“Could you please repeat?”
Are you someone who has heard this while speaking?
It becomes difficult for people to understand what you say because of poor pronunciation, even if you have an outstanding vocabulary and have mastered English grammar.
Clear and crisp pronunciation is an important part of learning English, or any language, as a matter of fact. The way you sound has a big impact on whether or not people understand you and is essential for a lasting first impression.
As non-native English speakers, you might come across sounds that your native language might not have and it becomes essential to learn them. Additionally, many words having the same sounds can make your head spin, for example, two, to and too.
Pronunciation is a physical skill that you can build gradually with practice. Follow along for my top 5 intriguing tips to help you improve your English pronunciation.
(1) Speak Slowly
- English learners are under a wrong impression that speaking fluently means speaking fast.
- Speaking fast indicates that the speaker is nervous and is a bad habit that you must stop!.
- If you have a habit of speaking fast, your audience will not understand what you are saying, hence, speaker slower.
- Speaking slowly will give you time to breathe, relax and think what you want to say next and you will sound confident.
- Speaking slowly doesn’t mean speaking so slowly that people complete your sentences and lose interest in what you are saying. To keep your audience engaged in the conversation, speak at a rate of 140-160 words per minute which is the ideal speaking pace and you should practice to speak at this rate.
(2) Speak In Front Of A Mirror
- Speak in front of a mirror to see how your lips move, shape your mouth makes and the placement of your tongue.
- This is a simple yet an effective way of improving your pronunciation as you can see how you look while uttering a word. It helps you to find out words you need to practice to get better.
- Watch videos on YouTube to learn how to place your tongue, shape your mouth, move your lips, etc.
- When you practice, you will observe that for articulating some words you need to stretch your lips, for example, cheese, please, bees, etc. and make an O for others, for instance, boat, coat, float, etc.
- Practice such words and focus on making the correct shape from your mouth, placing the tongue correctly and stretching or pursing your lips to make the perfect sound.
(3) Identify Problematic Words
- There might be some words that you could have difficulty pronouncing. Identify such words and break them down. Enunciate each piece slowly and practice a few times.
- Along with practicing mouthful words to utter them better, you will learn the correct way of saying them. For example, if you struggle to pronounce the word extravagant, break it down to ex-tra-va-gant and enunciate each piece. This way, you will get better at the pronunciation of this word.
- Another way of learning the correct pronunciation of words is to install a dictionary app with audio pronunciation. If you aren’t sure of how to say a word, search for it in the app and play the pronunciation audio. As you play, try imitating the sound a few times. This method helps to learn the perfect pronunciation of words.
- How did you learn to speak your native language? By reading? By writing? “No!”
- Your parents or the people around you said something repeatedly and you listened and tried to make the same sounds. This is called imitation!
- This technique is the most effective way of improving your pronunciation! You will now wonder
“How do you imitate?”
“Whom to imitate?”
The answer to your question is – “Anyone whose English you admire!”
You have go the answer for “Whom to imitate?”. For answering “How do you imitate?”, follow the below steps:
- Get the transcripts of the audio or video. Transcripts contain text of what is being said. If you can’t get the transcripts, play videos on YouTube with subtitles.
- Play the audio or video and carefully listen to the first phrase or sentence.
- Pause and imitate the speaker’s intonation, diction and tone.
- Do this until completing the audio or video.
- When you imitate, you compare how you sound with how the speaker sounds and identify your mistakes.
- I use the below videos for imitation. You can use them, too!
(5) Practice Tongue Twisters
- Wikipedia defines tongue twisters as: “A tongue-twister is a phrase that is designed to be difficult to articulate properly, and can be used as a type of spoken (or sung) word game. Some tongue-twisters produce results that are humorous (or humorously vulgar) when they are mispronounced, while others simply rely on the confusion and mistakes of the speaker for their amusement value.”
- Tongue twisters are sequence of words difficult even for native speakers! They are difficult because of their unusual composition.
- Tongue twister are helpful for improving pronunciation as they stretch the muscles involved in speech.
- Start by slowly saying them and speed up when you become comfortable. Along with saying them quickly, try to be as enunciate words as clear as possible. If you could master them, your pronunciation will become better and you will sound more confident while speaking.
- Below is the list of 5 really funny and crazy tongue twisters:
- I scream, you scream, we all scream, for ice cream!
- Rory’s lawn rake rarely rakes really right.
- Vincent vowed vengeance very vehemently.
- Kindly kittens knitting mittens keep kazooing in the king’s kitchen.
- On a lazy laser raiser lies a laser ray eraser.
- Following is the list of websites where you can find more hilarious and helpful tongue twisters:
- Pronunciation is the way a word is spoken.
- Clear and crisp pronunciation is an important part of learning English, or any language, as a matter of fact. The way you sound has a big impact on whether or not people understand you and is essential for a lasting first impression.
- My top 5 tips for improving your pronunciation:
- Speak Slowly: Speak at a pace of 140-160 words to have time to think about what you want to say next. Speaking slowly also gives you time to breathe and sound confident.
- Speak In Front Of A Mirror: When you practice in front of a mirror, you see the shape your mouth makes, the placement of your tongue and the movement of your lips. This helps in recognizing how to better make sounds of words.
- Identify Problematic Words: Identify words that you have problem saying, break it down into pieces, slowly enunciate each piece and practice a few times to learn the correct pronunciation of the word. If you don’t know the pronunciation of a word, install a dictionary with audio to learn how to say words.
- Imitation: Imitate the person whose English you admire or watch a video with subtitles to practice imitation.
- Practice Tongue Twisters: Tongue twisters are sequence of words whose repeated pronunciation is difficult for native speakers! Practice them to improve your pronunciation.