So you’ve started learning Spanish but your accent isn’t convincing yet? Accent is something that people don’t think about straight away but it makes a huge difference in your communication, how you integrate and how others perceive your Spanish.
Trying to mimic an accent that isn’t yours is going to seem strange at first but with practise it becomes much more natural. But before you start improving your Spanish accent, you need to decide which Spanish accent you want to try and learn.
Which ties in nicely with which Spanish you should learn. If you haven’t decided that yet then make sure to read our article to help you decide.
What type of Spanish accent do you want?
The first thing you want to decide is what type of Spanish accent do you want? It’s not as simple as saying I want my Spanish accent to be better because every Spanish speaking country has a different accent, and even different regions within those countries have different accents.
The accent you choose to learn might be based on your preference, so literally what sounds best to you. Or you may pick a Spanish accent based on the country which is most accessible to you. If you’re from the USA, you might want to learn the Mexican accent, if you’re from the UK, you might want to learn the Spanish accent from Spain.
If you just want to pick one that sounds nice then have a listen to different accents in Spanish and choose your favourite.
This video should hopefully give you a better idea of the different types of accents.
Listen to specific sounds and repeat them back
Learning a different accent requires you to listen to different phonemes and to be able to repeat them back. When you first start speaking Spanish you’re probably going to find that you speak Spanish with the accent of where you’re from. If you’re German and learning Spanish then when you speak it’s going to be very obvious you’re German.
This is because in your language you say specific phonemes a certain way, so even though you’re speaking Spanish, you’ll still be pronouncing the phonemes in the way you would in your own language.
So you need to actively listen to how a sound in pronounced in Spanish and then repeat it back. It might sound unnatural at first but the more you do it, the more natural it will be for you to make those sounds. Which leads me onto my next tip:
Go for it
Try not to feel silly or embarrassed. You might find silly mimicking an accent that doesn’t feel natural for you, but if you just go for it you won’t sound as silly as you think. Speaking in Spanish without trying to mimic the accent at all sounds strange, not trying to pronounce the words more like the locals would.
If you feel silly at first, then you don’t need to try and do a strong accent. You can work at it gradually, with a soft accent that gradually becomes stronger as you become more confident.
Practise rolling your R’s
One of the things that makes the Spanish accent so recognisable is that they roll their R’s. Although you don’t need to have this skill to be understood when you speak Spanish, it will definitely make the difference in making you sound more like a native.
For a lot of English speakers this can be quite tricky as it’s not a sounds you make often, but if you practise isolating the sound and making it on it’s own, you’ll find it becomes easier to use it in your natural speech.
Check out this video on how to trill your r’s.
Practise your lisp
This one is specific to Spanish from Spain, as the latinos don’t have a lisp when they speak. But if you’re learning European Spanish then you’re going to have to work on your lisp for a more natural sound.
Get exposure to the Spanish accent you want to learn
Visit the country
It might not be possible for you but if you can, try to visit the country that speaks the Spanish you want to learn. If you can do this and you get the chance to speak to locals then you will find learning the accent comes much quicker to you.
If you do visit the country, make sure you speak to people every chance you get. The more people you speak to the better. Not only will it improve your speaking practise but it will make the accent seem much more natural and familiar to you and easier to replicate.
Find partners on italki from those countries specifically
If you can’t visit the country then don’t worry, there are still plenty of ways you can get a chance to talk to people with the Spanish accent you want to learn.
A great way to do this is to find language partners on italki. Italki is a language learning platform where you can find people from different countries all around the world to do language exchanges with. And with italki, distance doesn’t matter because you can do all of your conversations via skype. So if you wanted to get a Colombian accent, then you just need to find someone from Colombia on italki and arrange to talk to them on skype. Do this several times a week and you’ll notice you start to develop a Colombian accent.
Find TV shows or films in that Spanish and watch them
Another way to improve your Spanish accent without going to the country is to watch shows or films from the country of your Spanish that you’re learning. That way you get access to specific Spanish accents without having to go to the country.
It’s really easy to do this with Netflix because you can specify not only what language you want to listen to or watch but also what country or region.
Listen to Spanish music from those countries
Just like the above tip, you can also listen to Spanish music from whatever country’s Spanish you want to learn. Then when you’re singing along, you’ll naturally mimic the singer and make the Spanish accent more familiar to you.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our tips to improve your Spanish accent. Whichever type of Spanish accent you want to learn, our biggest tips would be try to get as much exposure as possible and just for it. Don’t worry about sounding silly, everyone has to learn somewhere.
If you’re learning Spanish let us know which type of accent you decided to learn, and how you worked to improve your accent.