Updated: Oct 26, 2022
One of the challenges of learning any language is getting the pronunciation right. In the case of English, this is often even more difficult due to the disconnect between how sounds (phonemes) are spelled and how they actually sound. For example, why does through rhyme with blue but look more like thought or though? These types of spelling incongruities continue to trip up even the most seasoned of learners. But fear not! While English pronunciation certainly has is quirks and idiosyncracies, here are five tips that will have you speaking the King's English in no time!
Start Mimicking: This is an obvious, but somewhat underappreciated, way to fast-track your pronunciation prowess. The underlying theory is, of course, to try act like someone else. The most effective way to do this is to find a piece of video or audio, listen and try to repeat words, phrases or sentences just as you hear them. The key here is to let the actor inside you run wild!
Use a Mirror: This will help you to apprecciate which sorts of movements your mouth, lips and tongue need to make in order to produce certain sounds. For example, when practicing the 'th' sound that is so common in English (and ofetn not useed correctly - many people simply pronounce a 'f' sound), the mirror will help you to see if you are protruding your tongue far enough through your upper and lower teeth. I is also a good idea to over perform the required facial movements while in front of a mirror, so that when you are speaking in a more natural setting, you will natuaral derer to something more .... well, natural.
Learn the IPA: The IPA, or International Phonetic Alphabet may have a vast array of symbols in total. But for English it is sufficient to master the basic chart which only consists of around 44 symbols (click here for an interactive version of the IPA Chart). Once you are familiar with these, then the dictionary also becomes your pronunciation friend!
Practicie Tongue Twisters: This is not only great fun, but also very challenging! The payoff - impress friends at paties by ripping through How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? By doing this often, and with variety you will provide your mouth with ample amounts of muscle memory that will eventually traslate into clear and well annunciated words and sentences!
Get Lazy: This will probably sound counter-intuitive, but after adopting the previous four techniques this is the one tip that could take your pronunciation to the next level! You may have noticed, that sometimes when you watch an English film with subtitles you recognise every word that see, but you cannot pick out anything that the characters are saying. This is because English can seem like a very lazily spoken language sometimes, especially when compared to more punchy and consonent focused language like Czech. English makes heavy use of it's vowel sounds and sometimes the way way that words run together makes hard to pin point exactly when one word or phrase ends and the next one begins. So while diligently practicing the afore mentioned techniques, take time to allso play with the language in a way that may seem lazy, but can sometimes sound more natural. Make a mental note of the rhythmic and melodic aspects that make up the utterance.
Learning a language is not supposed to be easy and perhaps some of these techniques will work better for some people than for others. The point is that language learning should be a lifelong endeavour. So, no matter where your English is at, try one or more of these techniques to make gradual, one percent improvements over the long term to get to realise huge improvements.