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Lesson Transcript

Beatriz: Bienvenidos a Spanishpod101.com. Buenos días, me llamo Beatriz.
Joseph: Joseph here. Spanish Phonetic Series, Lesson 1 – “Learning the alphabet.”
Beatriz: Hola amigos. I am Beatriz and I’m here with Joseph. Hola Joseph, buenos días.
Joseph: Muy buenos días, Beatriz. Hello and bienvenidos. Welcome to the first lesson of the Spanish Phonetic Series at Spanishpod101.com.
Beatriz: This is the place to learn how the Spanish language is correctly pronounced.
Joseph: We’ll walk you through the basics of Spanish pronunciation, intonation, inflexion and spelling, so that you start the learning process off with solid foot in.
Beatriz: Así es. Learning the way that the Spanish language sounds will made the rest of the learning process a lot easier.
Joseph: That’s right. So, join us for this lesson of Spanishpod101.
Beatriz: Welcome to inaugural lesson of our Phonetic Series at Spanishpod101.com.

Lesson focus

Joseph: For this lesson, we’ll begin by going over the Spanish alphabet, “el abecedario”, teaching you the tools you need in order to learn how to spell in Spanish.
Beatriz: After that, we’ll look at some common mistakes that occur when foreigners try to spell out words in Spanish.
Joseph: And then, we’ll practice spelling some words in Spanish, showing you “step by step”, “paso a paso”, how this is done. Reinforce what you’ve learned by using the Grammar Bank of the Learning Center at Spanishpod101.com. In this lesson, we’ll study “el abecedario” – the Spanish alphabet. Beatriz, how do you think we should start out today? ¿Cómo quisieras empezar?
Beatriz: Let’s start out by explaining a few things about the Spanish alphabet.
Joseph: Ok. So, is there “una regla general”, “a general rule”, that we can introduce here?
Beatriz: Claro. Of course. The first thing you should know about the Spanish alphabet is that each letter has its own name and this name is not necessarily the same as the sound which the letter represents.
Joseph: Buen punto. Great point. Now, something similar to this occurs in the English language alphabet, too. Take for example the letter “w”. We know that the name of this letter is simple “w”, yet the sound that this letter represents is “oa”, as in “water”. So, we can see that the name of the letter and the sound which this letter represents are not the same. All right. So, Beatriz, could you show us how this happens in the Spanish alphabet?
Beatriz: I thought you will never ask. Let’s observe the letter “y”. The Spanish name for this letter is “i griega” which really means “greek i”. The sound that the “i griega” represents is “y” as in “yeso”. So, you can see that the name of this letter and the sound which it represents are quite a bit different.
Joseph: They sure are. So, it’s clear that the names of letters in “el abecedario” are different from the sounds which they represent. Beatriz, what do you say we run through the Spanish alphabet?
Beatriz: Sounds like a plan. Why don’t you start off with the English letter and then I’ll give the Spanish letter?
Joseph: Sounds good. Ok, here we go. A
Beatriz: “A”.
Joseph: B
Beatriz: “Be grande”.
Joseph: C
Beatriz: “Ce”.
Joseph: D
Beatriz: “De”.
Joseph: E
Beatriz: “E”.
Joseph: F
Beatriz: “Efe”.
Joseph: G
Beatriz: “Ge”.
Joseph: H
Beatriz: “Hache”.
Joseph: I
Beatriz: “I latina”.
Joseph: J
Beatriz: “Jota”.
Joseph: K
Beatriz: “Ka”.
Joseph: L
Beatriz: “Ele”.
Joseph: Double L
Beatriz: “Elle”.
Joseph: M
Beatriz: “Eme”.
Joseph: N
Beatriz: “Ene”.
Joseph: N with a tilde.
Beatriz: “Eñe”.
Joseph: O
Beatriz: “O”.
Joseph: P
Beatriz: “Pe”.
Joseph: Q
Beatriz: “Cu”.
Joseph: R
Beatriz: “Ere”.
Joseph: S
Beatriz: “Ese”.
Joseph: T
Beatriz: “Te”.
Joseph: U
Beatriz: “U”.
Joseph: V
Beatriz: “Ve chica”.
Joseph: W
Beatriz: “Ve doble”.
Joseph: X
Beatriz: “Equis”.
Joseph: Y
Beatriz: “I griega”.
Joseph: Z
Beatriz: “Zeta”. Ok, now, we will look at the common mistake related to the spelling words in the Spanish. To begin, we will learn how to distinguish the letters “Be grande”, “Ve chica” o “Ve doble”.
Joseph: Sounds like a good plan.
Beatriz: So, Joseph, can you tell me, please, what the “Be grande” is in English?
Joseph: “Be grande”, a ver... “Be grande” that’s the letter B.
Beatriz: Correcto. Right. Now, the name of this letter “Be grande” is really the big B.
Joseph: Right. And we call it “Be grande” or the big B because there’re other letters whose names are also B or “be”.
Beatriz: Exacto. Exactly. For example, we also have “Ve chica”. Which letter is this, Joseph?
Joseph: “Ve chica”, “Ve chica”... That letter is the V.
Beatriz: Así es. That’s right. And the name “Ve chica” really means the little B.
Joseph: Tú lo has dicho. You said it. And the reason why both of the names of these letters is the same is because the sounds which they represent are identical. “Be” and “Ve”. We’ll take more about these sounds in future Phonetics Lessons. But, for now, let’s finish up “la comparación”, “the comparison”.
Beatriz: Joseph, which letter is this one, “Ve doble”?
Joseph: “Ve doble”. That one is W.
Beatriz: Muy bien. Very good. And the name “Ve doble” really means double B, which is similar to the English W.
Joseph: You know it is, isn’t it?
Beatriz: Yes, some people don’t pay much attention learning the Spanish alphabet.
Joseph: Isn’t that the truth. I know for me it took a while to learn how to spell out words in Spanish.
Beatriz: Yes, but with some practice, you learned it.
Joseph: I did learn it. In fact, why don’t we do some practice?
Beatriz: All ready.
Joseph: Muy bien. All right. Now, we’re going to do some practice.
Beatriz: La práctica. Today, we’ll practice at spelling some words in Spanish.
Joseph: Now, a one to remember that to spell words in Spanish we need to use the names of the letters and not the sounds which the letters represent.
Beatriz: Tú lo has dicho. You said it. So, why don’t I start? I will say a word in Spanish. Joseph, you can translate it, then I will spell it in Spanish and you can spell it in English.
Joseph: Suena muy bien. Sounds very good, Beatriz. I’m ready when you are.
Beatriz: All right. The first word is “amarillo”.
Joseph: “Yellow.”
Beatriz: A - eme - a - ere - I latina - elle - o
Joseph: “A-m-a-r-i-ll-o”.
Beatriz: “Amarillo”.
Joseph: “Amarillo”.
Beatriz: Ok. The next word is “bienvenido”.
Joseph: “Welcome.”
Beatriz: Be grande - i latina - e - ene - ve chica - e - ene - i latina - de - o
Joseph: “B-i-e-n-v-e-n-i-d-o”.
Beatriz: “Bienvenido”.
Joseph: “Bienvenido”.
Beatriz: All right. Now, let’s switch roles. This time you start by giving the word in Spanish. I will translate it, then you can spell out in Spanish and I will spell it in English.
Joseph: Suena muy bien. Sounds very good. Let’s start with the word “divertido”.
Beatriz: “Fun.”
Joseph: De - i latina - ve chica - e - ere - te - i latina - de - o
Beatriz: “D-i-v-e-r-t-i-d-o”.
Joseph: “Divertido”.
Beatriz: “Divertido”.
Joseph: Ok. Let’s spell out one more word. This time, “tranquilo”.
Beatriz: “Relaxing”
Joseph: Te - ere - a - ene - cu - u - i latina - ele - o
Beatriz: “T-r-a-n-q-u-i-l-o”.
Joseph: “Tranquilo”.
Beatriz: “Tranquilo”. Hey, that was pretty good.
Joseph: How could it not be with a teacher like you?
Beatriz: Ahh, ¡por favor!


