How to Improve Your English Pronunciation in 8 Steps (Part 2)

Learning to speak English with perfect pronunciation isn't easy! But if you follow these tips, you should improve quickly! Part 2 focuses on adding stress, listening, and speaking practice tips.

Is English your second language? Do you sometimes feel embarrassed or shy about your accent? Do you usually have people ask you “Can you repeat that please?” because they couldn’t understand what you said? Do you wish your English pronunciation is as perfect as a native speaker?

Many international students have excellent vocabulary and English grammar, sometimes even better than native English speakers. However, people still might have misunderstood them because of their pronunciation. Sometimes, students practice for more than 5 years and still can’t master their English pronunciation.

Pronouncing English words correctly is one of the hardest parts of learning English.

That’s why we are sharing 8 tips to help you pronounce English words better. In part 1, we shared 4 tips:

  1. Improve your listening abilities
  2. Pay attention to how your lips and mouth move
  3. Pay attention to your tongue
  4. Try breaking words into smaller parts/sounds

Now, let’s discuss the last 4 tips.

5. Add stress to sounds and words.

In the English language, some words or sounds are stressed because they are more important than others.

As a general rule, most two-syllable NOUNS are stressed on the opening (first) syllable, whereas most two-syllable VERBS are stressed on the ending (second) syllable.

  • Let’s take the word “address” for example. The noun “ADDress” refers to the place you live in, and the verb “addRESS” is when you speak to someone.
  • What about the word “present”? The noun “PREsent,” means either “at this moment” or “a gift.” The verb “preSENT” is when you are “giving” or “showing” something.

Sentences have stress rules as well. The key is to stress the words that are more important.

  • Try reading out this sentence: “I ate some sausage with ketchup in the morning.” Which words did you stress? The proper way to read the sentence is this: “I ATE some SAUSAGE with KETCHUP in the MORNING.” In English, we stress all the key words (which are usually the verbs and nouns) and pass through the unimportant words.

Keep reading out loud and having conversations with native English speakers. Pay attention to how they apply stress to syllables and words.

6. Listen to videos and podcasts.

There are many excellent audio and video guides online that can help you improve your English pronunciations.

  • The English We Speak is an educational podcast series focused on every day phrases or slang. It is sponsored by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
  • Voice of America is a learning website with a variety of different programs to teach you English. These English programs are narrated at a slower speed for beginner listeners.
  • The English Language Club has a library of nearly 100 videos that show you how to make different sounds in English.
  • Rachel’s English has a new video every Tuesday teaching you how to speak and pronounce American English for daily conversations.
  • Pronuncian has more than 200 audio files to help you perfect your English pronunciation. From learning what words to stress to the pitch of your voice.

If these podcasts don’t interest you, there are hundreds more to choose from. Keep searching online and find the one that’s right for you.

7. Record yourself speaking.

One of the best ways to test all your hard work and practice is by recording yourself using video. Taking a video is important because you want to see how you are speaking, not just hear yourself.

Here’s a good exercise to practice:

  1. Find a video clip from your favorite movie or your favorite YouTuber.
  2. Choose 1-2 sentences that you like and record yourself saying the exact words.
  3. Try matching the stress, tone, and pronunciation of the person.
  4. Keep recording and improving until you can sound almost exactly like him or her.
  5. Try following a person of the same gender, to ensure you’re imitating the correct tones.

If you feel comfortable, ask a friend to provide feedback on your recording. Ideally a native speaker or someone who is very fluent in the English language. If your pronunciation sounds off, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your mouth moving correctly?
  • Is your tongue in the right place?
  • Are you stressing the accurate part of the word?

The point is to keep practicing, keep questioning how you can become better, and never give up!

8. Practice with a partner.

While practicing in front of the mirror or recording yourself through video is great, nothing is better than practicing with a friend.

Find someone near you (a classmate, a coworker, or friend) who is also interested in improving their English-speaking abilities. And also, find a native speaker who is interested in learning your language and exchange languages. You can find language exchange partners on many online communities like Conversation Exchange and HelloTalk.

Practicing with a partner gives you the opportunity to try everything you have learned. It’s also motivating to hold yourself and your partner accountable for self-improvement. Plus, it’s super fun!

In the English language, pronunciation is equally if not more important than vocabulary and grammar. Follow these 8 steps and very soon your English pronunciation will sound like a native speaker’s.