How To Improve Pronunciation In English
Summary: Improving Your English pronunciation
Today we have an English lesson on how to improve pronunciation in English. One of the biggest mistakes a new English language student makes is to stress the wrong syllable in a word. This almost always happens because the miss pronounced word is being read from a book and not listened to. If you all you do is read new English vocabulary, then you will not know where to place emphasis when pronouncing the word.
So today's lesson gives you some solid advice on how to improve your English pronunciation. We give you some simple and easy to remember language tips that work for about 80% of English verbs, adjectives and nouns. Then we explain how you can learn to pronounce English correctly without ever having to study a book.
Using the Adept English “Listen & learn” system of learning you will get so good at listening to English pronunciation it’s highly likely you will spot mistakes automatically, the miss pronounced words will just sound wrong to you.
Audio Transcript: How To Improve Your English Pronunciation
Hi there and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English. This is our longer Monday podcast, so why not settle back and listen & learn some English language – and increase your fluency by listening to me speaking? Also you’ll get some help with pronunciation today in this podcast.
What would be really useful, particularly if you find this one difficult – is to go to our website at adeptenglish.com and have a look at the transcript for this podcast. It may help your understanding of what I’m going to say.
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One of the things which we are sometimes asked about at Adept English, is how can I improve my pronunciation? How can I sound more like an English person? Well, one of the things which English speakers do, which makes them sound English-speaking or like natives, which you may not notice at first – we put ‘stress’ on particular parts of a word. So a couple of bits of vocabulary first, things you may not know.
When I say ‘stress on a part of a word’, that’s S-T-R-E-S-S, and it means that we emphasise parts of a word – and not others. And each part of a word, each sound in a word is called a ‘syllable’, that’s S-Y-L-L-A-B-L-E, syllable. So for example the word ‘car’ has one syllable. The word ‘menu’ has two syllables. The word ‘happiness’ has three syllables and the word ‘television’ has four syllables. Hopefully that gives you an idea what a syllable is. The word ‘syllable’ has three syllables in it!
Emphasis on syllables will improve your pronunciation in English
So we put stress, we put emphasis on certain syllables of words. For example, if I say aeroplane - the stress in this word is on the first syllable - AERoplane. If we say ‘England’ or ‘rainy’, you’ll notice that once again, the stress is on the first syllable of the word. We don’t say EngLAND or rainY. It’s ENGland and RAINy. So do you have to learn where the stress is, for every English word which has more than one syllable?
I guess you do, but it’s not as difficult as that. One of the advantages of learning through listening like you do with Adept English, is that by the time you’ve heard an English word pronounced forty times, with the correct stress that an English person would use – well, you’ll probably automatically say it the same way yourself. And it may start to sound wrong to you too, if someone says the word differently, with the wrong stress. If this is the case, then as I said above, go to adeptenglish.com and look at the transcript because I’ve put the stress syllables in CAPITAL letters in the transcript to make it easier for you.
But Adept English is always looking to give you a ‘helping hand’, a short-cut if you like. If you’ve done our Seven Rules of Adept English Course, then you’ll know that the ‘Helping Hand’ is part of Rule Six. So there are some simple rules about stress on words, which you can bear in mind. They’re not right 100% of the time, but they’ll give you a good idea.
Using the Adept English "Listen & Learn" will help your brain automatically identify miss pronounced words
So for example, where you have a noun, so that’s a ‘person, place or thing word’ - a word that you can put ‘a’ or ‘the’ in front of. Usually, nouns have the stress on the first syllable. So examples of this are:-
JACKet not jaCKET AIRport not airPORT
SHOPPing not shoppING STATion not staTION
TRAVel not traVel. EURope not EuROPE
DICTionary not dictionARY or dicTIONary
Do you get the idea? It’s actually quite hard for me to say them incorrectly, with the stress on the wrong syllable.
There are some words in English where there is a choice. You can say ‘teleVISion’ or you can say ‘TELevision’. But you wouldn’t say telEVision or televisION. It’s really hard for me to say them wrong – it’s just so automatic! So TELevision or teleVISion. Either of those is OK.
