(Today we have an awesome guest post from Mishka Grobler, whose info, websites, and contact info are listed at the end of the article. I’ll be using these tips myself to help with my Spanish accent.
Mishka, take it away!)
Is there anything more romantic than speaking in Spanish? The flow, the force, the passion that comes with Spanish is hard to beat, and has graced the voices of many an icon. From Puss in Boots’ sexy drawl, to the beautiful rush of Sofia Vergara’s, the accent is varied and coveted the world over. When learning Spanish, the difference between you sounding like a local and you sounding like you’re trying too hard could very well come to down the accent you speak with. So how do you cultivate the perfect one?
Eavesdrop to Your Heart’s Desire
Depending on where you are in the world, the Spanish accent could be vastly different. Know yours. This is one of those times we give you permission to listen in on as many strangers’ conversations as possible. As soon as you’ve reached the stage in your learning where you can pick up most of the topic, start focusing on the how instead of the what – the rise and fall, the little quirks of the dialect. Repeat it back to yourself under your breath (without sounding too creepy). The beauty of this method is that you can practice anywhere; from on the bus, to in the supermarket, to on the street, to simply opening your window and waiting for an animated conversation to pass by your house.
Accents are sometimes hard to break – it’s rare that a little bit of your twang from home won’t creep into your newly acquired tongue. An easy – and enjoyable – way of learning a new accent, without leaving the comfort of your own home, is to turn on the tube. That’s it. If you live abroad, as I do, the influx of Spanish dubbing over all my favourite shows used to drive me crazy. Until I saw it as an opportunity. Find a show you enjoy, sit back with a bowl of freshly made popcorn and listen, listen, listen. It helps to look for those with English subtitles initially, and when you’re confident with your Spanish level, start searching for Spanish dramas – you might start learning how to be a little too expressive, but that’s always something you can tone down at a later stage.
When That Rumba Rhythm Starts to Play…
Spanish is an emotional language. You will never master it (or its nuances) without feeling it. Make the learning process fun with some typical Spanish music – apart from learning a ton of dance moves, start singing along. Music is a great way to increase your vocabulary, learn a few slang words, and get that accent down to a T. There’s a type of tune for every taste – from Placido Domingo, to Gloria Estefan, Julio Iglesias to Shakira – so get your dancing shoes on and absorb as much as you can!
There are countless ways of picking up accents in everyday activities – all it takes is a little more practice, a little more patience, and quite possibly a good friend to tell you when you’re doing it wrong. The moment you get confused for a local when abroad is possibly the biggest notch on the belt of any language learner, and nothing gets you there faster than boasting the perfect accent.
Mishka Grobler is the Managing Editor for Listen & Learn