I have conversations every day with English learners and they all tell me the same thing: the hardest thing about English is the pronunciation.
I have posted a recent article about how to improve pronunciation for Spanish speakers. However I decided to ask one of my language partners, Alejandro from Chile, how he improved his pronunciation. He has never lived abroad, however his accent is almost American and I was always very impressed with his ability to ‘lose’ his Latino accent. Here is his advice.
CHOOSE AN ACCENT.
It is easier to dedicate your time and effort into perfecting a native English accent if you are aiming for a distinct sound. If you like watching American movies and come into contact with people from the USA, perhaps you will choose the American accent. Many Latin Americans choose this because it’s geographically closer and therefore more accessible. Other people in Europe prefer the British accent, whilst others are planning to study and live in Australia so they want to blend in with the locals of their future destination. Either way, a decision on this helps with the next step.
Listen to audios and videos from that region.
I wrote in my previous post that one way to improve your listening is to listen to radio for several hours per day and you will unconsciously start to understand. When you are relaxing, don’t reach for the TV remote. Use this spare time to watch a movie from that area. Download a radio station or podcast app from that area and play it in the the background while you work, clean or drive to work. Listen to conversational podcasts rather than music only radio. TV series are a great way to understand the dialect as it is used in real contexts. Ask natives what TV shows depict real world scenarios and conversations from their region.
LISTEN TO YOURSELF
This final piece of advice is the most important part, and you are not going to like it.
- Record yourself speaking as much as possible. Look for opportunities to send voice messages often to your friends. Respond to texts using a voice message. Practise little speeches by yourself in the shower, in the car, with your dog!
- PLAY YOUR AUDIOS BACK TO YOURSELF AND LISTEN CAREFULLY. I know, we all hate the way we sound! There are scientific reasons why we hate the sound of our own voices, this is the key to improving.
- Refer back to all the podcasts and videos about the accent you are trying to master, and make corrections. Be specific about the sounds you need to improve and watch YouTube tutorials on how to physically make these sounds with your mouth.
No one likes to listen to their own voice, even the famous actor John Malkovich! But the people I speak to who have the best English pronunciation are people who commit to this practice.
I have more pronunciation tips coming, so make sure you are subscribed for email updates!
With love of all things English,
The Cookie Chef.