11 English Words that Spanish-speakers Mispronounce

Spanish Speakers Mispronounce

Which words are most difficult for Spanish Speakers to pronounce?

At Confidence Learning Services, we freely admit that English is a difficult language to pronounce. That’s why we offer advanced English Pronunciation courses and offer tips and videos on Accent Reduction. While our English Pronunciation courses are personalized (meaning we plan our lessons based on an in-depth, one-on-one evaluation with you), there are some aspects of English pronunciation that are difficult for almost all Spanish language speakers.

Spanish has 5 pure vowels and 5 diphthongs. Vowel length is not significant in distinguishing between words. However, English,  has 12 pure vowel sounds and 8 diphthongs. The length of the vowel sound plays an important role. It is not surprising, therefore, that Spanish background learners may have great difficulty in producing or even perceiving the various English vowel sounds.

Let’s take a closer look at the Top 11 English words that Spanish-speakers mispronounce when trying to learn English.

11. Breakfast/Brefas

A simple word (for native English speakers) like ‘breakfast’ is tough for Spanish-speakers, who struggle with consonant clusters. Spanish-speakers will often pronounce it ‘brefas’ and omit the ‘k’ and the final ‘t’ because they are attached to another consonant.

10. Teeth/Teet

Some people have trouble mastering the “th” sound on words like “teeth.” (For fun, try speaking “teeth” without  the “th” sound. Oops, You might not want to try that out loud!)

Knoxville English Spanish Accent Reduction

9. Ship/Sheep

Another one of these English words where the relaxed “i” /I/ tends to get replaced with a tense “e” /i/, making it “sheep”. Spanish-speakers often make vowel sounds tense, or “long,” and confuse pairs of “short” and “long” English vowel sounds like “ship” and “sheep” both in comprehension and speaking.

knoxville spanish accent

Just imagine how this works for “sheet” and …

8. Joke/Yolk or Jess/Yes

In most Spanish dialects, the sounds for English letter “J” /dʒ/ and English letter “Y” /j/ are allophones, meaning that they can subsitute for one another. So the Spanish word “ella” can be pronounced with either sound. Thus, it can be difficult for Spanish-speakers to learn to differentiate between the two sounds. Many people who speak Spanish pronounce the letter J like the letter Y, or pronounce the letter Y like the letter J.

So, if you tell someone: “That is a funny joke”,  and if you mispronounce the “J”, “joke” will sound like “yolk” (meaning the yellow part of an egg), which is difficult to understand. Likewise, if you pronounce the “Y” as “J” and say “Yes I do”, then “Yes” sounds like “Jess” and someone may think you are speaking to someone named Jess.

Spanish Speakers Mispronounce

7. Focus/F***us

In English, our letter “O” is actually a diphthong, /oʊ/. The key to saying this correctly is remembering to make the “o” a long one, with the lips closing down throughout the sound. Many however replace the long “o” with “uh”, making it “fuhcus”. Look at that word again. “Ladies and gentlemen, if there’s one thing I want you to do today, it’s “f***us!” You may get in trouble for that one!

6. Kitchen/Chicken

This is a common mispronunciation for many English learners and not just Spanish-speakers. While learning English, some speakers say “chicken” instead of “kitchen”. To make it clear, we usually prepare chicken in a kitchen.

5. Ask/Aks/Axe

Spanish-speakers while learning English often mispronounce “ask” as “axe.” So, if you say : ‘You don’t have to axe me why’, it certainly doesn’t mean what you want to say!

Spanish Speakers Can't Pronounce

What were you thinking of?

 

4. Fifth/Fiss

Particularly when it comes to final consonant clusters in English, Spanish-speakers can suffer both from adding extra syllables (e.g. three syllables for “advanced” with the final “e” pronounced) and swallowing sounds to make it match the desired number of syllables (e.g. “fifths” sounding like “fiss”). With words that are similar in Spanish and English, they can also often try to make the English word match the Spanish number of syllables.

3. Comma/Coma

Spanish Speakers Mispronounce

Perhaps more importantly, they can also have problems with the two closest sounds to an “o” sound in “not” , making “comma” and “coma” difficult to distinguish.

2. Pull/Pool

Most Spanish-speakers have difficulty distinguishing between /uː/ and /ʊ/. While /uː/ is very similar to the Spanish letter “u“, it is actually long, or “tense”. /ʊ/ is considered “short” or “lax,” without the tightly-rounded lips.  It’s important to note that pull and pool are not homophones.

