“Can you repeat that?”
Anyone who has studied a foreign language has definitely had this experience: You try so hard to communicate something – what you want to order at a restaurant, to tell a story to someone, or to ask where something is – but the person you’re talking to can’t understand you.
Sometimes it’s because you don’t know the correct vocabulary word, sometimes it’s because you’re using incorrect grammar, but many times, it’s a matter of pronunciation.
Even if you don’t live near other English learners or speakers, you can still improve your pronunciation on your own.
1) Practice your listening skills
Yes! Listening will help your pronunciation!
When you listen to how native or fluent speakers pronounce English, it helps train your ear and informs your own pronunciation.
2) Online practice
If you don’t have a friend or teacher who can help you with pronunciation, there are still many free online options to help you practice.
One great one is ManyThings.org. There are “listen and repeat” sections, as well as quizzes you can take.
3) Pay attention to syllables
Syllables are parts of words in English and are generally divided by vowel sounds.
For example, the word “paper” has two syllables: “pa” and “per”.
Whenever a word has more than one syllable, one syllable is always stressed more than the others.
Knowing what syllable is stressed is crucial to pronouncing a word correctly and being understood by your listener. Dictionaries always have a mark similar to an apostrophe – ‘ – over or near a stressed syllable.
4) Study and practice correct word stress
Another important part of pronunciation is word stress. If you stress the wrong words in a sentence, or the wrong parts of words, you’ll sound strange to your listener, and they might misunderstand you.
In general, important words – like nouns, verbs, and adjectives – are stressed. These types of words are called content words.
Smaller words, like articles (a, an, the) and prepositions (on, in, for, etc.), are not stressed.
The important words in the following sentence are in bold:
The dog ate the food on the floor.
There it is! I hope you find these tips helpful!
Do you have other ways to improve your pronunciation? Please leave a comment!
Improve your pronunciation with me!
My 5-unit English Pronunciation Basics course covers the foundations of pronouncing American English: vowel sounds, consonants, syllables & word stress, rhythm & intonation, and thought groups.
You can get Unit 1 completely free, and optional add-ons for purchase include one-on-one conversation sessions with me!
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