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How to Improve English Pronunciation October 14th, 2015

Learning New Words

When you learn a new word, make sure you learn the correct pronunciation. Repeat the word until you have mastered it. If you learn a new word’s definition and spelling but do not learn the correct pronunciation, you will reinforce the incorrect spelling and it will be harder to correct it in the future.

Practice by reading out loud everyday

It is very important that you read out loud everyday for about fifteen minutes, try to put extra emphasis and effort in properly pronouncing every word in the sentence. Before reading, however, you must make sure you know the correct pronunciation. To be sure you pronounce each word appropriately, listen to an audiobook while following along and reading the text. First, listen to the recording only. Then, read along with the audiobook. Finally, simply read the text at your own pace without the recording. Do this for no more than 15-20 minutes. If you go for longer, you may get tired and slip back into your native accent and not notice.

Knowing how to pronounce words correctly in English is important, but it is equally as important to recognize the intonation within sentences. Every language has its own “sound” and rhythm that comes naturally to native speakers, but may take time for English learners to master. Depending on the punctuation and meaning of the sentence, some words are emphasized by inflecting your voice (speaking more loudly or raising the pitch). A simple way to think of this is by comparing how you would say the following sentences:

  1. They went to the festival too.
  2. They went to the festival too?!

Though the words in both sentences are exactly the same, they have different meanings that are conveyed by how you say them.

Tip: When you are listening to an audiobook and following along with the text, underline the words that are emphasized. This will help you remember to pronounce them.  

Record Yourself

Though it might be uncomfortable to hear your own voice on a recording, it’s very helpful to listen to yourself speak English so you can recognize where you are making pronunciation errors. If you are struggling on a particular word, practice pronouncing it in front of the mirror, paying close attention to how your mouth is moving as you articulate it. It will be easier for you to understand how you should move your mouth to accurately pronounce a word.

Sing Along!

An easy and fun way to practice pronunciation is to sing along to your favorite English songs! Try to imitate the singer. This will help you get accustomed to the flow and rhythm of the language.

Imitate a Native Speaker

Choose a native English speaker from a podcast or television show that you could imitate. Make sure there is a lot of material of them speaking so you can truly familiarize yourself with their voice and accent. Focus on one or two sentences at a time, and repeat them, imitating the exact way they say them. Try to pick up on all the nuances of their voice: when they raise it, when they pause, etc.

Perfecting your accent requires daily practice. Do not be afraid to make errors while you are speaking, and be aware of when you make them so that you can correct yourself. Good luck!!