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¡Hola a todos! Empecé a aprender español desde cero recientemente y ahora estoy en el nivel principiante (A1). Tengo algunos problemas en la sección fonética en ejercicios de dictado recientes. Es una sección donde escribo palabras / sílabas que escucho, sin ningún contexto dado. Tengo un vocabulario bastante pequeño en este momento, por lo que la única forma en que deletreo las palabras se basa en sus sonidos. Sin embargo, no puedo distinguir muy bien entre diferentes consonantes que suenan igual: p / b / v, r / l, d / t, y / ll, c / qu / g, c / s. Por esta razón, cometo muchos errores ortográficos.

Por ejemplo, según lo que escuché, escribo "algo", pero debería ser "arco" según la respuesta. Errores similares incluyen muro / mulo, poca / boca, modo / moto, etc. El mismo error también ocurre con frecuencia cuando la consonante no va seguida de una vocal, como al / ar, o cuando el sonido no es lo suficientemente obvio, como ser / sed.

Es bastante frustrante mirar mis cuadernos de ejercicios llenos de cruces rojas. Me preguntaba si podría ofrecer algunos consejos útiles que me ayuden a entrenar mis habilidades auditivas y a distinguirlas mejor. ¡Gracias! :)


Hi, everyone! I started learning Spanish from zero recently and am at the beginner level right now (A1). I have some problems in the sección fonética in recent dictation exercises. It's a section where I write words/syllables that I hear, without any context given. I have a pretty small vocabulary right now, so the only way I spell words is based on their sounds. However, I can't distinguish very well between different consonants that sound alike: p/b/v, r/l, d/t, y/ll, c/qu/g, c/s. For this reason, I have made a lot of spelling mistakes.

For example, based on what I heard, I write "algo", but it should be "arco" according to the answer. Similar mistakes include muro/mulo, poca/boca, modo/moto, etc. The same mistake also happens frequently when the consonant is not followed by a vowel, like al/ar, or when the sound is not obvious enough, like ser/sed.

It is quite frustrating to look at my exercise books full of red crosses. I was wondering if you could offer some useful tips to help me train my listening skills and better distinguish them. Thank you! :)

  • 2
    Welcome! Your question probably fits better in Language Learning: you might try to ask there. The reason for your problem is likely that Spanish uses some sounds that do not exist in your mother tongue, so you are not used to them. The only advice I can offer is to practice a lot: listen to recordings of the words you confuse. If you learn to pronounce the words yourself, that will probably help you a lot with distinguishing them.
    – wimi
    Oct 29, 2020 at 15:34
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    Remember also to check our Resources for learning Spanish question and answers for lots of resources you can use to improve your listening skills.
    – Charlie
    Oct 29, 2020 at 16:01
  • Dictation with no context is a useless exercise. When I read your Spanish version of your question, you do not seem like a beginner at all. How can a beginner write so well in Spanish?? Did someone help you by any chance? Also, your English is advanced also.
    – Lambie
    Oct 29, 2020 at 16:06
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    @Lambie the asker has stated that they got help from Google Translator, the Spanish text comes from an automatic translation.
    – Charlie
    Oct 29, 2020 at 16:20
  • @wimi Thank you for the suggestions! I found another thread just now and it answers my question pretty well: spanish.stackexchange.com/questions/5177/…. The knack here in my understanding is to pay attention to whether any air is blown, and how smooth it is. Oct 31, 2020 at 1:47

5 Answers 5


Si escucha español de los países de hispanoamérica:

  • no hay distinción sonora entre la "s", "c" y "z"
  • tampoco entre la "b" la "v"
  • y casi está perdida la distinción sonora entre la "ll" y la "y".

Por eso para escribirlas hay que aprenderse de memoria cuál usa una palabra dada o conocer algo del origen de la palabra para deducirlo.

Lo mismo se puede decir de la "h" pues como es muda no hay manera de saber cuando se usa o no, sin embargo a veces sirve saber que la "h" si tuvo sonido en el pasado remoto y estaba muy cercano al sonido de la "f", por eso existen palabras emparentadas como "hierro" y "fierro", "fumo" con "humo".

Hay un chiste regional cuando hay duda ortográfica la gente pregunta si es con "b de burro grande" o con "v de vaca chiquita".


I learned Spanish as a second language, mostly from books, with teachers, and had similar problems with comprehension. The thing that helped me improve this the most was interaction with native speakers whom I could interrupt and ask to repeat or clarify what I didn't understand. I'm sure I was a nuisance, but it helped. If this is not available to you I would suggest another method which helped (and still helps) me. Watch Spanish-language videos or television programs with Closed Captions. It will train you to associate the sound of each phoneme with its orthographic representation. Some of the distinctions you mention are contrasts of voiced/non-voiced consonants. These distinctions are similar in English but different enough to be a problem for beginners. Perhaps your native language is one which doesn't emphasize the same contrasts, and only repeated exposure to the sounds will attune your hearing to these distinctions. Good luck; don't give up.

  • Thank you cuevero for your tips and kind words. :) My mother tongue is Chinese so it is indeed very different with respect to almost everything from Spanish. I don't remember encountering any problems as such learning English though and I agree that the contrasts of voiced/non-voiced consonants in Spanish are too nuanced for me at this moment. I'll keep working on it and see how it goes ;p Oct 31, 2020 at 1:42

Even those of us who are native speakers have trouble with some letters like s and c. It's a matter of practice and listening. Try to start by watching series or movies in Spanish, with Spanish subtitles, so that you can relate the writing with the sound. It takes some time to obtain results, but with perseverance you will achieve it.


There are certain patterns that generally occur. E.g., after m the b/v sound will generally be b but after n it will be v (cf embarcar vs enviar). b/v can be challenging because the sound of the letter is not distinguished in Spanish. Likewise for c/s/z. Again, there are orthographic rules that you can follow. c and z tend to substitute for each other with the rule that c with an s sound always precedes e or i, while z never (or almost never) does.


B and V sound the same. P is usually the same as in English. D is voiced version of T. L and R are allophones but different sounds. G is voiced form of C /Qu. C is used for [k] before A, O, and U, Qu before I and E. C is used for [s] before I and E and S elsewhere. LL and Y sound the same.

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