Speak better: 5 easy ways to improve your pronunciation

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Do people always ask you to repeat what you say?

Many newcomers experience this. It can be because of our accent. Many of us are still trying to get used to speaking in English.

Don’t worry if you have a foreign accent. Canadians are used to hearing accents. But if you want others to understand you better, improve your pronunciation.

Here are five simple tips:

  1. Don’t speak too fast

    Relax before speaking. Stress will make your mouth and vocal cords tense. Take a deep breath. Say important words louder and longer. Others will understand you without listening to each word you say.

  2. Listen and observe

    Listen to other people talk. Observe their pace and intonation. Watch how they form the words with their mouths and then practice at home. Copy their speed and pronunciation.

  3. Record yourself (audio or video)

    Listen to how you sound and see what needs improvement.

    • if you can understand what you are saying
    • the words that you mispronounce often
    • how fast you speak

    Record yourself reading a page from a book or a newspaper. You can also choose a speech delivered by a native speaker (see YouTube). Record yourself delivering them. Compare your recording to the original. Work on what needs to be improved. Record yourself again and notice your improvement.

  4. Do exercises

    Re-train your mouth and tongue to pronounce English words. There are exercises that help our mouth, lips, tongue, vocal cords and throat relax.

    • Sing English songs. It will help you notice rhythm and stress patterns of English words.
    • Use tongue twisters to improve your diction.
    • Do vocal exercises from Rachel’s English (series 1-6):

  5. Look words up

    Get a dictionary when you don’t know how to pronounce a word. Online dictionaries define words and let you hear how it sounds when spoken. Click on the speaker icon beside the word. Or check its phonetic spelling (For example: Bouquet – /bōˈkā, bo͞oˈkā/).

Pronunciation improves the more you use the language. Listen to English music, podcasts, news and others. Join conversations, make small talk, or make a presentation. Join a local Toastmasters Club to take your language skills to the next level. Keep practising and you’ll improve in no time!

Sources: English pronunciation (How to improve), Lingoda; 15 ways to improve your English pronunciation, Learn English with Emma (EngVid); and 10 tips for perfect English pronunciation, Wil, English Live. Accessed April 16, 2019.

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