep thinking that it is not important. 

I work daily with ELE students of many different nationalities who have serious problems with Spanish pronunciation. You see, it is not easy. They think that because it has fewer vowel sounds than English, it is easier. Then, people think that LESS quantity means EASIER. BUT THIS IS NOT THE CASE..

English speakers, for example, have a lot of trouble pronouncing Spanish vowels correctly, even though there are more in their language. Bottom line, Spanish has different elements from those of your mother tongue that you must know in order to understand and produce correctly.

 

So, we have 5 New Beliefs for you, please share them with everyone 🙂 

NB 1. Pronunciation = much more than sounds

NB 2. Listening to pronunciation helps you improve

NB 3. I don't know the pronunciation, that's why I don't understand you..

NB 4. Spanish is NOT spoken as it is written 

NB 5.  Spanish pronunciation is VERY IMPORTANT.

As I told you in the previous question, pronunciation is key to better understanding and speaking. I have experienced this myself with the languages I have learned and I see it every day in my students. 

But how? 

You have to learn to listen to the key elements of pronunciation in isolation and integrated into speech, i.e. at the same time. This is the only way to better understand the message. And only when you listen to these key elements of pronunciation you can produce them well..

Because when we learn a new language, we are deaf to the new pronunciation.We pass through the filter of our mother tongue all the sounds and music/melody that we hear, therefore, we end up not understanding correctly what we hear. This is the basis of the Verbo-tonal Method, a method of teaching pronunciation that I invite you to know (link https://www.verbotonal.org/sistema-verbotonal/metodo-verbotonal/ )

Surely it has also happened to you that you have listened for years to podcasts, series, the news... and yet you still have a strong accent when speaking Spanish. It's absolutely normal, you don't have any serious problem... What happens is that at the age of 7 or so your ear stop picking up new sounds and melodies as easily as before. And no matter how much you listen, it is very difficult for you to grasp what you need to reproduce the message well without the influence of your mother tongue. 

So, is there a solution? Yes, people like Alberto and me, who do not have an amazing ear (most of us, by the way) need to stimulate the brain, not the ear. You must stop listening repeatedly, it makes no sense at all. That might help you improve other skills, but not pronunciation.

Traditionally, what is done is to stimulate the ear by listening to Spanish repeatedly, daily. But by doing that you engage the ear, and therefore you continue to keep on pronouncing with a foreign accent. 

When you stimulate the brain you pay attention to how the message is said. Instead of spending 30 minutes listening to a podcast, you spend 3 minutes focusing on pronunciation key elements, just pronunciation, ignoring the meaning. This exercise should be done several days in a row so that the brain can detect the new pronunciation and change habits when listening and, subsequently, when producing. 

It is very important to stop thinking that pronunciation means sounds. There is a super important part called PROSODY, which is key to successful communication. 

Prosody includes intonation and rhythm. We can say that it is what surrounds the sounds, the melody of speech. It is something abstract that you need to learn to listen to because it contains much of the meaning of the message and, of course, it is responsible for the foreign accent. At Spanish Pronunciation Academy we know how important it is for communication and we help you understand it and produce it successfully. 

To begin with, and as we have said, by learning pronunciation, you learn to notice how we speak and, with practice, you get to know what you have to do to be able to imitate successfully. What happens is that instead of "listen and repeat", you listen, understand the pronunciation, and repeat successfully. 

In addition, you learn to detect how native speakers sound and how you sound, therefore it is easier to correct and imitate.  

We know from experience that learning a language is like a roller coaster, and so is pronunciation! But the ability to recognize and produce in a controlled manner is not lost. With the integrated pronunciation method Spanish Pronunciation Academy you gain a skill for life.

There is no point in knowing pronunciation if you have to think about it all the time. It's not enough to know the rules and practice a day or two. You have to integrate it into your Spanish.

With our method, you will do an intensive initial practice in order to change your listening habits and be able to perfectly recognize the pronunciation element. Afterwards, you will do quality listening practice because you will focus on the pronunciation. The goal is to create a habit using a few minutes a day. By paying attention to pronunciation you will be able to listen to what we do and what you do. Then, you will repeat better and by repeating better in your practice, you will sound more natural, i.e. you will speak with a lighter foreign accent. 

 

pronunciation-integrated-english-1

 

 

There are several key elements that are unique to Spanish and different in most languages: intonation, rhythm, some occlusive phonemes, approximant phonemes, vibrant phonemes such as the R's, velars such as the "j", palatal phonemes such as the "ll", vowels... Most people learning Spanish have problems with these elements because they are unique to Spanish. They are key because they help you understand better and reduce your accent. 

