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How can I practise pronunciation?

Now we know where to find information about how to say a new word correctly, but how can we practise saying the word on our own and make sure we are saying it correctly before we have to speak to other people?

A really good way to improve your pronunciation and make sure you are pronouncing key words correctly is to use the information from your dictionary and an app like Macmillan Sounds or Pronunciation for University. You can download these apps from the app store or the play store and use them to help you understand the sounds in each word.

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Pronouncing difficult words

  • Search for the word you want to say on Macmillan Dictionary.
  • Select the pronunciation button and listen to the word.
  • Break the word down into syllables.

/In/ /dI/ /pen/ /dənt/

Then follow these steps:

1. Record yourself

  • Record yourself saying the word. You could use your phone or an online app such as SpeakPipe.

2. Check your pronunciation

  • Check your recording against the pronunciation button in the dictionary. Listen to the recording from the dictionary two or three times, then listen to the recording of yourself. Do they sound the same?

3. Test yourself

  • Try to say the word to Google or Siri, or check your pronunciation in the Pronunciation for University app;
  • If Google or Siri writes the same word then you have said it correctly; or
  • If Google or Siri writes a different word, then you need to break down both words and try to find which sound you said incorrectly. For example:

Student spoke the word 'independent' but the word that their smart phone has searched for is 'indifferent'

4. Improve your pronunciation

  • Go back to the dictionary and copy out the phonemic transcription for the word you want to say and the word Google or Siri thinks you said; and
  • Colour the parts that are the same green and the parts that are different red.

The student has identified that the third and fourth syllables do not match

  • Now focus on the red sounds. Go back to your pronunciation app and listen to the sounds. Try to record yourself saying the sounds and compare them against the sounds in your app; and
  • Try saying it to Google or Siri again until you have said it correctly.

Your task

Now practise saying the following words from the video using the technique above.

  • community
  • autonomous
  • collaborative
  • responsibility
  • reflective
  • critical
  • criticality
  • analyse
  • analysis

Which word did you find the most difficult to say? Do you have any advice for other learners?

If you are still having difficulty with a word, why not use a website like SpeakPipe to record yourself saying the word and post your recording(s) in the comments. Your peers might be able to help.

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This article is from the free online course:

English for Academic Study

Coventry University