Five important English pronunciation tips

Five important English pronunciation tips

Guest Blogger: Anna Tyrie is a professionally trained actress, pronunciation coach and the head teacher at English Like A Native.  You can also find her on YouTube, Instagram and TikTok for help with your English accent. 

english pronunciation

I’ve been teaching English Pronunciation for 15 years. I’ve helped hundreds of native and non-native English speakers with their pronunciation and speaking confidence and helped millions more on my YouTube channel.

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These are my top five tips that you can use to improve your English pronunciation.  

1. Learn The International Phonetic Alphabet

English words are not spelt phonetically, so, when trying to pronounce words for the first time, spelling can really confuse things.  So many students read and memorise new words with the wrong pronunciation and that can be a difficult thing to fix later down the line.  

The best way to make sure that you know how to pronounce a word is to understand the phonetic spelling.  

When English students live in non-native English speaking countries, getting good advice on how to pronounce a word correctly can be difficult.  If you know the phonetic spelling of a word, then you will be able to make the perfect pronunciation, first time, every time! 

You don’t have to know the International Phonetic Alphabet by heart, you just need to be familiar with it enough to recognise what it means.  This familiarity is easy to build over time, and the ELSA app will help you to do it, too.  

The sooner you get familiar with the International Phonetic Alphabet, the better.  

So why not start building your familiarity today!

2. Use a dictionary for English pronunciation

Now you know how to read the IPA, you can look up any word in a good dictionary to find out the correct pronunciation.  

Good dictionaries like the Cambridge and Oxford dictionaries will tell you the pronunciation in both British English and American English.  

This is also a really good reason to choose either the General American or the Modern RP accent.  These two accents have by far the most resources available for you to master your pronunciation in a consistent way.

I’m often asked which accent students should learn and my answer is always ‘It’s up to you, but try to choose one with lots of resources’.  For that reason, I don’t think you can go wrong with General American or Modern RP.

3. Start early and start structured

Pronunciation is a lifelong journey and many native English speakers continue to learn and correct their pronunciation well into adulthood.  

However, most of the growth and progress happens at the earlier stages of the journey and errors are hard to fix later down the line once you’ve repeated the incorrect pronunciation lots of times. 

So, start your journey to perfect pronunciation early and do it in a structured way.  Find a great resource, like the ELSA App or a highly recommended Pronunciation Course

Taking a structured approach to getting pronunciation right at the beginning will continue to pay off as long as you are using your language and will save a lot of pain in the long run.

4. Get feedback on your English pronunciation

Feedback is hugely important when building any new skill.  

Artificial Intelligence makes it easier than ever to get feedback for a low cost now and I’d recommend the ELSA app to help keep you on track.  

As you progress, you will also find it useful to get expert feedback from a professional coach who can help you to understand your weak areas by undertaking a full pronunciation assessment

A full assessment should identify your weak areas of pronunciation, the sounds you’re struggling with, your intonation, articulation and general speaking flow and accuracy.  Essentially, how confident and natural you sound when you are speaking English.

This is a process that many native English speakers use if they are actors or public speakers and you’d be amazed at how helpful it can be.

This invaluable information can help you to target the areas in most need of improvement and allow you to make much faster progress to a natural, confident level of spoken English. 

5. Practice your English pronunciation without fear

Pronunciation is a skill like any other and therefore, needs lots of practice to make perfect.  

Not only that, but you need to build your confidence and ability to speak clearly and fluently in front of other people – whether that is in work or social situations.  

Solo study will build the foundations of your speaking confidence, but nothing can replace real life practice.  So don’t let the first time that you use your new pronunciation skills in public be the first time that it really matters.  Find a way to get the practice you need in a cheap and effective way so that you can get lots of it!

I recommend joining an online conversation club for English speaking practice.  Somewhere informal, where you can have genuine conversations in a supportive environment with people from all over the world.  

The best conversation clubs have some structure and support from a teacher or coordinator, but most importantly, they focus on giving you the chance to have real English conversations, with real people, in real-time!  

So find a place to get the practice you need. Somewhere that doesn’t matter if you get it wrong.  Somewhere you can speak freely, confidently and without fear.  

You never know, you may even make some friends along the way.

Best of luck with your pronunciation journey.

Anna

Head Teacher, English Like A Native.

Speak Better English With ELSA Speak Pro. Register here.

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