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The way we pronounce words can indicate how well accomplished we are in English. You may have been conscious of it yourself. When words are not incorrectly pronounced people may not understand you, you may be perceived as undereducated, job opportunities dwindle and your confidence in speaking English drops dramatically. That just sounded like a dead–end for many but, that’s the truth especially for those who live in such countries where English is highly regarded. In this globalized world, it’s a must to be understood and, as a result, be respected of our worth. So with that said, here are some realistic ways you can improve your pronunciation effectively.
1. Understand the Problem
Pronunciation of English is a common problem since some sounds in the English language are often not present in your own native language. When you try to produce them (no matter how hard you think you are trying) the results are not matching. And for some they wouldn’t even realize that they’re mispronunciation is that bad at all. Therefore, we would need to pinpoint what your own problematic areas are. A simple way to discover this is to either watch a movie/video with subtitles, read along with an audiobook or sing along to an English song. Now listen into the words you repeated and compare that with the native speaker and highlight words that you don’t quite match up with.
2. Decide an Accent
There are many types of accents out there you may have heard the standard United Kingdom (UK) and American accents. There are also New Zealand, Australian (yes there is a difference 🙂 ), Canadian, South African and so on. And even within these countries their accents differ again according different parts of the country. For example, in America there is the Southern accent, New York, Boston and much more. Because there’s an array of accents you’d need to ask yourself which accent you would like to sound like. Maybe you would choose something specific due to your job profile as which is the case for call centers. Maybe you are thinking about moving abroad which can influence your decision, maybe you are fond of a particular accent. Or (something I would highly suggest) is to take on a neutral accent and be aware and capable of distinguishing each accent in its own.
3. Don’t Follow the Rules
For learners of English, the most common mistake made is that they follow the rules – ‘to the T’. And for native speakers and learned speakers it is too easy for them to spot such people out of the crowd. And also can easily recognize those who are book based learners. Though books are great to begin with such rules are pretty much thrown out the window when it comes to Spoken English as pop culture, the media, trends and other such aspects influence the language. This is why you’ll find many people suggesting that ideally you should have real-time exposure to spoken English.
4. Make Fun of Someone
So if the opportunity arises find someone who has already been in the process or better yet a native speaker and simply make fun of them (without hurting them of course). You can still do this if you are not surrounded by such people, go online and use Youtube, search a topic of your interest it could be makeup, gadget reviews, games, cooking or English and pick a popular channel to view. Be the parrot and imitate their sentences, word for word. Even throw in the same body language they use. Act out the entire scene 🙂 and over time you’ll find how you’ll naturally incorporate it into your own style of communication.
5. Tongue Twisters
Here’s a good old Spoken English activity – Tongue Twisters. They are that good because they help you to move your mouth and tongue in ways to develop proper pronunciation. The words used are so similar that the speaker is required to focus on making slight changes to their mouth to produce individual and meaningful words clearly. Have a go at these:
- Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers
Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
- She sells sea-shells on the sea-shore.
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.
6. Record Your Voice
There are two ways for you to try. In both hear the playback and compare that to your previous log of recordings, looking for improvement in each instance.
First you can record yourself on purpose, where you are aware that it is a study activity and which includes
- Recording a passage and compare it to the same of the passage spoken by a native speaker.
- If you have a bit more courage make a video and make use of apps so you can share if you like through Youtube and Instagram.
Secondly, record in a natural type setting.
- You could have a little more fun and send a quick recording to your friends and family. Apps such as Whatsapp offer this type of feature
- Record a phone call or a moment of natural conversation.
7. Take the 30 Day Challenge
Choose one of the above strategies and do it for the next 30 days. I personally like recording myself as there’s a buzz like feeling when you share it with others. You can utilize time spent in traffic 🙂 or whatever else spare time you have.
- By taking the challenge, it’s like a commitment and one which you are responsible for (Especially when your friends and family know you are taking part and look forward to seeing your progress).
- When you finish there’s a sense of satisfaction of completing a task.
- And because of this there’s a chance that you may go for another 30-day challenge thus improving your pronunciation even more. 🙂
Let me know how it went for you in the comments below or tweet me at @PDHotspot
Until next time.