Joseph: En serio, me has enseñado mucho. This is as far as we’ve got in today. Don’t forget to check out the Newbie Series in Spanishpod101.com.
Beatriz: Yes, it’s a great place to learn the basics of the Spanish language.
Joseph: So, we’ll see you soon.
Beatriz: ¡Ya nos vemos!
Joseph: ¡Chao!

Spanish Alphabet


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SpanishPod101.com Verified
Sunday at 06:30 PM
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Today's lesson was recorded on-site in NY, USA. Which letter do you think presents the most difficulty in regards to its pronunciation? What is it about this pronunciation that makes it difficult?

Thursday at 06:04 AM
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I'm glad that you're enjoying the lessons! With regards to the distinction between the "i latina" and the "i griega", we understand that there are a number of ways to talk about these. We preferred to distinguish them this way, which seems explicit to us, even though, as you say, we often just say "i" and "i griega".

I think it's a great idea for you to start the lessons from the beginning! Even though you'll probably be reviewing a bit, I'm sure you'll also learn some new things along the way.

Muchas gracias por el cumplido acerca de mi accento. Soy limeña y no lo puedo ocultar, pero me esfuerzo en pronunciar bien las eses, ya que muchos limeños inclusive yo inconscientemente pronunciamos la ese como si fuera la jota. :lol: Espero leer tus próximos comentarios sobre ésta y/u otras lecciones.

Muy agradecida,


Wednesday at 02:15 AM
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Hola everyone!

I learned Spanish at the advanced level in the past, but forgot most of it ( I was using French instead!). Now, I'm starting at the very beginning, and I'm glad I did, because this lesson taught me things that I learned a little differently when I first started Spanish in high school. (That was a *few* years ago :wink:).

