If you’re trying to improve your English pronunciation so that people can understand you better, these three tips will help you!
You can work on them gradually so that you become more confident and easier to understand.
1. Pronunciation is ‘physical’
This is both a ‘mindset’ aid and a practical help! There is nothing mysterious about pronunciation, or why some people are better at it than others. The truth is that we all have the ability for good pronunciation – it’s just that you might not use the right muscles or right parts of your mouth when you’re trying to speak. My tips:
– know where the sounds are made
The pronunciation of different sounds depends on the shape of your lips, the position of your tongue and jaw, and where the air flow is ‘blocked’. It’s really helpful to know where the sounds are made (search diagrams online for this), and then to practise making the sounds yourself. (Use a mirror to see what your mouth is doing!)
– do ‘warm-up’ exercises
Breathe in deeply to relax, then practise moving different parts of your mouth. Open it wide, the close it tight again. Move your tongue around your mouth, then stick your tongue out, then pull it back in again. You can even practise humming (saying mmmmmmm) and singing musical scales. All these exercises help to relax your muscles so that they’re easier to use.
2. Pronunciation is connected to listening
If you can’t hear different sounds, you’ll find it difficult to make them yourself. It’s also important to be able to hear other aspects of pronunciation, such as syllable stress, linking and intonation. My tips:
– focus on sounds which you find difficult.
These can be sounds / differences in sounds which you don’t have in your own language.
– use subtitles when you watch English TV or films.
This helps you to associate what you hear with what’s written, because very often, the spelling of a word doesn’t match the pronunciation!
3. You can train your pronunciation
It’s perfectly possible to improve your English pronunciation so that you speak more clearly. Rather than trying to do everything at once, work on one element at a time. My tips:
– very often the BEST way to improve your pronunciation is to slow down when you speak.
If you speak very fast, other people are less likely to understand you. It also means that you might not pronounce sounds clearly because you’re speaking too fast.
– exercises like minimal pair exercises help to train you in difficult sounds.
Here’s a blog post with more than 16 different exercises. Try them to improve specific vowel and consonant sounds. You’ll be amazed at the difference!
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