Two fun ways to improve your English pronunciation are poetry and singing. They work because you improve your pronunciation while you’re doing something else.
Both these methods will help you train your voice in different ways, and will help you become more aware of the sounds of English.
How Poetry Helps Your Pronunciation
Poetry is great for three things: rhyme, rhythm and alliteration.
Rhyme (when words sound the same) can happen at the end of lines in a poem, but also with words in the middle of lines.
Rhythm (the “beat” or stress of words) can be regular in classical poetry and in limericks. As you read the poem, make sure that you stress the right words to keep the rhythm of the lines.
In modern poetry, in particular, the rhythm can be irregular. This helps to show the meaning of the words and of the poem.
Alliteration (when words start with the same sound) is another way to show meaning and to help you “feel” the message of the poem.
My tips: For rhythm and alliteration, you can try reading Binsey Poplars by Gerard Manley Hopkins. It tells the story of a wood that was cut down. Listen for the repetition of sounds that echo the trees falling.
For rhyming and alliteration, you can try O What Is That Sound by WH Auden. It’s about war and its effects on people and their relationships.
How Singing Helps Your Pronunciation
Singing helps your pronunciation in many different ways. Firstly, it helps you use the right muscles to pronounce the different sounds clearly. Then. it helps you with your breathing as you need to learn how to fit in all the words in a phrase before taking the next breath.
To do this, you also need to stress just some of the words, making other words or syllables fit in between the stressed words. In this way, singing is a great way to help you with linking between words, and pronouncing unstressed words and contractions.
My tip: Sign up to a site like lyricstraining.com to find lots of songs at different levels. You need to type in the missing words in the lyrics. This is excellent training for your listening, but you can then sing along to the songs and practise your pronunciation at the same time.
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