In many ways English differs from Spanish. One of the main reasons for these differences is the pronunciation of letters and words. It can be quite frustrating to find out that people don’t understand you even though you know the correct words and expressions in English. The more you practice English conversation, the better you´ll get at it. To get you started, we´ll hereby present you with a few tips on pronunciation.
Listening might sound very logical but often when we focus on our own speaking we forget to listen to our conversation partner(s). This is a shame because the best way to learn or improve a (second) language is by listening to how to properly pronounce words and also, in order to respond, to listen to what the other is actually saying. Therefore we advise you to listen more carefully and to take up English conversation classes. Another tip would be to watch movies in English and to listen to podcasts In English. Nowadays you can also find many mobile apps or YouTube channels that can help you with the improvement of your pronunciation. Feel free to stop by for some tips from our teachers.
Movement of the mouth, lips and tongue
In order to pronounce we use many different facial muscles. The most important are the movements of our mouth, lips and tongue. Try to be aware of these movements, even when speaking in your mother tongue. Once aware of this you can pay attention to how the movements are different when you try to pronounce a word in English. It is important to take your time. Learning how to pronounce in English might at first feel very unnatural, like if you were are acting. You can use this unnatural feeling to your advantage. So that when you practice your English pronunciation, you imagine yourself being an actor on a big stage in a theatre. Imagine all the people, also the ones at the back of that theatre, they need to be able to hear what you are trying to say. So speak slowly, loudly and clearly. Practice at home (in front of a mirror) and during your English class. Make sure you feel comfortable, that you are at a safe place, when you practice the movement of your mouth, lips and tongue with care. The more you practice the more natural the movement will become and feel.
Break words into sounds (syllables) and learn where to stress a word
When we study words we think about their meaning. The way the words sound seems less important or even unnatural. Seeing the sounds within words can however improve your pronunciation. When thinking about sounds it is easy to break words into smaller parts, into syllables. One way to break down the syllable is into onset (everything before the vowel) and rime (the vowel and everything after it). For example, sleep could be broken into /sl/ and /eep/.
Playing rhyming games is also a good way to hear the sounds within the words. At the academy’s after school activities we often throw in a ‘rhyme to bust’. Meaning one student starts with a word and the next has to respond with a word that rhymes and so on.
Let go of your first language
We grew up speaking our mother tongue, our native language, and very naturally we try to relate to a new language with the words and pronunciation of the first language that we´ve been learning. This might actually block you from improving your English pronunciation and vocabulary. Try to let go of your first language when you study another language, like English, and accept the way things are said and pronounced within this language. Sometimes it´s good to just relax, experience and undergo a language. This will not only make it easier to speak in English but it will also make it more fun!
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