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ESL forum > Techniques and methods in Language Teaching > Pronunciation and language skills    

Pronunciation and language skills

United States

Pronunciation and language skills
Hello everybody :) I īm one of the lucky people that are still on holidays (yay!), but today I met somebody who got me thinking about something.

There was this young student from one of my friends who is also a teacher. And he talked to me in English. I personally thought, his English was really great. But he kept on asking me - as a teacher - what I would advise him in order for him to get even better. He was talking about pronunciation and language in general. 

Well, I just came up with ideas that every teacher says .. like watch english movies, songs, use chats, skype to talk to people, read books ...
but you now, when I came back home, I thought about what I said and just thought .. what a boring answer!!! .. and above all, nothing new really, everybody knows you should do that. And I was thinking and thinking and just really couldn īt come up with anything cool. Soo, I was wondering what you guys would tell a guy like that, especially if they want to reach a level close to native language (american)? His age is around 20 I guess btw. - and moving to an english-speaking country is not an option :p.

I īm curious to maybe find something new I haven īt thought of so far :)

Have a great day, evening, night

18 Sep 2013      


My husband is not a native English speaker but speaks perfect English.  He told me his secret was reading English.  He really believes that books were the main reason for his excellent English.

18 Sep 2013     

alien boy

Hi Sara!

Are you talking about pronunciation & accent? If so, it pays to think about phonetics - physical aspects of sound production. Itīs essential to understand a bit about how all the muscles work to produce & articulate the sounds. This is one area where children have a distinct advantage over adults - they can mimic accents more easily than adults because their muscles arenīt so set in their routines (think about how much work it takes to change your golf or tennis swing as you get older compared to when you were younger...)

So, to make it short, 3 ideas:
1) he can watch drama/voice training videos (paying particular attention to articulation);
2) use a mirror (or a couple) to observe his own articulation & focus on how he says things; and
3) do some research (in his native language) about how articulation & vocal sound production work.

Speaking (as far as sound production goes) is all about muscles & their ability to do what you want them to. Input is only a part of muscle training - itīs esential to practice, practice, practice the output you want to produce - but first you need to know how to make the muscles do what you want them to!


18 Sep 2013     

United States

For understanding nuances and double-meanings and such intricacies of a language, I always suggest listening to stand-up comedy which is probably the most difficult form of any language to understand (other than governmental/law).
It may not help much with pronunciation, but if you tie it in to some of the above suggestions it could.
The most effective solo method for pronunciation, in my opinion, is probably recording oneself (vídeo or audio) and playing it back-we are often our own best critics and we generally know how it should sound if we are already at such a high level as you describe above. 

19 Sep 2013     


this may sound silly but to improve your pronounciation skills it īs always good to repeat a model... for example in your favorite movie scene (or any monologue/dialogue really), repeat the sentences/words as if you were the actor, by insisting on certain words, syllables, "swallowing" other letters ( īt ī for example).

and obviously if the pupils are really good, tell them to stop watching videos with subtitles... they won īt understand everything at first but then they will get better: i īm doing that with scientific shows (from the BBC especially), tv series like House M.D. or Grey īs Anatomy where you can hear a lot of complicated medical words, and when there īs a word i don īt understand i try to write it phonetically and look for it on the web :) it not only expanded my listening skills but also my pronounciation skills (once i know the meaning of the word, i try to pronounce it by listening to it again) and my general knowlegde as a whole!

by only real lack: i still have a hard understanding people with a very strong accent (from India, from Central or South America...) especially if they speak really fast... but that īs what I love about our job: we īre always learning new things, new skills if we want our pupils to be better, because we need to be better as well!

19 Sep 2013     


I always tell my students about my little trick:  When I īm driving around I always listen to the radio.  When the music stops and the advertisements come on, I repeat the jingles out loud!  It really helps with pronunciation and intonation.

19 Sep 2013     

United States

Thanks a million for all your great ideas :) There are some that I really didn īt think about, but they are totally logic. When I see him again, I will definitely tell him about what you said. Thanks a lot Hug

19 Sep 2013