How can I improve my English pronunciation?

The question is rather inconcrete, because the details depend on your individual situation:

  • what your native accent is; this means not only your mother tongue, but also your regional colouring in your native language.
  • which accent of english you are aiming for.

I assume that you want to imitate native speakers as best you can and to give you an accent spoken by native speakers, but there is an enormous variety of native English accents. Who exactly do you want to imitate?

In principle, you need to become aware of the outstanding characteristics of your own accent and get rid of them and train you for the outstanding characteristics of the desired accent, but for that you just need to know what exactly your starting position and your goal is.

I’ll mention a few very general things you could pay attention to if your native language is German, because they apply to more or less every German exit accent and most English target accents.

  • Away with the procuring: in German, consonants (all except l, m, n and r) are rendered voiceless at the syllable end.

You can see this by saying forest with [t at the end, but forests with [d, because the sound /d/ in forests is not at the end of the syllable.Or that you say mouse with [s at the end, but mice with [e.g. This is happening to a much lesser extent in English.Especially sounds like [z at the end of the word are quite unnatural for native German speakers, but occur in English. German speakers would usually pronounce eyes and ice immediately.

(If you don’t want to do half things, you can still deal with the fact that the vowel before vocal sounds in English is usually longer and listen to how eyes and ice are distinguished in the vocal quantity – that’s the lesson for Advanced.)

  • Get clarity about the letters <v> and <w> and which sounds are assigned to them.

    There is really no transparency in English spelling.

  • Guessing the correct sound from the letters is a gamble in English that you often find lying wrong. But: the letters <v> and <w> are really hard to beat in simplicity. They have a one-to-one relationship between sounds and letters. Much easier than the letters <v> and <w> in German. Doesn’t make it more complicated than it is! Rejoice when, for once, there are some simple things in English spelling.

    The letter <v> is pronounced like the sound /v/ in German water.The letter <w> gives the sound /w/, which does not exist in German, which sounds a bit like [u as a consonant instead of a vowel.

    Native German speakers tend to:

    • to pronounce both letters such as [v (the sound in water) because the sound /w/ is foreign to them.
    • to pronounce both letters such as [w, because they want to make a special effort to make the sound /w/ correct, overshooting the target and also using it in contexts where they would have to say the stinknormal, trusting sound [v (hypercorrection).

      It is important that the two sounds are distinguished.

  • In English there is this vowel, which sounds almost like the German <盲> and is often pronounced by native German speakers like the German <盲>.
  • It occurs, for example, in bath.Or in Mac – there’s a reason you’re writing the Big Mac in German for a long time Big M盲c.For German speakers it sounds like Big M盲c.

    The problem is that English does indeed have a vowel that sounds similar to the German <盲> – but not in the word bad.The word bad has a different vowel.A vowel that sounds similar to the German <盲> occurs, for example, in the word bed.And if you don’t realize that these are two different vowels, you pronounce bad and bed right away and get misunderstood.And if you don’t get that on the line with the pronouncement hardening, then also sound beam and bet the same.Four words, all of which must be pronounced differently, which coincide in the pronunciation of many German speakers into one word. Not so horny.

    Generally speaking, the vowel in bad sounds more like the German <a> in Ball.(It usually doesn’t sound exactly like the German /a/, but it at least goes in that direction.It is practically between the German <a> and the German <盲>.

    The vowel in bed goes more in the direction of the German <e> in snow.It usually doesn’t sound exactly like that, it often lies between the e-loud in snow and the 盲-loud in choose (or the e-loud in fast), but it goes at least in this direction.

    Imagine a scale that ranges from the e-loud as in snow to the a-loud as in ball, and in between lies the German 盲. And on this scale there are somewhere two English vowels, none of which really has a German counterpart.The vowel in bed is somewhere between e and 盲, and the vowel in bad is somewhere between 盲 and a.

    In many accents at least.

    This is where the problem comes in that English has so many different native-language accents – and they differ especially in terms of vowels.We have reached the point where we are reaching our limits with blanket advice.

    In some English dialects, the vowel from bad actually sounds more or less like the German a in Ball, and the vowel in bed sounds more or less like the German 盲.

    In other dialects in the USA, on the other hand, the vowel in bad almost sounds like the German 盲 (but it is often pronounced as diphthong, so again not the same) and the vowel in bed sounds like the German e in snow.

    So All I can say is to be aware that these are two different vowels.How you pronounce them in concrete terms depends on which English accent you orient yourself to.

  • Leave out all the glottal plosives: in standard German we have a habit of clearly distinguishing individual words from each other.
  • This often affects people with other native languages abruptly and choppy. For example, we often insert a glottal plosive into the word boundary when one word is on a vowel and the next begins with vowel, while in English this word boundary would rather blur and all words are pulled together more into a long word. This may be easier if you speak a dialect from the south of the German-speaking area.

    These would be the most striking features of a German accent in English, without going into the individual characteristics of the individual English dialects.If you want to know more about a particular English dialect: I recommend asking Brian Collins, know.

    If you’ve found a specific dialect that you’re aiming for, I’d advise you to look at the main differences between your native accent and your desired accent, and pick out words whose pronunciation is a particular challenge.I would look for recordings of different native speakers and listen to them to me, focusing on how they say it and how it differs from the German accent. Then I would record myself, listen to my recording and compare it to the native speakers – and repeat it for so long and experiment with different pros.

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