Pronunciation is a key skill in speaking. It takes a little practice to develop this skill. Someone can be a good speaker of English, but still have some problems with clear pronunciation. Here are a few tips to help you get better in this skill:
- Know the ‘sub skills’ of pronunciation. Good pronunciation relies on number of specific areas. If you know the specific skills of pronunciation, you will be able to focus on the right thing. The following skills are important:
- Speed of speech – whether you talk too fast or too slow.
- Rhythm – be careful to pause in the right places, not in the middle of a sentence.
- Intonation – use rising and falling tones to communicate positive or negative attitudes.
- Sentence stress – Sentence stress is about the word/s that you emphasise in a sentence in English we usually stress the words that are important to what we want to say. Sentence stress also affects the rhythm of our speech.
- Word stress – this is about the syllable of a word that is stressed. Incorrect word stress can cause confusion.
- Sounds – these are the individual sounds of English. Many people find it difficult to pronounce sounds differently. For example: /d/ vs /t/ vs /th/ or /r/ vs /l/.
- If you want to increase your skills in these aspects of pronunciation, here are some tips:
- Listen and copy people who pronounce clearly and accurately. This is easy to do with YouTube! A good example is the Queen! Why not search for some of her speeches? See if you can copy her pronunciation for a couple of lines. It does not have to be the whole speech; just a few sentences will help.
- Record yourself. Record a short speech and play it back to yourself. listen to how you used the sub skills of pronunciation. See if you can repeat the speech using more accurate pronunciation.
- Try some tongue twisters. Once again, the internet is a great source where you can find tongue twisters in English. These are short poems where the sounds are similar, making the poem quite difficult to say. Practice saying 3-5 different tongue twisters until you get it right. Remember that you can often go to YouTube and get a model recording of the tongue twister so that you have a guide on how to say it right.
- Study diagrams on mouth position. Accurate pronunciation often depends on the position of your lips, tongue and teeth. Sometimes, in order to make certain sounds it can be very useful to learn where parts of your mouth should be to make the required sound.
Finally, don’t be shy! Nobody is going to laugh at you as you practice your pronunciation!
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