Did you ever wonder why so many people struggle with their pronunciation? In today’s globalized world, English has become the lingua franca. Not only that, but with the increase in technology and the digitalization of everything in the world, English has become an even more important language.
That said, struggles with pronunciation are even more common than one might think. Whether you’re a native English speaker who has always had a hard time pronouncing some of the more complex sounds in the language or a recent learner who’s interested in improving your pronunciation, there are several things you can do to succeed. Below, you’ll find ten easy steps to improve your English pronunciation.
1. Train your mouth and vocal muscles
If you’re trying to improve your pronunciation, you must train your mouth and vocal muscles. This will help you make your sounds properly and not just at the whim of your larynx.
Make sure you’re speaking correctly. This means making each sound accurately and ensuring the sounds you’re making all come out simultaneously. For example, if you’re trying to make the “th” sound, you should only make the throat sound, not the “t” sound.
This may feel unnatural initially, but it will help your mouth learn how to make sounds correctly, making it much easier for you to make those sounds correctly when you want to speak English perfectly.
Keep practicing, even when you don’t feel like it. Sounds are learned by muscle memory, which means that if you regularly practice making sounds correctly, you’ll eventually be making those sounds much more naturally.
2. Learn how to elongate
One of the most important steps to improving pronunciation is learning to elongate. You’ll need to practice making sounds last longer to be more pronounced.
Start with easy words, and then move on to more complex words. Every time you speak a word, take a few seconds to elongate the sound. For example, if the word is “car,” elongate the “car” sound. Instead of shortening the sound, you should make it longer.
This is a minimal change, but it makes a difference. By elongating the sounds you make, you’ll be able to make your words much more clearly, and you’ll also be able to make those sounds much longer, making them sound much more pronounced.
3. Watch and listen to English speakers
The next step is to watch and listen to English speakers. This step plays a significant role to improve your English pronunciation. Watch videos of native English speakers. This doesn’t just have to be videos of celebrities or public figures.
A great way to practice your pronunciation is to watch videos of natives speaking English in their day-to-day lives. You can find these types of videos all over the internet – YouTube, your news feed, your friends’ social media pages, and even the web all great places to find native English speakers.
If you want even more practice, you can take it further and record yourself using a voice recognition app or a microphone. You can speak as generally as possible without worrying about edits or changes made to most videos.
4. Use an English-to-English dictionary
It’s also a good idea to use an English-to-English dictionary. A dictionary like this will have particular and native examples of words and phrases that can help you improve your pronunciation.
The best dictionaries have audio, allowing you to hear how the words are supposed to sound. This is even more helpful than a regular dictionary, as it will enable you to listen to the word’s pronunciation and try it out yourself.
You can also look up a word in a standard dictionary and find its origin to learn its etymology. Doing this will teach you its origin and how it is supposed to be pronounced.
Doing this regularly will improve your diction, and dictionaries will become easier to read. You can also read books aloud, which will help you pronounce words correctly.
5. Watch English videos or listen to music
If you want to take your pronunciation skills to the next level, you should watch some videos or listen to some music in English. This will help you practice your pronunciation, especially if you’re using videos or music native to English.
Watching or listening to native speakers will also help you understand how the language is used in different situations. For example, you can listen to news broadcasts, read books, and watch movies that have been translated into English.
6. Pay attention to your accent
Another way to improve your pronunciation is to pay close attention to your accent. This is especially important if you have a thick accent or an accent that may not be understood easily by native speakers.
By paying close attention to your accent, you can ensure that people fully understand what you are saying and there are no misunderstandings or confusion.
When you pay close attention to your accent, you also make sure that your accent does not cause any offense. Accents are lovely but can also be offensive if the people around you do not understand them.
Accent awareness can be fundamental if you work in a position where communication is critical, such as a doctor or a teacher.
7. Practice with native speakers
A great way to improve your pronunciation is by practicing with native speakers of English regularly. You will get an opportunity to improve your pronunciation, but you’ll also be able to practice using correct grammar and vocabulary. If you have a friend who is a native speaker, ask if they would be willing to meet with you for regular practice sessions.
You can also join an online language exchange or find a language partner through websites like Meetup. In these groups, you’ll likely find other people interested in practicing their second language. You will get regular practice, but you’ll also make new friends.
Another great way to practice with native English speakers is by joining online forums or reading blogs. There are many online communities where people are eager to discuss various topics. You may be surprised by how many people will converse with you.
8. Record yourself speaking
If you have access to a recording device, like a video camera or smartphone, record yourself speaking English. Then play the recording back and listen carefully. Pay attention to your accent and any mistakes that you make when speaking.
The more familiar you are with your voice and the mistakes you make, the easier it will be for you to improve your pronunciation and eliminate them. Keep recording yourself speaking English and reviewing your recordings from time to time to improve your overall speaking skills.
You can find plenty of online resources that can help you improve your pronunciation. Many websites and apps offer exercises to strengthen your enunciation and improve your pronunciation.
You may also want to consult with a speech therapist who can provide personalized advice on improving your pronunciation.
9. Watch movies with subtitles
One of the best ways to improve your English pronunciation is by watching movies with subtitles. Subtitles allow you to focus on the pronunciation of native speakers and compare it with your own.
You can also use this opportunity to learn new words, as most subtitles usually include a definition of any words that are difficult or unfamiliar to you.
Watching movies in English is a great way to improve your listening skills. With practice, you will be able to understand more and more of what you hear and see, which will allow you to improve your overall comprehension skills and your speaking of English.
10. Watch English TV shows
Another great way to improve your English pronunciation is by watching TV shows. This can be an excellent opportunity to practice your listening comprehension skills as you will need to understand the context to understand the dialogue.
Watching TV is also a great way to improve your speaking skills because you can see how native speakers use different expressions and words.
Another great benefit of watching TV is being exposed to different accents. This can be a great way to practice your accent-reduction skills. You can try to copy how the actors speak and see if you can reduce your accent. The more you practice, the better your pronunciation will become.
Pronunciation is a significant part of learning a new language. If you can pronounce words correctly, it will be easier for people to understand what you’re saying, making it easier for them to respond and engage with you in a conversation.
You must practice your pronunciation regularly. This will help your pronunciation skills, but it will also help you become more familiar with the English language so that speaking becomes natural.
Azizul Hakim is the founder & CEO of englishfinders.com. He is a passionate writer, English instructor, and content creator. He has completed his graduation and post-graduation in English language and literature.