1. Stop/Estop

Spanish Speakers Mispronounce

Yes, there are accent differences, but there are also a few common pronunciation mistakes Spanish learners of English can make. Some tend to want to add an “e” to the beginning of words that start with ‘s’ followed by a consonant, making the word stop sound like “estop”.

So, have you heard any of these before? Are you guilty of any of these? Spanish-speakers can learn to speak English fluently, and master the American Accent, by starting with a free consultation or assessment! Contact us at 1-865-226-9477 to schedule your free session with a language instructor today.

Should I learn American English or British English?

English Knoxville Tennessee

As a student of English, you will likely have to choose between the two. American English and British English are the most frequently learned kinds of English in the world.

There are a few, important differences in the vocabulary and grammatical structures of the two dialects of English, as well as some spelling differences. However, one of the biggest differences between American English and British English is the accent, or the pronunciation of the words. Let’s take a look at the two main factors you must consider when choosing to study one dialect or another

Choosing between learning American English or British English

1. Which one will be more useful to you?

2. Which one will be easier for you to learn?

If you are currently residing in the United Kingdom or in the United States, the decision should be fairly easy. It will likely be simpler to learn the dialect that you are most frequently exposed to, and the one which others around you will consider more familiar. If you are attending university in Knoxville, Tennessee, and plan to be for some time, study American English. However, if you have a job in London, you will likely be better off focusing on British pronunciation.

It’s not so simple if you’re residing outside of these two countries, or if you travel back and forth between the two. If your job has you regularly flying between Knoxville and London, for example, you may want to consider the following factors:

  • Which dialect do the native speakers I regularly communicate with use?
  • Which dialect does your instructor use?
  • Which dialect are your friends studying?
  • What is your field of study or career? Some fields are dominated by one dialect or the other.
  • Which dialect seems easier to you?
  • Which dialect do you prefer?

If you regularly interact with American clients, for example, studying American English will probably be a great benefit to you. However, it may prove more difficult if your instructor and classmates are all studying British English. You may want to write a list of pros and cons of either dialect to make the decision easier.

What are the differences between the two dialects?

American English

American English Knoxville

In the context of language learning, American pronunciation means General American (GenAm) pronunciation. This is the pronunciation used by educated Americans, on television and on radio. It is described in dictionaries of American English, such as the Merriam-Webster and Random House dictionaries. This is the English taught in Confidence Learning Services’ English and Accent Reduction courses.

Most Americans and Canadians speak something similar to General American. Whether you’re in New York, Knoxville, Los Angeles, Seattle or Toronto, you will generally hear the same accent. There are some regional differences, but they are usually fairly small.

General American pronunciation is rhotic, which means that the letter r is always pronounced.

American spelling tends toward simpler and slightly more phonetic spellings of words with less letters.

American English Offers:

  • More media content (Movies, TV Shows, and video games)
  • More web content (YouTube videos, Podcasts, etc.)
  • More speakers overall – about 10 times more speakers of American vs. British English.

British English

English knoxville tennessee

When people talk about learning British pronunciation, they usually think of Received Pronunciation (RP). RP is the pronunciation of the British upper class; it is sometimes called the Queen’s English. This is the pronunciation that you will learn at a British language school; it is also the model taught in coursebooks and dictionaries from publishers like Oxford and Longman.

In the UK, a small percentage of people speak something similar to RP — upper-class people, academics, actors, TV personalities, politicians and English teachers.

“Normal” Britons usually speak with their local accents, which are often quite different from RP, and can be very hard to understand to untrained ears. Sometimes cities that are only 20 km apart have very different accents. (The British Library has an interactive map of the UK which lets you listen to some examples of British accents from various areas.)

RP is non-rhotic, which means that the letter r is usually “silent”, unless it is followed by a vowel. Here’s how it works:

  • In words like car, tower, inform and first, r is silent (r is not followed by a vowel).
  • In words like red, foreign, print, r is pronounced (r is followed by a vowel).
  • R is also pronounced at the end of a word, if the next word starts with a vowel, for example: number eight, far away.
  • Most RP speakers also insert an r in phrases like: the idea(r) of, Africa(r) and Asia, law(r) and order. This r is not in the spelling; they just use it to separate two vowels.

The following pairs sound exactly the same in RP: or/awe, court/caught,sore/saw, farther/father, formerly/formally. In General American, they all sound different.

