Learning the correct pronunciation is very important. Even more important than grammar. For example, if in a conversation you used a present tense verb (Present Simple) instead of a past tense verb (Past Simple), most likely this will not affect the overall meaning of your message. But if your articulation is fuzzy, you will be in trouble, no matter how perfect your grammar is. The correct pronunciation is equal to a successful conversation with a foreigner.
There are several ways to improve your speaking. Let’s look at some features of the English language. Pronunciation in English is focused on specific stressed words, while unstressed words are pronounced smoothly, almost inaudibly. Stressed words are nouns (dog, river, house), verbs (jump, speak, read), adjectives (nice, big, white), adverbs (slowly, fast). Most other words are unstressed and include articles (a, an, the), auxiliaries (do, does), modal verbs (can, must, am, is, should), prepositions (in, on, under), conjunctions (but, and, or), pronouns (he, she, they).
Let’s look at an example of how this works. Read the following sentences aloud, emphasizing the meaning words (words in bold).
- The nice man arrived punctually in the morning.
- She can do it on Monday as long as she doesn`t have to finish the reports for the afternoon.
Pay attention, despite the fact that the second sentence is longer than the first, we pronounce them in the same time. Both sentences have five stress words. Remember, when you speak, hit the semantic words, pronounce the rest of the words smoothly, without a voice.
The second rule of correct articulation is to learn the phonetic script. There are 26 letters in the English alphabet, but there are many more sounds. Looking up a word in the dictionary, read its transcription. Transcriptions are special characters that represent actual speech sounds. For example, the word picture has 7 letters and /ˈpɪktʃər/ 5 sounds. When things get too complicated, turn to a dictionary for help. As a matter of fact, you should have a dictionary, even in electronic format. This is a great option where you’ll find simple yet highly effective pronunciation rules for every single word. Among other things, there are programs, videos and podcasts that help you remember new words faster and more efficiently.
The next way to improve your pronunciation: talk. Speak yourself with a failure, loudly repeat the words after the announcer. In the early 2000s, Alexander Argulies formulated a technique that many language learners intuitively used – shadowing (shadowing, from the English shadow – “shadow”). In a nutshell, this method of learning a language is to pronounce the text while listening to its professional voice acting. Read texts, articles, books aloud. Professor Argules recommends taking the text under your armpit, plug in your headphones and leave the house. It has long been no secret to anyone that walking and fresh air helps to think. Watch films in English, pause and repeat the dialogue of the characters with the same intonation, pauses, stress words. In the future, repeat the dialogue with the characters.
Not all pronunciation errors are equally serious. It’s not a big deal if you pronounce a couple of English sounds a little differently than native speakers do.
Thus, you can improve your own pronunciation in just a couple of months of regular practice. Try not to rush too much, because small amounts of information are much easier and better to remember. And remember: the end result largely depends on the organization of educational activities. The main thing is to act and you will succeed!
Learning a foreign language is an adventure to be enjoyed!