10 tips for perfect pronunciation
Everyone knows that using English is the only way to really improve your pronunciation. But what if you can't practice with a native speaker every day? Don't worry! There are plenty of ways to stretch your vocal chords.
1. Listen to yourself. If you can't hear your pronunciation problems, it's tough to correct them. Try recording your speech on a tape and comparing it with a native speaker's.
2. Slow down! Many English learners say that speaking too quickly reinforces their bad habits. Practice a few basics each day. Start with single sounds, then move on to words, and finally, string several words together.
3. Picture it... Close your eyes and think about how to make a sound before saying it. Visualize the positioning of your mouth and face.
4. Get physical! Pronunciation is a physical skill. You're teaching your mouth a new way to move and using different muscles. Focus on difficult sounds each day. Having trouble with 'th'? Put your tongue between your teeth (don't bite down) and blow air out of your mouth. Feel the air move over the top of your tongue.
5. Watch yourself. Stand in front of a mirror to see the placement of your tongue, lips, and shape of your mouth when you make certain sounds. Compare what you see with an Englishtown pronunciation video!
6. Copy the experts. There's no replacement for learning pronunciation from the experts – native speakers. So listen! Listen to English radio programs and watch television and movies in English. (Don't read the subtitles!) Imitate what you're hearing – even if you're not sure what they're saying yet.
7. Practice alone. Pronunciation problems persist because we're afraid to make mistakes. Create scenarios - meeting someone for the first time, ordering at a restaurant, asking for directions – then act out the dialogue by yourself. Don't be shy!
8. Find a language buddy. Getting feedback from an outside observer is crucial. Find a friend who's also interested in improving their English. Try exchanging recorded messages so you can listen closely to each other's pronunciation.
9. Be poetic. Good pronunciation is more than just mastering individual sounds. It's also understanding intonation (the rise and fall of the voice) and stress (some sounds in words and some words in sentences are louder or clearer than others). Read poems, speeches and songs aloud, concentrating on the word stress and intonation.
10. Sing a song! Learn the words to popular English songs and sing along. Singing helps you relax and just get those words out, as well as helping your rhythm and intonation.