Sounds / Phonics

Please note: There is a short delay when playing the audio clips.

When you listen to Spanish, you'll hear that there are some sounds that seem unusual to English-speaking ears. Every language is different and it's good to be aware of some of the 'special' sounds of Spanish.

It helps if you think of using 'Spanish eyes' when looking at words. In English, the letter 'j' makes a hard sound like in 'jug' but in Spanish it makes a softer sound, a bit like the 'h' in 'hug' if you like!

Listen to the sounds - or phonemes - and look at the words as you listen.

J - rojo - red

(J sounds a bit like an 'h' in English doesn't it, but a bit harder?)

LL - amarillo - yellow

(LL is like a 'y' sound in English.)

Z - azul - blue

(Think of the 'th' in thanks.)

RR - pelirrojo - auburn (hair)

(You have to put your tongue on the roof of your mouth behind your teeth and rrrrrrrroll your Rs there!)

There's a special letter in the Spanish alphabet - Ñ. The 'squiggle' - or to give it the proper name - tilde - on top of it makes it sound like 'ny'.

Ñ - castaño - brown (hair)

Some letters in Spanish are silent - just like in the word 'hour', you don't pronounce the H in Spanish.

H - hermano - brother

Sometimes a letter has a different sound when you put it with a certain vowel.

The letter C has a hard sound in CUATRO but when it comes before an E or I it makes the same sound as Z - remember, like the 'th' in 'the'.

C - cuatro - four

C(i) - cien - hundred

C(i) - cinco - five

C(e) - doce - twelve

Don't forget, your 'Spanish eyes' and ears can be very helpful when you're reading and listening to Spanish!