British English spelling tends toward additional letters or less phonetic spellings than American English.

British English Offers:

  • Many well known actors, movies, and media content.
  • Great academic content, including high quality dictionaries and English textbooks.
  • An image of intelligence and intrigue among Americans. (However, don’t let this fact influence you too much: while it is possible to master a native sounding accent in either dialect, it takes years of practice, and a lot of hard work and dedication beyond just language learning. Your native language accent will probably far outweigh any benefit of learning a British accent to impress Americans.) 

American English or British English? Know both.

Ultimately, it’s your choice – there is no right or wrong answer here. However, keep in mind that no matter which dialect you choose to study, you should become familiar with the other dialect as well. Even if you choose to focus solely on British English, you need to understand both British and American English, since both are widely used. Even if you want to speak RP, it is good to know how words are pronounced in General American. It helps you understand American speech.

Secondly, you ought to be aware of the systematic differences between RP and GenAm because you will be learning words from Americans as well as Britons. Consider what happens if you hear a new English word on an American TV show produced in Knoxville. If you have some basic knowledge of American phonetics, and the differences between American English and British English, you will probably have a good idea of whether that pronunciation will be the same or different in RP. Otherwise, you’re left just guessing.

If you pay attention to both British and American pronunciations in your dictionary, you will eventually develop a type of intuition about these things. For most words, you’ll be able to tell how to pronounce them in your accent, even if you have only heard them from speakers of the other accent. However, it’s always a good idea to check pronunciation with audio on a site like Oxford Dictionaries, which allows you to choose either US or British English from a drop down menu on the left of the word you type in.

So what did you choose? If you have decided to focus on American English, let us help you out by offering you a free English language consultation via Skype. Contact us today at 1-865-226-9477 to schedule your consultation.

Hispanic or Latino, but don’t speak Spanish? You’re not alone.

latino don't speak spanish

So you don’t speak Spanish.

As any brief internet search will tell you, there are many people in the US who identify as Hispanic or Latino and don’t speak Spanish. This article  from Latina.com gives a run-down of the typical issues people in this situation face, including explaining their life stories to justify their language situation. This CNN article describes the trend of declining Spanish use among Hispanics, and rising use of Spanish among non-Hispanics, and of course there are plenty of opinion pieces voicing perspectives on Latinos who don’t speak the language. It’s a situation that draws mixed, emotional responses – often from total strangers!

As a Latino who doesn’t speak Spanish, you’re not alone.

The percentage of Hispanics who speak Spanish is projected to fall from about 75% now, to about 66% in 2020. That means that of the 54 million Hispanics in the US, over 13 million do not speak Spanish. And 13 million is a lot.

It’s not your fault that you are a Latino and don’t speak Spanish.

More than likely, your lack of Spanish speaking ability is not your fault. You didn’t choose your race, or what language was spoken around you during early childhood, and like the rest of us, you were probably more focused on superheroes or Disney princesses than nouns and verbs. Perhaps your parents believed that speaking only English at home was the path to academic success, or they didn’t feel confident in their own Spanish language skills, or felt threatened by the community – whatever the reason, the language you spoke as a child wasn’t your choice.

And it’s fine.

Yes, there are a ton of benefits to being bilingual, but most of the US is monolingual. If you were lucky enough to learn English as a first language, the most commonly learned second language around the world, with an incredibly difficult, non-phonetic alphabet system and tough pronunciation, then be proud of that fact. You can communicate with almost a billion people.

Hispanic don't speak spanish

But you may be considering wading into the language-learning experience, as a “heritage language learner.” More and more people are making the decision to study their heritage language, but the prospect of doing so might be overwhelming.

It doesn’t have to be scary to be a Latino learning Spanish.

There are a ton of resources available to facilitate Spanish language learning, and there is a lot in common with English. Conversational Spanish can be mastered in about a year, so you can look forward to chatting with others in Spanish in a relatively short time.

Being up front about learning Spanish with Latino family and friends may help.

If you have friends and family who regularly speak Spanish, but prefer to speak English with you, then you will probably want to be up front with them and let them know that you are planning to speak Spanish and would like their support. How this conversation goes will depend a lot on your family dynamic or friendships, but you can hope to find more support from loved ones by tackling the issue up front.

Language learning is messy – for everyone.

