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Bettering pronounciation


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Hello everybody,

I think this is a good place for a question/problem that's been bothering me for some time now. Though I'm pretty fluent in English, understand nearly all and can read, write and speak sufficiently well, I'm quite uncertain when talking to native speakers. I seem to forget all vocabulary I know, end up stammering some incoherent things with the grammar of a toddler and vocabulary that doesn't stretch beyond 'uhm the thingie over there that does this or that'. Oh yeah, the sink.

One solution is talking more of course, yet I don't really know any native speakers. Watching movies and series does not seem to help, been doing that for years without subtitles now. So, does anyone know about some site, program, app, that can improve pronounciation and word finding?

Thanks in advance,

Elien

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I'm afraid I do not know of any sites like this (there must be some!). I have many Dutch friends how speak English very well and the thing that I notice most is that speaking Dutch or Flemish as a first language can be both a blessing and a curse for the English language learner. What I mean is that Dutch and Flemish are similar enough to English such that learning it is not so difficult , yet the problem is that they often forget or confuse words that are very different from Dutch and Flemish but are in use in English.

For example, my friend Jos was asking for a key when he totally forgot how to say it in English, and said something like "Where's my slottle?"! He thought that "slottle" would sound like a plausible English word ! It does make sense, we say to "slot" in the key and a keyhole is a slot where you put in the key. It was what we call a calque or linguistic copy of the word "sleutel".

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It is indeed a blessing and a curse, thoug I'm normally quite aware of what is proper English or not :-) English and German are quite similar too, and as I'm less fluent in German, I'm afraid some Dutch and English might slip in there  :shy:

I continue my search and quest for a better pronounciation though!

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I've been speaking English for the majority of my life now and even now there are words that I don't have a clue how to pronounce. My go-to tool would have to be Google and wikipedia, you can usually type in the word and they will read it out to you. It's a little better with Wikipedia because the clips are recorder manually by humans, but even the computerised reader from Google does a good job, I don't fully rely on it but it gives me a good idea.

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Scribendi: World-Class Editing and Proofreading

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Category:1000_English_basic_words

Here's some audio. There's a long list of words here, and I'm sure they were picked out for good reasons. I don't know much about ESL training, but Wiktionary has pronunciation keys for lots of words, if you know how to read them.

If there's no audio for a word and you can't figure it out, you can request more here:

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Wiktionary:Pronunciation_file_requests

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The best way to learn a language is to engage as many parts of your brain as possible! Learn visually, by ear and use kinaesthetics or actions. Repeat new words and phrases that you have just learned over and over again but try to listen to clips of native speakers (or get a real-life native speaker to assist you) pronouncing them to get the feel of the accent, how your lips feel when you enunciate the words.

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The best way to learn a language is to engage as many parts of your brain as possible! Learn visually, by ear and use kinaesthetics or actions. Repeat new words and phrases that you have just learned over and over again but try to listen to clips of native speakers (or get a real-life native speaker to assist you) pronouncing them to get the feel of the accent, how your lips feel when you enunciate the words.

Yes, I have also found all of this to be true when learning a new language.  In my case it was Spanish, as I am a native speaker of English.  But I believe this is applicable to any language. 

Something else that works for me is practicing my enunciation while looking at myself in the mirror was very helpful.  As you have pointed out, it's important to make note of how your lips feel, when enunciating.  Similarly, I found that watching myself also made a big difference. 

Although I have not tried it, I would imagine that making a video of yourself as you pronounce words and then analyzing it might also be helpful. 

Interacting one-on-one with a native speaker is extremely helpful especially if they can give immediate feedback and coaching as you pronounce new or difficult words.  I've had firsthand experience doing this and it helped me a great deal. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Few years ago, before I take an english exam, I attended an english class for speaking. It's a one on one class for two weeks. He will teach me with the right pronunciation, diction, it easy to say it but if you don't have somebody to correct you or teach you then it will still be the same. I helps me, it makes me more confident. Practicing or using the language everyday is also helpful, your tongue will get used to it.

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I too have issues on English pronunciation so I also look for handy tools in the web to help me out. The best place to search so that I've found is through Youtube. There, you'll be able to hear and read correct pronunciations of complicated English words; which for me is very useful.

Have you tried it yet?

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For words with familiar pronunciations, I just google the word and usually the dictionary hits would also show a pronunciation guide. As for my English pronunciation, I train on it by singing English songs or rap. Rap can be fun, just pick a song that's not highly inappropriate.

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As to pronunciation, the are several online English dictionaries, that have the feature to "speak" the work for you.  As a native speaker, I feel the pronunciation on most is very good (a human speaker not a synthesized "robot" like voice).  I assume they have them in many languages, but I would just search for online dictionary or another way is to simply search for the word and definition.  It will usually lead you right to these sites. 

I have never used skype, but aren't there some sort of chat rooms or something you can mingle with English speakers?

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  • 3 months later...

Like you said, the only real solution here is to speak to native speakers as often as possible.  I'm at that point with learning Spanish... I've reached the extent of classroom studying and the only way I'll improve is if I'm placed into a primarily Spanish-speaking setting to fend for myself.  That being said, try speaking with friends who are also learning English as often as possible, and when you do, try to converse in English.  Listen to non-english music and translate the lyrics to English.  Listen to English music and sing a long, but above all keep trying to get that native exposure!

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Whenever I want to find the pronunciation of a certain word, I either try to find it on Wikipedia (which has pronunciation for most words) or Google by searching "WORD + definition".

I would be really interested in different pronunciations in British English and American English.

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  • 4 weeks later...

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