To speak English more accurately (i.e. native-like) one needs to maintain proper pronunciation. However, the question comes as what can help us achieve native-like pronunciation. The following tips can help one to attain that:
1. Listen first:
Listen from news channels, documentaries, animated movies, podcasts and the like. It is called that the receptive skills (i.e. reading and listening) help one to achieve productive skills (i.e. writing and speaking).
2. Practice minimal pairs:
Minimal pairs are pair words like sleep and slip, which are only different by one sound. You can click on each word to hear a complete sentence with each, then quiz yourself in the second box and click the correct answer.
3. Use a mirror:
Stand in front of mirror and see how your mouth and lips move. There are guides and pictures online that will help you learn how to move your mouth. Use them so that you can pronounce correctly.
4. Watch your tongue:
The main difference between rice and lice is in your tongue. When you speak, you move your tongue to make sounds. You probably didn’t even notice that, since you do it without thinking. To improve your English pronunciation, it’s a good idea to check what your tongue is doing. Some difficult sounds for non-native speakers to make are the letters “L” and “R,” and the sound “TH.” Pronouncing them correctly is all in the tongue.
5. Know and practice stress and intonation:
English is a stressed language. That means some words and sounds are more important than others. You can hear this when you say a word out loud. For example, the word “introduce” is pronounced with a stress at the end, so it sounds like this: “in-tro-DUCE.”
Sometimes where you put the stress in a word can change the word’s meaning. Say this word out loud: “present.” If you said “PREsent,” you are talking about a noun that means either “right this moment” or “a gift.” If you said “preSENT,” you are talking about a verb that means “to give or show.” For intonation practice, there are some rules found online.
6. Find a language buddy:
Getting feedback from an outside observer is crucial. Find a friend who’s also interested in improving their English. Try exchanging recorded messages so you can listen closely to each other’s pronunciation.
7. Slow down:
Many English learners think that speaking fluently means they need to speak fast. This is wrong. Speaking too fast reinforces bad habits and makes the speaker sound nervous and indecisive. Speaking slowly will give you time to breathe properly and think about what you want to say next. Because it gives you time to think while you are speaking, you’ll feel more relaxed and be able to concentrate on making your English sound fantastic.
The above tips may help one to improve his/her native-like pronunciation.
Md. Rafiz Uddin
Department of English
Daffodil International University