Most people who learn Spanish as a foreign language and have experience with learning other languages don't consider Spanish the most difficult language to learn. With many languages, pronunciation (being able to speak actively and be understood) is one of the greatest challenges.
Not particularly hard
Good news first: Spanish pronunciation is not extremely hard.
Spanish is a phonetic language, which means that once you learn how individual letters of the Spanish alphabet are pronounced, you are able to correctly pronounce almost any Spanish word.
Pronunciation of Spanish letters
Spanish alphabet and the ways individual Spanish letters are pronounced are not very different from English, though a few differences do exist.
Compared to English, the Spanish alphabet has four extra letters: ch, ll, ñ, and rr.
Furthermore, there are a few individual letters and letter combinations with specific (different from English) pronunciation in Spanish, e.g. the letters g, j (both can sound like the English h often), and h (usually silent).
How to learn Spanish pronunciation
Though Spanish pronunciation is more than learnable, you still need to make effort and invest time in order to learn it. Patience is key, as you are not likely to learn Spanish pronunciation perfectly overnight or in a few days.
Keep in mind that the most effective way to learn Spanish is by allocating your efforts across all skills and features of the language: you are unlikely to master Spanish pronunciation without learning basic vocabulary and knowing the basics of Spanish grammar.
Two things are absolutely necessary if you want to learn Spanish pronunciation:
- You need to practice listening.
- You need to practice speaking.
Listening to spoken Spanish can be done using a variety of resources from mp3s, Spanish radio or TV to meeting native Spanish speakers in real life. Practicing speaking and actively improving your Spanish pronunciation is obviously best done with another person – a native Spanish speaker or a fellow Spanish learner.
Don't be afraid of making mistakes
It might be difficult in the beginning when you're still not absolutely sure about the individual pronunciation rules and have limited vocabulary. Understanding native Spanish speakers in real life is also tricky because most of them speak so incredibly fast.
At this initial stage, a well-structured online audio course can help you bridge the gaps. Good Spanish audio courses are organized in a way that the difficulty of interviews and audio lessons increases gradually as your abilities grow. Thanks to this you don't feel overwhelmed and actually feel the progress as you're making it.