English Pronunciation Tips

The benefits of learning English are clear as the English language will surely open new doors for you. Until you become a fluent speaker, there are some challenges and one of the most difficult ones is the correct pronunciation.

Learning
the correct
sounds

Some of the sounds of the English language may not exist in our native language as “g” and “ch” for example – sounds that are not used in the Greek language. To pronounce the words “charity”, “chairs”, “jeans”, “challenge”, “join”, correctly in English, a Greek native must practice a lot. Many slight pronunciation changes in the sounds of the English language, that carry with them completely different meanings, such as “through” and “threw”, can be hard for second language learners, especially when speaking at a fast, fluent pace.

Record
and Time
Yourself
Speaking
in English

One of the simplest but very effective methods to improve your speaking skills is to record yourself. Recording and then listening to yourself talking in English, will be extremely helpful for improving your pronunciation. It’s often difficult to hear pronunciation errors in your own speech because you are concentrating on communicating rather than the sound you are making. If you can’t hear your pronunciation problems, it’s tough to correct them. Try recording your speech with your smartphone or PC and making a note of specific areas you need to improve on. Practice recording a passage of speech from a native English speaker and then see if you took the same amount of time to read the passage. Chances are you will be considerably slower than them, because of your English pronunciation. Record and re-record until you can complete the passage in the same amount of time as the native speaker. This will really improve your English pronunciation and make it more natural, too.

Listen to the Language
from native speakers-
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. Imitate what you’re hearing – even if you’re not sure what they’re saying yet.Spending as much time as you can each day listening to English through music, TV, radio stations and news channels will help a lot in tuning your listening into how the words are actually pronounced.

Slow
down!

Many English learners think that speaking fluently means they need to speak fast. This is wrong. Speaking too fast reinforces bad habits and makes the speaker sound nervous and indecisive. Speaking slowly will give you time to breathe properly and think about what you want to say next. Because it gives you time to think while you are speaking, you’ll feel more relaxed and be able to concentrate on making your English sound fantastic.

Practise
English
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.

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.

Pay
attention to
intonation
and stress

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.

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. Because you don’t need to concentrate on constructing sentences for yourself, you can concentrate on making your pronunciation sound great!

Speak English like

You may feel confused when you start learning English, because often the way a native speaker pronounces a word won’t sound like the way it is spelled. Often words are connected or contracted to make the flow of speech easier and more natural. There are a number of ways in which this happens:

  • In a phrase like “bad day” – where one word ends with the same letter that begins the next word – you wouldn’t pronounce the “d” twice, a native speaker would say something that sounds like “ba day”.  If you think about it, you do very much the same thing when speaking your own language.
  • When you speak English, if two words don’t have exactly the same letter joining them, but one that sounds very similar, the same applies.  For example, the first two words in “what does that mean?” would be pronounced “wha does”, that is, we drop the “t” in “what” as it sounds  so much like the “d” in “does”.
  • Often, a sentence such as “I’m going to go to the meeting” will sound  like “I’m gonna go to the meeting”. This is when the native speaker  contracts or squeezes the words together for a more natural sound  that flows more easily off the tongue.
  • Many words, when pronounced, are shorter than they are when written and the sounds are softer, for example “interesting” is pronounced “in-chre-sting”, “comfortable” “comf-ta-bil” and “every” “e-vry”. This is an example of letters being squeezed together in speech, again for a more natural sound.

There are many more examples of words and phrases that are pronounced differently from the way they’re spelled by native English speakers, and there’s no doubt that the best way to learn how to speak like a native is to listen very carefully, and of course to speak English to native speakers as much as possible.

7 Common Mistakes

English can be a tricky language to learn, so it is only natural that many mistakes will be made during the process. In fact, there are a few common areas to keep in mind when you are beginning to learn English. What are some of the most frequent?

1.

First, it is important to remember not to “think” in your native language. The chances are high that there will be a great many differences (such as placing an adjective after a noun). By learning to train your mind to think in English, it will be much easier to remember all of the most important rules.

2.

Never try to directly translate sentences from your own language into English. The meaning may be entirely different and the end result may not make sense when the translation is completed.

3.

It is common to hurry when first learning how to speak in English. Instead, speak slowly and clearly. Not only will this allow you to further understand the accents and pronunciations, but it will be much easier for the listener to comprehend you.

4.

When speaking with another person, never be afraid to make mistakes. In fact, mistakes are one of the best ways to learn! By overcoming this fear, you will begin to enjoy to speaking English and then, your overall understanding will quickly improve.

5.

Avoid using resources such as Google Translate. Although these can be good for individual words, the software is not perfect. Sentences can be translated incorrectly and in many cases, you may even miss the entire meaning of the text itself.

6.

When understanding how to speak English, we need to address some common (and tricky) errors that are unique to the language. Many of these will involve the use of certain words in specific phrases. A few examples of these can include: – You’re and your – Their and they’re (or there). – It’s and its.
These and other words can be a bit confusing at first. It is only through practice that you will understand how to use them correctly. As they will be used frequently, it is important to comprehend under which circumstances each phrase or word is correct.

7.

Practice speaking on the phone. Another important talent that needs to be developed is the ability to understand a person when you cannot see his or her lips and facial expressions. This is very important if you are working in a business that requires regular communication with clients from other countries.

There are many more examples of words and phrases that are pronounced differently from the way they’re spelled by native English speakers, and there’s no doubt that the best way to learn how to speak like a native is to listen very carefully, and of course to speak English to native speakers as much as possible.

The English tenses

The English language has a total of 12 different tenses which can be used to speak about the past, the present, and the future. Each of the English tenses has a specific meaning, covered in the table below. The example sentences provided will help you decide when you should use each particular one of the English tenses.

ENGLISH VERB TENSES Past Present Future
SIMPLE
Formula
Word clue
An action that ended in the past.
Painted
He painted yesterday
An action that is habitual or repeated
Paints/Paint
She paints every weekend
A plan for an action in the future.
Will paint.
She will paint tomorrow.
CONTINUOUS
(be)+(verb) + ing.
Formula
Word clue
An action that was happening (past continuous) when another action finished (simple past).
Was/were painting
I was painting when I saw the accident.
An action is in the process of happening now.
Am/are/is painting
She is painting now.
An action that will happen in the future for a length of time
Will be painting
They will be painting when you arrive tomorrow.
PERFECT
(have)+(verb)
Formula
Word clue
An action that finished before another action or time in the past.
Had painted.
We had painted the house before the rain started.
An action that happened at an unsaid time in the past.
Have/has painted
She has painted many portraits.
An action that will finish before another action or time in the future.
Will have painted
He will have painted the bedroom before his daughter comes home.
PERFECT CONTINUOUS
(have) + been + (verb) + ing
Formula
Word clue
An action that happened over time in the past before another action.
Had been painting.
She had beeb painting for a while when she started classes.
An action that happens over time, starting in the past and continuing into the present.
Have/has been painting
I have been painting landscapes since I started school.
An action that happens over time in the future before another action.
Will have been painting
We will have been painting for several hours before we can see how it looks.
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