English, as you probably know by now, is not an easy language to pronounce. The way it’s written is NOT always the way it is spoken, which can be confusing to say the least!
There are so many things that you can do to improve your pronunciation, but let’s begin with three very easy and simple tips that can help you start speaking English more clearly right now.
Start with Listening
This might sound like a strange thing to say when we are working on speaking, but listening and pronunciation go hand-in-hand. The more you listen the better, as to be good at pronunciation you have to have a good ear. And you develop your ear from listening!
Listen to as much English as you can – songs are great for helping with pronunciation, and lots of fun too!
Also remember to listen to YOURSELF – record yourself on your phone and listen back.
*YOU TRY: 1. Find a song that you like by a British singer/group (or American or Australian or whatever you prefer!).
2. Look up the lyrics online.
3. Record yourself reading the lyrics out loud (just try your best).
4. Listen to that song every day for a week.
5. At the end of the week, record yourself reading out the lyrics again.
I bet that you can pronounce the words in the song much better at the end of the week than you could at the beginning!
Pay Attention to your Mouth
Okay, this may seem obvious when we are talking about pronunciation, but I mean REALLY pay attention to the shape of your mouth and how it feels.
A lot of English learners speak English with a similar mouth shape to how they speak in their native language. This means that they speak English with a strong accent and people often find them difficult to understand.
If you want to speak English clearly so that people understand you, it is really important that your mouth feels different when you are speaking English. One of the most important things to remember about mouth shape is that English speakers usually open their mouths a LOT, often a lot more than speakers of other languages.
*YOU TRY: Try saying “English is such an amazing language” twice (two times).
1: Try to say it as if you are saying something in your own language (just relax and don’t open your mouth so much).
2: Try to say it how you think a native English speaker (imagine the Queen!) would say it. (Open your mouth wide for the vowels.)
Does your mouth feel different?
Copy, copy, copy!
When you are speaking English, there are three main areas you need to pay attention to: 1. sounds (there are 44 different English sounds), 2. stress (word stress and sentence stress) and 3. intonation (pitch – the rise and fall).
Of course you can work on all of these areas separately, and I recommend that you do, but a quick and easy way to practise all of these at the same time is to listen to a recording/watch a video of a native English speaker, pause the recording after they have said a few words and repeat what they said. You should try to imitate exactly what they said exactly how they said it.
*YOU TRY: 1. Try to find a celebrity/native English speaker who speaks how you would like to speak (same gender, accent that you would like, etc.).
2. Google them and find videos of them speaking.
3. Find a video where they are speaking nice and clearly and then listen and copy.
4. Remember to really move your mouth and to pay attention to their pronunciation ONLY, not the meaning of what they are saying.
Try to do this regularly to train your mouth into the correct shape.
Good luck! I hope that these tips have helped you at least a bit in working on your English pronunciation.
Please feel free to write a comment underneath this post or send me a message if you have any questions or anything more to add.
If you would like to have a speaking lesson with me which includes work on your pronunciation, just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.