The simple truth of speaking English with a good accent, and the first step of how to speak English fluently, is practise. I know I say it often, but so many students doubt it.
Just 10 minutes a day of listening and repeating pronunciation can help train your mouth and its muscles to start working in a different way, in a way that helps you improve. This is a great way to learn how to improve English speaking.
What can I do? Where do I start?
- Very easy, the words that are new for you, maybe the words that you have learnt today, are a great start.
- Take as many words as you like (I think 10 per day is ok)
- Ask a native speaker to say them three times slowly and three times quickly and record them (most phones allow you to do this)
- Listen and repeat, trying to sound as similar as possible.
But what if I don’t know any native speakers?
Well, there are three answers to this question, the first is better and the last is the last resort (but better than nothing)
If your teacher is a native English speaker, ask them. It should not take a lot of time (maybe 40 seconds, maximum 2 minutes)
If you have the internet, use a website like livemocha, italki, mixxer, LfE or my language exchange. Find a partner and tell them what you want to do. You could do this and then you will be happily surprised when you can have some conversation practice in English too.
Finally, if you have no other options, use an electronic dictionary. I really don’t like this option because many electronic dictionaries don’t slow down or speed up their pronunciation and I feel that this helps you hear all the sounds correctly.
What if I don’t know which words to practice?
The more difficult words to pronounce are big words.
Syllables are groups of sounds. Beats in a song. The word ‘go‘ has 1 beat, 1 syllable. Other words with 1 syllable are ‘have, may do, come, drink, find, etc.’
It is uncommon that students have big problems pronouncing words with 1 syllable. The only time a student will have a problem is when they can’t pronounce 1 specific sound. But that is also a good thing to practise like this.
The British Council have developed a good app for this (there is a free version)
Just google search ‘list of two syllable words‘ and you will find a lot of words to practise.
Do the same thing for three syllable words and you will have no problems with accent practice for many months.
Well, you can practise one word alone or you could practice groups of words too. Using the same method, just pronounce three words that are normal together. a good example is ‘have a coffee‘.
Ask your native speaker to help you with groups of words and their pronunciation. BUT it is important that you are first happy with single words too.
A final tip:
Know what are normal pronunciation problems for your country/ language.
Well, there is one more thing: Youtube!
There are so many people helping with speaking and pronunciation on youtube that you could practise with.
p.s. here are a few other sites you might find useful