English Pronunciation ( English Sounds )
Pronunciation is the making of different sounds when speaking English. To be clearly understood, good pronunciation is required for verbal communication. When speaking, good grammar and other language skills can be irrelevant and useless with poor pronunciation.
The problem is teaching pronunciation is very difficult and requires a physical action by the students. Pronunciation involves not just memorizing rules or knowing information, it is also a physical skill requiring action, similar to playing a sport or musical instrument. Students need to be motivated to practice their pronunciation.
English pronunciation has many exceptions to the rules. Some languages have one letter for every sound. Unfortunately, English is not one of these languages. For example, the 5 English vowels have over 20 sounds. Pronunciation rules are used but exceptions can be a problem.
How to improve your English pronunciation?
- LISTEN to native speakers pronounce words and phrases.
- Learn the phonetic alphabet. (find it in most dictionaries)
- Learn the stress of new words – dictionaries show the syllable stress with an (‘).
- Practice the sounds you find difficult.
- Practice speaking loud and clear.
- Record and check your English pronunciation
- Take Kevin’s Pronunciation English Class
10 Helpful English Pronunciation Tips
English pronunciation has many exceptions. The rules help but be prepared for exceptions.
1. Voiced / Unvoiced – A voiced sound is a strong sound when the throat will vibrate (example letters: B, D, V, G, J, Z, M, N, L, R, W). An unvoiced sound is a softer, quicker sound using air in the mouth with no throat vibration (example letters: P, T, CH, SH, C, K, S, F, H). A phonemic (phonetic) chart will show the voiced and unvoiced sounds.
2. Verbs ending in (-ed) – The English pronunciation of (-ed) can be a [t], [d], [əd] or [ɪd] sound.
3. The letter “Y” is pronounced as the [ai] or [i:] English sound
4. The letter “C” is pronounced as the [s] or [k] English sound
5. A consonant blend is two or more consonants that come together but each English sound is heard.
Common initial consonant blends (at the beginning of words):
S blends: sp, sw, st, sc, sm, sk, sl – spell, stop, small
L blends: bl, pl, cl, gl, fl – blue, plural, class
R blends: br, cr, dr, fr, gr, pr, tr – break, cry, drop
Common final consonant blends (at the end of words):
S blends: sk, st – last, task,
L blends: ld, lf, lk, lp – could, wolf, walk, help
N blends: nd, nk, nt,– and, bank, want
other blends: ft, mp, pt, rt – camp, soft, part, accept
Consonant digraphs (th, sh, ph, ch, wh, ng) form together to make a new sound. (with, shall, phone, which, sing)
6. The letter “W”: “W” followed by a short “A” sounds like a short “O”. (wall, wash, watch)
“W” followed by a short “O” sounds like a short “U”. (won, work, word)
7. When an “E” at the end is silent in English pronunciation, the vowel before the “E” will be a long vowel. (white, bite, name, more)
8. When two vowels are next to each other in a syllable, the second vowel is silent and the first vowel is a long vowel. meat, meet, train, coal, air, coat … Diphthongs form one sound and are an exception in English pronunciation (ai, ay, oi, ea, ew, ei, ie, oy, ou, ow, au, aw, ue, ui, oo)
9. “AY” has a long “A” English sound. days, may, lay, way
10. “OI” and “OY” normally has the same sound. oil, boil, toy, boy, royal