As a native Spanish speaker, I tend to mispronounce some letters or words in English. One of them is the 's' sound at the beginning of a word, for example, I pronounce:

  • 'slang' as /eslaŋ/ instead of /slæŋ/, or
  • 'Spanish' as /ˈespan.ɪʃ/ instead of /ˈspæn.ɪʃ/, or
  • 'standard' as /ˈestandaɹd/ instead of /ˈstændəd/

I can easily hear the difference between /es/ and /s/, or between /eso/ and /es/, but I find really difficult to hear the difference between /espi/ and /spi/, because, I think, there is no /s/-CONSONANT-VOWEL sound in Spanish and my ears aren't use to hear such combination (so, my mind just create the /e/ sound at the beginning for consistence).

So, my question is: Are you aware of any technique that help me to correct my pronunciation?, or any technique that help me to rewire my brain to be able to hear and pronounce better?

Note: I took the IPA transcription from https://en.wiktionary.org

1 Answer 1


Interesting. Here are words found in the original text of "Don Quixote": "stupendo"; "spero". How do you pronounce those? Do you stick an "e" in front of them?

As for the technique: I would recommend the little witty method G.B. Shaw devised for English speakers trying to pronounce Polish words:

Find a series of Spanish word pairs in which the first word ends in an "s" (the preceding sound anything but "e"); and the second one starts with a "t," "l," "m," and so forth, for each possible combination. The pair doesn't have to make sense, either.

Vargas Miguel. Dos torres.

And so forth. Then practice saying the combination out loud, like this:

Vargas Miguel. Cute but small.

Dos torres. Bike stand.

And so forth. Keep practicing until your brain gets used to the combinations.

The one combination that cannot be included in the exercise is "sw"; but, hey, that's a whole separate issue, I think.

  • 2
    The original text of Don Quixote was not written in Modern Spanish :). (He's called don Quijote in modern Spanish spelling, among many other changes.)
    – herisson
    Commented Oct 24, 2015 at 21:44
  • Yes, but the word "spero" still means "rough," does it not? )) Funny, but I mostly notice that my Spanish-speaking friends erring when it comes to "j" and "y" sounds. The problem highlighted by helq is news to me. Fascinating!
    – Ricky
    Commented Oct 24, 2015 at 22:24
  • 1
    No, I can't find "spero" defined that way in any Spanish dictionary. The word áspero seems to mean "rough" in Modern Spanish. And estupendo means "wonderful."
    – herisson
    Commented Oct 24, 2015 at 22:29
  • That's so cool! So, if I speak Italian, all I have to do is stick an "e" in front of each word beginning with an "s," to become a Spanish speaker.
    – Ricky
    Commented Oct 24, 2015 at 22:32
  • 1
    @curiousdannii: commenting is not going to do much; Ricky is gone until 2017.
    – herisson
    Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 13:46

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