Many heritage language learners experience a lot of shame at being unable to roll an r or conjugate a verb appropriately the first time. You may feel uniquely embarrassed by shortcomings in your family language. Don’t be. Being Latino doesn’t give you magical language learning powers that allow you to skip over mistakes. Making mistakes is part of the language learning process, and it’s embarrassing for everyone – Mexican Americans who struggle to pronounce proper names correctly, or English background “gringos” struggling to find the right word to express themselves. Language learning is necessarily messy and embarrassing. Embrace the fact that you will make mistakes (and learn from them!). You may even encounter people who ridicule your language learning attempts, because there are jerks in every language. However, just as you probably wouldn’t disparage someone attempting to learn English, most people will likely welcome your attempts to learn Spanish.

Use it to your advantage.

If you’ve always been frustrated that people approach you speaking Spanish, expecting you to understand, now is your time to shine. You may not catch every word they say, but you have that many more opportunities to hear Spanish that others would die for. Others who would love to practice their Spanish with native speakers are often met by native Spanish speakers who want to practice or show off their English.

latino don't speak spanish

Shakira, Celia, or Selena – who looked the most like a Spanish speaker?

Alternatively, depending on your own flavor of Latino and your current community, you may have been frustrated at the many times you have had to explain that yes, you are really Latino. If that’s the case for you, chances are, you can simply explain that you are learning Spanish and want to practice the language to a native speaker without having to worry about the baggage of being a Latino who doesn’t speak Spanish.

Learning Spanish is hard work, but rewarding, no matter what your racial, ethnic, or language background. If you do want to jump into the language learning process, why not start with a free consultation from Confidence Learning Services? We’ve helped other heritage language learners, and we’d be happy to help you achieve your goals.

Contact us today at 1-865-226-9477 to get started.

 

So, what’s the deal with alcohol and language learning?

knoxville

Does alcohol make you a better language learner?

Over 40 years ago, a study in language learning was conducted, that concluded that consuming a mild to moderate amount of alcohol results in better oral production of a foreign language. Although most language schools don’t put this principle into practice in the classroom, people haven’t stopped talking about it since. So, what’s going on here?

Shouldn’t consuming alcohol reduce your ability to perform mental tasks? Won’t it make your language slurred or unintelligible?

The key here is the phrase “mild to moderate.” If you consume enough alcohol to become blackout drunk, chances are you won’t be able to have an in-depth conversation with a language partner. Aside from other health benefits noted from consuming moderate amounts of alcohol, the reduced inhibition should allow you to communicate more clearly.

So will I be able to speak Spanish fluently after a few margaritas at my favorite Knoxville Mexican restaurant?

Consuming alcohol won’t give you any special powers, and you won’t magically be able to communicate in a language you haven’t studied. (Consume enough, and you may believe that you are able to, though). It will simple help you relax enough to use the words and grammar that you recall, without your nervousness or doubts about your own language ability getting in the way.

So what’s the recommended amount?

According to research, 1.5 ounces/44 mL of 45% alcoholic liquor was the optimum amount, consumed on a mostly empty stomach. We’ll let you contemplate exactly what that translates to in your own life, but suffice it to say, a relatively mild-to-moderate amount is best. Overdo it, and your speech skills may deteriorate in any language.

But I don’t drink alcohol because of my religious beliefs or medical conditions.

Whether you are from Knoxville, Dubai or New Delhi, you may find yourself unable to consume alcohol for whatever reason. While that does exclude you from experiencing the benefits of this study, it does not mean you can’t be a successful language learner. The key benefit here results from relaxation and lowered inhibition. Trying other methods of relaxation, like meditation, yoga, or massage may also help to lower your inhibitions as well.

Here at Confidence Learning Services, our courses don’t typically involve a round of beer. But we do focus on giving you the skills and support you need to make you Confident, reduce your inhibitions, and communicate clearly. Are you ready to get started? Contact us today for more information or to start your first course. 1-865-226-9477.

 

Who learns languages best?

learn portuguese

What type of person makes the best language learner?

