Saturday, October 15, 2011

English Pronunciation & phonetics


English Pronunciation & phonetics

Researched by
Santosh Chaudhary
ESL Trainer

*Diploma in English language training for adults from Cambridge University

Part -1

What is pronunciation?

the act or result of producing the sounds of speech, including articulation, stress, and intonation, often with reference to some standard of correctness or acceptability.
There are three levels of English pronunciation:
Level 1: People often don't understand what you want to say. You use the wrong sounds in English words.
Level 2: People can understand what you want to say, but they have to concentrate to understand you.
Level 3: People can understand you easily. Your pronunciation is clear and pleasant.

The worst errors are:
talking too fast because you think it sounds native
skipping sounds (e.g. worl instead of world)
misplacing the stress (e.g. DEvelop instead of deVELop)
using the wrong sounds in a word, especially if the sounds are very different from the correct sounds (e.g. pronouncing determine so that it rhymes with mine or pronouncing target with a j sound)
confusing two different sounds (e.g. pronouncing slip and hit the same way as sleep and heat, pronouncing hope the same way as hop)

How to improve English pronunciation
Pronunciation Tips
These English pronunciation tips will help you get the most out of your Pronunciation Power program.
I. Imitation
Observe the mouth movements of those who speak English well and try to imitate them. Watch television; observe the mouth movements of the speakers. Repeat what they are saying,
ii. Learn pitch, intonation and rhythms. Use the dictionary, learn phonetics.
If you speak too quickly, and with the wrong intonation and rhythm, native speakers will have a hard time understanding you. 
Try and familiarize yourself with the phonetic symbols of your dictionary. Look up the correct pronunciation of words that are hard for you to say.
iii. Word list
Make a list of frequently used words that you find difficult to pronounce and ask someone who speaks the language well to pronounce them for you.
iv. Recording.
Record yourself reading some sections of the book. Compare it with dictionaries sounds.
Many people hate to hear the sound of their voice and avoid listening to themselves speak. 
v. Read aloud in English for 15-20 minutes every day.
 Research has shown it takes about three months of daily practice to develop strong mouth muscles for speaking a new language.
Tip vi
Do not confuse pronunciation of words with their spelling! For example, "threw" and "through", although spelled differently, are pronounced the same. Also, identical letters or letter clusters in words do not always produce the same sound. For example, the "ough" in "though" and "through" represents a different sound in each word. Learn to practice what you hear, not what you see.
Tip vii
Imagine a sound in your mind before you say it. Try to visualize the positioning of your mouth and face. Think about how you are going to make the sound.
The English language has many different dialects, and words can be pronounced differently. It is important, however, that you pronounce words clearly to ensure effective communication.
Tip Ix
Finally, the Pronunciation Power program is a tool to help you. But you must practice what you are learning! Remember that you are teaching your mouth a new way to move. You are building muscles that you do not use in your own language.


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