Do you feel completely comfortable reading, writing, and speaking in English, but get the feeling that sometimes, people don’t really understand what you’re saying? The issue probably isn’t your English skills, but possibly your pronunciation. Pronunciation can be one of the most difficult things to master in the English language. As you may already know, English can be pretty confusing, especially when it comes to understanding the difference between how a word looks on paper, and how it sounds when it’s spoken out loud. 

However, pronunciation is an important part of learning any language. Pronouncing words correctly can go a long way in making sure that people understand what you’re saying, which is essential for good communication. Learning how to pronounce words correctly is a very different process than learning a language, so keep reading for 7 ways to work on improving your pronunciation.

1. After English School, Focus on Stressing the Right Words

While your ESL lessons might have covered vocabulary, it can still be difficult to know what words to stress when speaking English. Stressed words are those that are spoken more clearly and with more emphasis in a sentence, and stressed syllables are those that are pronounced more clearly and with more emphasis within a word. In English, understanding the way words and sentences are stressed is an important part of improving your pronunciation and communication. For example, the word “address” can mean two different things; a specific location, or the action of speaking to someone. The difference lies in the pronunciation. The location is pronounced with stress on the first syllable (AD – dress), and the action is pronounced with emphasis on the second syllable (ad – DRESS). Learning where to place stress takes practice, but it will improve your pronunciation.

2. Listen to Yourself Speak

Another way to improve your pronunciation is to take the time to listen to yourself speak. You won’t know whether you’re pronouncing something wrong unless you’re actually listening to what you’re saying. A good trick is to record yourself speaking, listen to it, and maybe share it with a native English-speaking friend. Together you can identify the pronunciation errors you make, and work to correct them.

Work with your peers to identify and correct pronunciation errors

3. Listen to English Speakers

If you’re unsure about how to pronounce a word, or you just need some more confidence with your pronunciation, one of the best things to do is to listen to native English speakers. Just like your English school teachers might have recommended when you were learning English, you can listen to a podcast or the radio, or watch an English TV show with subtitles on. If you focus on listening to their pronunciation, you might learn how to pronounce a few words that you were unsure of before.

Listening to a podcast or radio show in English can help you to learn how words are pronounced

4. Speak More Slowly

When we speak fast, it’s easy to mispronounce words. Although it’s tempting to speak fast, since you might think it makes you sound more comfortable with English, speaking too quickly can negatively affect your pronunciation as you fail to notice the mistakes you’re making. When you speak more slowly, you’ll be able to focus on pronouncing words correctly, making it easier for those around you to understand what you’re saying and improving your pronunciation.

5. Work Word by Word

Working with individual words is a great way to improve your pronunciation. This might sound like it takes a lot of time, but it’s worth it! Take a word that you have trouble saying and write it out on a piece of paper. Next, write out the word’s individual syllables. Focus on pronouncing each of these syllables correctly, and then try saying the whole word.

You can also try writing out words by how they sound. For example, depending on whether it’s referring to the past or present tense, “read” can be pronounced differently. Writing out “reed” and “red” instead of “read” can help you to remember how to pronounce the word when you’re speaking. 

6. Watch Yourself in the Mirror

Another technique is to look at yourself in the mirror while you speak English. Notice how your mouth and tongue move, and compare the movement with that of a native English speaker when they say the same word. Try to mimic the way that they move their mouth in the mirror. 

7. Go to Pronunciation School

Pronunciation is something that many English learners struggle with. A pronunciation school like ASC English can help you to learn how to pronounce English words properly. Once you take pronunciation courses, you’ll be able to communicate clearly in English for the rest of your life!  

Are you ready to improve your pronunciation?

Sign up for an English speaking course with ASC English today!