So, regardless of what your native language is, you will have problems with all or almost all these key elements. 

Any. It is true that after the first 7 years of childhood the brain does not pick up new sounds and melodies as easily as before, but the power of motivation and perseverance is brutal. 50% of my students are over 50 years old and the results are totally satisfying. Older people tend to have more free time and are more consistent.

At the beginning, learning pronunciation requires exclusive, intensive practice and high levels of concentration to grasp what is new. However, afterwards much of the practice can be done while walking the dog, driving, reading a book or listening to the news. 

Yes, it can be done, but it is not an easy goal to achieve.

At Spanish Pronunciation Academy we think that it is not desirable to speak like a native, but to speak with confidence, enjoying ourselves, clearly, so that native speakers do not have to make an effort to understand us. 

What you can definitely achieve is to reduce your foreign accent, to sound more natural and gain confidence when speaking. The people around you will notice the difference and native speakers will understand you more easily and will prefer to speak Spanish with you. 

Generally, a minimum of 5 pronunciation elements to be corrected or improved are detected in the Diagnosis. To be able to control all these elements 100% of the time in spontaneous speech is not easy, so we advise you to focus on the previous paragraph. 

A Diagnosis of your Spanish pronunciation. You will know what your strengths and weaknesses are when conversing, not only the sounds, but also the melody and rhythm. 

A customized action plan. Which elements of pronunciation are essential to work on first, and which later, and the time needed.

Pronunciation-Springboard. Understand twice as much RIR Spanish. Improve the level of your Spanish. Enjoy learning and practicing Spanish much more. 

Less "what?" from natives. Native speakers understand you without so much effort and no longer want to speak English with you. 

More Spanish practice. As you feel more confident, you enjoy speaking Spanish more and, therefore, you practice more. 

Less weight. Overcome a frustration that has been dragging on for years. 

In short, to know what to do to be able to converse comfortably in conversations with native speakers, and to take the leap you need to take your Spanish to the next level.

When you purchase classes at SPA, you receive an email to access our Slack community. There you can ask any questions to our community, and to Alexandra directly. You can also use our free Phonetic transcriberin which you can see a text marked with key elements such as links, syllables and tonic syllables, approximant phonemes and sonorization. If your question is still unresolved, you can write an email to Alexandra. 

Of course. At Spanish Pronunciation Academy we teach all the elements of Spanish pronunciation: prosody and sounds. 

The vast majority of people succeed. Alexandra has been teaching speakers of different languages for more than 6 years how to vibrate the tongue more and less intensely in order to produce the two Spanish R's. In addition, she knows perfectly well the activities and exercises to fine-tune the muscles involved in the pronunciation of this sound, so she will help you in an effective way. 

However, we must not forget that there are other factors that influence success: language movement problems, psychological barriers, lack of practice, lack of continuity, motivation, etc., which must also be taken into account.

 

This, as you can imagine, depends a lot on your involvement and the time you can dedicate to pronunciation. 

Something we have observed over the years is that, on average, and practicing every day, it takes a week to pick up a new element, another week to be able to produce it successfully, and two or three more weeks to reach spontaneous speech. Depending on the elements you need to improve, you can calculate the time you will need.

Attention, the time you can spend practicing has a drastic influence. 

At the beginning, we recommend two classes a week, progressively reducing to one a week, one every two weeks... It depends on how you work and evolve, how you feel and your autonomy in practice.

As for practicing outside of class, it is recommended that you find a space of 10-15 minutes a day. Think that the most complicated thing is not to produce the new element of pronunciation in isolation, but to integrate it into your Spanish and stop doing what you have been doing for some time, that is, to change your habits. 

Questions about services:

At Spanish Pronunciation Academy we offer pronunciation classes to help you sound more natural, gain fluency and better understand the fast, informal and relaxed Spanish that native speakers use in our conversations. 

The first thing to do is to book your Diagnosis and then, if Alexandra can help you and we agree, buy packages of 2 or 4 classes, depending on your preference or what you have agreed with Alexandra. 

In addition, you have at your disposal, free of charge, the only transcriber in the world that transcribes the rhythm (unions, syllables and tonic syllables), as well as some key sounds of Spanish. 

No. Book a Pronunciation Diagnostic first so Alexandra can listen to you and find out if she can help you, or not, and what is the best possible way.

