Let The Spanish Pronunciation Training Begin…

Spanish Pronunciation Training

In Gabe Wyner’s book, Fluent Forever, he talks about the importance of pronunciation training and getting it right early.

One of the things he has done is create a set of pronunciation trainers for different languages.  These are based on his own language learning experience.  He created a kickstarter campaign a couple of years ago to generate the funds to develop his trainers.

I was so impressed with the rationale behind them, that I invested in the Spanish one.

You can find Gabe Wyner’s Pronunciation Trainers here.  They run on the Anki Flashcard platform which I described setting up in my last post.

Rather than me go into detail about what they are and what they do, here’s Gabe himself explaining:

So now I have started to use the Anki pronunciation training provided by Gabe.

It has taken a bit of getting used.  This is because is wasn’t exactly clear what I had to do with the cards on the App.  I had to fumble my way through it a bit before it became clear.

However after reading his book and watching the videos, it is quite clear that the pronunciation is very important.

I knew it was a big deal to tune the ear in.  This is why I think there is tremendous mileage in listening to Spanish Radio and watching Spanish TV.

But what Gabe does is take it up to the next level completely. Without reading his book, it might have seemed a bit too detailed. However it makes complete sense and I think the investment of time will be worth it.

What’s In The Pronunciation Trainer?

There are two decks of cards:

– Spelling Rules and Examples

– Minimal Pairs (words or sounds that are very similar but different).

Each deck provides you with examples to work with on a daily basis. There are a number of cards lined up for me to process.  As I work with them I can decide how long (if at all) I have until I am tested again.

It has been confusing but what happens is you just begin playing with it.  Over a repeated number of tries you start to get the gist of how it works.

This is about evolutionary learning which in essence is how true language learning takes place I believe.

Here’s how it works.

You are presented with a card like this:

Example Spanish Pronunciation Card

Now when you first see this I didn’t have a clue what it sounded like.

But you have a guess first time.

And then when you tap the screen the answer comes up.

How To Use The Trainer

You get two audio files that play automatically.  The first makes the sound of the letter.  The second is an example of what it sounds like in the sentence presented.

You can the decide whether you got it right (press the green button) or you got it wrong (press the red button).

At the moment if there is any doubt on any of the questions I am giving it a red which I think means it will come up again today.

Each card comes up numerous times until I have got them right enough times for them to be taken out of the current deck.  They are then moved forward to a recall point.

So I am now on my way forward to better pronunciation. The trainer is really easy to use (now I have got the hang of it – Doh!).  Now I suppose it is just about working through this little lot to get my pronunciation up and running.

Here’s the burning question that I do have:

I wonder whether I should just focus on doing the pronunciation training before moving on to something else?

That I am not sure of.

It is not that clear just how much I can and can’t do before this phase is over because it seems to be the foundation for everything else.

I shall work on reading more of his book to discover what he recommends. Perhaps now I have a bit of knowledge about what he teaches, it might be clearer second time round.

I Think It Might Already Be Starting To Work!

But I do know that even after just a short time using it, something is happening.

I did notice this afternoon when I had Spanish radio on in the background.   Even though the pace of the speaker was still at breakneck speed, I suddenly seemed to be able to make out more of the words.

Instead of a stream of unintelligible Spanish consciousness, I started to be able to make out strings of words and separate out the noise into individual words and phrases.

I think the language might well be starting to emerge from the fog.

Or maybe that is my imagination and wishful thinking – who knows?

But what is clear is that I need to be comfortable with not understanding so that I can help my brain adjust to being able to understand.

I think it will creep up on me unawares as my brain adapts and then all of a sudden, I will understand (perhaps?).

A big BUT coming now though…

There is still a lot to consider at this early stage and it feels like I am wallowing in a lot of detail and options without really making much progress at this stage.

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