A solid foundation of letters and their sounds is essential to have great pronunciation, not to mention listening skills. The Spanish alphabet has many differences from English. Let’s take a closer look at the Spanish vowel and consonant sounds.
Then, dive into an activity to learn the Spanish pronunciation of each sound.
Spanish Alphabet Basics
At first glance, the Spanish and English alphabets look the same. But let me show you the big differences, what really matters for beginning learners.
The Spanish Alphabet
According to Real Academia Españolista there are 27 letters in the Spanish alphabet. Ñ is the only additional letter to the English alphabet. CH and LL, the double digit letters have been gone since 2010.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N Ñ O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Each of the 27 letter symbols have a letter name and at least one letter sound. The letter names and letter sounds have different uses. Both are part of beginning Spanish phonics.
Spanish Letter Names
The letter names are important for spelling and alphabetizing. A traditional alphabet song is a good way to learn the letter names.
Spanish Alphabet Song – video and song
ah – be – ce – de – eh – efe – he – hache – i – jota – ka – ele – eme – ene – eñe – oh – pe – ku – ere – ese – te – u – ve – uve doble – equis – i griega – seta
Spanish Alphabet Sounds
Next, the main focus for the alphabet is on the letter sounds. English letter sounds are very different from the Spanish ones. Good pronunciation comes from learning these sounds from the beginning.
Pronouncing the Spanish Alphabet – spanishdict.com
- This guide has sound explanation and audio clip for each letter sound.
Spanish Alphabet Pronunciation for Kids – You Study Spanish
- For each letter, there is a cute picture with pronunciation of letter and word.
The 5 Spanish Vowel Sounds
One sound for each vowel makes Spanish really easy to read. But, first you must learn the correct sounds for each vowel through repetition. Practicing the vowel will make correct pronunciation of vowels automatic.
Letter Symbol A – E – I – O – U
Letter Sound AH – EH – EE – OH – OO
Pronunciation Tip – All of the vowels sounds are very short, meaning said quickly and clipped (not drawn out).
The 22 Consonants
For the consonants, some are the same, similar or completely different sounds from English. The best way to approach the Spanish consonants is to watch and listen to a native speaker. Some of them have different tongue and lip positions. Imitate until you get it right!
Learn how to say the letters and sounds in Spanish Butterfly Spanish Video
List of Consonant Sounds
Letters with Similar Sounds
For the most part, these letters are close to English
C – k or s
F – f
K – k
L – l
M – m
N – n
P – p (short, clipped)
S – s
T – t (softer)
W – w
G – g or h
J – h
Q – k
X (usually) – h (or occasionally ks / s)
Y – y (same sound for LL) or ee
Z – s
B and V – b
D – th
H – silent
Ñ – ny
R – r or rr (tapping sound close to a t or tt)
As you can see, there are a lot of difference in the the letter sounds between both languages. Taking the time to focus on learning the correct Spanish pronunciation will give a solid foundation for vocabulary.
In sum, use what you have learned by doing some sound activities.
The craft makes an alphabet banner to hang or a set of loose cards. The simple activities combine the senses of touch (letter cards or banner), vision (letter symbol and movement) and hearing to retain the sounds in memory.