5 Handy Tips for Good Pronunciation
Learning a language can be tough business. We’re juggling work and families or maybe just full-time school and squeezing in time to practice a new language can be burdensome. You’ve got to do your reading, writing, speaking, and listening exercises and some days you’ve got so much to do, you don’t know where to start. And sometimes you wish you could just shortcut to the good stuff so that you can actually use what you’ve learned. These 5 handy tips will help jump start your language skills!
1. Slow Down
If you think fluency means speaking quickly, you’re wrong. Speaking too fast can actually make you sound nervous and uncertain. When you slow down it gives your words and sentence time to breathe so that you can think about what you want to say next. Remember that all languages carry a rhythm and so does English. By pacing and breathing throughout your sentences, not only do you sound more confident, the clarity in your delivery will help others understand you better!
TIP:Record yourself on a smart device and play it back. Are you speaking clearly? Are you trying to speak too quickly that you mumble or skip over your words? Slow down your pace and record yourself multiple times and see if you hear a difference. This is a great way to brush up your listening and speaking skills!
2. Mouth Formation
Pronunciation has a lot to do with the formation of the mouth. Think about singing. “Clean” singers spend time paying attention to their mouth formation and tongue placement to achieve clear and understandable words when singing. And it’s the same for speaking. It’s hard to project the right pronunciation if your mouth is inhibiting the sounds. In the beginning, it’s crucial to make conscious note of the words, vowels, and sounds that you’re making. It’s frustrating and tedious, I know! But a little effort goes a long way. You’re on the way to making good language learning habits by being aware.
TIP: Stand in front of a mirror and read a list of words for pronunciation practice. Watch how your mouth forms in the mirror, do you see a pattern? How do your lips, tongue, and mouth form? Try to picture yourself saying the words in your head and look in the mirror and practice again. Another way is to record a video of yourself and review it, do you see where you’re lacking in mouth formation?
*Create a list of words that you have trouble pronouncing.
**WORDPIE has 4,000 most commonly used English words! Try a WORDPIE list provided below for your learning convenience.
You’ve got so much to do, you don’t know where to start. Sometimes you wish you could just shortcut to the good stuff so that you can actually use what you’ve learned.
3. Copy & Repeat
If you want a good teacher, look to the native speaker! Part of being a good speaker is the ability to hear differences in tone, pace, sounds, and rhythm. So listen, listen, listen! Imitation is a powerful form of learning. So copy and repeat! Mimicking is a fun way to practice a new language.
TIP: Watch your favourite video and copy what you hear/see. You can find English podcasts, television and radio programs, movies, YouTube videos all around the web and they are great sources for reference!
Imitation is a powerful form of learning and mimicking is a fun way to practice a new language.
4. Language Buddy
Learning on your own is a responsibility but getting someone else’s opinion can help a great deal. Do you have people around you who could help you improve your English? A friend, tutor, or mentor? Have you heard of any language exchange meet-up groups in your community? If not, have you ever thought of starting your own group so you can help others too? Why not share a coffee while you’re exchanging tips on how to improve. What a great way to network, meet new people, and improve your language skills at the same time!
TIP: Ask your language buddy to correct your mistakes on the spot or write them down for you. The great thing about this is they might point out something that you’ve overlooked while practicing before. You can also record your conversations (or at least part of them) and listen to them on your own time. You get to listen to yourself and also listen to your language buddy and compare. Write down any questions or concerns you have and relay them to your buddy. Everyone has different approaches to learning and they just might have a trick that works well for you!
I find learning through music to be the most fun. It’s like learning without effort and that’s the best way to practice!
5. Sing a Song
You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how quickly you can learn a new language by singing a song. You can choose easier children’s songs/nursery rhymes or the song you’ve been putting on repeat. Language is a lot like music in that, they share aspects of intonation and rhythm. It’s an fun and easy way to focus on the pronunciation of words!
TIP: Lyrics are posted online so you can follow along while the music is playing or watch a lyric video on YouTube. If you need, pause the song if you get stuck or the music is too fast. From experience, it takes a few plays to get up to speed for songs with a quicker tempo. I find learning through music to be the most fun. It’s like learning without effort and that’s the best way to practice!