There’s a tendency among non-native speakers of English to work hard on their technical skills – grammar, verb constructions and vocabulary lists – and totally underestimate the importance of pronunciation. This is often a result of the way English is taught in schools. If the teacher is a non-native speaker, they are very likely to feel more comfortable with teaching complicated grammar rather than focussing on pronunciation that they themselves might well struggle with.
But fast-forward to the real world, and out of the classroom, and everything changes. Confident, effective communication is king, and clear pronunciation is a key part of putting across the very best version of yourself.
It’s extremely rare that a small grammatical error gets in the way of clear communication. English is so flexible as a language that there are many different, often simple, ways of saying the same thing. English absorbs and adapts itself to the reality of the world in which it operates and complicated grammatical constructs have evolved in favour of clarity.
But pronunciation is vital to clear communication. Incorrect pronunciation can lead to fundamental misunderstandings and this is particularly true in today’s world of video conferences, resulting in speedy decision-making with less opportunity for clarification and correction.
The possibility of miscommunication of ideas, instructions and decisions due to incorrect pronunciation is very real.
So, what can the non-native speaker do about this?
The good news is that are some fairly simple ways to work on improvement.
The English language is broken down into 44 individual sounds, or phonemes. Look these up and start to understand the impact of mispronouncing what looks like a trivial little combination of letters. Mixing up the pronunciation of I’m hungry with I’m angry or desert and dessert might, at first sight, seem amusing. But it’s far from amusing if the result is to diminish the effectiveness of the speaker and, in certain circumstances, result in a misplaced lack of confidence in their abilities.
Equally, because putting the stress on the wrong part of the word or sentence can lead to miscommunication, take note of this and commit to listening out for the common pitfalls. If you are about to present at a meeting, this requires stress on the second part of the word in contrast to giving someone a present for their birthday, where the stress is on the first part.
Ask a native speaker for honest, open feedback. It’s rare that anyone will spontaneously correct your errors so actively seek it out for yourself. There are probably some specific errors you make which will be relatively easy to correct given time and commitment to improvement.
Try recording yourself and listening back to see how you come across. Make full use of smart technology which can assess the areas where you’re making the errors and allow you to practice improving them. There are probably some specific mistakes you make which will be relatively easy to correct given time and personal commitment to improvement.
A feature such as speech duet is a very easy and effective way to practice this wherever and whenever you want and allows you work on any individual words or expressions you struggle with.
Never underestimate the importance of pronunciation to put across the very best version of yourself to achieve your personal life goals.
veebsy is a startup established in London. Our vision is to helps learners communicate to the very best of their potential in English. The app implements eight key features to enable learners to speak English.
- Pronunciation Exercises – Pre-prepared English exercises combine pronunciation improvement with real-world contextual expressions.
- Speech Recognition AI – Artificial Intelligence speech recognition technology gives real-time feedback to know how you are doing and improve via mouth-shape videos of every word.
- Mouth-shape videos – Videos accurately model the correct mouth shape so learners can work on specific areas for improvement.
- Speech Duet – Practice pronunciation of each word using mouth-shape videos and mirror technology.
- Live Pronunciation workshops – exclusive live sessions with British tutors, delivering tailored and bespoke content.
- Expressions – Useful expressions are introduced and explained by British coaches.
- Your Content – Users can choose to work on their material: a presentation, preparation for a meeting, speech or call.
- Dictionary – An in-built dictionary, powered by Oxford English Dictionary content, references every word in the English language, with audio modelling of pronunciation and intonation.