Friday January 15th, 2016 Nicoletta

5 Simple Ways to Improve Your English Pronunciation

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Nicoletta

Nicoletta

Academic Director at English One
Nicoletta is the co-founder of English One. She holds a Dip. TESOL (licentiate) from Trinity College, London. She is a passionate teacher and teacher trainer with well over a decade of EFL experience.
Nicoletta

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Here are 5 Simple ways to improve your English pronunciation

First of all you need to know that there are approximately 340 million English speakers on the planet – and a tiny portion speak like the Queen of England. The rest speak Global English, which means that 1 out of every 10 people you speak English to will probably be non-native speakers – now there is something to think about!
And also think about the differences in pronunciation between British English and US English. Then add Scottish, Irish, Jamaican, Indian, South African and Nigerian English among many other varieties!English speakers by country

So, keep an open mind about English pronunciation. After all, global English is what you want to learn, so embrace diverse pronunciation.


HERE ARE MY FIVE SIMPLE TIPS:

1. Don’t stress!

I like to call it “the practice (not process) of learning English pronunciation”. Even after reaching a high level of English, you will always be a student of English pronunciation. There are no magic formulas. Just practice.

2. Have a sense of humour.

Don’t take yourself too seriously. Have fun with it, make it memorable.

3. Learn the phonemic alphabet

And use it to your benefit. It’s like having a teacher in your pocket. Here’s my favourite Interactive Phonemic Chart (American chart also available on the site):

http://www.onestopenglish.com/Journals/2010/11/25/-ose_phonemicchart.swf

4. Talk, talk and talk. 

Learning this complex part of English requires you to speak as much as possible and to “hear” yourself. If you can hear your own pronunciation, you will be able to remedy the problem. You can also record yourself speaking and use the recording to identify where you are going wrong.

5. Invest time and effort.

“Learn English in 3 months” is nonsense. Like all good things in life, improving your pronunciation will take time – just remember Step 1: practice! And don’t give up, it will get better with time  icon-smile-o


START NOW!

It’s no excuse that you don’t have English speaking friends. If you have a smart phone or internet access you can start practicing now – for free!

You can start by taking a look at a small portion of this poem: “The Chaos” by Gerard Nolst Trenite’ (1922).

It is a perfect representation of the madness of English pronunciation. I promise, we won’t hold it against you if you believe that the pronunciation of English is simply impossible!

The poem is transcribed on the right in phonemic script. That is how you would actually pronounce the words.

NOTICE:
Can you see how words can sound the same but are spelled differently? Or how the spelling can be the same but have different pronunciation? It’s quite clear that English spelling is not phonetic!

THE CHAOS

Dearest creature in creation.
Studying English pronunciation,
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse.

I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress you’ll tear,
So shall I, oh hear my prayer.

Just compare heart, beard and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word.
Sword and sward, retain and Britain,
(Mind the latter how it’s written).

Now I surely will not plague you,
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak,
Say: break and steak, but bleak and streak.

Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.
Hear me say, devoid of trickery:
Daughter, laughter and Terpsichore,

Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes and reviles.
Scholar, vicar and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far.

ˈdiərist ‘kriːʧə ın kriː’eıʃən
ˈstʌdiıŋ ‘ıŋglıʃ prəʊnʌnsiːˈeıʃən
aı wıl tiːʧ juː ın maı vɜːs
saʊndz laık kɔːps kɔə hɔːs ənd wɜːs

aı wıl kiːp juː ‘suːzi, ‘bızi
meık jɔː hɛd wıð hiːt grəʊ ‘dızi
tıərın aı jɔː drɛs juːl tɛə
səʊ ʃæl aɪ əʊ hıə maı prɛə

ʤʌst kəm’pɛə hɑːt bɪəd ənd hɜːd
daız ənd ‘daııt lɔːd ənd wɜːd
sɔːd ənd swɔːd rı’teın ənd ‘brıtn
maınd ðə ‘lætə haʊ ıts ‘rıtn

naʊ aı ˈʃʊəli wıl nɒt pleıg juː
wıð sʌʧ wɜːdz əz plɑːk ənd ‘eıgjuː
bət biː ‘kɛəfʊl haʊ juː spiːk
seı breık ənd steık bət bliːk ənd striːk

ˈkləʊvn ‘ʌvən haʊ ənd ləʊ
skrıpt rı’siːt ʃuː ˈpəʊim təʊ
hɪə miː seɪ, dɪˈvɔɪd ɒv ‘trıkəri
ˈdɔːtə ˈlɑːftə ənd tɜːp’sıkəri

ˈtaɪfɔɪd ‘miːzlz ˈtɒpslz ˈaılz
ˈɛksaɪlz ˈsimiliz ənd riˈvailz
‘skɒlə ‘vıkə ənd sı’gɑː
‘səʊlə ‘maıkə wɔː ənd fɑː

You can find the full poem (which includes about 800 irregularities!) here.

TRY THIS:
Listen to the poem while following the words.

SO, HOW DO YOU LEARN TO PRONOUNCE ENGLISH WORDS CORRECTLY?

Here are 3 of my favourite websites I recommend to my students to help them with their speaking:

http://www.italki.com/how-it-works  – free to register. There are many native speakers of English there waiting to help you with free English conversation practice! You “pay” by letting them practice your language with you. It’s great system where everybody wins!

http://www.conversationexchange.com/ – this awesome site lets you choose a speaking partner/s before you even register. All you do is set up a profile and before you know it you’ll receive an email with someone who wants to practice their language with you!

http://speaktalkchat.com/ – is very similar to conversation exchange, but it doesn’t have advertising popping up all the time and it has a large bank of profiles of language students speaking over 35 languages.


WHAT TO DO NEXT?
If you need more ideas on how to improve your English then contact us. By joining one of our specialized English courses you can develop your English skills quickly. And if you don’t feel like travelling you can have private online lessons. We are here to answer your questions!

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About the Author

Nicoletta

Nicoletta is the co-founder of English One. She holds a Dip. TESOL (licentiate) from Trinity College, London. She is a passionate teacher and teacher trainer with well over a decade of EFL experience.

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