The first English pronunciation tip is simply this: Start where you are.
The journey to a better English accent has 4 stages. Where are you?
The 4 stages of achieving good English pronunciation.
In the beginning, you are unconscious of the mistakes you make when speaking English. Next, you are conscious that you are making mistakes, but you do not know how to fix them. Then in the third stage, you are aware of your mistakes and you consciously correct your mistakes. In the final (success) stage, you have new, correct habits, and therefore unconsciously produce correct English.
If your English pronunciation often prevents people from understanding you, this is a problem that deserves your attention. But don’t worry, help is available! Contact The English Center about private English pronunciation coaching online, and in person in Amsterdam, Amstelveen and Den Haag. Also at corporate locations.
30 English Pronunciation Tips.
There are a lot of items here, so don’t worry about “learning” them all. Just use this list as a grabbag of ideas, facts, and tips. Find the English pronunciation tips that support you today and use them. Come back to this list later. As you work on your English accent, more and more of these points will “click” with you.
- Pronunciation is a habit, and habits are hard to change.
- Pronunciation is an automatic behavior. It is unconscious.
- Pronunciation of your second language is grounded in your first language.
- L2 English speakers often use spelling to predict pronunciation. That technique frequently produces the wrong sound.
- English accents are generally characterized as either AE or BE: American English or British English.
- Reading texts or books, or learning grammar will NOT help you learn to learn to SPEAK English correctly.
- Near-native English is the goal of accent reduction / pronunciation training.
- Your accent is only “wrong” (and confusing to listeners) because it is not consistent with the way native speakers speak and expect to hear English spoken. This gap will cause miscommunication and require the L2 speaker to repeat, explain and clarify what they said.
- Native English speakers omit, connect and blend many words.
- Native speakers use intonation skilfully to carry a great deal of meaning.
- Uncorrected pronunciation errors will persist if left uncorrected.
- New English pronunciation habits must be formed and practiced so that they become dominant, automatic and unconscious. New neural pathways must be created.
- There is no one correct English accent, there are simply variations.
- American English is an older form of English than British English RP “received pronunciation.”
- OK, what are the actionable English pronunciation tips? What should I do….?
- Identify the English accent you want to achieve. This is often defined as AE or BE, though many variations are possible. And many people are happy with an “international sound,” which is a blend of AE, BE and their native language.
- Identify your chronic errors, such as sound substitutions and sound shifts. You may be missing sounds that do not occur in your native language. The techniques for producing those sounds must be learned.
- Listen, listen, listen to the people you want to sound like. Use a player that you can rewind and or slow down. Use the English Center Language Lab App for unlimited, corrected, recorded practice.
- Google your questions. There are loads of good pronunciation videos on the internet.
- Identify a target English speaker whom you want to sound like.
- Develop a target sentence or paragraph that you can keep coming back to as your touchstone.
- Find and save audio of your English target. Get matching text to use when you role play the target.
- Record yourself speaking the target English text. Compare!
- Be like a child and enjoy your new mouth sounds! Get to know how your lips, teeth, tongue and vocal chords work together to make the music we call the English language.
- Learn about vibrated and un-vibrated sounds. Hint: All vowels are vibrated.
- Learn about rhoticity (the pronunciation of Rs) in your chosen English dialect, AE or BE.
- Get a good schwa! It is the MOST common sound in English.
- Learn how to make the 2 English TH sounds.
- Learn how to make both tense and relaxed vowel sounds.
- Think of learning a native accent as similar to learning to dance. It is mental, physical, and creative – and it requires patience. Trust your teacher to help you get the right moves, practice-practice-practice, and soon you will be rocking your English.
- And the best English pronunciation tip….? Enjoy your near-native English accent! Talk talk talk, and stay aware! Keep tweaking your accent as necessary.
Author: Brenda de Jong-Pauley, MA, 2023.
Do you want to practice SPOKEN English all the time, anywhere you go?
Check our our Language Lab App.
Are you working on your American English accent?
Try the videos at Rachel’s English.
Are you working on your British English accent?
Go to the BBC.
Are you looking for a native-speaker English pronunciation coach in the Netherlands? American and/or British English? Online or in person?
Request a free online intake appointment with an English Center trainer.
Read more about pronunciation training with The English Center here.
Liever in het Nederlands over Engelse uitspraak cursussen lezen?
Are you an expat in the Netherlands? Visit the IamExpat website. We are there!