In my class, we never learned that "i" was "i latina", for example. We just called it "i", and distinguished the "y" by calling it "i griega".

Even though I can read and understand Beatriz's last comment here, I am going to go through the lessons one by one starting at the Newbie level, because they are all so informative.

And Beatriz, what a beautiful accent you have!


Thursday at 11:41 AM
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¡Hola, Jõao, hola amigos!

¿Cómo están todos? Quisiera aprovechar esta oportunidad para hacer un

comentario acerca de los nombres usados para las letras del abecedario

(o alfabeto) y también acerca de su pronunciación.

- La "b" es llamada indistintamente "b grande", "b larga", "b alta" y

"b bilabial";

- La "v" es llamada indistintamente "uve", "v chica", "v corta", "v

baja" y "v dentilabial"

- La "y" es llamada "i griega" y pronunciada "ye"

- La "r" es lllamada "ere"

- La "rr" es llamda "erre", siendo un diágrafo derivado de la "r"

- La "l" es llamada "ele"

- La "ll" es llamada "elle"

- La "ch" es llamda "che", siendo un diágrafo derivado de la "c"

Tradicionalmente la "be" debía ser pronunciada de forma "bilabial" (o

sea, labio contra labio) y la "v" debía ser pronunciada de forma

"labiodental" (o sea, acercando el labio inferior a los bordes de los

dientes incisivos superiores). Actualmente no existe diferencia alguna

en la pronuciación de las letras "v" y "b".

Como vemos la "b" y la "v" son un muy buen ejemplo de cómo la fonética

del castellano ha evolucionado simplificándose. Otro punto interesante

es la letra "h" (léase "hache") que hoy en día es muda. Es decir se

escribe pero no se pronuncia, como por ejemplo: "hielo" que se lee


La gramática de un idioma va cambiando. Antes se pensaba que la

función de la gramática era dictar las reglas que los demás debían

seguir en base a la manera "correcta" de hablar. Hoy en día la

gramática normaliza lo que la gente día a día va convirtiendo en

norma común de uso.

João Paulo
Tuesday at 12:49 AM
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By the way, I tried using some phonetic symbols in my post above, but they all got converted into "?".

Anyway, I think it's possible to understand the general idea.


João Paulo
Tuesday at 12:48 AM
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Hello, Joseph...

I knew there was something from Bs As in your accent. LOL

Anyway, of course I can help.

People from the city of Buenos Aires (Bs As) pronounce "ll" and "y" like the sound of "s" in pleasure /pl'e??/.

I would also just like to point out two things:

1) when "y" is alone in the word "y" • meaning "and" • it's simply pronounced like "e" in English in all variants of Spanish pronunciation.

2) People in other parts of Argentina follow basically the same pronunciation used in the rest of Latin America, pronouncing "ll" and "y" like the letter "j" /d?/

I think that's it, isn't it?

Saludos navideños a todos en SPOD también.

Abrazos :cool:

SpanishPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 12:07 AM
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Oi João Paulo!

Good points! Yes, you are exactly right. There are some variations on the names of the Spanish letters.

I would say that "r" should be called "ere", because the "rr" is pronounced "erre". In practical terms though, you can always say "doble ere" (double r). The same thing occurs with the "l" which is called "ele" and the "ll" which can be called either 'elle" or "doble ele".

Also, for both the "i" and the "y" we can often say "i" (pronounced ("ee", like in "feet"). We usually distinguish one from another (i-latina, i-griega) when we want to clarify which one is used.

About your comment on my "porteño" accent, I get that a lot. For those who don't know, the word "porteño" refers to someone/thing from Buenos Aires, Argentina. The answer to your question: no, jajaja, I haven't been to Argentina (unfortunately), but I do have a number of Argentine friends and apparently a bit of their speech patterns has stuck with me. Also, I have to admit that I'm very fond of the porteño accent... It sounds so.... convincing! Jajaja...

Maybe you could help out our English speakers or rather, our aspiring Spanish speakers: how would you describe the porteño "ll" of "amarillo" as opposed to the softer "ll" spoken elsewhere? Can you think of an example with an English word/sound that demonstrates it? I know it's a tough one, but I bet you can figure it out!

Desde NY, te mando muchos saludos navideños,


João Paulo
Monday at 11:31 PM
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I would just to make a point about the name of the letters here.

I also learned the name of the following letters this way:

* r = /'erre/ or /'ere/ - this last one, just like Beatriz taught!

* b = /'be/ or /'be 'larga/ - this last one used in Argentina

* v = /'ube/ or /'be 'corta/ - this last one used in Argentina

* i = /'i/ - this is the first time I hear it being pronounced like "i latina"

Also, Joseph, have you spent some time in Buenos Aires? I heard you pronouncing "amarillo" and you sounded just like a "porteño" :wink:

¡Hasta la próxima!