Improving your English pronunciation is all about practice. Most people practice by taking individual sounds that they have trouble with and practicing them in isolation (alone). If you do this though, it is important to then practice them in real words and sentences. Do not just do isolation practice or it will not help you to change your habit to the correct way of saying it.

Steps to improving your pronunciation in English

First , you need to find the sounds that give you problems. Here is a list of the consonant sounds:

b (bad), d (done), f (find), g (give), h (hello), y (yellow), k (cat), l (little), m (man), n (no), ng (sing), p (pen), r (red), s (sun), sh (she), t (tea), ch (check), th (think), th (this), v (voice), w (wet), z (zoo), z (pleasure), j (jug)

Most errors in pronunciation just come from sounds that are different to your first language so the sounds that you have trouble with are probably the sounds that don’t exist in or are different in your mother tongue.If you are unsure about any of these sounds, get your teacher to go through them with you. Pronunciation is best done with a teacher first.

If you are having trouble distinguishing between two sounds, we usually use what we call minimal pairs to practice the difference. This is where you take two words and the only difference between the two words is the sound you want to practice. So if you are having trouble with L and R for example, you would practice saying LIGHT and RIGHT.

Putting the sounds into words

Now that you have the individual sounds right, it is time to practice the words. You can do this through listening. Listening is the key to pronunciation but almost as important is practicing making the sounds for yourself. So listen and note down words that you hear that are different to how you say them. Take that list to your teacher each week and spend a couple of minutes practicing. If you do this on a regular basis, you will improve very quickly.

Where’s the stress?

The last thing to note is intonation. This is where you put the stress in a word. Every word has one stress (sometimes they have a secondary but it is not as pronounced). Listen to each word and try to get the stress in the right place but be careful because it often changes. Look at these words and say them out loud:

  • Photograph
  • Photography
  • Photographer

The first word has the stress on the first syllable – PHO to graph. The longer words have their stress on the second syllable – pho TOG rapher, pho TOG raphy. It changes as the word length changes.

Listening for intonation in the word will help you to get that stress in the right place.

Remember, listening is the key, practice is important and the person who has the experience to help you to find the fastest way to change your habits is your native-English teacher.

Tagged on:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *