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None of these sounds – or “phonemes” – require much energy or effort to be pronounced and so evoke natural and peaceful tones.Some examples are: autumn, melody, lullaby, velvet, luminous, tranquil, marigold, whisper, gossamer, caress.New and positive experiences thus bring new “love” for words with initially tricky consonants, such as esperanza, izquierda, agujetas and contraseña.
That knowledge helps build a phonemic and phonological foundation.
Secondly, 30% to 40% of all words in English have a related word in Spanish.
The first time we hear something new, a foreign sound or word – even an unknown word in our own languages – something in it may provoke delight or revulsion.
Often with familiar words, it’s almost impossible to simply look at one and separate it from its meaning.
When I teach pronunciation and intonation to Spanish beginners, I use the word “jeringuilla” as an example.
It has all the makings of a word our brains love – syllables that flow, short vocalic sounds, /n/ and the strong Spanish /x/ which offers a worthy challenge for a native English speaker – but imagine their surprise when they learn it actually means “syringe”…This is particularly striking in the example of “desafortunadamente”. Desafortunadamente therefore has obvious negative connotations, but learners of a new language are more likely to experience disassociation with a word from its meaning, which rarely happens in your mother tongue.Speakers of a new language can therefore enjoy a word on its own merits, disregarding its connotations.When we hear a word, the way we perceive it will be influenced not only by denotation but also by connotation.Understandably, words associated with positive experiences will be perceived as pleasing.However, the way our experiences influence what words we like remains fluid throughout life.For the last 20 years or so, I have witnessed this with my Spanish beginner students.Carmen Álvarez-Mayo does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.When we listen to a foreign language, we may hear sounds which do not exist in our mother tongue, and may sound different from anything we have ever heard before.If we effectively “conquer” a word, it becomes a word we like to say and hear.Sounds that at the start of the course British students struggled with – /θ/, /x/, /ɲ/, the rolled /r/ and /ʧ/ – because they are scarce or do not exist in their mother tongue, became more popular by the end of the year.