How often do people ask you to repeat into a conversation? Or how often do you hear them saying “What?”
If this happens quite often and you speak loud enough then you need to work on your pronunciation.
Learning the right pronunciation in English could be difficult. As English is a whole new language and might contain sounds that are not specific to your language, this means you have to learn to make completely new sounds.
Practical methods of how to improve your pronunciation
The first advice is to learn to listen. I know we are talking about pronunciation but if you cannot hear the difference between the word knight and night, chin or shin or write and right it is less probable that you will able to make the difference when you pronounce them. This is why if you want to pronounce correctly, you need to learn to listen.
Pay attention to your mouth when you talk. Each time when you position your mouth differently you will make a different sound. Try to follow the pronunciation of other people while watching TV shows, or public speeches or actors in movies. Repeating this behaviour will help you to improve considerably your pronunciation.
Pay attention to your tongue. The most difficult sounds for non-native speakers are the sounds L, R, TH. The right pronunciation is hidden in the right position of your tongue. There are a lot of guides available on the internet that are giving clear instructions on how to position your tongue when pronouncing or you can use a more interactive way of learning – the parrot game or the shadowing. Repeat loud and clear while you are watching videos you can do this all the time when you watch news, TV shows, movies, etc.
Usually, students are facing problems in the pronunciation of the long words. Break those words which you cannot pronounce in syllables (separate sounds) pronounce them by turn, then try to pronounce them all together, you will see that it is already easier.
For better results, watch yourself in the mirror while practising or even better record yourself and listen, this will allow you to track those sounds that are the most difficult for you to pronounce and work more on their pronunciation.
Practical methods of how to improve your listening skills
And when I say your listening skills I am not referring to your ability of actually physically hear better, I refer to your comprehension skills while you listen to others, and it doesn’t matter in which context, direct conversation or all kind of recordings.
First advice is to be attentive and to manifest a great wish of understanding; believe it or not, the ability to understand others comes from our wish of understanding them. If you are not interested in a discussion even in your mother language you will not get too many things, so, first be attentive.
Conscientiously learning, we imitate real-life situations to learn how to handle them in an appropriate way when we will actually face them. This is why listening to different voices, accents and tones would be very helpful. Work based on a variety of materials, also choose topics you are not familiar with will help you to improve your listening skills.
Another good method of improving your listening skills is to work in 3 steps with videos.
- Watch a video.
- Add subtitles to the video and watch it again.
- Watch the video again without subtitles.
You will be amazed how words that first seemed hard to understand are clearer after. Repeating this exercise will improve your comprehending ability.
As an ending, I have a general advice: to learn is good, practising what you’ve learned makes it better, managing to apply it in real life conditions is what makes it truly amazing. Learn. Practice. Apply.
Best wishes to you all,