Hello! Hello! Hello all of my online students! Here is my next Peppy Pronunciation video 7. All of the tips you will find in this video are based on my experience with my teaching both in the classroom as well as with my online students.
Can you teach an old dog new tricks?
Many students feel discouraged because they’ve studied English for years, but they haven’t made much headway with their pronunciation. It makes them feel insecure when they speak. I see this all the time. For example, when I am doing my classes with my one-to-one students, I record a review at the end of the lesson. During the review, the student can hear his/her own voice. Many students say to me, “Steve, I can’t believe I really sound like that when I am talking in English”. Well, what I can tell you as I tell my students is that it’s never too late to polish your pronunciation with a few helpful tips.
Do you know how many people tell me they are scared to talk on the phone in English? I can tell you there are many! And I don’t blame them because some native speakers of English talk very quickly and link all of their words together. For example, when we want to confirm that someone has understood what we have said, we commonly will say, “Do you know what I mean?”. The thing is nobody would ever bother saying it that way. They would first of all take out the auxiliary verb do:
“You know what I mean?”
Then they would link the words together to make it roll off their tongue:
So try that one three times slowly and build up your speed so that you can not only understand how native speakers would say this, but also internalize it so that you can use it yourself. Use it or lose it as I say.
There are quite a few words in English whose vowel sounds are so close in the way they sound that they can be extremely embarrassing for non-native speakers. Let’s look at some examples:
sheet vs. shit (now that could be embarrassing)
beach vs. bitch(now that could be really embarrassing)
focus vs. f*ck us(now that’s just downright embarrassing)
You want to be sure that you can train the pronunciation of these words by finding words which have similar vowel sounds. I mention a few in my video.
Is it necessary for me to speak like a native speaker?
My answer is a resounding YES! If you want to get a better paying job or get into a good university, pronunciation is taken into account. My personal experience ranges from teaching accent reduction to professionals working for multinational companies in their home country, professionals living in the USA or Canada as well as those who are preparing for University. Heck, I even teach the children of my students and I always make sure they pronounce the words correctly the first time to save them trouble further down the line.(later on)
Words of Advice
So many people ask me how they can improve their speaking in English. You need to set goals for how high you want to reach. Do you want English for travelling? Do you need English for your job? your studies? It’s important to know how high you want to go. It’s crucial that you can correct your incorrect pronunciation habits, but it takes time:
1. you make a mistake and don’t even notice
2. you make a mistake and notice after the fact
3. you make a mistake and notice just as the word comes out of your mouth
4. you catch yourself before you make the mistake in time to correct yourself
5. you totally eliminate your pronunciation mistake
Enjoy the video and have a great day! By the way, the corrected dialogue version is at the bottom of the “Quiz Answers” page.