You can learn a language; you can write it, read it, listen to it, but can you pronounce it?
Pronouncing it is one of the most difficult aspects of learning a language. It could be argued that English is a difficult language to pronounce, but it’s not just because there are American and British pronunciation differences. Different stresses on the same word can completely change the meaning of the word itself.
In today’s post, we have compiled the top five ways to improve your pronunciation.
- Listen, listen, listen!
Listening is already a good way to improve pronunciation. You can do this by watching films, listening to podcasts, songs, music, and pronunciation videos. Listening helps you to get a feeling of how words should be pronounced.
As a bonus, if you switch on the subtitles on the films, you can read along out loud, or quietly, as the characters speak. This action will help you to remember the pronunciation more accurately.
- Notice your movements.
When we speak, we move our mouths. Yes, this is obvious BUT following the previous advice of reading subtitles, you get a feeling of how you should produce a word.
You can also watch how you move your mouth when speaking in front of a mirror. If you don’t like mirrors and prefer to do things by touch, you can place your finger in front of your mouth.
- Break the words down.
This tip is also very good for spelling. If you break down a word, you do it into syllables. For example, syllable broken down would be syl-la-ble, and that is how you would remember to spell it with double ‘l’. For some words, like Wednesday, this tip is more helpful for spelling it but it works in pronunciation just as well.
- Add stress to words.
This is perhaps the most important tip. The English language is a stressed language. This means that the wrong stress can change the meaning of the word.
Words like present mean two different things depending on stress; i.e. PRE-sent is a gift that is given during the holidays and birthdays whereas pre-SENT is to show something in front of others.
- Record yourself.
For those of us who are shy, this might seem like the worst tip we could be given. Listening to your own voice is terrible.
However, the idea is that you record yourself reading a page of your favourite book, during a speaking exercise and hear it back. You are more likely to notice when and where you are making pronunciation mistakes and can work to fix that.