g2narat

How do you correct someone's pronunciation politely?

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I have a problem. My friend likes to try different languages, I like to teach him because he's such an eager student. The problem with that is that his pronunciation is all over the place. It's so tough to correct him because he gets so enthusiastic when speaking another language, not knowing people have a hard time understanding what he's saying because of his pronunciation. How do you deal with that?

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It's always a little awkward to correct people I'm not use to but with my friends it is usually much easier. I'd slow him down and tell him the problem I find with his pronunciation.  I would also offer to help him out with those issues. Hopefully he takes it nicely and accepts your offer.

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You don't.

Well, to be honest as far as languages go... A lot of people hate being corrected, no matter how bad they are: they feel like you're hitting them in the face if you are correcting them. No matter how polite you are, chances are they will still get pissed, and call you a besserwisser.

As it is a friend you're talking about and all, I would assume that this person may have some respect for you, and thus can handle you correcting him/her.

I don't really think there is some certain phrase you shoudl use to correct him/her or anything, just try to be nice, and point out that "Maybe you could try to say it this way instead..." or just pointing out politely and nicely that... The pronounciation of your speech is a bit off, you could spend some time practising on that.

No matter how polite of a phrase you will have, it will be very hard to say it, because it is almost like insulting someone to correct their speech. Good luck!

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If the person is a close friend of mine or we sort of developed a bond already, then I would just say it gently that his pronunciation is wrong and tell him how it's supposed to be pronounced. If the person and I aren't very close then I would just say nothing if it's a casual conversation. But if he's asking me to teach him a certain language, then I have no choice but to correct him. After all, isn't that what teachers do? They correct mistakes right?

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I do it a lot with my boyfriend, I just repeat the word he just said the right way, I do it just like that.  Casually!  Because I know he doesn't like to be corrected at all, but sometimes I do need to correct his English, because he pronounces some words really badly. 

The way I do it is better than just telling him he pronounced that word wrong, I'm not sure if it's really helping him, but I think he is starting to understand why I do that, lol.  He doesn't argue with me or anything tho :)  I guess he is starting to understand I do that to help him, not to make him feel small or anything like that.

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What I do is after my friend is done speaking, I'll give them a confused look. That way they'll realize that I don't understand something. Then I'll repeat the word they mispronounced and they'll usually repeat it with me to reassure me that that's the correct word.

It's not really directly telling them they misprounced a word, but it helps when they notice that others can't understand them.

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How do you correct someone's pronunciation politely?

Well you did mentioned that he is your friend so maybe you can correct him privately.  I agree with @Lasonax that some people hate to be corrected especially in public so talk to him in private and correct him.

I think he will realize that you are only doing this to prevent him from future embarrassment for wrong pronunciation/grammar.  :smile:

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This is a hard thing to do, and I don't think there's a "correct and polite" way of correcting someone's pronunciation. What I usually do is (after waiting for my friend to finish), I always ask him/her (in the kindest voice I could possibly muster) that, "I thought (this word) is pronounced as, (this pronunciation)?"

Or, if we're basing them from a book, I might borrow the book afterwards and pretend I didn't know where that part came from. And then that's the time I'd read the piece with the correct pronunciation.

That's the usual way I do these things. But I think if your friend is really willing and eager to learn another language, he/she wouldn't mind being corrected right after he/she speaks. I think (deep inside), he/she would want you to interrupt him/her as soon as possible - to "quickly mend the injury," so to speak.

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Thanks for the suggestions guys! I think I'm going to try a few of these. Especially this phrase "Oh I thought it was pronounced this way..." I think that might be a good hint. I don't want to hurt his feelings after all.

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I would say that a sense of humour goes a long way. Perhaps it would be a good idea to slow your friend down a little and make him see for himself that he is not getting anywhere with his faulty pronunciation. Personally, I would probably reassure him with a lot of smiles and perhaps some funny comparisons, guiding him in the right direction.

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What I do is after my friend is done speaking, I'll give them a confused look. That way they'll realize that I don't understand something. Then I'll repeat the word they mispronounced and they'll usually repeat it with me to reassure me that that's the correct word.

It's not really directly telling them they misprounced a word, but it helps when they notice that others can't understand them.

