Good pronunciation in English is never easy for anyone. And learning to do so is probably one of the most difficult tasks facing a person who has taken up learning English.
Even if you've been learning English for years, your vocabulary is at an all-time high and you're constantly being asked to repeat: "Pardon?", "Can you repeat that, please?", "Say that again?"
Sound familiar? If you've noticed this and can't understand why English people have trouble understanding you, it's probably not because of your grammar or vocabulary, but because of your pronunciation.
Let's find out how to deal with such a "worthy opponent" as clear English pronunciation! Here are some tips to help you sound more like a British.
1. Learn to listen
Before you can start talking properly, you have to learn to listen. As Beyoncé says in her song "You should have listened". It may sound strange, but listening is the first key to success. By this we mean that when you listen to a native speaker you hear the right sound of words and involuntarily become better at distinguishing spoken sounds and words. There are many audio exercises aimed at developing this skill.
Don't feel sorry for yourself that you will suddenly feel like a first grader again, it's all temporary, and pronunciation is indeed a very important moment in language learning.
2. Pay attention to your tongue
You probably haven't even thought about how your tongue moves when you speak, so you'll need to watch its "life" in order to improve your pronunciation.
Some challenging sounds for non-native speakers are the letters "L" and "R" as well as the "TH" sound. It is the job of your tongue to get them right!
For example, to make the "L" sound, your tongue has to touch the back of your front teeth and palate. Try saying the word "lice" several times. Feel where your tongue is at this time.
To make the 'R' sound, your tongue should NOT touch your palate. Move your tongue back to the middle of your mouth where it naturally lies when you are silent. When you make the sound, your lips should be slightly rounded. Try saying the word 'rice' a few times. You should feel air passing between your tongue and your upper palate.
Now try saying rice and lice alternately following this advice and knowing where to put your tongue. Can you hear the difference?
The "TH" sound. Many other languages do not have a similar sound and so it may not sound normal or familiar to us. To make this sound, place your tongue between your upper and lower teeth and it should stick out slightly between your teeth. When you push air out of your mouth, you want a small amount of air to come out between your tongue and your teeth - then you will get the right sound. Say the word 'think' several times. Make sure that you are doing it right.
If you are still in doubt, the best solution is to seek professional help.
3. Use videos, podcasts, songs and British TV series
The internet is full of interesting and useful videos and/or podcasts that can help you listen and start pronouncing words correctly. Short audio recordings are suitable for practising understanding British accents and repeating them out loud. The next option is to watch British series and/or listen to British songs, which can be more enjoyable.
Watch exciting series like 'Sherlock', 'Down Town Abbey' and 'The Crown' and listen to the songs.
4. Practice with friends
As we know - practising makes perfect! Nothing is easier than practising your pronunciation with a friend at the same time. For better results, you can also enlist the help of experts.
Having a British pronunciation is no illusion, and the secret to success is practice and hard work to achieve it.