Studying a foreign language is an exciting but often frustrating experience, especially if you have a problem but don’t know how to manage it. If you are a perfectionist and want your English pronunciation to sound well, there are several things you should do to see some considerable progress within a short period of time. Here are some of the most effective tasks you should focus on to improve your pronunciation and enunciation/diction, hopefully getting to the point where you sound like an English native or at least a highly skilled professional.
Study English Phonology
Before you get into practising your pronunciation, you must understand the basics of English phonology. Luckily, you don’t need to study it in every little detail — it is enough to make sure that you know how to pronounce each sound correctly, what makes long sounds and short sounds, and how to read stressed syllables. There are many tutorials on YouTube, all of them offering you a chance to study a certain accent or even RP, Received Pronunciation, which is the standard pronunciation of British English, the one Queen Elizabeth II follows. How do you know that you already have enough knowledge of phonology? The moment you realize that you can easily read all the transcriptions you see will mark the point where you have enough phonology knowledge and can focus on practice only.
Speak Slowly and Exaggerate Sounds
It will be hard to grasp, understand, and recreate some English sounds correctly at the beginning of your journey. The good news is that this complexity is quite natural, and you can get through that point by paying particular attention to your pronunciation. That’s why speaking slowly and exaggerating sounds will help your brain memorize the information easier and get this part automated. You will not have to stop and think whether you are pronouncing things correctly — when it is ingrained in your brain, you will always unconsciously follow the right pronunciation rules. Exaggerating sounds will also help you understand what makes English different from your native language in terms of sounds, intonation, tones, and pitches. You can get to the bottom of it only by focusing on all phonemes and the ways they make up words.
Read Aloud Daily
Doing pronunciation studies requires attention and quite a lot of time, the same as anything else. They say that one needs 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill. Luckily, you might get by with less practice, but you still should be ready for the fact that studying foreign pronunciation is a time investment. If you are also a student doing a program and trying to find time to practice the way you sound, you should definitely think about outsourcing some of your assignments to writing services. Doing that will give you more time to practice English phonology by reading aloud. Using this technique will offer you an opportunity to practice all the sounds you come across when studying English phonology and help you make sure you fill the gap between theory and practice.
Practice Tongue Twisters
Many ESL students complain about the struggles they face when trying to master proper English pronunciation. No wonder why: it is a whole new world of sounds and phonemes. Sometimes it’s hard to enunciate even in one’s native language, let alone a foreign language one wants to master. Now, one of the best things to help you with enunciation is tongue twisters. They are also what helps TV presenters, and public personas feel confident and sound well when they are in front of a camera trying to make a point. That is why you should consider this technique too, and see where it gets you. Here is an interesting tongue twister to get you started: “A skunk sat on a stump and thunk the stump stunk, but the stump thunk the skunk stunk.”
Listen to The Way You Sound
It is always good to get a second opinion when you are not sure of something. With pronunciation, it is a good idea to ask a professional or a native speaker to listen to your pronunciation and give some advice on what you need to improve about it. Alternatively, you can be both the speaker and the listener here by reading some piece of writing aloud and recording yourself. Then you can play it back and analyze your pronunciation, uncovering the things you still need to work on to get to the level you wish to reach in terms of your language skills. It is also a good option in case you want to track your progress: you will be able to play the recordings months after you start working on your pronunciation and see the journey you made.