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How Can I Improve My English Pronunciation? (Part 1)

2020-2-7

Many people want to sound more like native English speakers. So they send questions about pronunciation to us here at VOA Learning English. We often get asked:

Question:

“How can I improve my English pronunciation?”

Answer:

Today we will look at two simple things you can do to improve your pronunciation.

Speak loudly enough

The first is to speak loudly enough.

Many people learning a foreign language worry about having an accent or saying words differently because of their mother tongue.

Yet there are plenty of people who have learned English as a second or even third language. Take, for example, Hollywood actors Antonio Banderas and Jackie Chan. The two are non-native English speakers. Banderas has a Spanish accent, while Chan has a Chinese accent. But both men are easy to understand, partly because they speak loudly and clearly.

When speaking, the goal should be communicating to be easily understood, not removing your accent, which is often hard to do.

To read more on this subject, see our story called Keep Your Identity While Changing Your Accent.

Listen for patterns

The second thing you can do to improve pronunciation is to listen for patterns.

English sentences have a rhythm. In other words, you will find a kind of systematic arrangement, or order, to the words and expressions. When you listen to someone speaking English, try humming along with the rhythm of their sentences. Think of yourself making sounds like that of an insect.

Here is an example: What are you doing in there?

The line shows how the voice changes:


Here’s what it sounds like to hum this sentence.

It is easy to make sounds while keeping your mouth closed.

Some English learners like to listen to music and sing songs. These exercises will help you to learn the rhythms of the language.

For more exercises, see our story Improve Your Pronunciation by Training Your Ears.

Next time, we will talk about some more things you can do to improve your pronunciation.

And that’s Ask a Teacher!

I’m Jill Robbins.

Dr. Jill Robbins wrote this story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Do you have a question for the teacher? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section or email us at learningenglish@voanews.com.

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Words in This Story

accentn. a way of pronouncing words that occurs among the people in a particular region or country

mother tongue n. native language

pattern – n. a repeated design; a kind of system or order

rhythmn. a regular, repeated pattern of sounds or movements