The Betterment of English Pronunciation
By: Sarah Werner
All those who are studying any foreign language come across the issue of setting up right pronunciation. If students don't dedicate significant time and focus on this at the beginning of their studies, then further on they would surely come across difficulties because they would have to correct mistakes. It becomes possible with regular practice, thoughtful studying tactics and, of course, persistence. In this article we shall discuss some basic methods on improving pronunciation for those who are learning English.
First of all learn English alphabet, especially the phonetic alphabet which can be found on the first pages in any English dictionary. Learn the transcription rules and work out various sounds. There are some English sounds which are quite similar to each other. These sounds are often called "similar sounds" or "pair sounds". Thoroughly work our each such pair one by one. Refer to English transcription for the right way to pronounce such words. Put special notice on the sounds, which are difficult for you. You might experience problems with different sounds depending on what your native language is. For instance, Frenchmen oftentimes have troubles with the "th" sound, Chinese - with the "r" and "l" sounds, and Arabs - with the "p" and "b" sounds. There are lots of free English lessons that are teaching the right pronunciation, for example the famous ABC song. You can make use of everything that could be found in various books and on the Internet.
Do not forget about the stress when learning English pronunciation of the words. Where to put the stress in a word always plays most crucial role. Each word has its own distinctive stress and intonation. For example, the word "believe" is an English verb that has two syllables ("be" and "lieve"), but only the second syllable in it is stressed. You should pronounce this word like be'lieve, but not like 'be lieve. In all English vocabularies the stress is marked with an apostrophe (') that is always put before the stressed syllable. When you come across any word that is unknown or unfamiliar to you, please, always find it in your dictionary and take a look how it should be pronounced right. If you think you can guess where to put the stress in this word, please, don't be too confident in the rightfulness of your surmise, neither be lazy to go check yourself.
In English phonetics the stress is far more important than pronouncing individual sounds. Actually, there's more probability that you'll be misunderstood if you put the wrong stress, than if you happen to pronounce a certain sound in a wrong way. That's how much the stress is important in pronouncing English words.
When you start making those words into English phrases, clauses and sentences, you have to learn the rules of combined pronouncing if the words, like "our apples". When the words blend together they are contracted quite often, like "we're". These are the vital English speaking tips, and all such cases you have to study and learn very well. After learning the right rule, you should practice it at least 7-12 times in various circumstances in order to master it to such a degree that you could use it automatically and never forget in the future.
There are also specific stress rules for the whole sentences and you have to always remember the importance to put the stress right. Not all the words in a sentence are stressed, but only world that hold significant information. English intonation is considerably different from the intonation in Russian which sounds quite monotonous. For English people your monotonous tone would sound rude. Therefore in order to sound natural in English you cannot speak like this.
There are some simple rules to start with when you learn English for beginners. The intonation for all affirmative sentences is downward, while the intonation for all questions is upward and reaching its highest peak at the end of the sentence with question. The same rules apply for the so called tag questions.
The more you practice, the better you shall master your English pronunciation skills. You can always listen to native English speakers as much as you can, and try to repeat after those speakers, copying and imitating them. The more you practice like this, the more you would improve your pronunciation and became more proficient in the foreign language you study. Studying another language is quite challenging indeed, and we wish all of you much success on this exciting path.
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