Phonetic skills are often ignored by many English learners. Meanwhile, correct and clear pronunciation is as important as, for instance, listening and conversational skills. And I’ll try to explain why.
The Importance of Pronunciation
It is a recognised scientific fact that a child born in any country of the world can learn to speak any language of our planet. For example, a child from Poland has come to live in the USA at an early age. He or she will speak perfect English and have no Polish accent. And of course, such children will perfectly understand everything they hear, and other English speakers understand them. Pronunciation and clear understanding of English speech are two skills which complement each other. It means that, if you know how to pronounce the words and phrases correctly, with proper intonation, your level of speech understanding is also increased.
Thus, pronunciation training is a very important part of mastering any foreign language, including English. It doesn’t mean that the purpose of such phonetic training is to get rid of a foreign accent completely and forever. To be honest, it is not always possible and not so necessary, of course, if you are not going to work for foreign intelligence or teach yourself the language professionally. The main objective of such training is to learn how to hear yourself and others. Poor pronunciation creates additional barrier in understanding between you and a person you are talking to.
A Few Specific Pronunciation Tips
Learn to listen to others. The more you listen, the more successful you will be. Nowadays, there are many opportunities of hearing native English speech: songs, films, TV series, videos on YouTube and other sites, audiobooks, voice chats, etc. Make the most of this unique opportunity which has become available in the last few years!
Practice makes perfect. Even your English level is high, you can lose your phonetic skills if you have too little practice. To avoid it, just do some simple exercises:
- read aloud or in a whisper, and repeat the words which you find difficult to pronounce,
- recite poems or sing songs, observing rhythm and intonation,
- speak English to your friends whose English is good or better than yours too – just for fun and practice.
If your pronunciation is not perfect, don’t speak fast. Pronounce words slowly and clearly, and any English native speaker will understand you.
With these simple recommendations, your improving self-confidence will help you to cope with difficulties in everyday communication in English more effectively. The better you master pronouncing words and sentences correctly, the better it is. And, at least, your speech won’t be torturing for yourself and funny for others, as in the example below from the recent remake of the Pink Panther.
About the Author
Alex Shtern is a freelance writer and speaker of multiple languages, including
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