Do you sometimes find it difficult to make yourself understood – even though you know you are using the correct English?
Why is pronunciation important? Why do you need to speak well and accurate in life and at work?
The Importance of Pronunciation
Pronunciation is one of the most important features of an individual’s speech. Good pronunciation provides a valuable confidence for speaker. Good pronunciation is not ‘native-like’ pronunciation. If a learner tries to speak exactly like a native speaker, he will soon be disappointed because this is not a realistic aim of learning pronunciation. The objective should be to gain a ‘listener-friendly’ pronunciation; that is, listeners can easily understand it that can make meaningful conversation possible. When speakers talk to other persons, the first thing that can create good impression about the quality of their language ability is their pronunciation. Bad and incomprehensible pronunciation will make misunderstanding for both speakers and listeners.
Some of The Most Common Pronunciation Errors Found In Singapore – And How To Avoid Them
It should be: Flou-er
It should not be: Flah
It should be: Wim-In
It should not be: Woo-men
It should be: Koo-eeg
It should not be: Ker-league
It should be: Ri-seet
It should not be: Ree-seep
It should be: Wens-day
It should not be: When-ness-day
So, How Can You Improve Your English Pronunciation?
There are no shortcuts to perfect pronunciation, however there are some ways you can practice more effectively and improve your skills faster. Follow our nine top tips, start improving your pronunciation today and take a step closer towards your goal of perfect English pronunciation.
- Listen to yourself
It’s often difficult to hear pronunciation errors in your own speech because you are concentrating communicating rather than the sound you are making. If you can’t hear your pronunciation problems, it’s tough to correct them. Our advice to you is to try recording your speech with your smartphone or PC and making a note of specific areas you need to improve on.
- Slow down!
Many English learners think that speaking fluently means they need to speak fast. This is wrong. Speaking too fast reinforces bad habits and makes the speaker sound nervous and indecisive. Speaking slowly will give you time to breathe properly and think about what you want to say next. Because it gives you time to think while you are speaking, you’ll feel more relaxed and be able to concentrate on making your English sound fantastic.
- Picture it…
Close your eyes and think about how to make a sound before saying it. Visualize the positioning of your mouth and face. If you have studied with the phonemic chart, think about the sound you are making and how it relates to other English phonemes. If you have used diagrams of the mouth and tongue, think about the shape you need to make inside your mouth if you want to make the sound correctly.
- Get physical!
Pronunciation is a physical skill. You’re teaching your mouth a new way to move and using different muscles. Focus on difficult sounds each day. Having trouble with ‘th’? Put your tongue between your teeth (don’t bite down) and blow air out of your mouth. Feel the air move over the top of your tongue.
- Watch yourself
Stand in front of a mirror to see the placement of your tongue, lips, and shape of your mouth when you make certain sounds. Compare what you see with a video of a native speaker saying the same thing.
- Copy the experts
There’s no replacement for learning pronunciation from the experts – native-speakers. So listen! Listen to English radio programs and watch television and movies in English. Imitate what you’re hearing – even if you’re not sure what they’re saying yet.
- Practice English alone
Pronunciation problems persist because we’re afraid to make mistakes. Create scenarios – meeting someone for the first time, ordering at a restaurant, asking for directions – then act out the dialogue by yourself. Don’t be shy.
- Find a language buddy
Getting feedback from an outside observer is crucial. Find a friend who’s also interested in improving their English. Try exchanging recorded messages so you can listen closely to each other’s pronunciation. Have a language buddy and learn from each other.
- Pay attention to intonation and stress
Good pronunciation is more than just mastering individual sounds. It’s also understanding intonation (the rise and fall of the voice) and stress (some sounds in words and some words in sentences are louder or clearer than others). Read poems, speeches and songs aloud, concentrating on the word stress and intonation.
Give each of these tips a try next time you have a chance and find out which of them works best for you. Remember, none of them is an instant fix but they will all help you reach your goals as part of regular practice. Are you ready to improve your English pronunciation?
It is time to take the first step to be a fluent speaker and be clear in your pronunciation for everyday use. Imagine not having to repeat yourself, not ever having to feel tired of being misunderstood, no longer having to feel self-conscious or seen as less intelligent anymore because of your reservation in pronouncing words correctly. Let our highly sought-after business communication trainer, Ms. Emma Jarman-Jones to share how you can change the way when you speak with your clients, their customers, your friends and the world.