Compared to Spanish and many other languages, English grammar and vocabulary are both fairly easy to learn, as words tend to be shorter and there are much fewer conjugations to learn mainly because we use auxiliaries instead, although it’s true we have lots of exceptions to almost every rule in English, which can at times make things slightly more complicated.
While it is possible to learn vocabulary and grammar from books, apps and other online sources, that cannot usually help much with pronunciation, which bring us to a question that we commonly hear at our academies in La Elipa and García Noblejas: is it possible to learn perfect pronunciation in another language?
While the answer, in theory, for most people is ‘yes’, it is certainly not easy for anybody. Here are a few tips which should certainly help to improve your pronunciation:
1. Listen to podcasts, radio, etc:
While doing the housework, driving, or in the shower, listen to podcasts or radio programmes. Even if you don’t understand everything, you’ll still be picking up the rhythms and intonations, and you may hear a certain word pronounced differently to the way you have been pronouncing that particular word. As you listen, try repeating what you hear with the same rhythm and intonation as the speaker.
2. Watch videos in slow motion:
One good feature of youtube and other similar websites is that you can reduce the play speed, and as you listen you can watch what people’s mouths are doing. This may sound like a strange thing to do but it is especially good for learning to pronounce sounds that may not exist in your native language, such as the V and R sounds in the case of Spanish speakers, and watching the different movements of people’s mouths as they speak.
3. Listen, repeat, record:
Listen to the way a word or sentence is said, try repeating it to yourself a few times and then record yourself saying it a few times. Listen to the recording and ask yourself how exactly your pronunciation sounds different to that of the native speaker and try to correct that difference (don’t worry, everybody hates hearing their own voice recorded!)
While all of these methods are effective, unless you have a native English teacher, or teacher of whichever language you’re learning, there to guide you, you can never really tell how well you are progressing with your pronunciation and other aspects of the language. A native English teacher with a high level of experience will be able to immediately pick up on very subtle mistakes and will no-doubt have many techniques to help you improve your pronunciation and to sound more natural when you speak.
This was just a short list of techniques tries and tested by us at the lanaguage corner. If you would like to know more about improving your pronunciation or general level of English, feel free to pop into one of our academies in Madrid (La Elipa near Ventas and Gandhi in García Noblejas) and ask about trying some classes with us.
Good luck and we hope to see you soon!