Register for exams this June. You can register at B1, B2 and C1 levels for Cambridge exams here at Inishouse!
Can you learn pronunciation?Yes.There are learners who are very lucky and have a great ear for sounds, and a talent for reproducing them. It comes naturally to them. These people are often quite musical.However, most learners need to learn and practise recognising and reproducing sounds until they come automatically.The strategies for learning pronunciation are quite technical.
Spanish speakers and English
Depending on our native language we can experience particular difficulites. For Spanish speakers, typically the long and short vowel sounds present difficulty. There are five vowel letters but 20 vowel sounds. Spanish speakers need to familarize themselves with all the different ways to pronounce vowels. Another typical area of difficulty are some consonats: B/V and W/G. Word and sentence stress is completely different in the two languages, and it needs to be practised. In general terms, English is not pronounced phonetically, in the sense that you don't pronounce every letter you see, there many examples of silent letters: E or L.
First Step You need a computer with good audio and the capacity to record your voice at home. Many mobiles these days have good audio and voice record options.
Second StepPrepare to sweat it out. if it helps you, learn your IPA (International Pronunciation Alphabet). Pronunciation can be like grammar, basically you can go through loads of exercises on stress, enunciation, chunking, intonation. These exercises can feel silly, a bit boring. These days there are many excellent short video clips online that provide us with models and exercises. Something as simple as listening and repeating really can help.Your tutor will help you identify your mini-targets: schwa sound, long and short vowel sounds, hard consonants ect. She will give you specific recommendations on your course.There are hundreds of broadcasts on pronunciation on Youtube, each one maybe
twenty minutes or less.Many of these are excellent.Finally, keep your eyes and ears open, how do your classmates practise pronunciation? Ask them. Someone may have a very good idea.
Third StepApart from these exercises, it is crucial that you regularly watch films and broadcasts in English. Just as reading helps with grammar, listening helps with pronunciation. Once again a good computer/tablet might be important here.If English is only a pressure an obligation and an expense, you will not really enjoy it too much, or ever have enough free time to do it. The trick to successful learning of pronunciation or English idioms (not translated from Spanish), or anything at all is to find a way to turn English time into something enjoyable. So first you enjoy a film and meanwhile you are improving your pronunciation and vocabulary. So for example, you could say, no I can't watch TV in English because my partner doesn't want to. Stop there and decide it's impossible for you. Or, you could decide that you will use Thursdays when he plays mus to enjoy yourself watching an American series you enjoy...
Accents are beautifulSome students are very concerned with accent as it may be important for them to negotiate in English.In such cases, there are courses around 'accent reduction'. However, it is possible to speak absolutely excellent English with an accent. Remember your target is clear, comprehensible English, you do not have to to sound like the Queen.