At their core, languages are collections of sounds. Words are made up of individual components called phonemes, which is a linguistic term for “sounds”. Spanish is what is considered to be a phonetic language because the letters represent specific sounds, and almost all letters in Spanish only have one sound. Practicing learning the sounds of Spanish is something you can work on by yourself at home, when you’re out and about, or anywhere else.
Dialectal differences in sounds of Spanish
Some letters, like g or c, have two different sounds, but there are clear rules that dictate when they make a soft or hard sound. This is true regardless of the dialect of Spanish that you’re around. All around the Spanish-speaking world, the letters g and c will have 2 different sounds.
However, there are other dialects that pronounce letters differently. For example, in Spain, the letters z and c are pronounced like the English th letter combination. In other countries, they make the same sound as the letter s. In Puerto Rico, the letters r and L often seem to switch places. Over time, every region in the Spanish-speaking world has developed their own unique characteristics.
Practice listening exercises at home
Like we mentioned earlier, you can do this anywhere. In the beginning, you might just be able to recognize that someone is speaking Spanish, but you don’t know what they’re saying. That’s a very natural first step! Looking up videos of different Spanish dialects is one of the best ways to familiarize yourself with different sounds of Spanish.
Music, TV shows, movies and podcasts are all great sources to practice your listening comprehension, and the internet makes it easy to find output from all around the world. If you practice listening to different dialects, you’ll expand your listening abilities exponentially.