Pronunciation is often overlooked, but all the grammar and vocabulary in the English language won’t help you if you can’t be understood. While it isn’t usually a situation of life or death, simply confusing the pronunciation of “s” and “th” can make a huge difference in what you are trying to get across.
Poor pronunciation can also lead to a negative first impression — as it is the first thing native speakers notice. While most words can be figured out within context, having to repeat words and phrases can be frustrating for both native and non-native speakers. For some, poor pronunciation can also be difficult or unpleasant to listen to, which can damage social interactions even further or cause unintentional embarrassment.
More so, in many native countries, people with poor pronunciation are often perceived as less intelligent or illiterate, which can affect their chances for promotions or better job opportunities.
So while you don’t need to master English pronunciation from the start, it is important to understand how it works. Having a basic understanding of how each letter and combination of letters is pronounced from the beginning is one of the most important steps you can make for improving your English — and one of the first steps we often forget to do.
Most people never completely lose their accent — and that’s perfectly fine. Accents can even be beneficial for some lines of work, such as working in a restaurant that serves food from the country your accent comes from. Even in the English language itself, there are several “native accents” that all pronounce the same words differently.
However, native speakers can still generally understand what is being said. The problem comes when pronunciation leads to misunderstanding. For example, if the vowel sound in “this” is elongated, it will sound like the word “these” and cause a grammatical error to your sentence.
Remember, most native speakers are not teachers. So it is uncommon for them to slow down, be patient and anticipate how non-native speakers pronounce words.
It’s up to you, but you can do it! Simply slow down, annunciate syllables and practice Elicos’ 9 Tips to improve your pronunciation. Practice makes perfect.
If you are ever in Kuala Lumpur, feel free to come in and meet Shannon and the rest of the Elicos team. [email protected] +60196256510