It could be argued that pronunciation is the most difficult part of speaking a foreign language. Why is it that you can never sound exactly like a native English speaker? You have perfect grammar, a high-level of vocabulary and feel confident when speaking but pronunciation lets you down.
First and foremost it’s important to understand that having an accent exactly like a native speaker can be difficult to achieve. If you’re brought up in an English-speaking family or environment, you’ll naturally pick up the accent and speaking mannerisms but if you’re learning from afar and have little day-to-day contact with native English speakers it can be hard to get that perfect accent.
I think it’s important to be realistic when learning English. As long as pronunciation mistakes don’t interfere with communication and meaning then it’s important to integrate your own accent into your English speaking. Don’t be afraid of sounding “different” to a native speaker. Remember there are more English learners in the world than native English speakers so there are more people that speak English with their own unique accent than the perfect typical British, American, Australian style.
What is it that makes pronunciation so hard in English? It’s difficult to answer this question on a global scale because each country has its own difficulties in English. It could be because a certain sound doesn’t exist in your native language or it could be because your mother tongue doesn’t use stress and emphasis.
Let’s take a look at the key to English pronunciation….
First let’s start with the sounds that exist in English. There are 44 sounds that are shown on the phonetic chart. If you can say each one correctly, you’re on the way to speaking good English.
Next, there’s stress. English is what we call a stress-timed language, which means there is a certain rhythm to the way we speak. If you understand this theory and can apply it, you’ll start to sound fluent.
Stress isn’t just in sentences but also in individual words. If you apply the word stress rules to your speech, you’re starting to sound fluent!
Last but not least is connected speech- the key to sounding like a native speaker. This is the way we connect words and phrases together in conversation. If you can achieve connected speech, you’ve got a great chance of sounding native.
Most teachers ignore pronunciation and communication skills when teaching English, instead focusing on building vocabulary and understanding grammatical structure. At Virtually Fluent, we treat pronunciation as one of the most important elements of language. We incorporate pronunciation into our syllabi and all our academy courses cover pronunciation topics from absolute zero level. You should treat pronunciation with the same importance. Check out our YouTube collection of pronunciation topics to help you achieve that fluent speech in English.