Could you repeat please? Say that again?
Do people often ask you to repeat things because they didn’t understand you? Or perhaps you speak clearly but just wishes that your pronunciation continues to improve until you perfect difficult sounds? (th I’m looking at you) Fear no more. In this week’s Academic Blog, our Director of Studies Marianne, will give you some essential tips on how to improve your accent quickly.
Learning a foreign language is not only a matter of grammar and vocabulary. Good pronunciation is key to be understood and to avoid communication breakdowns. And learning to pronounce English words correctly it may well be one of the hardest parts of learning English. Unlike many other languages, reading a new word in English does not give you a clue on how it sounds – that is because English is formed of many other languages – Germanic brought by the Anglo Saxons, Norse brought by the Vikings and French from the Normans. We get results like heard, that looks like beard but sounds like bird. And how about meat and great and threat that rhyme with suite and straight and debt. I know! I can drive you crazy. Let me give you 5 tips that will help you pronounce words better:
1. Listen, listen, listen and learn how to listen
Perhaps in conversation you don’t have time to pay attention to the words, as you need to understand what’s going on, but you can do active listening exercises by yourself, using films, music and podcasts. Use Netflix or YouTube and select something to watch with English subtitles – concentrate on noticing how a word is written and how it sounds, look for words that connect, identify patterns of connected words, pause, repeat it yourself. 5 minutes a day, that’s all you need. Music is also a great way to practice the pronunciation, rhythm and tone of English. Check out this great guide on how to learn with music.
2. Notice the movements of your mouth and lips.
The simplest way to do this is by using a mirror and look at what your lips and mouth do when pronouncing certain sounds. Notice other people’s mouth do then they speak. Take a look at this guide for 3D animation – it gives you an idea on what the mouth looks like when making certain sounds.
3. Notice your tongue.
The main difference between rice and lice is your tongue. Your tongue moves to different places inside the mouth when you speak and you probably never stopped to think about it.
4. Use pronunciations podcasts and videos
There are hundreds of those online for free and a simple google search will result in many different links on how to practice and improve your pronunciation. From individual sounds to connected speech, stress and rhythm to general tips. Get googling.
5. Record yourself
On camera. Because to see what you do with mouth is as important as to hear how you sound. Use your phone, or PhotoBooth on your Mac or Movie Moment on your Windows computer. Select a clip from a film and record yourself trying to replicate the stress, the tone and pronunciation of the words. Compare both, do it again.
Keen on improving your English accent and your English skills in general? Check our website for information on the courses we offer at www.ttischool.com