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When a Spanish “X” is located between vowels it is pronounced like an English “KS” sound, though a little softer and less explosive, as can be heard, for example, in “exactamente” (exactly). When a Spanish “X” is located before another consonant it usually adopts an “S” sound, as with, for example, “expedición” (expedition). This is not true, however, in every region of Spain or Latin America as some speakers will pronounce it again more like the soft “KS” sound. In some areas the pronunciation of the Spanish “X” before a consonant varies from word to word. 
There aren’t many Spanish words which begin with an “X” and most of them are of English origin. In these cases the “X” is usually given an “S” sound, rather than the “Z” sound that would typically be used in English. For example: “xenofobia” (xenophobia) is pronounced “senofobia”, with an “S” sound for the first “X”. 
With some Mexican place names, indeed in the name of Mexico itself, the “X” is pronounced in a similar way to the Spanish “J”. For example: “Mexico” is pronounced “Mejico”. To complicate matters further, some words of Catalan, Basque or indigenous American origin contain an “X” that is pronounced like an English “SH.” This is especially common in southern Mexican and Central American place names. For example: the large Guatemalan city, “Xela”, is pronounced “SHEL-ah”. 
I will now give you some examples of Spanish words featuring the “X” pronunciation and I would like you to repeat each word after me paying attention to the distinct “X” sound. If you would like to see the meaning of any words you are unsure of please see the lesson notes.
Firstly, we will practice the pronunciation of the Spanish “X” between vowels:

Listen and repeat:

Exacto: exact
Aproximado: estimated, approximate
Auxiliar: assistant
Auxilio: help
Boxeo: boxing
Claxon: horn
Conexión: connection
Tóxico: toxic
Oxígeno: oxygen
Exagerar: exaggerate
Examen: exam

Next, let´s practice the Spanish “X” before a consonant:

Listen and repeat:

Texto: text
Experto: expert
Exceso: excess
Excepto: except
Excusa: excuse

Finally, we will practice some words that start with the letter “X”:

Listen and repeat:

Xilófono: xylophone
Xilografía: xylography
Xenofobia: xenophobia
Xerografía: xerography
Xenofilia: xenophilia

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