The importance of proper pronunciation
Pronunciation can be difficult when learning a new language, especially for adults. The learner will need to master sounds that are unknown in their native tongue. Some words will have a different pronunciation than in the learner’s language.
How important is pronunciation?
Mastering pronunciation is an essential step in learning a new language. Pronunciation should also be the first step in language learning.
What can you do to improve
Learn pronunciation first before vocabulary and grammar. The learner will need to know the pronunciation of each letter and the combination of letters. It is not essential to master pronunciation, but understand how to pronounce sounds. For example, if you speak Spanish as a first language and are learning English, then there will be a tendency to de-voice consonant and consonant clusters at the end of words. Learning correct pronunciation from the beginning will ensure that bad habits of pronunciation do not form. It can be challenging to correct pronunciation after years of reinforcing incorrect pronunciation.
Focus on pronunciation, not on accent
Try to enunciate words rather than trying to sound like a native. The clear articulation will be understood, whereas trying to sound like a local may result in taking on their bad habits of not pronouncing words correctly. This clear speaking means pronouncing each syllable. An accent is generally not a problem for English speakers to understand, as long as pronunciation is correct. An excellent way to practice English is by watching English movies or listing to audio-books.
It is important to practice speaking often. Speaking with native speakers is the fastest way to learn, as they can correct your pronunciation.
The importance of reading aloud
There is a big difference in not speaking correctly because some sounds are difficult to pronounce and not saying words correctly because you think it is the only way they are pronounced. Once you know how each letter is pronounced, then knowing the spelling should help with pronunciation. A great way of practicing pronunciation is practising reading aloud English texts. Another way of practising is listening to audio material, pause after each sentence, and repeat what has been said. Watching Netflix or YouTube for English movies and songs, listening to, and repeating sentences are also excellent ways of learning English pronunciation.
Learning English pronunciation using Phonetics
Phonemes are the basic sounds that makeup words. This website gives a full list of English phonemes.
- Learning to pronounce the alphabet and sounds, should be the first step in learning a language
- Do not worry too much about perfecting accent. You do not need to sound like a native.
- Practice often, preferably with native speakers, and ask them to help with your pronunciation.
- Reading will help with all areas of language learning. Learning to spell helps with pronunciation.
- Netflix is a great way to learn English, especially with subtitles. Pause after each sentence and repeat the sentence out loud.
Tools for learning pronunciation
- Rocket languages – State-of-the-art voice recognition system lets you practice matching your pronunciation to thousands of words and phrases.
- Rosetta Stone: Learn English (British) with Lifetime Access on iOS, Android, PC, and Mac [Activation Code by Email]
- English Vocabulary in Use series – Nine books in total including audio cd’s for practice.
Humorous examples of mispronunciation