In Science By Nina

Why do I need the correct English pronunciation and how to achieve it

«If you want to learn a foreign language — to expand vocabulary and teach the rules of grammar.» With this postulate that each of us faces in school, university and even language courses. Rarely have to think about the fact that our first impression of the level of language of the interlocutor is already formed at the time of the exchange of greeting phrases.

Here is an example. As a student at the beginning of the next school year, I signed up for the course Elementary teacher from America. Before class teacher asked us:

— So, you’re good to say in English? (So, do you speak good English?)
— I suppose so. (We think so.)
— It seems to be true. (It sure sounds like you do.)

Note, I said only three words, but the teacher was able to make a preliminary conclusion about how well I can speak in English. I did not use rare words or convoluted grammatical constructions. The teacher got the impression because of the way it was I said, this simple phrase.

During my first trip to the UK at the end of Grade 10, the situation was the opposite. It seemed to me that I know English very well: I can easily construct an offer at any time, masterly use of conditional sentences of 3 types and read Salinger’s original. I imagine my disappointment when the British could not figure out which of the two words, I’m trying to say: live (short vowel / i /) or leave (the long vowel / i: /), pass (deep long vowel / a: /) or pus (short vowel / Λ /). Sometimes I watched untold flour on his face interlocutors, trying to understand what I’m talking about, especially when my speech was rapid. Sometimes the response I have heard: «What’s that? Aha! You mean … «And then repeated exactly what I said, but the other tone.

When we communicate with people in real life, they may not notice our limited vocabulary or sentence structure errors. But they immediately pay attention to the pronunciation. If you find it difficult to understand, it does not help even the excellent knowledge of grammar.

School trip prompted me to come to grips with the improvement of the sound image of my speech: working off individual sounds, words and intonations. And then — the work on the study of coherent speech and different accents.

The correct pronunciation — one of the main objectives, to which must be sought by every student of English. Let’s talk about how a teacher and in what ways you can achieve this goal.

Some sounds

The first stage — learn how to pronounce the individual sounds of English. You can do this yourself using the phonetic tables and introductory phonetic course, created in conjunction with the BBC linguist Alex Bell (Alex Bell).

Watch the video. You’ll hear the difference between a long vowel / i: / and short vowel / i /.

When you get acquainted with all the sounds of the English language and symbols that represent these sounds, you can read the transcription of words in the dictionary. Recommended read the articles «Transcription in English» and «Do I need to teach the English language transcription? «.

If you are a teacher of English, at this stage most effectively work with a Russian teacher, who himself went through all the difficulty of setting up of individual sounds. He will explain to you in detail how to pronounce each sound, what is the difference between long and short vowels, where to put the language to the notorious consonant sound [ð] in this and that sounded more natural.


The second step — feel the intonation and rhythm of the English language. Why feel? After all, there is, for example, the classification of the types of questions and their intonations. Can I just learn the theory and put it into practice? I always answer that question in the negative. This approach is not very efficient: you will tire a wealth of information, which you simply do not notice the important details. It is much more productive to «dive» in the language and try to navigate intuitively:

  • Repeat after the speaker or teacher phrases and sentences, trying as much as possible to accurately convey the tone.
  • Memorize small situations and dialogues. By copying the tone, record yourself, then listening, bug fixes, again recording — while the result will not suit you. It is not necessary to use special programs, it suffices to use the site to create an audio recorder built-in letters or on a smartphone.

Why, at this stage it is recommended to engage with an English teacher? That teacher will draw your attention to the subtleties that you could not grasp intuitively. If you have a well-developed musical ear, and you will easily manage to copy the tone, you can start classes with a native speaker (somewhere assurances Pre-Intermediate level it makes sense to engage with the carrier). If you need further explanation, you can continue working with the Russian-speaking teacher.


If you are going to move to another country, you might want to purchase a specific focus before moving to immediately join the new language environment. Obviously, at this stage would be most effective to engage with native speakers. Be sure to ask your teacher to speak naturally. Often native speakers trying to neutralize native accent, reproducing a recognized standard Received Pronunciation (British regulatory pronunciation), who are fluent speakers BBC.

Train your ears — watch movies, listen to the radio. Do not forget — to master the accent, at first it is necessary to learn to understand.

If you have trouble given its pronunciation, try to enroll in a special phonetic English courses by Skype. Experienced instructors will help you get rid of the Russian accent in English.



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