Recently, one of my clients in Knoxville, Tennessee asked me what traits our most successful clients at Confidence Learning Services had in common. I thought this was a fantastic question, so I figured I would share my observations. I’m not here to tell you whether men or women, Americans or Chinese, or doctors or engineers make the best students, but I hope the following observations will help you

5. People who learn languages best communicate with native speakers regularly.

This might be great news for you if you want to improve your accent, and you are the only one at work who is not a native English speaker. However, it might be difficult news for you if you are practicing English in a town in which not even the teachers are native speakers, or if you are in Knoxville, Tennessee trying to learn a language like Romanian. This principle holds true even if you are living in an English speaking country, but most of your interactions (with coworkers, family and friends) are with non-native English speakers, even if you usually communicate in English. The good news is, native speakers are just a computer screen away with many websites devoted to finding language partners. Additionally, if you really make an effort, you may be surprised at what you find in your own town. For example, even in Knoxville, Tennessee, there is a Romanian church that would probably provide great opportunities for language practice if you decided to get involved. But speaking with native speakers usually requires you to be…

4. People who learn languages best are outgoing.

That may seem harsh, if you are an introvert, and it’s actually a bit deceiving. You see, people who are outgoing will produce more language output. That means they will produce more correct output, and more errors, than introverts. However, errors are some of our best learning opportunities, and if you refuse to take a chance on what you think might be the word you need to use, you will never know if you were right or wrong. If you are outgoing, you will make a mistake and learn right away. So force yourself to come out of your shell a little bit, (yes, research shows a little alcohol helps). Say hi to people in the community. After all, you are learning a language so that you can communicate with others, right?

spanish class in knoxville tn

3. People who learn languages best take advantage of every opportunity.

That means they go above and beyond their assigned practice. Sure, these students complete their pronunciation practice to learn the difficult English “th” sounds, but then they listen for that sound when they are speaking with friends. They watch for that sound while watching TV at night, and they repeat words with that sound when they hear them on the radio. If you are studying Spanish, you might start reading the Spanish list of ingredients on your food packages, or paying closer attention to signs that you see on the street in Spanish, or turn on the Spanish radio (yes, there are Spanish radio stations in most US cities, even one in Knoxville). Everything is a lesson to be learned.

2. People who learn languages best practice – a lot.

Yes, it sounds obvious, and while the majority of students do practice, you might be surprised at how many clients I have had who sign up for an Accent Reduction, English, or Spanish course but then do not complete the assigned practice. Some clients truly did not have the time in their schedule to make the commitment when taking into account work and other demands in their lives. Others simply chose not to practice, or to practice something else that they deemed more beneficial or interesting, rather than follow the prescribed practice. I usually recommend an hour of practice each day. Without fail, my clients who have demonstrated the most improvement have practiced more than an hour a day.

bilingual kid

And you’re never too young to get those practice hours in.

 

1. People who learn languages best know that attitude is everything.

The common attitudes I see among successful language learners are, “If others can learn this language, so can I.” and “What’s left to learn?” It’s important to remember that it is possible to learn English, Spanish, improve your Accent, or whatever your goal may be. After all, thousands of people have already done so, why can’t you?

It’s also important to remember that there is always more to learn, even in our native languages. We can always improve and grow, and as long as you keep this in mind, you aren’t likely to hit a road-block in your language learning experience.

Do you think you have what it takes to be a successful language learner? Contact Confidence Learning Services today to try out a free, one-on-one consultation in English, Spanish or Accent Reduction.

American English Pronunciation of the Letter “T” – 4 Ways

knoxville english spanish accent reduction

Four different ways to pronounce the letter “Tt”

Like most native English speakers, I used to think that the letter “T” was one of our easier letters to pronounce. We don’t teach children in elementary school to change the pronunciation much, except for when “t” occurs together with “h”. The American English pronunciation of this letter seems to be easy – no “i before e” or “silent letter” phenomenon here, I thought. In fact, if you ask most American English speakers what the 4 different pronunciations of the letter “T” are, they probably won’t be able to tell you! But they will notice when you don’t pronounce those different versions – or “allophones” – of the letter “T.”

In this video, I highlight the 4 different, most common pronunciations of the letter “T.” They are:

1. American English Pronuciation – Normal “T” sound /t/

2. American English Pronuciation – Quick “D” sound /t̬/

3. American English Pronuciation – Glottal stop /ʔ/

4. American English Pronuciation – Omitted/Deleted sound

Choosing which sound to produce depends entirely upon the surrounding context of the letter “T”, either within the word or in connecting words. Which sound comes before and which sound comes after the letter “T” determines which sound should be produced.

Of course, there are even more possible pronunciations of letter “T.”  There are specific letter combinations, like the “th” /θ/ I mentioned previously, as well as the /ʃ/ in the “tion” words like “motion.” And there are the exceptions of borrowed words like “buffet” as well. But the four sounds we focus on in this video are general rules, not just specific letter combinations or exceptions.

