Tá Falado

November 9, 2006

Supplementary Lesson 1:  English, Spanish, and Portuguese Vowel Sounds

Filed under: Supplementary — @ 5:52 pm

Unlike the regular podcast lessons, we’ve included some other supplementary lessons. Think of these as a sort of Appendix to the regular lessons. In this first supplementary lesson we provide an audio sample of all of the vowel sounds in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. We’re sure it will help listeners get a feel for each of the sounds.

PODCAST LINK: Supplementary Lesson 01


  1. First of all, thank you for the Tá Falado podcast.
    >I listened to your supplementary lesson and I
    >would like to clear up a doubt I have about the
    >sound(s?) the Spanish “e” represents. I speak
    >Spanish as a second language and I have always
    >felt that there are two prounciations that this
    >letter represents.
    >For me, the “e” in hablé is different than the
    >”e” in pues, tres, or in the word pronounced in
    >your lesson, siete (I hear two different sounds
    >represented by the two “e”s in this word – the
    >first being more like the English “e” in our
    >word – web).
    >What do you think?

    Comment by Edward Schiffer — January 4, 2007 @ 4:04 pm

  2. Hi Edward,

    Good question, I’ll take a shot at clarifying it a bit.
    Traditionally when we talk about different vowel sounds, we are talking about vowel quality (timbre). Most would say that there is only one vowel timbre in Spanish. That is “e” is always “e” (which sounds closer to “gate” and not “get”).

    So, chances are the differences that you hear are more related to stress. That is, the stressed syllable is usually longer and louder than the others. That also means that the unstressed syllables are shorter and softer. You may also be hearing the effects of diphthongs (such as the combination of vowels in the word “siete”). Another possibility is that you are talking with a speakers from Mexico and some of them are famous for reducing their vowels, something that isn’t typical of most dialects.

    My advice would be to think of the vowel “timbre” as the same. When speaking Spanish, try to maintain the same vowel quality no matter where. Truth told, as native speakers of English, our problem is the opposite. We usually change the vowel sound when we shouldn’t.

    Hope that helps,


    Comment by orkelm — January 4, 2007 @ 4:26 pm

  3. Thanks Orlando. Eric said he did not know where you were because you are between semesters. Obviously, you are on the computer! I am so glad I got an iPod. I hope you keep feeding this podcast and start others for Portuguese.

    Regards to all,

    Ed Schiffer

    Comment by Edward Schiffer — January 4, 2007 @ 4:40 pm

  4. The comparison charts are very helpful. I wish I listened to these two lessons before any other! Thanks!

    Comment by Marina Potoplyak — June 26, 2009 @ 3:43 pm

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Brazilpod  |  2022-08-17, 11:24:39 PM