7 tips for sounder pronunciation in English


It takes a lot of time to memorize the specifics of tricky grammatical rules and the complicated verb forms of the English language. The greatest challenge, however, is probably knowing how to pronounce it in English.

Working on your pronunciation is likely not one of your priorities when learning English, but it will have an impressive impact on your language and listening skills. If you speak clearly, people will understand you better. You will also be able to learn faster because you will instantly identify English words as you listen. And of course, with good English pronunciation, you will appear more confident in various situations.

It doesn't matter whether you don't know the difference between free and three, or whether you torment yourself with the pronunciation of squirrel and colonel, or whether you are still stuck with bought, boat, and but. Use these seven simple tips to pronounce English sentences like a native speaker in no time.

1. Learn the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)

It is natural to struggle with pronouncing new vocabulary, but the worst thing you can do is learn a word wrong from the start. So instead, it would be best if you immediately memorized the correct English pronunciation of new words. Knowing the international phonetic alphabet is a handy first step towards this.

The IPA uses characters to represent phonemes or individual tones. If you've ever looked up a word in a dictionary, you've probably noticed a series of strange characters just after the new word - that's IPA spelling.

For example, the word ball is made up of three different sounds. In the IPA, this word is written bɔl, each of these letters representing a different sound. Suppose you don't need someone to tell you the word if you know the phonetic alphabet. Then, by reading these signs, you will immediately know how to pronounce them.

This doesn't seem very clear at first, but once you have learned the symbols and sounds of the IPA, you can easily pronounce any English word correctly, all with the help of your dictionary.

2. Identify your weak points

Many language learners know that they need to work on their pronunciation, but they are unsure how. Moreover, they're not exactly sure where to start. While it is undoubtedly a good idea to master the entire English pronunciation perfectly, you will be more successful if you break your efforts down into manageable small sub-goals.

Speaking with a native speaker is one of the simplest ways to identify your inadequacies. Ask a good friend or teacher to listen to you speak, pointing out any mistakes you make. It is often challenging for learners to spot their own pronunciation mistakes. A native speaker can very quickly help you identify your weak points.

If you don't know a native English speaker, you should search online for someone who can help you. There are many different websites and smartphone apps that make it super easy to get in touch with native English speakers worldwide for free.

3. Hear the language consciously

Listening to the language doesn't sound like a special tip for learning English pronunciation. Yet, it's incredible how conscious listening can change the way you understand common English words.

Maybe you didn't understand what I said before. I said: you have to focus on the pronunciation. One more time, you have to pay extreme attention to the details of the voicing of English native speakers. Because when we use the focus training, your brain will learn better how to distinguish similar sounds, which we call minimal pairs or contrasting pairs.

This is one of the most underrated tips for English as Second Langue (ESL) learners, so listen attentively to the details; do not be lazy or lie to yourself. If you are indeed listening, you have to pay attention to the details. At first, it seems to be very challenging, but with practice, you'll notice that it will be effortless to distinguish with time. So please give it a try.

English is spoken worldwide, with myriad accents and unique pronunciations. Watching a movie or TV series is a great way to learn slang terms and familiarize yourself with the everyday language of native speakers. However, you can accidentally acquire incorrect pronunciations and language patterns of particular dialects.

You can avoid this by carefully listening to specific English sources.

First, identify the accent you want to learn. Most native English speakers understand each other easily, but pronunciation and language patterns differ from place to place. Most students study either British English or American English, both of which are widely used worldwide.

To do this, follow these step-by-step instructions:

Improve pronunciation

Identify reputable sources of the spoken language. The news, documentaries, and talk shows are great ways to learn how ordinary people speak English. For example, how would you like a few minutes from Ellen, one of the US's most popular talk show hosts? Or, instead, you could try to figure out the language differences between English entertainer James Corden and former American first lady Michelle Obama.

Write down unfamiliar words and repeat them, trying to mimic the sound of the speaker's voice.

Your goal should be to incorporate regular listening exercises into your everyday life. By constantly immersing yourself in the language, your ear will learn the different sounds that make up the English language.

4. Try the shadowing technique

As a small child, did you ever try to imitate your brother or sister and drive them crazy in the process? Shadowing is the same concept, and only you won't get on anyone's nerves with it.

To mimic a native English speaker, you can use an audio file or video that you like. For example, you might want to find a podcast from the BBC or practice with a documentary narrator instead.

While hearing the person speak, try to repeat the words out loud as much as possible. Even if you don't understand everything you're saying, this technique works. You are just trying to make the same sound like the person speaking in the recording.

Pause your video or audio recording as needed and repeat this exercise as often as possible for maximum learning progress. Not only can you use the shadowing technique to improve your English pronunciation, but you can also familiarize yourself with the rhythm of the language. For example, notice how the speaker emphasizes their syllables and what words are stressed in a sentence.

5. English pronunciation self-recording

When you focus on pronouncing English words correctly, it can be challenging to spot your mistakes simultaneously. A simple solution is to record yourself speaking and listen to the recording. It might feel weird hearing your voice, but it's a simple technique for identifying the words you need to practice.

If you are creative, you can also have a dialogue with yourself. To do this, imagine talking to a clerk in a supermarket or a friend on the phone. This exercise will help you with English pronunciation and force you to improvise, just like in real scenarios.

Reading aloud is also an effective way to learn how to pronounce certain words. Read an online newspaper such as the New York Times and record yourself reading the news by voice.

6. Memorize spellings

A simple tool for dealing with future pronunciation problems is to learn recurrent spellings in the English language. There are numerous spellings with a specific pattern that you can understand. Three prevalent ones are:

Consonant pairs like ch and sh form what is known as a consonant digraph. These two letters together create a sound that does not resemble any of the individual letters themselves.

The letter c makes a soft sound [s] after an i, e, and y. However, if followed by an o and u, it becomes a hard sound [k]; for example, cell phone and cat.

A word that ends with an e makes the preceding vowel long. Examples are cake, kite, and like.

Once you've set out to improve your English pronunciation, there is an excellent time to spend memorizing various phonetic rules and how they apply to the written language.

7. Learn the mouth movements of English pronunciation

Every sound people make when they speak determined by the positioning of their tongue and mouth. So if you are having trouble mimicking a particular sound or word, it could be because of how you are trying to pronounce the word you are learning.

It might sound a little silly, but when you hear a new word you don't understand, notice how the native speaker's mouth moves. Is the mouth fully open? Are the lips in an O shape? Does the mouth withdraw?

The English language relies much more on mouth movements than many other languages. This is especially true for East Asian languages, so some students have particular difficulties with it.

Of course, the tongue also plays a vital role in incorrect pronunciation. And, of course, you can't see where the tongue is when someone is talking. Still, it is worth learning the different positions and the sounds made by different tongue positions.

So you thought learning correct pronunciation would be easy? In reality, mastering English pronunciation is likely a lifelong journey. But don't be discouraged! If you continuously focus on improving your accent, it will be easier for others to understand and improve your oral comprehension. So, practicing pronunciation day after day is great for English learners of all levels, both beginners and advanced learners.

Start improving your pronunciation right now with the help of the numerous English videos in our web app.