Pronunciation is a part of language learning which is sometimes forgotten, but it’s a very important thing to practice. You might have perfect grammar and know loads of vocabulary, but if nobody can understand you, then it will still be hard to communicate. If you are lucky enough to study at an English school in The UK, then your teacher should give you lots of help with this. However, if you’re looking for some ideas to help with self-study, please read the tips below:
Use your phone
If you ever want to find out if you are pronouncing something correctly, there is a quick and easy way to check. Most mobile devices now have built in voice recognition software, for example, the iPhone’s Siri. Change your phone settings to English and practice speaking to it. Ask it questions or just repeat words which you find difficult to pronounce. It will immediately give you feedback on your pronunciation and let you know if you are easy to understand.
Use what you know
A good way to improve your pronunciation of words which you struggle with is to focus on using words which you can pronounce. Find a word with the same sound and add to it. For example, let’s take the word ‘saw’. This one can be confusing because the spelling suggests a different pronunciation. However, this word sounds just like ‘or’ with an ‘s’. So if you can pronounce ‘or’, you can also pronounce ‘saw’, just by adding an ‘s’. Try it!
Use a mirror
Sometimes a word or sound can be tricky because you don’t have the same sound in your language. This means you have to train your mouth to make the right shape. It can help to look in the mirror while you doing this. You should notice the position of your lips and the shape your mouth makes. Also, think about where your tongue is in your mouth. Is it behind your teeth? In the middle?
Many students say they would like to have an English accent. Unfortunately, there is no magic trick for this. The only way to achieve this is to copy the accents you hear from series, movies or other native speakers you meet. This can feel quite embarrassing at first because you are acting, but don’t let that stop you. A good place to start is to listen and repeat sentences just by humming. By doing this, you can start to learn the intonation used in British (or American!) English.