iStock 000006365439Small 300x188 A Few Tips for Better English Pronunciation

Learn pronunciation by speaking with native English speakers.

English is a language that has many different accents. It is important to note that accents are different from pronunciation. Pronunciation is the way in which a word is pronounced. Accent is a series of pronunciation, rhythm and emphasis that is local to a region or city. It is important to pronounce words correctly so that you are understandable.

Accent isn’t necessarily important, you can speak English with a Spanish accent for example and be totally understandable if you are pronouncing the words correctly. This accent will tell people that you are from Spain and that your first language is probably not English. If you wish for people to think that you are from the US, Canada, England, or Ireland you can try and take on an accent, however, it generally shouldn’t be the most important part of your studies.  Below I will go through some common mispronunciation problems that many Spanish speakers have.

  • failure to pronounce the end consonant accurately or strongly enough ; e.g. cart for the English word card or brish for bridge or thing for think
  • problems with the /v/ in words such as vowel or revive
  • difficulties in sufficiently distinguishing words such as see/she or jeep/sheep/cheap
  • the tendency to prefix words beginning with a consonant cluster on s- with an /ε/ sound; so, for example, school becomes eschool and strip becomes estrip
  • the swallowing of sounds in other consonant clusters; examples: next becomes nes and instead becomes istead.

Below are some common emphasis problems in English.

  1. English is considered a stressed language while many other languages are considered syllabic.
  2. In other languages, such as French or Italian, each syllable receives equal importance (there is stress, but each syllable has its own length).
  3. English pronunciation focuses on specific stressed words while quickly gliding over the other, non-stressed, words.
  4. Stressed words are considered content words: Nouns e.g. kitchen, Peter – (most) principal verbs e.g. visit, construct – Adjectives e.g. beautiful, interesting – Adverbs e.g. often, carefully

Generally English  is spoken from the middle of the mouth and the tongue is fairly still.

In English, the jaw is fairly relaxed, and the mouth is held in a medium open position. The tongue is held in the middle of the mouth, and the corners of the mouth are relaxed. The tongue hits the gums above the front teeth more often than the teeth themselves.

Whereas in Spanish, speakers keep their jaws loose, their mouth in a medium open position. The tongue is held slightly raised and forward, always in the vicinity of the front teeth. The lips are relaxed, but the muscles at the corners of the mouth are slightly tensed. The point of articulation is near the front of the mouth.

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