Our tips on how to improve pronunciation apply to any and every language (not just the ones in our examples). Producing the sounds and tonality of a new language is one of the most difficult steps for learners. The secret to improving your pronunciation is in how you approach it. Put these tips and tricks into practice, and you’ll be headed in the right direction!
Last Updated: 06/03/2020
How to Improve Pronunciation of a Language
To get started, let’s address a few misconceptions around improving your pronunciation.
1. Your pronunciation doesn’t have to be perfect
You should try to produce the sounds correctly so that others can understand you. But there’s no need to obsess over it. With regular practice, you’ll notice improvements bit by bit! You can improve your pronunciation and still keep a slight accent. There’s no reason to try to rid yourself of it entirely. (Some people might even think it sounds sexy!) You can correctly say the sounds of the language all while keeping the intonation of your language. Nobody’s asking you to speak English like a native English speaker. All that matters is being able to make yourself understood.
2. Having a foreign accent doesn’t stop you from making yourself understood
An accent rarely hinders somebody from being understood. Most people actually find accents interesting and exotic. The only goal here is that your accent shouldn’t be so strong that it’s difficult for others to understand you.
3. Be patient: Proper pronunciation takes time to develop
Learning a language takes time and patience. When it comes to your pronunciation, results will come, but not immediately. That said, you can start improving your pronunciation right away by learning how to say every new word you learn. That way, you’ll have fewer bad pronunciation habits to break later on.
4. Anybody can learn a new language
Don’t try to convince yourself that you’re not good at languages. It’s a mistake to believe that you’ll never be able to speak a foreign language just because you’re having trouble trying to improve your pronunciation. Good pronunciation is something that almost everybody struggles with at first, but that anybody can achieve. Everybody’s different. Some may have an easier time with pronunciation and a more difficult time with other aspects of learning a language. But everybody can manage it with effort and consistency.
The Golden Rules on How to Improve Pronunciation
We’ve put together a list of golden rules on how to improve pronunciation. We’ve had the opportunity to put these tips into practice, and can testify to their efficacy.
Rule #1: Get frequent exposure to the language you’re learning
Listen frequently to native speakers in your target language. You can make use of the man resources on the internet, like podcasts and online radio, or online TV or videos on video sharing websites like YouTube, DailyMotion, and dotsub.com, which specializes in videos with captions. Get into the habit of dedicating 5-10 minutes a day to listening to native speakers of your target language. Without even realizing, your accent will slowly but surely improve. After all, children learn their first language by listening passively and intensively.
Rule #2: Concentrate actively on the difficult sounds in your target language
You’ll find many sounds that are dissimilar to those in English. Some of these are easy to reproduce, others less so. Find the sounds which are the hardest for you and practice them. For example, the Italian R and the French R are generally quite hard for English speakers to pronounce. Once you know which sounds you’re struggling with, use interactive dictionaries, or the amazing website forvo.com, which allows native speakers to record the pronunciation of words in all major languages. Listen to the correct pronunciation and repeat it out loud.
Rule #3: Find similar sounds
You’ll also find many sounds that are similar to those in English! Use these analogous sounds to help you with your pronunciation, and things will go much faster. For example, the Italian c, as in cipolla, is pronounced like the English ch in church. Similarly, the Spanish ll, as in llover, is nearly the same as the English y as in yellow. The MosaLingua apps cover these similarities and similarities in greater detail.
Rule #4: Speak slowly at first, and exaggerate your pronunciation
At first, speak slowly and exaggerate sounds, taking good care to pronounce them correctly. In Spanish pronunciation, for example, pero means but, while perro means dog. When pronouncing the latter, make sure you say the double R long enough to avoid being misunderstood. Here’s another example, in French this time. Open your mouth wide enough when you say les (plural “the”), so as not to say laid (ugly).
Rule #5: Practice a little bit, frequently
This is the true secret to successfully learning a foreign language. Don’t dedicate 1 hour to pronunciation from time to time. Instead, plan regular sessions of no more than 15 minutes each. And try to do it every day (or as often as you can). You’ll make considerable progress in no time.
Rule #6: Have fun imitating how people pronounce words in their native language
Listen to native speakers and take pleasure in imitating the way they say a word or a phrase. If you like watching movies, have fun memorizing and repeating lines by your favorite actors. Watch videos and get inspired. Sing your favorite songs, while trying to make the same sounds as your favorite artist. You can take advantage of this list of the best websites for learning a language through music. You will no doubt encounter difficulties, but these activities can make it a lot more fun to make regular progress!
Rule #7: Read out loud
Read articles and books in your target language and, from time to time, try to read them out loud to work on your pronunciation. This will also help you find the sounds you struggle with the most. The primary concern with this method is that you don’t have a native speaker to emulate. So, it’s a good idea to go over the most common mistakes made by learners in your target language.
For example, when native English speakers starting learning Romance languages, we tend to lengthen our vowels. Thus, regarder (to watch) becomes “regardeeer.” We also usually pronounce double letters found in Italian and Spanish too quickly. Which means that the Italian word penna (pen) sounds like pena (punishment), often to the (good-natured) amusement of native speakers.
Rule #8: Use language exchange websites to speak with native speakers for free
Check out our article on how to find conversation partners on the best language exchange sites. You can use these Internet tools to speak with native speakers who will correct and explain your mistakes. And in return, they can benefit from your knowledge of English.
Don’t forget that to improve your pronunciation, you can also use the MosaLingua apps. All the phrases and words were recorded by native speakers, so you can memorize them along with their correct pronunciation.
Take a MosaSpeak MasterClass
You can get an extra boost in improving your pronunciation with our MosaSpeak MasterClasses. Each class comprises 8 modules designed to help you start expressing yourself more fluently and confidently, and actually enjoy speaking in your target language. We focus on accent and pronunciation, confidence, and fluency, to bring together all different aspects of successfully speaking a language. You can find more information about each MosaSpeak course at the links below:
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