Our amazing teacher Katherine shares some tips on improving your pronunciation...
1. First things first
Understand the influence of your mother tongue. What sounds exist in English that don’t exist in your language? Find out! There are many videos online that focus on helping people who speak certain languages to learn English. You can also ask colleagues who speak the same language to help. Finally, check out Anki Decks for focused training on the sounds you may not be familiar with.
2. Sounds like
From your first day in the classroom make sure you find ways to note down the pronunciation of words. One popular method is using the phonetic alphabet which uses international sound symbols. You can also try to find homophones (words which sound the same but mean different things) such as wear & where. When you find especially difficult sounds try writing a silly poem with them. My blue shoe went through the glue!
3. Read a book
This might seem a strange suggestion but for all the visual learners out there, myself included, there is no better way to make the link between the word on paper and how it is said. Audio books allow you to hear: pronunciation, intonation and rhythm of speech. Plus you can practice in the privacy of your own home. Oxford Readers are a great place to start but there are also many books available for free online.
Have you ever had a song in your head all day that wouldn’t go away? Fantastic! That’s what we want and we want it full of beautifully pronounced English. Think about which music you listen to as accents can differ but listening to music can be both a pleasant and pain-free way to pick up a range of vocabulary. Try BBC Sounds for live radio or Spotify for specific artists.
5. Repeat, repeat, repeat
Finally, perhaps most important of all. You MUST practice. Whether it’s in class, in the street, in conversation, in the mirror or on the sofa watching Netflix keep saying things out loud! You are trying to retrain your mouth muscles to speak your best English but, just like the muscles at the gym, you only get better by working them.