Do you have a hard time pronouncing certain sounds in English? Do you believe that it’s nearly impossible to improve your accent? I?m here to tell you that you can drastically improve your pronunciation in a short amount of time.
It?s going to take an open mind, consistent effort, and experimentation with new strategies, but it’s not as hard as you may believe. With pronunciation, a little effort goes a long way.
1.Lifestyle English: Listen to Podcasts Every Day
Podcasts Teaching Pronunciation: There are some phenomenal podcasts dealing with pronunciation. Podcasts are free, downloadable audio programs that you can put on your mp3 player. If you’re new to podcasts, you can learn more about podcasts here, or check out our very own podcast, RealLife Radio. They are an excellent option because you can listen in your car or on the bus while you’re stuck in traffic, or whenever is most convenient for you.
2. Intonation: Focus on the Music Behind the Words
Whether you pay attention to it or not, the musical element of a language is essential to good pronunciation. You don’t need to become a musician or listen to more music in English (although both of these could help), but you should pay attention to the intonation of native speakers. It is the melodic pattern of the language that is so fundamental to communication and human connection.
3. Practice: Read Out Loud Every Day
I would reserve this one more specifically for people who have already learned some degree of correct pronunciation, because reading without correct pronunciation, or a teacher helping you, you’re just reinforcing poor pronunciation. Before you start, you should at least have some idea of what it feels like to pronounce things correctly.
If your pronunciation level has not been stabilized, I don’t recommend reading for more than 10 or 15 minutes, because people tend to lose their concentration, and go back to their vices (which is to reinforce them). Remember, pronunciation can be improved quite quickly with small, concentrated doses even only a few times per week.
4. Self-Awareness: Record Yourself Speaking
Record yourself reading out loud on a tape recorder or a computer. At first, it will be really difficult to listen to your own voice. Relax, as you will get used it to pretty quickly.
Most people hate their voice, even in their own native language, so the combination of your voice and hearing yourself speak a foreign language for the first time will be painful, but it’s a necessary step in developing the self-awareness to improve. You could even record yourself reading the same reading passage every day or every week as you implement these techniques.
5. Imitation, Shadowing, and Role Models
I’m going to break this one up into two categories: (a) language learning role models, and (b) role models to imitate. Both of them can help you become a better speaker, but in different ways.
Even if they don’t have perfect pronunciation, they can help you understand the process and what it takes to improve your pronunciation. Naturally gifted people rarely fall into this category unless they are very aware of the processes that help them speak well, so they would usually be “accent role models to imitate.”
As you watch TV and movies, choose somebody who has your type of voice, communication style, and who you would like to emulate. If you don’t know, ask your friends to recommend somebody. You could even memorize parts of movies you like, imitating the actors.