Pronunciation is a key enabling skill in the PTE test and is the most important criteria in the PTE test for assessing a student’s English speaking skills. Since pronunciation skill measures the comprehensibility of your speech, it is directly or indirectly assessed in all PTE speaking item types.
We have found that most test takers from non-English speaking countries struggle with pronunciation and so are unable to get the PTE scores they need.
The problem is that many non-native English speakers tend to use the same principles and lip and tongue movements to produce sounds for English consonants and vowels just like they would do to produce similar sounds in their native language. Another problem amongst non-native speakers is that when speaking English they tend to use the same intonation and stress for words and sentences as in their native language. Furthermore, English language may have sounds that a non-native speakers language may not have or are pronounced differently; this makes it harder for non-native speakers to comprehend and speak in English clearly. For example the sound for “R” does not exist in some Asian countries; hence they mispronounce words such as “Row” as “Low”.
Learning to speak English fluently and with correct pronunciation is hard work. However, it is worth more than the effort you put in. This is because your effort will not just develop good pronunciation skills but also develop better grammar, vocabulary, listening, reading, writing, spelling, and fluency skills to name a few. Furthermore, the results are not just limited to English skills, you will develop reasoning and critical thinking skills along with confidence that will further develop your personality.
Many speakers, both native and non-native think of English as a crazy language. This is because there are no clear rules for pronunciation in English. Many languages are spoken just as they are written but that is not always be the case in English. learning to pronounce in English is an art.
In this blog, we will present 4 tips which will help you develop pronunciation and general English skills in a fun way, quickly; provided you are willing to follow the advice and work hard.
Deaf people are not mute because they do not have the ability to speak. They are mute because they do not have the ability to listen. It’s similar to when you hear a foreign language. If you do not know Chinese or Spaninsh or French, it will sound jibberish. It sounds jibberish because you do have the ability to listen to these languages. These foreign languages will stop sounding jibberish, as you learn and get used to listening.
The point is that English language skills are directly linked to your listening skills. Listening is the key to improving English pronunciation and speaking skills. If you have poor English listening skills, you will have poor English pronunciation and speaking skills. If you have excellent listening skills, you will have excellent pronunciation and speaking skills.
To improve English listening skills, you must immerse yourself into an English environment. Which means you indulge in your favorite activities such as watching movies, tv shows, news and listening to music in English with English subtitles or transcripts at first and then again with no subtitles or transcripts. This exercise will help you learn different sounds of English and how they are used and pronounced when producing English speech in various contexts. Furthermore, this exercise will help improve vocabulary, grammar and reading skills as well.
We have observed this above technique alone has worked wonders amongst our motivated and hardworking students. We have seen students dramatically improve English language skills in as less as 2 days. It can do wonders for you as well, provided you are motivated and work hard.
Break words into sounds
It is important to understand that words are not just mere collection of alphabets. Words are a collection of sounds as well and which in turn are a source of meaning to a listener. These collections of unique sounds or vocal codes are successfully deciphered by a listener with knowledge of English language phonetics to draw its meaning. To learn to pronounce any word correctly one must understand how to produce various sounds that make up a word, correctly
These sounds that a word is made up of are called syllables. For example, the word syllable itself has 3 syllables: syl-la-ble. To break up a word into syllables, put your hand flat just beneath your chin and speak the word slowly. Each time your chin touches your hand is a syllable. An important rule is there should be a vowel sound (a,e,i,o,u,y) in each syllable.
When listening, choose particular words that you may find difficult to pronounce. Then consciously, listen to the various sounds that make up that word. Thereafter, use the chin and hand method described in the preceding paragraph to decipher the various syllables that make up the word. Practice producing the sound for each syllable like the native speaker and then produce the same sounds together in order to pronounce the words correctly.
Learn the correct mouth and lip movements
To produce meaningful sounds or to pronounce a word correctly mouth and lip movements play a key part. How you move your mouth and lips determine what sounds you produce and how you pronounce a word. Deaf and mute people often observe the speakers mouth and lip movements to decipher what is being said. If you are familiar with Hollywood movies you would have observed actors using this technique in various spy movies such as Mission Impossible and James Bond. This strategy is particularly helpful for learning to produce English sounds that do not exist in your native language.
When watching English movies, news, tv shows or podcasts observe how the speakers use their mouth and lips to produce sounds and pronounce various words. Practice using what you have learned from observation to produce similar sounds. You can even employ trial and error method. Try producing the same sounds with various mouth and lip movement. When you get mouth and lip movements right, learn it and make it a part of yourself as your own beating heart.
Some sounds which use the lips are B, P, M, J, CH, SH, QU, W, the long E, the long O, the long U and OU/OW. You can practice these sounds by pronouncing: bu, pu, mu, ju, chu, shu, qu, wu, ee, oh, ooh, ouch several times. As you do this, think about your lips moving.
Move your tongue correctly
Many English sounds are dependent on the correct use of tongue movements. Many non-native English speakers struggle to create sounds for Ts, Ds, Ls, Rs and THs to name a few. This is because they tend to use the same tongue movements as they do in their native language to produce these sounds. In some cases, this results in stronger Ts, Ds, Ls, Rs and THs sounds. Native speakers of some languages which do not have the R sound; end up pronouncing English words such as Row and Rover as low and lovel. Hence, incorrect use of tongue while creating some sounds in English could seriously hamper the understandability of your speech.
The tongue could be used in several different ways to produce several sounds. Usually we produce sounds either by using the back or the middle or the front of the tongue. Back of the tongue sounds are: G, K, NG, NK. Middle of the tongue sounds are: Y and R. Front of the tongue sounds are: D, S, Z, L, N, T and TH. You can practice these sounds by pronouncing gu, ku, ing, ink, du, su, zu, lu, nu, tu, thu, yu, ru.
When listening to native speakers, pay close attention to how they use mouth, lip and tongue movements to create sounds and pronounce words containing T, D, L, R and TH. Practice the sounds required for pronouncing these words, first, by breaking them into syllables and then by joining all the sounds together to pronounce the word correctly. After you have learned to create these sounds for English, listen to yourself when you speak English and correct yourself when you make incorrect sounds or pronunciation. We have observed that amongst our dedicated students it takes them 3 to 7 days to make these sounds a natural part of themselves so they create these sounds correctly without the need of being conscious.
Use correct word and sentence level stress
English is a funny language. The words present and present may look similar but depending on what part of the word you stress can alter its meaning to a listener. If you pronounced PREsent, it would mean a gift or you are there at that moment, however, if you said preSENT, it would mean to show or to give. Similarly the word “address”; if you pronounce it “ADDress”, it would mean the place where you live but if you pronounce it “addRESS”, it would mean to speak to someone.
Using correct stress is extremely important while speaking English. What you stress can completely amplify or alter the meaning of your speech. Learning to stress correctly is an art, which can be mastered only through listening. So while listening, also note the word and sentence level stress that native English speakers use to convey their message. However, there is a very simple rule to produce correct word level stress. The rule is “for most two-syllable nouns, always stress on the first syllable, and for most two-syllable verbs always stress on the second syllable”. For producing correct sentence level stress simply stress on the nouns and verbs or words that reflect a change (such as but, however to name a few)in the sentence while passing over the less important ones.
We hope that you find the tips in this blog helpful. To further improve your vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, listening, speaking, reading and writing skills; We strongly recommend that you join one of our PTE preparation courses. Our content is prepared with focus on improving our students academic English skills. Hence, you will end up developing all round academic English vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar and other communicative skills required for one attempt success in the PTE test.