Because the sounds are allophones, meaning they are all acceptable variations of a single sound, you probably won’t confuse anyone by using the wrong one. However, you will sound less fluent and less like a native speaker if you use the wrong pronunciation. So if you want to sound more natural, study and practice these sounds!

Native English speakers might not be able to name all of the allophones of “T”, but they will recognize if they are being pronounced correctly or incorrectly.
If you want to communicate clearly, confidently, and professionally with native English speakers, consider an advanced English Pronunciation course from Confidence Learning Services. We’ll give you a free assessment to start out with, and then tailor our instruction to your personal needs and learning style. Contact us today at 1-865-226-9477 for more info.

Finding a Language Partner in Your Community

knoxville english spanish accent reduction

In my last post, I talked about using Language Exchange Websites to find a language partner to practice with. While these sites are great for finding language partners, you are unlikely to find someone in your area to practice with unless you live in a large metropolitan area. Video chatting online is great, but limited, and many people prefer face-to-face interactions. Let’s talk about some ways to find people to practice with in your own community. For the purpose of this post, we’ll assume you’re in the US and the dominant language in your community is English.

Community Language Partners – Meetup.com

Meetup.com is a website dedicated to groups of people who want to meet regularly “in real life.” There are groups dedicated to all kinds of topics, including language. If you speak English, you’ll want to find a group dedicated to the language you’re learning. This works best in bigger cities, and for more common languages. If you are trying to learn English, just about any meetup group will do! These groups usually meet at restaurants, cafes, libraries or other public places. Not all groups are created equal – some are better managed than others, some are free while others require a very small (usually less than $20/year) membership dues.

Community Language Partners – Community Organizations

knoxville english spanish accent reduction

Casa Azafran in Nashville.

You can look to language and ethnic identity organizations in your community for possible practice opportunities. For example, if you have a Hispanic community center, or an Asian Chamber of Commerce, you may contact them to see if they are aware of any language exchange groups that meet regularly, or if they are aware of an individual who would be a good language partner fit for you.

Community Language Partners – Religious Organizations

Religious organizations are great because they often serve as a bond for ethnic communities. If you speak English and are looking to learn a language like Arabic, Vietnamese, Russian, or many other languages, you can search for a Mosque, Buddhist temple, or Orthodox church where services are offered in the language you are studying. Chances are, there will be a member there who wants to practice their English as well. If you are trying to learn English, you could contact these organizations to see if they are aware of any language classes and clubs. Many religious organizations prioritize volunteering and serving their community and so may offer services to those who are trying to learn English.

Community Language Partners – Schools

 Knoxville english spanish accent reduction

Last, if you speak English and are looking to learn another language, you may contact your local elementary, middle or high school, specifically the English Language Learning department. Explain that you want to volunteer to help parents who speak Spanish (or your target language) to learn English, in exchange for their help to you, and see if you can leave your personal information with the teacher. Many teachers would be very happy for their students’ parents to have an opportunity to improve their English.

Connecting with a fluent speaker is key to succeeding in language learning. If you’re working on English, Spanish or Portuguese, contact Confidence Learning Services at 1-865-226-9477 for a free language consultation, face-to-face with a certified teacher.

Finding a language partner via an exchange website

No matter what language you’re studying, practicing with a real live person is essential. If you’re living abroad, or taking classes from a fluent speaker like we offer at Confidence Learning Services, this shouldn’t be too difficult. However, you may want to supplement your practice, or keep up your language after returning to your home country. Using online software, books and CDs are great, but will only get you so far. Speaking with another human being is key, so let’s take a look at how to find a language partner via Language Exchange Websites.

Language Exchange Websites

Several websites purport to connect speakers of different languages, in order to set up a mutually beneficial language partnership. You go on the website as a native Spanish speaker seeking help with Japanese, and hopefully find a native Japanese speaker seeking to learn Spanish. And you practice via e-mail, video chat, or in person. However, not all websites are created equal, so let’s take a look at some of these.

italki.com

My personal favorite, this website is also set up to allow you to offer lessons in exchange for pay, or pay for lessons. The concept is brilliant but a little more complicated. However, with a free membership you can search for and contact members based on their native language and what language they’re learning. Searching by city also works best on this site. For example, if you’re from the Knoxville area, you have to choose the city of Knoxville from a drop-down menu when enrolling, as opposed to listing a suburb of or neighborhood in Knoxville, or possibly misspelling the city. This makes searching by city much easier.

