How to Improve Your Pronunciation?

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English learners desire to speak like a native speaker. To achieve this goal, consider the following tips:

  1. Work on your fluency. When you speak fluently, you can speak a language very well and at a normal pace without making a lot of pauses in your speech.
  2. If you are not sure of the exact pronunciation of some words, it’s better to look them up in a good dictionary. In fact, a good dictionary is the most reliable source of information.
  3. It’s better to use a talking dictionary, for instance, Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, where you can listen to the precise pronunciation of single words, phrases and even examples.
  4. As you become more advanced, you may also like to become familiar with the phonetic alphabet established by the International Phonetic Association (IPA), which is used in standard dictionaries.
  5. Remember that unlike many other languages, in English, each word has a special stress pattern. That is to say, one syllable of a word is pronounced with a degree of force or loudness. It’s important to learn where to put the stress for each word because if you do not follow stress patterns, your speech might turn out to be misleading or ambiguous.
  6. Also pay attention to the pronunciation of ‘consonant clusters’, that is, consonants that come after each other successively without any vowel in between, particularly when a word starts with the sound /s/ as in (sport, start, ski, etc.). Many beginners automatically add the sound /e/ to the beginning of the above words, which is of course incorrect.
  7. You should know the distinction between the pronunciation of the sounds /v/ and /w/. The sound /v/ is a labiodental sound in which your lower lip and upper teeth are involved in the articulation or production of the sound. However, the sound /w/ is a bilabial sound in which only your upper and lower lips (without your teeth) are involved in the articulation.
  8. Perhaps the most problematic sounds in English are the ones found in words such as the, this, think, and through. To pronounce these sounds (either voiced or voiceless), you need to touch the tip of your tongue against the edge of your upper teeth, and then breathe out.
  9. Bear in mind that there are some slight differences in terms of pronunciation between the American and British styles of English. It’s important to choose just one of the styles and remain consistent in that. 
  10. In addition, in your speech, you should consider intonation, which is a rising or falling in the level of your voice in order to add meaning to what you are saying. For instance, interrogative sentences (questions) have a rising intonation, while declarative sentences (statements) have a falling one.
  11. Sometimes, you can criticise yourself by recording your voice at the time of speaking English and listening to it in a critical way.  Make sure that a lot of your strengths and weaknesses will be revealed to you when you listen to your own speech and pronunciation.
  12. Having a language partner can help you a lot to put your theories into real practice and let your tongue play its role effectively. Thanks to the internet, you may easily find native speakers all around the world and have voice chat with them. Make sure they are accommodating and patient enough to help you to become a better speaker.

 

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