I'd go with that, too--but only if it's really confusing. Like, pronouncing "desert" as "dessert" or "motif" like "motive". Those are different words that actually mean something, so mispronunciation can be confusing.

If they pronounce the k in "knight" or the t in "mistletoe" though, I think that's up to the listener to adjust their understanding. It's like U.K. versus U.S. English with the stresses on different syllables for some words. Having an accent or different pronunciation isn't technically incorrect.

So, in those cases, I would just pronounce the words in the conventional way where the speaker can hear it probably, and it's up to them to pick up on it or not.

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I think since you're his friend you should just do it. The next time you're teaching him a language tell him that instead of learning new languages he should work on the current language. If he takes it the wrong way then clearly he's not as enthusiastic to learn as you think.

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If you are teaching him and he wants to learn I don't think you need to be afraid of telling him when he pronounces a word wrong. I have a friend that is so terrible at languages even her own native language. She moved to Denmark from the Faroe Islands to attend an international school with lots of international students so to them she speaks English and of course knowing so many languages makes her mix them together unintentionally and she mispronounces words all the time even though she's been told how to pronounce it correctly several times and when I correct her she gets pissed because she thinks I'm showing off and mocking her but she doesn't realize that I do it to help her so she will stop making those mistakes that can result in other people mocking her.

I hope it helped.

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Actually, you just say: "Let's start again. Shall we?" Make it seem like she didn't actually make a mistake. When she does, just add insert the word naturally. Students will follow through.

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I'd probably ask him once if he wants to be corrected, and if he answers yes then only then would I start to correct his pronunciations. If he doesn't want it then I would let him have his way, but if it starts becoming tedious for me to try and understand, then I'd maybe just try and guess with the right pronunciation each time in hopes that he might get the hint and try to correct it.

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I wouldn't correct it directly unless it was my student. If it was a friend or someone else I was having a conversation with, I would just pronounce things correctly when I was saying things.

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I think sometimes we have to be careful of trying to correct someone but if you need to do it in order to help them then just in a suttle way, let them know that the word sounds better this way.

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I do it a lot with my boyfriend, I just repeat the word he just said the right way, I do it just like that.  Casually!  Because I know he doesn't like to be corrected at all, but sometimes I do need to correct his English, because he pronounces some words really badly. 

The way I do it is better than just telling him he pronounced that word wrong, I'm not sure if it's really helping him, but I think he is starting to understand why I do that, lol.  He doesn't argue with me or anything tho :)  I guess he is starting to understand I do that to help him, not to make him feel small or anything like that.

This is exactly what I do and for the very same reasons. Sometimes the other person will ask 'Isn't that what I said?' and then I will just point out that if they want to sound more like a native, they need to mimic my pronunciation.

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I also face this problem regularly OP! I can totally feel where you are coming from! I also face this difficulty when correcting people, but when in the case of friends (like your's), I normally go straight and tell them clearly.

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Remember not to be rude. Just take them aside and explain. If they don't want to listen, they don't really want to learn.

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If you are his teacher, you should be telling him right away about his pronunciation mistake. If he is wrong, he is wrong, but don;t be rude at all.

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i  have never really consciously thought of what i would do if i encounter a problem like that. so every time i hear someone mispronounce a word, i either just let it slide or i immediately blurt out the 'word'. it's just automatic that i repeat the word again. i'm also assuming that i accompany it with a confused look as the other person would also just repeat my word, but this time following my pronunciation.

but i think 'letting things slide' is the norm for me. but it is not an issue of me being afraid of offending the other party. but more so  of an understanding that it will be difficult for that person to perfect the pronunciation especially if their exposure to the new language is not very extensive and it's practically a second language to them.

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Normally when I am texting and someone misspell a word, I would normally re-use the same word in my response with the correct spelling. Some persons are easily offended so what I think you can do is always try to re-use the said word in your response and emphasize on the proper pronunciation. If it is someone who is interested in learning though, they should not be offended by you giving a correction.

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Be tactful and open with a compliment.  Then simply advise them on the proper pronunciation.  Give them an approving smile, and keep it moving.

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I think if it is a friend, he or she will not find it offensive if you would try to correct his pronunciation. Just tell him the most polite possible like not mocking or not bragging that you know better than him. It will be fun too if both of you will pronounce those sentences or phrases together to see the difference. :)

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