busuu.com

This site really presents itself more as language instruction, rather than just a language exchange site. The actual instructional content is limited, but there is a great feature on the site, once you sign up for a free membership, that allows you to contact native speakers of your target language, and be contacted by people wanting to learn your language. Searching for someone by their native and target language is a little more difficult, and the language options are more limited than on the traditional language exchange websites. However, especially for native English speakers, it’s easy to find others who speak your target language and who want to learn English. Paying a website fee allows you to “learn” multiple languages and access more site features, but isn’t necessary to search for language partners. I find this site to be the fastest at getting me talking with someone who speaks my target language.

interpals.net

Dedicated to helping people find “penpals”, this website isn’t solely focused on language exchange, although that exists as an option. Because of this, searching is more difficult, as you can search for someone based on their native language, but not what language they are learning. You can search by countries, but not by cities. There is a forum feature which looks to be the most promising when it comes to getting visibility in searching for a language partner. The site is totally free.

mylanguageexchange.com

Possibly the most popular language exchange, this site is a little easier to search than interpals, but searching by city is difficult, because you can type in anything for your city, meaning if you were in Knoxville you could type in Knoxvile, K-Town, Tennessee, TN, Knox, or any number of other combinations. Although a basic membership is free, it doesn’t allow you to contact members, but only allows you to be contacted by others. Membership that allows you to contact others is only $6 a month. I personally had a poor experience with this site, experiencing no problems as a free member, but after paying my 1 month membership fee, my account was deactivated and the webmaster has refused to refund or reactivate my account. I certainly wouldn’t advise paying more than one month at a time, as you are taking a risk here.

I highly recommend you get started on some of these sites, check out their features, and see which option works best for you. I would love to hear your opinion of the above sites, or recommendations for any other sites that I’ve missed.

A word of caution: Many people seem to use these sites to find a “romantic” connection, despite the fact that there are plenty of sites out there dedicated to that purpose. Within a few minutes of joining Interpals, I had half a dozen messages from men telling me how beautiful I was, and I have found a similar phenomenon on other sites as well. Be advised that you may need to adjust privacy settings, be conscious of profile pictures you upload, and make it clear up front if that is not the type of connection you want. As always, be cautious when talking with strangers.

If you’d like to get started learning English, Portuguese or Spanish with a highly qualified and certified instructor, contact Confidence Learning Services today at 1-865-226-9477. We’ll set you up with a free consultation, face-to-face with a fluent speaker of your target language.

Top 5 Reasons why learning Spanish Online with a live speaker is best

Your best option for learning Spanish online? A real person.

These days there are so many options when it comes to online language learning. Online software, website registrations, apps, e-books, audiobooks, games, you name it! And while most of those things can be helpful, ultimately the very best way to learn a language online is with a real live speaker via Skype.

Learning Spanish Online with a live speaker means you can ask questions

English Spanish Accent Reduction

Your neat app or online bilingual dictionary might be great, until you run into trouble. Maybe you try to use the words you’ve learned and something goes wrong, or you’re just confused. Want to ask a question? Then your best bet is to learn with a live, fluent speaker who can answer those questions. At Confidence Learning Services, we tailor all of our instruction – and our answers – to you.

Learning Spanish online with a live speaker – just like you learned your first language

Can you imagine if your parents had set you in front of an app, instead of ever talking with you, teaching you the alphabet, and listening to you say your first words in your native language?

Okay, things are a little different now, and hopefully you no longer need to be spoon-fed and burped either. We can’t do that over the internet. But the point is, we learned our first language with live speakers, and that’s how we are most successful learning our second language. And thanks to modern technology, we can learn Spanish online with a live speaker, not just a machine.

Learning Spanish online with a live speaker means you get corrective feedback.

Sometimes, we make mistakes. We’re all human, after all. I’m sure you’ve heard someone make a mistake when trying to speak your native language. Unfortunately, you can’t correct a problem that you don’t realize you have. If you’re still making mistakes in Spanish after studying with an audiobook or website program – and chances are that you are – the only way to correct those is to have someone help you fix your mistakes.

Learning Spanish online with a live speaker is more fun!

Yes, we all get addicted to online games, and there are plenty of those that are designed to help you practice Spanish. But when you interact with a live speaker online, you get to exchange stories, communicate and get to know each other, and discover new places to visit to practice your language right in your hometown. And ultimately, that’s why you started learning Spanish in the first place – to communicate with others.

