Pronunciation refers to the ability to use the correct stress, rhythm, and intonation of a word in a spoken language, or simply the correct way of saying something. The way you speak a particular word is known as your pronunciation. A word can be spoken in different ways by various individuals or groups, depending on many factors, such as the duration of the cultural exposure of their childhood, the location of their current residence, speech or voice disorders, their ethnic group, their social class, or their education. There are a lot of people having trouble pronouncing words in the right manner. In fact, a lot of people get rejected during interviews because of wrong pronunciations or vernacular accents. English is a very important language and in most parts of the world is taught as a second language after the local language of the region.
There are a lot of people around the globe who learn English but face a problem in pronunciation. A lot of people say that it is not difficult to learn English, but when it comes to speaking, they encounter a problem. A lot of people have a pronunciation problem which can be attributed to many factors such as accent problem, speech disorder, voice disorder or inability to gain command over the language. Learning English has become one of the major requirements for professional and academic advancement nowadays. Every test and interview for the job is taken in English, in which both written as well as spoken English skills are required. Hence learning English as well as speaking it well is a major requirement these days.
English is being taught in most parts of the world as the second language and is the most widely used language at international level, hence learning English these days is the first step towards the process of academic learning. Though it is not difficult to learn English, still a lot of times learners frequently end up with rather poor language skills. This can either be attributed to the fact that those people don’t take English classes seriously. Sometimes the learners are too shy or too insecure to speak English, which significantly affects their overall language skills. This lack of confidence may easily result from poor speaking skills, even though a learner may have an advanced knowledge of grammar and vocabulary.
A lot of people are able to attain good writing as well as reading skills in English, but when it comes to spoken skills, most of them are not able to possess as much efficiency as that in reading and writing. Pronunciation has always been a topic of great concern and error. A lot of people make incorrect pronunciation mistakes. Incorrect pronunciation can be an outcome of any of the reasons like grammar and vocabulary, speaking problems, hesitation etc. Teachers usually use a curriculum that covers the most important aspects of language learning, but students have different necessities and may face different problems in the learning process. However, there is no emphasis laid on the verbal skills which would improve the language and pronunciation as well.
Pronunciation problems are common, both among the students as well as grownups. It is not a rare case that students realize that their pronunciation skills are poor. A lot of people who learn English as a second language face this problem. In fact, if you learn any other language besides your mother tongue, it is quite common to have pronunciation and accent issues. Learning a second language is always difficult. This may result from inadequate focus at practising pronunciation in class, or from insufficient knowledge about English pronunciation rules. Those who don’t feel confident about their pronunciation skills have several possible ways to improve them.
Ways to Practice Pronunciation
Everyone wants to learn English and speak fluently without any pronunciation or accent issues. However it is not possible for everyone who learns English, but if practised properly and taken care of a few things anyone can speak fluent English with proper pronunciation. If you have a different mother tongue and are learning English as a second language, then you may also have accent issues, as your natural accent in your mother tongue may interfere in your English speaking skill. First thing is to practice the language properly and be attentive during lessons.
However, a few other ways to practice pronunciation are:
Practice Speaking: There is an old saying, “practice makes a man perfect” and this holds good even in the case of pronunciation. If you practice well, you can have a hold on your pronunciation skills as well. Pronunciation skills are just a part of overall speaking skills. If you have complete theoretical knowledge, that doesn’t mean you will have good pronunciation too. You need verbal practice for that. To successfully improve the pronunciation skills you need to practice constantly. Therefore, you should use every opportunity to engage in conversations in English. Do not hesitate or shy away, you may start with your family and friends and slowly gain confidence. If you frequently have conversational activities in class, you should never try to avoid them, even if you don’t like the topic discussed. Reading out loud can also be a good way of improving your spoken English. Even if you are shy, these little exercises that you can do at home can help you feel more relaxed using English in future.