When you purchase your first package of pronunciation classes at Spanish Pronunciation Academy, you will receive an email to register and become part of our Slack Community.

From there you will communicate with Alexandra.

In addition, you will find and be able to chat with people who, like you, love Spanish and want to improve their pronunciation to reduce their accent and sound as natural as possible. There is a space to ask questions that we solve together, another one for suggestions and ideas to practice and keep improving. 

Questions about classes and payments:

You can pay with your credit/debit card.

You can pay with Paypal.

Buying from Spanish Pronunciation Academy is totally secure. 

This website uses SSL (Secure Socket Layer) protocol and all payment management is handled by Stripe and Paypal, widely recognized platforms, so your payments are totally secure.

If you need an invoice, you should write to info@spanishpronunciation.academy and request one. Make sure you have indicated your VAT number and tax address when making the purchase. 

You can pay with any currency. Prices are in euros, but when you pay, the exchange is done automatically.

Of course. Once you get to the online calendar, choose your time zone and book according to your availability. It's that easy. 

First, purchase your Diagnosis or classes on the page "Buy your Pronunciation Lessons".

Automatically, if this is your first time registering, you will receive an email "Your Spanish Pronunciation Online Academy account has been created!". From there, you have two links to create your SPA account and to set your password. 

You will also receive another email "Your Spanish Pronunciation Online Academy order is now complete" with a summary of your purchase. 

Once you are logged into your SPA user account, you can click on the button to book your classes, which will take you to our online calendar. 

There, choose your time zone and the day and time that best suits you, and when you book it, you will automatically receive an e-mail with the reservation data, the Zoom link and the necessary information to reschedule or cancel it. 

We recommend that you book the number of classes you have purchased at the same time, and then reschedule them if you have any unforeseen circumstances from the confirmation emails you receive after booking.

Please do not delete class reservation confirmation emails until you have finished your class. This way you can know which classes you have pending, and cancel or reschedule them if something comes up. 

Of course, as long as you do so at least 48 hours before the class. If you do not cancel your class 48 hours before, unfortunately, you will lose it. 

If you need to change your class to another day, open your confirmation email, at the bottom you can see two buttons:

RESCHEDULE. It takes you to a page where you can book the class for another day/time. 

CANCEL. Cancel your class. 

We strongly suggest that you reschedule your class to another day. 

Yes, you can. Notice and you do 

Yes, from the moment of purchase, you have 6 months to schedule your classes. If you still need more time, you have to write to Alexandra (info@spanishpronunciation.academy) and ask her to extend the package up to 3 more months.

If after those 3 months (9 in total) you do not reserve your classes, you will lose them.

When you book a class, you receive a confirmation email immediately, and two reminder emails, one 24 hours before, and one 2 hours before. In those emails you will receive a Zoom link that takes you to the online class. You must log in at the time of the class and wait for Alexandra to let you in. 

You need an Internet connection as stable as possible, and of good quality. 

You can connect from a computer, tablet or cell phone as long as you have the Zoom application installed. 

Hearing you well is very important, so a quality microphone is recommended. Sometimes, the webcam microphone is enough. If in doubt, do a test beforehand. 

Zoom is a video calling tool that we have been using for over 6 years and it works great. It usually detects your video and audio automatically. Although on rare occasions, there may be a problem with the video and/or audio. As zoom is an external platform to SPA, we recommend the following links:

  • If Zoom does not recognize your audio, click here.
  • If Zoom does not recognize your video, click here.

Yes, if you are not satisfied with the SPA service, you can request a full or partial refund of the class package. You will be refunded minus any external charges for the purchase. 

Classes are followed with the help of a PPT presentation and/or a word document. 

The Diagnosis is sent in pdf format at the end of the class. 

If you wish to continue working in SPA, the recommendation is as follows:

  • Upload your diagnosis to Google Drive. Folder name: Pronunciación del español_tunombre.
  • Dale editing access to Alexandra so that she can access that folder and continue uploading and editing the necessary documents. 

If you don't have Google Drive and don't want to have it, please contact Alexandra. 

Of course. In fact, it is something we highly recommend. 

Remember to ask Alexandra for permission at the beginning of class.

The audio and video is saved on your computer. 

 

Privacy concerns:

To remove all your SPA data, you can unsubscribe from the newsletter by clicking on a link at the bottom of one of the emails you receive. You can also write to info@spanishpronunciation.academy and request it. Your personal information and data will be deleted from SPA. 

To find out how your data is used, you can click on "Privacy Policy"You will see at the end of the web site.

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