Pronunciation Practice

During this term in Listening and Speaking, our level one class has focused on common problems with pronunciation. Through repetitive practice of certain word sounds, our class has definitely improved our pronunciation! We are excited to share some helpful methods of pronunciation practice that we have enjoyed this term.

1. Minimal Pairs:

Sound 1: /i:/                       Sound 2: /I/

Heel                                       Hill

Sleep                                     Slip

Leave                                    Live

Reach                                    Rich

Sheep                                   Ship

Sound 1: /ʃ/                        Sound 2: /tʃ/

Ship                                       Chip

Sheer                                    Cheer

Share                                    Chair

Wash                                     Watch

Sheet                                    Cheat


2. Sentence Use:

Is that the (bell/bill)?

The green (heels/hills) are very high.

Jim wants to (sail/sell) his boat.

Go get the (pen/pan).

She (left/laughed) after the speech.

There is a (bag/bug) on the chair.

3. Tongue Twisters: 

Suzie sold seashells down by the seashore.

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

The thirty-three thieves thought that they thrilled the throne throughout Thursday.

Roberta ran rings around the Roman ruins.

If Stu chews shoes, should Stu choose the shoes he chews?

Wayne went to Wales to watch walruses.

4. Top 10 Pronunciation Tips from

 i. Observe the mouth movements of those who speak English well and try to imitate them.

When you are watching television, observe the mouth movements of the speakers. Repeat what they are saying, while imitating the intonation and rhythm of their speech.

ii. Until you learn the correct intonation and rhythm of English, slow your speech down.

If you speak too quickly, and with the wrong intonation and rhythm, native speakers will have a hard time understanding you.

Don’t worry about your listener getting impatient with your slow speech — it is more important that everything you say be understood.

iii. Listen to the ‘music’ of English.

Do not use the ‘music’ of your native language when you speak English. Each language has its own way of ‘singing’.

iv. Use the dictionary.

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.

v. 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.

Record these words, listen to them and practice saying them. Listen and read at the same time.

vi. Buy audio books.

Record yourself reading some sections of the book. Compare the sound of your English with that of the person reading the book on the tape.

vii. Pronounce the ending of each word.

Pay special attention to ‘S’ and ‘ED’ endings. This will help you strengthen the mouth muscles that you use when you speak English.

viii. 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.

ix. Record your own voice and listen for pronunciation mistakes. 

Many people hate to hear the sound of their voice and avoid listening to themselves speak. However, this is a very important exercise because doing it will help you become conscious of the mistakes you are making.

x. Be patient.

You can change the way you speak but it won’t happen overnight. People often expect instant results and give up too soon. You can change the way you sound if you are willing to put some effort into it.

Emily, Level 1 Listening & Speaking Instructor

Emily, Level 1 Listening & Speaking Instructor


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