Are you ready to learn Spanish face-to-face with a live instructor? We can connect with you anywhere in the world via Skype, and help you make the most of your Spanish learning experience wherever you are!

Get started today with a free Spanish online consultation. Contact us at 1-865-226-9477.

Concerns about Accent Reduction and English Pronunciation Training

group rates for spanish course

Despite the fact that personalized Accent Reduction training is the best way to improve your English pronunciation, many people still have concerns about signing up, and most of those concerns are very valid. Let’s take a look at the top 5 concerns about enrolling in an Accent Reduction / English Pronunciation Training course.

I’m concerned that Accent Reduction won’t help me improve my English Pronunciation at all.

This is an incredibly important question to ask and consider, before you dedicate a lot of time and resources to a program. Will it work?

Perhaps you’ve already completed a DVD or CD course with little success. Maybe you know a friend who has spoken English twice as long as you, and still speaks with an accent. Or perhaps you think the claims just sound too good to be true. No matter what your reasons are, it’s important to choose a course that is research based and has a proven track record of success.

Fortunately, at Confidence Learning Services, we take your concerns about our Accent Reduction program seriously. We can tell you that most of our clients actually improve 50 to 80 percent after completing a 12 week course. Not only that, but we will give you a detailed analysis of your speech before and after the course, and a before and after recording as well. If you’re still concerned, we’ll be happy to provide you with a list of references to contact.

I’m concerned that Accent Reduction will help me improve my English Pronunciation – too much!

Perhaps you’re not concerned about being successful in an Accent Reduction course, but being too successful.

Many people tie their accents to their personal and cultural identity, and they don’t want to surrender that. It’s understandable. You may be concerned about what would happen if you opened your mouth and instead of your voice, you heard a voice that sounded like Matt Lauer or Gayle King.

Fortunately, there are many qualities that make up your voice besides your accent. Your tone of voice, and your rate of speech are just two factors that aren’t necessarily accent related. The specific words you use regularly also contribute to your individual speech style. Even if you change your accent completely, your voice will still be your own.

Let’s consider an example. Say you know someone who regularly mispronounces one word – they may say, “Leave” instead of “live”, as in, “I leave in Knoxville.” If they corrected that one mispronunciation, they wouldn’t be losing their identity, and you would still recognize their voice. This is what we are doing in Accent Reduction, but on a grander scale.

 I’m concerned that a personalized Accent Reduction course will take too much time

Accent Reduction Knoxville

These days, everyone’s calendar is filled and time is at a premium. Will you really have time to be successful at Accent Reduction?

At Confidence Learning Services, we recommend you plan to practice about 60 minutes a day during the 3 months that the course takes place. This, combined with your 60-90 minute weekly session, should be enough for you to see drastic improvement. If you skimp on practice, expect to see less impressive results. However, if you dedicate extra time to practice, you can hope for better progress.

After your 12 weeks, we recommend continued practice, but at a less intensive pace.

While 60 minutes a day is a serious commitment, you will be able to see results in as little as 12 weeks. The time commitment for improved English pronunciation is intensive, but short-term. We strongly recommend you take that into consideration before you sign up. However, if you’re serious about improving your accent, we hope you’ll find the time in your schedule.

I’m concerned that improving my English Pronunciation will cost too much.

Again, another valid concern. Some Accent Reduction courses run over $2000 for a 12-week course, and you may not even get one-on-one attention from an instructor.

Fortunately, there’s some good news. Confidence Learning Services’ Accent Reduction courses are more affordable than the industry average, and we offer convenient payment plans.

Although Accent Reduction is a short term expense, it’s important to weigh that against the longer term benefits. Improving your English Pronunciation may result in clearer communication with your co-workers, boss, clients, or potential employers. Investing in an Accent Reduction course now may pay off with promotions, new accounts, or new job opportunities in the future.

Additionally, many employers subsidize or pay entirely for their employees’ Accent Reduction training. You may wind up owing nothing for your course!

Free Seminar

You can get an in-depth evaluation for free.

 

Did we address your concerns? Or do you still have reservations about signing up for an Accent Reduction course? Give us a try by requesting your free, face-to-face pronunciation evaluation. There’s no obligation, we won’t ask you for any payment information, and you’ll get personalized attention from an accent coach. Contact us today at 1-865-226-9477 to learn more.