5 Practice Tips to Improve your Pronunciation
- February 6, 2020
- Posted by: Michael Rost
- Category: Blog
Pronunciation is a major challenge for all second language learners.
Here are five ways to practice and improve your pronunciation!
1. Project your voice!
You may have a pronunciation (clarity!) problem because you’re not speaking loudly! Stand or sit straight: chin up, chest out! Breathe deeply through your lower lungs (diaphragm)! Project your voice out– loud and proud!
2. Learn the correct articulation of difficult sounds.
You may not be aware that you’re not articulating (forming) some sounds correctly.
Get a native speaker or a fluent speaker of English to give you feedback on ALL of the consonant sounds and vowel sounds in English (visual):
Are you saying the sounds correctly? If not, use a tutorial to articulate sounds correctly:
3. Speak in /thought groups/
Most pronunciation problems are due to stress problems: the listener can’t tell what words you are stressing. Speak in short thought groups (a group of related words followed by a pause / ) and stress one word in each thought group. (You might think of this as: speaking in “pulses”.) Here’s an example of how to speak in thought groups (The / mark = pause; the // mark means falling intonation and full stop):
the Olympics /
are important. //
Just as actors and musicians/
get a chance/to showcase their talents,/
the Olympics /
give athletes a chance/
to showcase their hard work/
and their talents /
in the sports they play. //
4. Learn how to connect words and reduce sounds.
Spoken English and written English are very different. So if you learned written English first, you will be very confused about pronunciation. Learn how to connect the ends of words with the beginnings of words. And learn how to “reduce” (less force) on unstressed vowels.
5. Shadow (to learn pace and intonation)
Imitate a model speaker: find a YouTube video or a song. Find one part (maybe 1 minute long) that you want to imitate. Listen again and again. Try to “shadow” say exactly what the speaker says, in the same manner: pronunciation, stress, speed, intonation, thought groups, emotional tone. But mainly – try to shadow (mimic) the pace and the intonation, even if you don’t know all of the words. (In fact, it’s okay to use “nonsense” words when you practice shadowing.)
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