Listen to Native Speakers: Listening to others can also give you knowledge about a lot of words and help to increase your pronunciation. Those who want to speak English on an advanced level need to learn the language outside their classroom walls. When you listen to others you tend to learn a lot more than the reading lesson. Watching movies and listening to music in English can significantly contribute to better overall language performance. Also while you listen to English music try to sing along with the singers to increase your fluency. Listening to native speakers helps improve comprehension skills, but it is also a good way of acquiring more natural pronunciation. Try to listen as much as possible. Not just movies, you can listen to the speech, news, and commentary. This is a continuous process, meaning that watching a single movie will not significantly change your pronunciation skills. If you really want to sound natural, you need to stay in touch with English and use it in real life.
Tips to Improve English Pronunciation
If you are having a problem with pronouncing some difficult words, or even some commonly used words then there is no need to shy away. You are not alone; this problem has been faced by a lot of people around the world. If you go on shying and won’t admit that you have a problem with pronunciation then it’s going to be a major loss for you in future. If you are a student then it is very important for you to have correct pronunciation as most of the companies that hire people to take a verbal interview also which for the most of the time is in English. Also as a part of discussion groups, you will not be able to give in your viewpoint if you are not confident about your verbal skills and pronunciation. It is better to fix it rather than suffering due to this your whole life. However, there are a few steps to improve your pronunciation.
Be Aware: After learning the various rules of English, you must become aware of the errors that you make in your speech. Once you learn a language, make sure that you are aware of your mistakes and also note them down so that you keep on practising them whenever you come across them. Keep an organized list of your corrections that have come from being monitored by other speakers, preferably native English speakers, your family, and friends. If you don’t have a native English speaker to monitor you, simply listen and repeat with the Elemental English pronunciation and speaking lessons, and take note of how your pronunciation differs. Also, ask your friends to point out your mistakes as they can be your best judge. Only when you are aware of your limitations, will you be able to do something to overcome them.
When you Learn a New Word, Learn how to Pronounce it Correctly: It is a very useful practice to learn the pronunciation of the new word, as soon as you learn it. The longer you say a word incorrectly, the harder it becomes to learn to say it correctly. You tend to develop a bad habit of saying that word in the wrong pronunciation, and it takes a long time to break a bad habit! This is why it is so important to learn the IPA and use dictionaries specifically for English learners. Though at the start it may be a little difficult and you may feel a little burden, but as soon as you get used to it, it becomes a habit and you will no longer feel it as a burden.
Try to Imitate Spoken English: Imitate means to copy someone or something, to do something the same way, or to do the same things as someone else. You can try to imitate others during initial days before you develop fluency and accent of your own. You can try to imitate dialogues from a movie or play or even English music that will also help you to develop fluency. This is a great activity to try: Close your eyes while you’re listening to something in English: podcasts, songs, TV shows, movies, etc. Listen carefully to what the speaker is saying and try to make the same sounds. Choose a word or sentence, and listen to it many times and then imitate the same thing. This definitely helps.
Think in English: Yet another way to improve your command over language is to think in the same language. A huge mistake English language learners make is to think in their native language and then translate into English in their heads. This is a common mistake made by a lot of learners and should be avoided. This is a mistake because English syntax and word order is typically something that cannot be translated from another language. So next time you are speaking about something, possess control over your thinking also. Also, in order to speak with the correct music, stress, and rhythm of English, you need to think with that music. In the same way, it is necessary to think in the same language to maintain fluency.
Record Yourself: To pick up your mistakes yourself and to improve yourself, it is a great technique to do this by recording your sound. It’s important to hear what you sound like speaking English so you know what you need to improve! You can compare what you sound like to what you want to sound like. You record yourself reading a sentence from any speech or a song and then listen to the same sentence or song and compare your pronunciation. This way you can point out your own mistakes and also have a good chance to improve them.
Pronunciation Books: Self-learning can be of great importance. When you are your own teacher, there is no other better way of learning. Books are your greatest friends and you can use these books for better pronunciation. Check out your local library for the pronunciation books. Also, you can get downloads of soft copies from the internet which will also include the audio links. If you attend a private language school, ask if it has these books. If you live in a large city, look for these books at an English bookstore. Buy these books online. These books provide pronunciation in a simple way and you have a lot to learn from these.
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