Speaking a new language like a native speaker is hard. Sometimes it might even seem impossible. But pronunciation is one of the most important steps to learning English. So try using these 9 exercises to improve your pronunciation enough to sound clear and confident in what you are saying.
- One of the most important steps is also one of the easiest to forget. Before trying to master vocabulary and grammar, you must have a basic understanding of how each letter and combination of letters is pronounced in English. Start with the vowels. Every word in English has at least one vowel. So try practicing how they sound.
- Tongue Twisters are a great tool to practice forming the sounds of vowels, consonants and consonant blends. They are made to be tricky by purposely using words that sound almost the same. Tongue Twisters are a lot of fun to practice with friends and family — and there are hundreds to try! This is one of my favourites:
- Use a lollipop. A common problem for many non-native speakers is the consonant blend “th”. You can practice “th” (/ð/) — like the word “think” — and “th” (/θ/) — like the word “the” — sounds with a lollipop. Simply hold the lollipop in front of your mouth and everytime you say a word with “th” in it, your tongue should touch the lollipop.
Try it with this phrase: The three things
- Use a mirror. Look at your mouth in a mirror when you try to pronounce difficult sounds. You might find that it isn’t moving like you thought it was! Try practicing the “i” (ɪ) and “ee” (iː) sounds while looking in the mirror. Your face should be relaxed when you say “i” — as in “igloo”. But your mouth should be tight when you say “ee” — as in eat.
- Put a pencil in your mouth. Another difficult sound to make is “er”. To make sure you’re doing it correctly, try putting a pencil lengthwise in your mouth. Bite down on it and make the “er” (ɚ) sound. Your tongue should not touch the pencil. Once you are comfortable with how it sounds, take the pencil out and try to keep your tongue in the same position.
- Watch TV. Listening to native-English speakers is a great way to understand how words are pronounced. While watching your favourite English program, pause the TV and try to repeat back a phrase, sentence or even a word. Did you sound the same?
- Record yourself. Sometimes we think we are saying a word perfectly fine, but native speaker keep asking us to repeat ourselves. A great way to hear how good your pronunciation actually is, try recording yourself speak and then listen back to it. For even better results record yourself saying the same thing as a native speaker that you have recorded in person or from TV.
- Syllables. All words are broken into syllables. This is an important rule for pronunciation because there is one syllable for each vowel sound in a word. For example., the word “person” has two vowel sounds and two syllables: per / son. Likewise, the word “animal” has three vowel sounds and three syllables: an / i / mal.
- Slow down and annunciate. Most native speakers are not teachers, so they won’t always be patient or able to understand what you were trying to say. It’s up to you to sound as clear and confident in what you are saying as possible. The best way to do this is by slowing down and making sure to annunciate the sounds and syllables in each word. With practice, this will become easy!
Try practicing these exercises at home and with your friends and family. While it is difficult at the start, with practice, you will be able to improve your pronunciation. No matter how embarrassing or frustrating it might feel, the best thing you can do is to keep speaking!
Here at Elicos, we hold classes daily that only focus on pronunciation and communication. Come in for a free trial class if you are ever nearby. [email protected] +60196256510