Have you ever tried to improve your phonetics and your pronunciation as you try to improve your vocabulary, grammar and conversation? Do you know how? This article is a compilation of ideas and tips to make your communication more effective and natural. As a specialist teacher in phonics and pronunciation, I know how it works!
Almost every person who studies a language aims to speak like a native, but there are also many people who do not like to lose their own accents. The decision is yours, but the most important things are clear pronunciation and natural intonation regardless of your accent.
How to achieve that?
You have to practice pronunciation and phonetics by studying the same vocabulary or grammar repeatedly. Do you think this is impossible or difficult?
No! Your mouth is the same as a Mexican, a Spanish or Chilean person.
Learning to pronounce words is like learning to dance! No matter what type of dance we learn, the key to it is to move your body with rhythm. It’s the same with pronunciation: but you only need to know how to coordinate your mouth.
Spanish is a very important language in the world and it also is very useful, but it's actually a very easy language to pronounce. You can communicate with a community of of over 500 million Spanish speaking people. It is better for you to learn what will be more useful, easy and fun.
Each student learns differently and so I am offering here 10+1 tips. Choose the ones that suit you. In addition, nowadays, we are blessed with new technology to help us with pronunciation.
Tip #1: Listen Passively
Do this a lot and every day. Original inputs are better: television or radio. Even though you won’t understand, it does not matter. The goal is not to understand everything that is said, it is to get familiar with the language and accent.
When you wake up, switch on the TV or watch it on your tablet or your computer, or when you go to work, use the radio on your phone. Follow your normal routine. It seems unbelievable, but having the language playing regularly in the background helps to improve pronunciation and intonation!!!
Tip #2: Listen and Repeat
Of course you could read a book with an accompanying audio track in Spanish. Many books have a CD and/or MP3 recording to accompany them.
Watch a movie with subtitles, also known as shadowing.
- Listen attentively with the text in front of you as many times as you like.
- Listen in segments and read the sentence out aloud, imitating the intonation and pronunciation of the original.
- Do the same without the text, repeat what you hear simultaneously.
Tip #3: Read Aloud
It would be better if the text suits your Spanish level but it can be any text. If you have a text from your duties, or a dialogue or an exercise, practice reading it out aloud. You do not need to read it all, the important thing is to practice at least a little bit of it.
Tip #4: Interact!
There are social networks such as SoundCloud that let you listen to and record your own audio and then make comments about your voice. It's fun and rewarding. Why not form a group on WhatsApp with your friends and exchange audio dialogues in Spanish?
Other applications where you can practice pronunciation include DuoLinguo or Pronunciation Checker to learn how to pronounce and check your level. Share your results and discuss them with other users.
Tip #5: Record Yourself and Compare
When you listen to yourself, you will notice your mistakes and what you need to improve. You can record yourself with your mobile phone, with computer programs like Audacity or a recorder. There are some very interesting internet pages, such as Forvo or the University of Oslo, where you can search for a word and hear it in a variety of different ways. You can save recordings from different periods of your learning process and then evaluate your progress. You will notice an improvement!
Tip #6: Practice with Tongue Twisters and Funny Sayings
There are many on the Internet. Focus on a sound, for example: s, and then repeat the same phrase several times by changing the speed or pitch.
Sabes? Susana es una sosa que no sabe divertirse
Try with longer words. Read them from left to right and right to left: Susana- anasuS.
It is a great exercise for the language in both senses of the word.
Record yourself! It's fun!
Tip #7: Sing
Songs are perfect to practice pronunciation. Play a song, memorise or read the words and... sing! You can organize a karaoke plan, alone or with your classmates. Singing in a foreign language will help you lose any shyness and gain fluency, and you will also have a great time.
Tip #8: Dramatics
Obtain some text and read it aloud in different moods (angry, happy, sad or scared) or imitate a character (a boy, a drunken pirate, a politician, a giant). Indulge your imagination, think of it as a game and have fun!
Tip #9: Become Motivated by a Teacher
If you have any problems with phonemes and sounds or you do not understand something, ask your teacher. He/she knows how sounds are produced and will teach you simple techniques to overcome your difficulties using different resources.
For example: if you want help pronouncing the letter t, or the words “sucked” and “English”, just a little bite at the tip of the tongue when pronouncing it will help the problem disappear.
Tip #10: Talk
Do not feel shy. Mistakes will only advance and enhance your learning. Take advantage of any situation to put into practice what you have learned and enjoy it because Spanish is such a wonderful language!
And most important of all: Travel! ... it's the best way to learn.
It is better to improve a little every day than a lot in a few days !!