How do we improve English Pronunciation?

By Loke

English doesn’t read as it is spelled, especially with loan words from other languages. Students from non-European countries will find it overwhelming and feel that they will never be able to correctly pronounce the tricky sounds, where there are no equivalent sounds in their mother tongue.

Before we dwell into HOWs, let’s look at some WHYs we can’t seem to get the pronunciation right. First, it’s our age, the older we get, the muscles around our mouth and throat are quite set to make any sounds alien from our native language; second, we are not exposed long enough to the second language, so our ears can’t pick up the sound accurately; third, own limitation, we just to have admit some people are just not naturally good at mimicking accents.

Nevertheless, there are some excellent tips to help you improve your English pronunciation

1. Speak Like a Turtle and Stress the Sounds

If you think speaking fast makes you look good, think again. You’ll end up looking like a grumpy old man mumbling about backache. Speaking slowly, on the other hand, will give you time to think about what you are saying and how you are saying it. It will also make you feel more relaxed. Also, as you practice your speech, it’s always a good idea to exaggerate your sounds at the beginning. Pay special attention to the ones you have trouble pronouncing. This may seem a little strange to you at first, but don’t worry. It’s excellent exercise for improving your pronunciation.

2. Tongue Twisters

This is my favourite. Tongue twisters are a time-tested method of improving pronunciation. A tongue twister is a phrase that is difficult to pronounce, because it is made up of many similar sounds. For example,

Start off by trying to pronounce all of the words in the tongue twister slowly, but correctly. Then try to pick up the pace until you can say them really fast. You will see for yourself that they are an excellent way of exercising your speech organs.

3. Break Down Words into Parts

There are many diagrams and videos in textbooks and online that illustrate how to use your tongue and your mouth when pronouncing each sound. Start practicing difficult sounds in front of the mirror by first learning where to place your tongue and how to shape your mouth.

If you are pronouncing a difficult word, not just a sound, it helps to break down that word into syllables and say each of them slowly.

4. Practice at Home and Record Yourself

We all learn from mistakes, that’s why pronunciation problems persist when students are too afraid to make mistakes. Remember, that it is a skill that gets better only with practice. So, in order to avoid feeling shy, practice your speech at home. Pretend that someone has asked you questions and create a dialog by yourself.

As you practice, it will be very helpful if you record yourself either on video or camera so that you can go back and watch yourself to listen for your mistakes.

A great exercise you can try is to listen to chunks of native English speech, then record yourself repeating those chunks. Try this several times. See how close you can get to the native speakers in pronouncing the utterances.

5. Read Aloud Every Day

Reading out loud every day is a wonderful way to improve your skills, but only if you have mastered the basics of pronunciation. Otherwise, you may be unaware that you are making mistakes, and constant reading would only make it worse. If you are unsure about some aspects of your pronunciation, ask an English speaker to monitor you, if you have the chance.