How to improve English pronunciation
Generalmente cuando estamos aprendiendo inglés, comenzamos por estudiar gramática y vocabulario, pero la pronunciación la dejamos de última.
Generally, when we're learning English we start by studying grammar and vocabulary, while pronunciation is the last step.
The difficulties we have in learning to pronounce correctly are due, among other things, to the fact that different languages have different phonemes.
For example, in Spanish vocabulary there are only 22 phonemes, while in English there are double, 44 phonemes in total. It is usual that after correctly pronouncing a vowel in one word, when we try to pronounce it in another word, it turns out that it is pronounced differently. It is a complete mess.
If we compare it to Spanish or Italian, in practice, what happens is that in the English language there are a lot more sounds than in Spanish.
In Spanish both "v" and "b" sound identical. However, in English they have a slight difference that may cause us to mispronounce the word and understand something different from what we meant.
Constant practice is therefore important. There are thousands of ways to practice and improve spoken English without the need for lessons. Of all of them, practicing and speaking with native English speakers is the best way to improve your pronunciation. Listening to the special sounds and phonemes of the language will help you to distinguish them slowly and unconsciously, and of course, you will also have the native speaker by your side to correct you.
Below, we show you an interactive map with the phonemes of the English language, with several examples for you to listen to and practice:
Difficult, aren't they? Don't worry, start putting them into practice. Ideally, don't be embarrassed to make a mistake when you start to engage in conversations in English. Be confident and do it as many times as you can to improve your pronunciation.
These are some of the best tips for improving your pronunciation in English.
CONSEJOS Y TIPS PARA MEJORAR TU PRONUNCIACION:
If you're not sure how a word is pronounced, go to Google translator or Bab.la dictionary. They give you the option of listening to the pronunciation of any word or phrase you place and you can listen to it as many times as you want. Just type in what you want to hear and click on the button with the audio drawing.
Think in English
One of the main keys to learning any language is to think in a language. The best polyglots always give the same advice, which is valid for any language: don’t translate sentences from your language, just think in that language.
If you think in your mother tongue and try to speak the language you are learning, you would be translating and that¡s where the tangles and difficulties begin.
So, think in English. From the moment you wake up. Try to do it in your daily life, when you are doing everyday things. When you want to know the meaning of a word, don't look for a translation; on the contrary, look for its meaning in an English dictionary. With this in mind, you will avoid translating and little by little you will be thinking and speaking in English.
Talk to yourself out loud
Don't be ashamed to talk to yourself. It's a practice method that will help you hear your pronunciation. You can also try reading aloud. These exercises are valid and will help you to improve your pronunciation, even if you don't have anyone to correct you in case you do it incorrectly.
If you practice out loud, do it in front of a mirror. The goal is for you to look at your mouth, face and body language. And if you can, shoot yourself. Then play it back and you'll see how you can improve. This is a typical trick used to prepare oral presentations.
If you practice on your own, modulate however you want even if you feel like you're pretending. This way you'll get the right way to modulate when you pronounce and speak more fluently.
Another super effective exercise to help with fluency and good pronunciation is practicing with tongue twisters in English.
Do it quickly and repeatedly. This will help your mouth move properly and by repeating it you will correct the pronunciation.
Another interesting way to practice is to listen and repeat, imitating the speaker. Do it with English tv programs. Imitate tone, speed and even accent if possible. Remember, fluency is what you want to achieve with these exercises. If you're wrong, it doesn't matter.
The accentuation in the pronunciation of words is a delicate subject when it comes to making us understand. Be careful, as poor pronunciation completely changes the meaning of what you are trying to say. It is best to think about what you are going to say and to speak slowly, concentrating on your pronunciation.
Learn how to link words
It has probably happened to you countless times, that you don't understand many of the phrases in a conversation or dialogue with a native speaker, especially when they speak very quickly.
This usually happens when people link different words together, that is, when one word sticks to another making it look like it's almost a single word. When connecting words with each other, we can face different scenarios:
- Sounds link:
- Sounds disappear (example)
- Sounds join together (example)
- Sounds change (example)
What can you do to learn to pronounce like this?
Practice watching subtitled videos on Youtube. Write down what you understand and then compare how many times you've made mistakes. You can also search for songs that contain phrases of this type.
If you practice this activity frequently, you will notice the benefits sooner rather than later.
Sing your favorite songs in English
One of the best and funniest exercises is singing songs in English. Start with your favorite songs and artists.
On the Internet you can find many webs with songs and lyrics in English. Kids love to do this activity with karaoke, which can be easier for beginners.
You will realize that you will begin to understand without difficulty what the song says, without having to read the lyrics.
Use language expressions and idioms
If you're preparing for a job interview, it's best to practice conversations in English and the phrases used in that exact context.
If you are going on vacation to another country and want to make friends, the English you need will be totally different.
In any case, you can practice typical conversations related to the place where you are going/travelling. In order to prepare yourself, you can visit webs that teach you basic vocabulary in English for specific situations.
One of your long-term goals is to understand the slang of native speakers. Many different slangs can be perfectly appreciated in TV series such as The Wire (highly recommended 😉).
Challenge: A new word every day
In order to improve your vocabulary and pronunciation, challenge yourself to learn a new word every day. Practice it with different sentences and at different verb tenses. Repeat the same word until you pronounce it correctly without difficulty.
Give them a try!