Accurate pronunciation is an important part of learning any language, and especially when you’re learning English. The way your speech sounds can have a big impact on whether or not people understand what you are saying and their initial impression of you. The tricky thing about pronunciation is that it not just a question of acquiring knowledge, it’s a physical skill that you need to practise regularly.
How to improve English pronunciation
There are no shortcuts to perfect pronunciation, however there are some ways you can practise more kemhamysophie.comfectively and improve your skills faster. Follow our ten top tips, start improving your pronunciation today and take a step closer towards your goal of perfect English pronunciation.
Listen to yourselfSlow down!Picture it…Get physical!Watch yourselfCopy the expertsPractice English aloneFind a language buddyPay attention to intonation and stressSing a song!
Listen to yourself
It’s often difficult to hear pronunciation errors in your own speech because you are concentrating actually communicating rather than the sound you are making. If you can’t hear your pronunciation problems, it’s tough to correct them. Try recording your speech with your smartphone or PC and making a note of specific areas you need to improve on.
Slow down!Many English learners think that speaking fluently means they need to speak fast. This is wrong. Speaking too fast reinforces bad habits and makes the speaker sound nervous and indecisive. Speaking slowly will give you time to breathe properly and think about what you want to say next. Because it gives you time to think while you are speaking, you’ll feel more relaxed and be able to concentrate on making your English sound fantastic.
Picture it…Close your eyes and think about how to make a sound bkemhamysophie.comore saying it. Visualize the positioning of your mouth and face. If you have studied with the phonemic chart, think about the sound you are making and how it relates to other English phonemes. If you have used diagrams of the mouth and tongue, think about the shape you need to make inside your mouth if you want to make the sound correctly.
Get physical!Pronunciation is a physical skill. You’re teaching your mouth a new way to move and using different muscles. Focus on difficult sounds each day. Having trouble with ‘th’? Put your tongue between your teeth (don’t bite down) and blow air out of your mouth. Feel the air move over the top of your tongue.
Copy the expertsThere’s no replacement for learning pronunciation from the experts – native-speakers. So listen! Listen to English radio programs and watch television and movies in English. Imitate what you’re hearing – even if you’re not sure what they’re saying yet.
Practice English alonePronunciation problems persist because we’re afraid to make mistakes. Create scenarios – meeting someone for the first time, ordering at a restaurant, asking for directions – then act out the dialogue by yourself. Don’t be shy.
Find a language buddyGetting feedback from an outside observer is crucial. Find a friend who’s also interested in improving their English. Try exchanging recorded messages so you can listen closely to each other’s pronunciation.
Pay attention to intonation and stressGood pronunciation is more than just mastering individual sounds. It’s also understanding intonation (the rise and fall of the voice) and stress (some sounds in words and some words in sentences are louder or clearer than others). Read poems, speeches and songs aloud, concentrating on the word stress and intonation.Give each of these tips a try next time you have a chance and find out which of them works best for you. Remember, none of them is an instant fix but they will all help you reach your goals as part of regular practice. Are you ready to improve your English pronunciation?
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Wil is a writer, teacher, learning technologist and keen language learner. He’s taught English in classrooms and online for nearly 10 years, trained teachers in using classroom and web technology, and written e-learning materials for several major websites. He speaks four languages and is currently looking for another one to start learning.