Speaking is a fundamental language skill in the life of anyone. As a matter of fact, people will put you on a particular rung on the social ladder by the way you speak. Excellent pronunciation is one of the skills that must be cultivated by everyone who cares about their social perception. It is important to understand and master the rules of grammar but most importantly, you must endeavour to get your pronunciation right at all times because your impeccable grammar will be slaughtered on the altar of erroneous pronunciation if care is not taken. The following tips should help you achieve a clean pronunciation in English if you commit to them.
Master the Sounds of English: The first thing to do on your journey to achieving a great pronunciation in English is to learn and master all the sounds of English. The mastery of the 44 sounds of English is the foundation upon which all other aspects of the English pronunciation is built. There are 26 letters in English and they are used for writing. However, to speak English, you need to understand how the sounds of English work. Be strategic about it. You may decide to learn a sound per day/week. Work at your own pace but make sure you have a target and each passing day should take you closer to the target.
Stress is Important: Pronouncing words with wrong stress pattern may communicate a message that is different from the speaker’s intention. Understanding the system of stress in English (word and sentence stress) is fundamental to a perfect pronunciation. English is a stressed timed language. This means that stressed syllables occur at a regular interval in a sentence. You need to understand what constitute a stressed syllable and have a mastery of the category of words that are not stressed in English.
Listen to yourself Sing: Singing is a proven method of language learning. However, it must be done consciously and strategically to maximise its potentials. Singing alone will not give the desired result – better pronunciation. It is important to listen to yourself while you sing. This way, you will hear how you articulate each sound and you will make efforts to be better at it as you repeat them. This point is accentuated in the following comment by teachingenglish.org.uk ‘Songs are authentic and easily accessible examples of spoken English. The rhymes in songs provide listeners with repetition of similar sounds’.
Record yourself: Cultivate the habit of recording yourself from time to time. Apart from the fact that recording yourself helps you get a first-hand feedback on your speech pattern, it also helps to monitor your progress. By comparing a series of recordings of your speech, you are able to tell how much your speech has changed over particular period of time and this has a way of influencing your confidence positively. Listening to a model speech sample (Native Speaker) and trying to record yourself to check how close you are to getting it right is also a great way to improve your pronunciation in English or any other language.
Repetition: There is no golden buzzer to becoming the best in anything. This is the idea behind the 10,000 hour rule by Malcolm Gladwell. In practice, the rule simply means that a deliberate and consistent practice is all that is needed to become world-class in any field. Pronunciation is not left out. You can achieve a great pronunciation through a consistent and strategic practice. This is also the idea behind the idea of drilling. It is believed that repeating sounds or phrases correctly lots of times would lead to mastery of the language.
Like every other skill, great pronunciation can be cultivated. Give it all it takes to achieve it. Good pronunciation is regal. Step away from the pack. Give yourself the winning edge.