Having conversations in English is a great way to practise your language speaking skills. It can sometimes feel a bit scary to start speaking to someone in your non-native language, but it’s great that you’re taking the step and trying to do it.
Practising will only help your English speaking skills to improve more and more. So, remember, no matter how many times someone says “what?” or “can you say that again?” to you, stay confident and keep talking.
Accurate pronunciation is important when you are learning a language – after all, it’s essential that other people can understand you. Once you have learnt the vocabulary and grammar, speaking English is the skill you’ll need to keep practising. We have some tips to help you improve your English pronunciation…
1. Slow down
It may seem that people talking another language are speaking really quickly, but you don’t have to match their speed. Speaking too quickly can create – and reinforce – errors and bad habits, and you won’t necessarily recognise where you are making mistakes. Take your English conversations at your own pace – the person you are talking to will recognise that you are learning the language and be patient. Speaking slowly will allow you to think about what you want to say.
2. Break down words
Words are made up of syllables, or parts, and this can make them easier to pronounce. To check how many syllables a word has, place your hand flat just under your chin. Say the word slowly. Each time your chin touches your hand, that’s a syllable. For example, “bicycle” has three syllables: “bi-cy-cle”. Now practise how to say each syllable of the word you want to pronounce, and then join it all together.
3. Notice how your mouth moves
When you practise speaking, notice how your mouth, lips and tongue move and how they affect the way you pronounce a word. For example, to make the “th” sound, put your tongue between your top and bottom teeth and push the air out of your mouth. Once you know this, it’s easier to say words like “think”. You can also watch how other people pronounce words – try paying attention during a conversation, or following along with actors on television shows. Close your eyes and think about how to make a sound before saying it, then practise by repeating the facial shapes and words.
4. Record yourself
When you’re concentrating on communicating, it’s sometimes difficult to hear errors in your own pronunciation. So try recording your speech (using your smartphone or tablet) and making a note of specific aspects you’d like to improve – use a device with a camera because it’s important to see how you speak, not only hear it. You could find a clip of someone speaking English and then record yourself saying the same words. Then you can compare the two and see what you did differently, and try again.
Are there any English words that you find hard to pronounce? Let us know in the comments section below and we’ll reply with some advice…