Learning to pronounce English words correctly can be one of the most difficult aspects of learning English, especially if your native language lacks certain sounds or you struggle with tricky vowel pronunciation. But, following some simple tips can greatly improve your English pronunciation and make you sound like a native speaker.
In this guide, we will explore some simple and meaningful tips to help you pronounce English words better. If learning English is your ultimate goal, we have a course recommended for you. Explore italki to get the best online English tutor based on your learning priorities, objectives, and budget. You can directly book your lesson plan by visiting the website.
Find Your Perfect Teacher
At italki, you can find your English tutor from all qualified and experienced teachers. Now experience the excellent language learning journey!Book a trial lesson
Now, let’s explore some tips to improve English pronunciation.
Tips for learning the English pronunciation
Learn to listen
Before you can learn to speak, you must first learn to listen. When you’re listening, some sounds can be difficult to distinguish. Is the speaker sleeping or slipping? Did he injure his chin or shin? It will be easier to speak the difference if you can hear it.
To do this, you can listen to podcasts, movies, music, etc. Listening will improve your English pronunciation to a great extent. In fact, this practice will also help you learn intonation in English.
Learn with English dictionaries
You most likely already use a dictionary to translate English words, but online or digital dictionaries can provide numerous additional benefits, such as pronunciation guides. These dictionaries can be one of the most useful tools you can have for practicing English pronunciation and most of them are free.
You can also seek help from different English pronunciation apps available online. These apps can help you improve your English pronunciation as they are very convenient and handy.
Notice mouth and lips movement
You move your mouth when you speak. The way you move your mouth influences how you pronounce words.
The first step in correcting your mouth shape is to become aware of it and pay attention to it. There are different ways to ensure that your mouth and lips are in the proper shape, for example, you can make use of a mirror. This is by far the simplest method for determining what your mouth is doing while you speak.
Apart from this, you can place your finger in front of your lips (as if you were saying “shh”). Don’t move your finger as you speak. You should be able to feel your lips moving away from or against your finger.
Notice your tongue
The main distinction between rice and lice is found on your tongue. When you speak, you make sounds with your tongue. Because you do it without thinking, you probably didn’t even notice. Checking what your tongue is doing can help you improve your English pronunciation.
The letters “L” and “R,” as well as the sound “TH,” are difficult for non-native speakers to make. It’s all in the tongue to pronounce them correctly.
Break down words into sounds
Syllables make up words. For example, the word “syllable” has three syllables: syl-la-ble. Words can be made easier to pronounce by dividing them into parts. Place your hand flat just under your chin to count the number of syllables in a word. Slowly say the word. A syllable is created each time your chin touches your hand.
You can even write the word in sections. Between each syllable, leave a space or draw a line (every syllable should have at least one vowel: a, e, i, o, u, y). Try saying the word again. Say it slowly, pausing between each syllable. This is a very simple technique to improve pronunciation.
Add stress to sounds
English is a high-stress language. That is, certain words and sounds are more important than others. When you say a word out loud, you can hear this. The word “introduce,” for example, is pronounced with stress at the end, so it sounds like this: “in-tro-DUCE.”
The location of the stress in a word can sometimes change its meaning. Say the word “present” aloud. If you said “PREsent,” you are referring to a noun that means either “right now” or “a gift.” When you say “preSENT,” you are referring to a verb that means “to give or show.”
There are rules for where the stress should be placed in each word. The first syllable of most two-syllable nouns is stressed, and the second syllable of most two-syllable verbs is stressed.
That’s the same as saying “present.” Another example: the noun “ADDRESS” refers to your address, and the verb “addRESS” means to speak to someone.
The best way to learn is to listen and practice. Remember that most native English speakers are unaware of the rules and simply say what “sounds right.” You can get what sounds right with enough practice.
Choose the preferred English dialect
Choosing your English dialect is one of the first decisions you will make on your English-learning journey. For starters, it will influence much of the vocabulary you learn. For example, when it comes to slang, English speakers in Ireland use different terms than English speakers in the United States.
Secondly, this option will have a significant impact on your pronunciation. American English and British English are most likely the two most common types of English for ESL students.
The type you select will influence how you pronounce sounds. In America, for example, the “r” sound at the end of a word is much harsher. In addition, when a “t” appears in the middle of a word, Americans frequently pronounce it as a “d,” whereas the British pronounce it as a hard “t.” Consider the words “water,” “whatever,” or “lighter.”
Movies and TV shows are excellent ways to learn English and pick up accents. Watch TV series because there is so much content and you can learn to understand the accents of the characters over time.
- You may also be interested in British English slang.
Make some sounds bigger
Certain sounds will be difficult to pronounce depending on your native language and the dialect of English you are studying. So, how do you master such a difficult sound?
Exaggerate the sound to the point of being ridiculous. Exaggerate until you are certain it’s so ridiculous that people will mock you. Believe it or not, exaggerating sounds will most likely help native speakers understand you.
Practice tongue twisters
Tongue twisters are poems that are difficult to recite because the sounds are so similar. People in English-speaking countries say them just to make you sound silly when you mess up. It’s also rewarding when you finally master the poem. Following is an example of a famous English tongue twister:
The shells she sells are sea-shells, I’m sure.
For if she sells sea-shells on the sea-shore
Then I’m sure she sells sea-shore shells.
Speak as much as you can
If you don’t speak much, you might be nervous when the time comes to open your mouth and say something in English. You need to practice English pronunciation and you also need to overcome your nerves so that you feel comfortable speaking in front of others. Nerves can cause numerous errors, particularly in pronunciation.
Make yourself a rule: you must speak English to yourself at home. Begin by simply narrating what you are doing, such as cooking dinner or getting ready for bed. Make a commitment to yourself to speak aloud for at least a few minutes each day.
Frequently asked questions
Q. How can I improve my R pronunciation in English?
A. Your tongue must be in the proper position to produce the R sound. Raise your tongue so that it lightly touches the back teeth on both sides of your mouth. The center of your tongue should be lower to allow air to pass over it.
Q. Why can’t I say the letter L?
A. Many non-native speakers struggle to pronounce /l/ correctly. The letter /l/ is frequently confused with the letters /r/ or /w/. If your language lacks /l/, you will need to retrain your muscle memory. You must concentrate on the proper tongue, lip, jaw, and airflow placement.
Q. What is the hardest sound in English?
A. ‘TH’ sound.
Pronunciation is as important as vocabulary and grammar in learning English. We have highlighted some interesting tips to improve English pronunciation. Remember, practice makes a man perfect. You need to practice English words and their sounds to improve your pronunciation.
Learning pronunciation will also help you understand English spelling rules as you will learn a new word by breaking it into chunks. Develop a consistent English-speaking schedule as it will improve your pronunciation to a great extent.
Want to learn a language at italki?
Here are the best resources for you!