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1) Decide what kind of accent you would like to speak with There are many different kinds of English accents. The two most common are British and American. There are many different accents even within British or American pronunciation, but most learning materials will help you learn either a standard British accent or a standard American accent.

American pronunciation and British pronunciation are completely different. The consonant sounds are the same (except for the letter ‘t’ and an ‘r’ after a vowel), but the vowel sounds are very different. The British accent has more vowel sounds, and some vowel letters are pronounced differently.

2) Learn the IPA and the individual sounds of English The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is a collection of symbols that represent the different sounds of a language. When you know all the sounds of English and the symbols that represent those sounds, you will be able to pronounce any word in English. [Click to tweet this!]

American Pronunciation: An Introduction to the IPA

British Pronunciation: BBC Learning English Interactive IPA Chart

3) When you learn a new word, learn how to pronounce it correctly The longer you say a word incorrectly, the harder it becomes to learn to say it correctly. You’ve developed a bad habit, and it takes a long time to break a bad habit! This is why it is so important to learn the IPA and use dictionaries specifically for English learners. [Click to tweet this!]

For example, let’s say you see a new word when you’re reading a book: outrageous. How do you pronounce this word? Let’s check two of the online dictionaries specifically for English learners: MW Learner’s Dictionary MacMillan Online Dictionary

Both of these dictionaries show you the IPA/phonetic transcription of the word (including which syllable you must stress): /aʊtˈreɪʤəs/

You can also click on the red speaker icon to hear someone say the word.

4) Watch YouTube pronunciation videos American accent: Teacher Melanie (me!) JenniferESL Lisa Mojsin @ Accurage English Rachel’s English Pronuncian/Seattle Learning Academy Eva Easton

British accent: The Phone Voice VirtuAule

5) Try to imitate spoken English To ‘imitate’ means to copy someone/something, to do something the same way, or to do the same things as someone else. Do you really like the way someone speaks English? Try to copy the way they speak.

Do you ever try to make fun of someone from another part of your country by imitating his accent? That’s what you need to do in English!

This is a great activity to try: Close your eyes while you’re listening to something in English (podcasts, songs, TV shows, movies, etc.). Listen carefully to what the speaker is saying and try to make the same sounds. Hear the sounds, don’t try to see the words. Choose a word or sentence, and listen to it many times.

Here are some resources that are useful for this: English Teacher Melanie podcast (me!) ESLPod podcast Coach Shane’s Daily Dictation

Try to imitate the sounds that native speakers make.

6) Practice HEARING the sounds of English Before you listen to an English podcast, song, etc. read the words first. Highlight, circle, or underline the sound you want to work on. For example, if you have trouble with the /I/ sound, highlight all the words that you think have the /I/ sound. Read the passage out loud to yourself, focusing on the words with /I/. Listen to the podcast (or song, etc.). Can you hear the /I/ sound? Practice the sound by trying to imitate what the speaker is saying.

7) Record yourself It’s important to hear what you sound like speaking English so you know what you need to improve! You can compare what you sound like to what you want to sound like. For example, you record yourself reading a sentence from one of my podcasts. Then, listen to me say the same sentence and compare your pronunciation.

If you don’t have any recording software on your computer (like Windows Sound Recorder or GarageBand on Macs), you can u