DIY Spanish: Learn the Alphabet

Updated: Jun 25, 2020



Learn the Vocabulary

  • Listen to the video several times and sing along. Keep practicing until you can sing it without the help of the video.

  • If you want to see written pronunciation for the letters and/or hear them pronounced individually, check out this link.

Extra videos...

Here are a couple more videos, if you want to hear more of the alphabet in Spanish.

Are you wondering why some videos include "ch," "ll," and/or "rr"? Check out the section on this topic at the bottom of the page!

Instead of a song, this video simply pronounces each letter, then gives examples of each one in context:


This video uses the traditional alphabet song:


This alphabet song has the letter names, the different sounds they make, and examples:



Learn the Accent Marks

The Spanish language uses three accent marks and two different punctuation marks. Here's what you need to know:


The ´ mark: El acento

  • The acento mark can occur above any vowel: á, é, í, ó, ú

  • When spelling out loud, simply say acento after the name of the letter. "Sí" would be spelled out ese, ee acento.

  • It can indicate which syllable in the word is emphasized when pronouncing it when the word doesn't follow regular pronunciation rules

  • It can distinguish between two words that are pronounced the same and would otherwise be spelled the same, but that have different meanings. Example: (with an accent) means "yes," while si (no accent) means "if."

  • An accent is always used to distinguish question words. Example: Quién means "who" and is used for a question ("Who are you?"). Quien also means who, but is used in a statement ("I know who you are").


The ¨ mark: La diéresis

  • The diéresis mark only appears over the letter u: ü

  • If ü is used, it will be followed by the letter e or the letter i

  • The diéresis indicates the two vowels placed together should be pronounced separately. With no accent mark, ue is pronounced "wey." With the diéresis accent, it is pronounced "oo - eh"


The ˜ mark: Ñ

  • This technically isn't an accent mark, rather it is its own separate letter in Spanish

  • The mark changes the pronunciation of the letter n from an "nnn" sound (for n) to a "nyuh" sound (for ñ)

  • The name for this is simply ñ, which is pronounced "enyey"


Punctuation

  • Use the accent mark ¡ at the beginning of sentences that end with !

  • Use the accent mark ¿ at the beginning of sentences that end with ?


Take a look at these links for more information on accent marks and their usage and on punctuation in Spanish.


Practice the Vocabulary

  • Quiz yourself. Try spelling out different words in Spanish.

  • Use these free online games to practice:

--Bingo Alfabeto: Play Bingo by clicking on the letter you hear in Spanish. To start, press "Jugar," then "letras y sus nombres."

--Ruta Maya: In this game, click on the letter you hear in Spanish so your character can complete her run. This game is a little slower than the previous one. To start, press the pink play button.

--Spell out a word in Spanish to your partner. They write it down, then check with you to see if it's correct

--Play "Hangman" together in Spanish


TIP: In order to learn how to speak a language, you have to speak it! Doing these partner kinds of activities as much as possible will help you learn faster and learn to speak the language faster.

Typing in Spanish

Yes, you can type the accent marks and punctuation used in Spanish on your computer or your phone. You can even easily change the language setting in programs like Microsoft Word, which will allow you to spell check your Spanish.

  • For a PC, you can use the ctrl key for many accent marks. There are also four-digit codes you type with the alt key that types them. Alternatively, you can change the language setting on your computer, which gives you more typing options. Details here.

  • Things are somewhat simpler for a Mac, where you use the option key. Details here.

  • On most phones, you simply hold the letter that needs an accent mark, then select the accent you want from the menu that appears. Here's a demonstration.

  • In Microsoft Word, you can change the language setting by going to File --> Options --> Language. This enables spell check and grammar check for what you're typing. More info here. I've noticed Word has also gotten better at detecting the language you're using and changing itself.

  • Google Docs does quite well at detecting which language you're using and changing its spell check accordingly. If it doesn't, however, simply go to File --> Language.


Aren't "ch," "ll," and "rr" separate letters in Spanish?

Many beginning Spanish learners learned that the Spanish alphabet had three extra letters: ch, ll, and ñ. The three were often included in the alphabet and alphabet song that many students learned. You would also see them as a separate section in a Spanish-language dictionary.


Ñ is part of the alphabet in Spanish, and officially comes after N when alphabetizing Spanish words. Ch and ll were officially part of the Spanish-language alphabet in the past, but no longer are. The Spanish language actually has an official governing body, the Real Academia Española (RAE) in Spain. In 2010, in an effort to simplify things, the RAE officially removed ch and ll from the alphabet. Ñ, however, remains (for more info, check out this article).


What about rr? Again, many Spanish students learned that rr was part of the alphabet. Unlike ch, ll, and ñ, rr was actually never officially part of the alphabet in Spanish. Instead, it appears that it has sometimes been included in the alphabet to help Spanish-language learners distinguish between the Spanish /r/ and /rr/ sounds: /r/ is described as a "tap" or a "flip," and is a single tap of the tongue against the top of the mouth. /rr/ is "rolled" or "trilled," and your tongue touches multiple times. Hear examples at this link.


This video can help you learn to pronounce both sounds:


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