Learning English pronunciation
Why should you study English pronunciation? Because pronunciation is the biggest thing that people notice about your English.
Learn to pronounce English words as soon as possible: English pronunciation is unpredictable. If you don’t put effort into English pronunciation, you will make mistakes, and mistakes can turn into bad habits. The longer you ignore pronunciation, the more bad habits you will form. So don’t put it off.
Test your English pronunciation: Can you pronounce basic English words correctly?
How to learn English pronunciation
Study the sounds of English and their IPA symbols. Learn to recognize all the sounds. Recognition is important because it lets you learn pronunciation from spoken English. In order to learn the correct pronunciation of a word, you need to know what sounds you hear — for example, whether you just heard
/dʌk/. You have to be able to tell the difference.
- Learn about phonetic transcription and word stress.
- Choose your pronunciation model: American or British.
Get in the habit of checking the pronunciations of words in a dictionary.
- When you’re speaking and you’re not 100% sure how to pronounce something, don’t guess — if possible, check the correct pronunciation before you say it. If not, then at least check it soon afterwards.
- While you’re reading in English, keep asking yourself: “Do I know how this word is pronounced? Can I transcribe it with phonetic symbols?”. If you’re not sure, look it up in a dictionary. This should happen very frequently when you’re a pronunciation beginner.
- Listen and notice. Get some spoken input: TV, podcasts, movies, audiobooks, recordings in dictionaries, etc. When listening, pay attention to how sounds and words are pronounced. Think about what sounds you hear. When you listen to non-native speakers, notice their mistakes.
- Practice pronouncing English words and phrases from time to time. Practice can take many forms. You can practice in a systematic way (e.g. a 15-minute session with a dictionary or online pronunciation exercises), or you can just repeat a couple words while you’re doing something else (e.g. watching a movie or taking a shower). The important thing is to do it regularly — that way, you will make steady progress.
- Consider learning the pronunciations of the most common English words in a systematic way. You could get a list of most frequent words and look up their pronunciations. Or you could use my English pronunciation software that teaches you the pronunciations of the most frequently used English words and makes you remember them.
English pronunciation is unpredictable, so guessing the pronunciation of a word rarely works and can lead to bad habits.
- What is good English pronunciation? There are three levels of English pronunciation. Your pronunciation is good if it is understandable and pleasant.
- Useful phonetic concepts:
- We created the ASCII Phonetic Alphabet because the symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet are difficult to type on computers. The ASCII Phonetic Alphabet uses only symbols which you can find on your computer’s keyboard.
- Demonstration of phonetic transcription: Listen to recordings and read the transcriptions.
- English vowel chart: See how the vowels of English are pronounced relative to each other and relative to the vowels of other languages.
- In the “Myths and facts” section: “You are a foreigner, therefore you will always have a foreign accent”
- Comparative review of English pronunciation dictionaries: the Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary and the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary