Lesson  3

How to Learn Pronunciation

On Wednesday, I go to school again. There is one student in the class who is quieter than the other students. He is from South Korea.

When our teacher asks if we have any questions for her, this student from Korea says that he has a question. He says that he has a big problem with pronunciation. He knows that his pronunciation is not very good but he doesn’t know how to improve it. He doesn’t speak much because he doesn’t want others to listen to his bad pronunciation.

He says that he reads and watches films in English a lot. He understands very well but he also wants to improve his speaking. He asks if there is something he could do to improve his pronunciation.

When my teacher hears this, she says, “OK, I will tell you something about pronunciation and how to practise it. I will also teach you a great technique that can help all of you to be better at pronunciation.

First, we have to look at why students have problems with pronunciation. When we speak, we have to move our mouth. We have to use muscles in our mouth. We all do that. The problem is that when you speak English, sometimes you use your muscles the same way you would use them in your native language. Then your pronunciation is different from the pronunciation of native speakers.

This happens to many students who learn English. Almost everybody has a bit different pronunciation than they should have. In fact, it is not a big problem because usually people understand what you want to say even though your pronunciation is not perfect.

However, you can work on your pronunciation and make it better. There is a great technique that can help you a lot.

The name of this technique is shadowing. The technique is very simple. When you do shadowing, you simply copy the sound that you hear immediately after hearing it. When children learn their first language, they learn it by copying. They copy after their parents again and again until their pronunciation is perfect. You can learn English proununciation in the same way.

This is what you can do. Take some video or audio recording that is not very fast and that you understand very well. You listen and you copy what you hear when you hear it. That is all.”

Then, our teacher goes to www.youtube.com and she searches for the shadowing technique. She finds a good video where the shadowing technique is well demonstrated. We watch the video. Then we all try to do shadowing for about three minutes.

Then our teacher tells us, “Shadowing is also good when you are preparing for a presentation you have to give in English and you want to have your pronunciation as close as possible to the pronunciation of native speakers. Before the presentation, you can go to some place where you are alone and you can do shadowing for about 10 minutes. You will see how much it will help you to have better pronunciation during the presentation.”

This is very interesting for me. I haven’t heard about this technique before.

When the lesson finishes, I go to the school reception. I ask the lady if there are any sport activities at school. I would like to play some sport in England. The lady at the reception says, “Yes, we have a table tennis team and a football team. The football team has training today at 5 o’clock.”

I am very happy because sport is very important in my life. I go to the training of the football team. I meet a lot of players from different countries. The players are from Brazil, Japan, Russia, Spain, Argentina and Italy. I like the training. I am very happy that my time in England starts well. I have a great teacher. I also have some new friends from my football team. Also, tomorrow I am starting my job.

When you want to have good pronunciation, repeat after native speakers.