And another rule for adjectives. It tends to be the same [with 2 syllable words] – the emphasis is on the first syllable. So we’d say:-
HAPPy not haPPY CLEVer not cleVER
YELLow not yeLLOW WONderful not wonDERful or wonderFUL
So probably 80% of the time with nouns and adjectives, you’ll be OK with the stress on the first syllable of the word. There’s another ‘ADJectives’ - that’s a noun. But there are always words which break the rule.
So if you make the noun ADJective into an adjective , it becomes adjecTIVal. Can you hear that the stress is on the third syllable there? So there are always words which break the rules, and this different stress often happens when you make a noun into an adjective or a noun into a verb.
Repeated listening will automatically improve your English pronunciation
Now generally speaking with verbs – so if you remember verbs are ‘doing words’ - the emphasis is on the second syllable more often, if there are two. So verbs like ‘to beGIN’, ‘to arrANGE’ or ‘to deCIDE’. Where a noun and a verb have the same spelling, you can often tell the difference because of the different stress.
So examples of these words like OBJect, that’s O-B-J-E-C-T. An OBJect is a thing, usually a physical thing. A pen, a ruler, a book, a car – they’re OBJects. But if you turn to the verb with the same spelling, that’s ‘to obJECT’ - you can hear that the stress is on the second syllable. So ‘to obJECT’ means that you don’t like something. So ‘Donald Trump obJECTed to a reporter’s questions’. Another one that you may have come across is ‘PRESent’ and ‘preSeNT’. So the first one ‘PRESent’ means either now, the present moment or PRESent can mean a gift, like a Christmas PRESent or a birthday PRESent. Whereas ‘to preSENT’ means you’re going to stand up and talk to a group of people, or you’re going to ‘give a presenTATion’. So notice again, when that becomes ‘presenTATion’, the emphasis is on the third syllable.
Native English speakers don't think about English pronunciation it comes automatically through listening
So there are some rules with this and some patterns. Another one is the pronunciation of subjects – say like the things that you might learn at school. So geOGraphy, phoTOgraphy, sociOLogy, psyCHOLogy. Where the word comes from Greek, so ends in ‘-graphy’ or ‘-ology’ like these words do, the emphasis is on the syllable just before that ending. So again, geOGraphy, phoTOGraphy, sociOLogy, psyCHOLogy.
This may seem like a lot to remember – and I don’t want to leave you with the idea that you have to learn all the different stress syllables for all the different English words. It’s just something to start to be aware of, if you want to sound more like an English speaker. So it perhaps helps you to notice where the stress is in a new word.
But, bear in mind too - like many other aspects of learning English, the best way to learn is to listen to lots of authentic, spoken English by English speakers. And it will become automatic for you too. You’ll just end up saying the word with the correct stress, because you’ve heard it like that lots of times. You’ve heard it said like that lots of times. This is another thing which native English speakers are barely aware of – they just do it automatically. Nobody makes a mistake on this, they just get it right automatically. And that’s because they’ve learned through listening. So there’s no reason why you can’t do the same thing too.
Anyway, I hope that at least makes you more aware of stresses in words, even if I’ve not attempted to cover the whole topic. That would be too long. I think bite-size pieces are more digestible!
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.
PS: Improve Your pronunciation By Listening 40 Times Or More With "Listen & Learn"
Hopefully, in just 10 minutes of listening we have shown you how to improve your English pronunciation automatically. Just follow the rules for which syllable to stress, in a word with over one syllable, and you will be on your way to improving your pronunciation in English in no time.
As always listening to this podcast several times will train your brain to recognise the everyday English being used “Automatically”. We think (and studies on human memory show) the minimum number of times you need to listen to a word before your brain will store the word in your long-term memory is 40 times.
We try to make the podcasts interesting enough you can comfortably listen to the audio over 2 or 3 times. This podcast has over 1,500 words in it so that means listening to 3 times would mean you have listened to 4,500 English words being spoken by a native English speaker. You will hear the more common everyday English vocabulary and its pronunciation over 40 times and this is the magic of our “Listen & Learn“ approach to learning to speak English.
This is not the only article we have on pronunciation check these out here:
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First 100 words in English sentence
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English pronunciation practice 2
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