When you are learning English, often the goal is to be able to have a conversation without the need to pause and interrupt because you don’t know the word or how to build a phrase. Naturally, the focus of many students learning English is to amass new vocabulary, learn grammar structures and have opportunities to speak as much as possible. It is often thought that pronunciation will come naturally, as if you put in the time working on vocab and grammar, with time, by practising, the correct pronunciation will fall into place. That is not the case though. Pronunciation practise and awareness should be an integral part of your course if you are learning English, and there are many things you can do to fast forward your way to the correct pronunciation of English.
1. Listen, listen, listen!
Learning English is not just about studying from a book, it can be done via various mediums – like TV!. But don’t just put on your favourite Netflix series, sit with a bucket of popcorn and expect your pronunciation to magically improve. You must listen actively! In order to do that, you may have to stop paying attention to the story being told and concentrate on the pronunciation of words. Listen to the words being pronounced and how they are written; pay attention to the sounds of connected words; where is the stress of a sentence, or of a word.
Do the same with podcasts, radio shows and songs. Breaking News English is a fantastic website, where you can practice reading, vocabulary, grammar and also pronunciation – a nice way to practice pron there is using the function read and listen, you can choose American or British accents, slow, medium or fast speech and choose the level of the news lesson – from 0-6. Listen, listen, listen, pay attention and repeat!
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 what other people’s mouths do then they speak. Again use a film or tv show and emulate their mouth movements and sounds.
Check out this handy guide! It is intended for people that are working with animations but I think it’s brilliant for pronunciation practice too!
This website – Sounds of English – is also a great tool – it has videos and sound clips of vowels and consonants and also stress and intonation. And activities for you to practice those.
You can also find hundreds of videos on pronunciation on YouTube – from tricky individual sounds, to connected speech and even difficulties of pronunciation by nationality.
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. Be mindful of your tongue when you’re speaking, even dedicate 2, 3 minutes a day to speak and connect with your own tongue.
4. Use pronunciations podcasts and videos
There are hundreds of these materials 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 your mouth is as important as hearing 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.
As you can see, your own time and dedication will speed things up for you in the direction of a clear, well pronounced English. Of course dedicated lessons in your English school, face to face or online, in order to improve your accent are extremely important too. And we can help. Why not browse our website to find a programme that will suit your needs!