Pronunciation can be a really big deal when you live in an English speaking country. Pronouncing words and sentences clearly can make it easier for you to integrate into a new community.
How to practise pronunciation?
Tip # 1: listen to native speakers. Their tone, speed and the way they glue words together are all important elements in speech production. Do remember listening to your favourite song again and again? The rhythm of this song became so ingrained into your memory that you could easily recall it and hear its melody in your mind. Something similar happens when you listen attentively and consistently to native speakers. Without realising it, you will absorb the sound and the rhythm of their voice, which will help you develop your own style of speaking in English.
Tip # 2: ask native speakers how they pronounce certain sounds. If you have a friend who is a native speaker and who you feel comfortable with discussing your pronunciation, you can have a conversation with them about a particular sound that has been challenging for you. For example, you can ask them how they pronounce the word “sing”. What is the positioning of the tongue when the sound “ng” is produced? What is the shape of lips? Training the muscles in the mouth to take a particular position is important. Writing a list of words that end with “ing” and practising the correct positioning of the tongue, jaw and lips will help to solidify a newly gained articulation. This website has “ultrasound images of tongue movements in speech, which are superimposed on videos of a face, so you can see how the facial muscles and tongue muscles coordinate with each other.”
Tip # 3: identify problematic sounds. There are sounds that you can pronounce really well, and there are also sounds that you are not so confident with. First, you could identify the challenging sounds and write them down. You can also refer to the transcription of words. Becoming aware of challenging sounds can be the first step in improving them. Notice how native speakers pronounce these sounds.
Tip # 4: record your voice when you are practising pronunciation. The moment you realise that you are being recording, you will start trying harder to pronounce English sentences.
Tip # 5: practise schwa sound. It is the most common sound in English, and it occurs in unstressed syllables. Mastering this sound is essential.
Keep practising and everything will come your way.
Every little effort counts!