One of the common problems English learners have is wanting to develop their spoken English by practising their pronunciation but not having anyone to talk to. Although chatting with a friend or signing up for English conversation courses is ideal since they also improve conversational skills, there are many ways to practise all by yourself in your free time! Below, we share some fun activities you can use to master English pronunciation when studying solo.
1. Reverse dictation
As you may already know, our phones are excellent tools for studying. They can do pretty much everything from reviewing flashcards, checking the definition of words in the dictionary, and even testing your pronunciation through reverse dictation. This activity determines just how easily understandable your pronunciation is.
For context, dictation means listening to a person speak and writing down what they say. Reverse dictation turns things around since you will be the one speaking, and your phone will be listening and writing down what you say via its speech recognition feature.
If your phone ever misspells a word, your pronunciation of it is most likely not clear enough. The great thing about reverse dictation is that you can repeat words and sentences until you get them right, and your phone recognises everything perfectly.
2. Tongue twisters
Tongue twisters are fun pronunciation exercises that work wonders in helping your mouth get more used to speaking English. Tongue twisters rarely make sense because the whole point to them is the sound or the same repeating sound in nearly every word.
Some examples include:
She sells seashells by the seashore
How can a clam cram in a clean cream can?
Scissors sizzle, thistles sizzle
When practising with tongue twisters, say each one slowly at first and speed up until you reach the fastest you can go without mistakes.
3. Minimal pairs
Minimal pairs are two or more words in the English language that sound nearly identical except for one sound, confusing English learners and getting them mixed up. For instance, many have struggled with minimal pairs like fit vs feet, and rich vs reach.
Other examples include:
– pan vs pun
– rot vs lot
– think vs sink
One way to overcome minimal pairs is to practise them through tongue twisters or warm-up exercises. Pick several minimal pairs and say them repeatedly as quickly as possible while maintaining the correct pronunciation. Repeated exercise trains you to distinguish between near-similar sounding words so that you can pronounce them more accurately the next time they come up in conversation.
4. Where’s the stress?
One aspect of English pronunciation that might not come naturally to learners is word stress, which is one or more emphasised syllables in a word that are spoken the loudest or strongest. Some word examples are:
Given the randomness of word stress in English, it’s not surprising that many non-native speakers sometimes feel like their pronunciation is missing that little something. To get a better feel for word stress, you can check your study materials or a book you can read and pick out individual paragraphs. Identify which words have multiple emphasised syllables and mark them based on your knowledge. Afterwards, consult a dictionary to check if you got the right words and read each out loud while exaggerating their word stress. Lastly, read the whole passage again while being mindful of proper word stress.
Putting in the time every day to practise your English pronunciation is the sure-fire way to make quick progress and ensure the best results. As such, if there’s no one available to help you study, you can still study by yourself. With that said, experienced speakers are invaluable resources for becoming better at English, so taking online English lessons can help you quickly improve on many aspects of the language and practise it in real-world scenarios. Learn English in Singapore with English Explorer – our extensive range of courses will be able to help you improve your speaking, writing, reading skills and more.