If you wish to make a positive impression while talking in English, then quite obviously you need to speak correctly by adhering to grammatical rules and by choosing the right words. However, above all these, one aspect of your language, that makes the most immediate impact on your listener, is the impeccable pronunciation that you have and the right intonation that you speak in.
Does this happen to you?
Read on if you too go through the following, while talking in English.
You have recently learned the right pronunciation of a word and are feeling good about it. But again, while talking in a flow, you mispronounce the word and immediately regret making the same old mistake, and this continues to happen each time, making you wonder when your pronunciation is going to improve.
Let us now go through the reasons which make us mispronounce a word repeatedly in spite of knowing the right pronunciation. And very obviously, I will tell you ways by which you would improve your pronunciation and overall speak more impressively and elegantly.
Why do we pronounce incorrectly:
Let’s look at the reason which makes us pronounce badly. It so often happens that we even pronounce those words incorrectly which are so common in our social space. We can recognize, which part of the world or the country one is from, the moment one opens his/her mouth and speaks.
This is a lot because of the influence that your mother tongue has on your pronunciation. Which in short is called MTI (Mother tongue influence).
Every region has a way to pronounce certain words or sounds and that trickles into our English pronunciation. This is most difficult to correct, however, not impossible!!
Habits that we pick up:
Our initial learning of the language is from our surroundings. We pick up the pronunciation whether right or wrong, as a word is pronounced around us, with repeated use, that pronunciation becomes a part of our language.
This is important for us to understand that when you pronounce a word incorrectly it is not a mistake that you should feel bad about. You should rather take this as circumstantial and make efforts to change it.
Lack of observation:
Your pronunciation of words remains unchanged because you do not observe how you pronounce a particular word and how the word is actually pronounced by those who are good at the language. The right pronunciation is always around us; we only need to observe and change it.
Inability to break long sounds into parts:
You see a long word and suddenly you crawl back to safety, completely avoiding pronouncing it. This is because a long and complicated word looks too daunting to you to even attempt pronouncing.
The wrong mindset:
We fall prey to the common saying and opinions that people use to describe English as. It is a fashion to say that “English is a funny language,” it is very difficult or complicated and so on.
This mental block stops us from appreciating the language in its true beauty, something, that it actually is, a beautiful language, without a doubt!!
Let’s change all that:
With that let us see, how we can bring a turnaround and speak as correctly, impressively, and ‘native like’ as we desire to.
We can do the following:
Listen to good pronunciation and observe:
The most important step that you can take to change your pronunciation is to start giving yourself good inputs and become observant about them. This is what you can do; you can start listening to people who speak correctly. This can be done by watching TV news channels or YouTube videos, but again for the sake of being repetitive, what you listen to, should be correct and good quality English.
These are simple steps, may be done for just fifteen minutes every day, is sufficient enough to give you the correct pronunciation of a lot of words which you might be pronouncing incorrectly.
The key however is to observe minutely without getting carried away by the content or subject.
Record and compare:
Today, you are extremely fortunate to have devices, more specifically your mobile that can record your voice whenever and wherever you want. Use this amazing feature of your mobile or computer to read something out loud, record it, and subsequently check the pronunciation by matching it with that of a native speaker.
This will give you a first-hand impression of how your pronunciation sounds; an important input that can help you change and bring it closer to how it should be pronounced.
Note: Put the word that you wish to pronounce correctly into a sentence, speak in a flow, and record, observe and change. It is as simple as that.
Revisit and repeat- or else you forget:
This is by far the most common reason why even after having learnt the new pronunciation you continue to pronounce it in your old incorrect way.
It is not easy to get rid of old habits, for there is no ‘delete’ button in our mind, which can replace the old pronunciation with the new one. What you actually need is, to train your mind to pick up the correct pronunciation whenever required and this can be done by the power of repetition.
Do regularly revisit the word you have learned to pronounce correctly and practise, if only done a few times, the pronunciation will become a part of your language for good.
Listen to English songs and sing along:
A fun way to improve pronunciation which proved to be highly effective to me, when I was in a quest to improve my pronunciation immediately after my school.
Pick up a song where the pronunciation of words is clear and understandable. Listen to that song a few times by reading the lyrics, and sing along. You would gradually see that you too are pronouncing the words as is being pronounced by the singer.
This habit of learning the lyrics and singing along, which I did inadvertently without the purpose of improving my pronunciation, actually proved to be most effective way that helped me sound native like.
Note: Pick up songs that have lyrics and clear pronunciation. You are more likely to find such songs in the 80s, 90’s or 2000’s collections. Worth mentioning here the singer Don Mclean whose song “Vincent” impressed me the most for its clear pronunciation. Another group called ‘Carpenters’ have singers speaking beautifully and clearly. And so, on and so forth.
Break long pronunciation into short sounds:
You would find that just by breaking long pronunciation into smaller parts and learning to pronounce them correctly and then combining them is such a simple and effective method to change your pronunciation.
For this, you may first have to make a habit of observing the part of sounds that is where it begins and breaks and may have to take help from those who can do that for you.
This is where joining some courses or classes teaching English conversation can help you accelerate your learning process.
Follow my above suggestions that I am sure, you would. Since you have read and come so far in the blog, and get rewarded by pronouncing that is exact, impressive, and impactful.
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Prashant Kumar Dubey
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Prashant Kumar Dubey
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