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Best Method for Pronunciation Practice


petrushka
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My main weakness when learning a language is speaking/pronunciation. There are just sounds I don't know how to create and even when I tried learning about the creation of phonetics, if it's new to me it takes a REALLY long time to remember.

Can you share your methods when you're practicing the speaking part of a new language? I'm asking specifically for French and Mandarin (because these two are next on my list and I don't have much of a problem with Spanish and Japanese) but any language will also be appreciated.

Thanks in advance! :D

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Basically what I do when I'm trying to remember the way a word sounds is to write it out. Not write the word, but writing how it should sound onto paper (with the translation of course). That way you know what to say, and you'll remember what is it because the translation should be right next to it.

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I hear your frustration as I have also been there, it takes a lot to finally crack the pronunciation side of things! What I usually do especially because pronunciation is vital as it can help you be understood if you are speaking to a native speaker of that language is; practice my French pronunciation at least 20 minutes everyday. I also make it a point to watch French shows and try imitating the speakers on there... I find that these methods have helped me somehow.

All the best with your new languages.

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I'm in agreement with elles-belles. I tend to listen to how the natives pronounce words, then I'll write the words down exactly how they're meant to sound. Next I practice, practice, practice. I think that's the best method but then we all learn differently :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have issues with pronouncing french as an English speaker. On thing people recommend is the FSI phonology course. It's in the public domain so you can download it for free. There are TONS of drills desgned to help you overcome common mistakes (I need to take my own advice and do them  :laugh:)

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I think my pronunciation for the most part is good. Where it isn't, I don't stress off of it too much. I just try to practice more, accurate practice of course, making sure that I'm speaking correctly so as not to be practicing in error. 

If I'm unsure of a way a word is pronounced, I'll go to the Internet and see if I can find a dictionary that breaks down the pronunciation, or one of those sites that actually says the pronunciation of a word for you. 

I also like the idea about writing down a word in the way that it should sound, but checking several sources first to make sure. 

You could write things down in a small notebook, the words that are especially troublesome for you.  Write them there and practice them often.  You can look back on your notes one day and see your progress.

Some people can't pronounce certain words, they just can't make their tongues do certain things.  Others can learn a language, and sound like a native speaker.  Just have to do the best you can.

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I think downloading applications that offer a pronunciation option are the best ways to learn pronunciation. My personal favorite is Duolingo, because they include so many various levels and explanations, and they also have a pronunciation button that is a little speaker you can press to hear a voice pronounce the word.

I learned Spanish somewhat on my own by using the app, and if I hadn't of used the pronunciation option, then I would not have been able to pronounce anything correctly! I think they are great because they save a lot of embarrassment and confusion! Other than that, I think the best way to learn pronunciation is by surrounding yourself with natives of that language.

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  • 9 months later...

I listen to audios accompanying my coursebooks and repeat everything the native speakers say there, trying to copy them the best way I can. I also use Tell Me More software from time to time - it's not very good in all aspects, but I actually find the pronunciation par rather well done. You repeat words or phrases after the speaker, and the computer measures how close you were to the original. It's not 100% accurate but quite useful.

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I wrote this a while back:

Just now, Wanda Kaishin said:

Step 1 – Word level pronunciation
Goals: Be able to repeat isolated words correctly after hearing them. Be able to read isolated words out loud with correct pronunciation.
Expansion: The first thing you need to be able to do is pronounce all the different sounds made in a language. When you do this it will be most efficient to link these sounds to something visual, so the most efficient thing to do is learn orthography, the language’s writing system, at the same time. Note - this is a pretty short step, along the order of 10-20 hours for most languages. The goal isn’t comprehension or comfortably reading texts; those things come later.

How to do it: Find some material that teaches pronunciation, for example, the first chapter of a textbook or an online resource. There must be audio. You need to work with audio from the beginning – never read first and utter before listening; check the audio frequently. Practice listening to and repeating the sounds, then listening to the sounds and writing the text. After you get the hang of it, practice reading and pronouncing the text, and comparing your pronunciation to the audio. Memorize the alphabet and the names of the letters. When you are reading and pronouncing words correctly, move on to the next step. After learning to pronounce all the separate sounds, you should be able to pronounce complete words too.

Step 2 – Sentence level pronunciation
Goals: Be able to repeat simple sentences correctly after hearing them. Be able to read those sentences out loud with correct pronunciation.
Expansion: The best time to learn good pronunciation is in the beginning. Step 1 was about word level pronunciation. Step 2 is about sentence level pronunciation.

How to do it: You need to find some basic material that you can shadow, parrot or repeat. It’s best if it’s designed to be an audio program, but you’ll need to have a transcript for it too. I strongly recommend Pimsleur for this step, although you will need to find a transcript somewhere or create your own because Pimsleur doesn’t publish them. Another option for this is Assimil. After doing an audio lesson, memorize the sentences and new vocabulary words from L1 to L2 and L2 to L1, reading them out loud with correct pronunciation. I recommend using an SRS for this. When you are doing the audio lessons, be sure you pronounce every aspect of the sentence prosody, intonation, rhythm, stress, etc as the native speaker does.

 

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I "talk through my nose".  It's hard to describe, but I'll try.  The French accent to me sounds very nasal.  This is not meant as a dig and I'm not referring to satirical accents.  I just listen to genuine French accents and try to mimic them when I use French words.

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39 minutes ago, czarina84 said:

I "talk through my nose".  It's hard to describe, but I'll try.  The French accent to me sounds very nasal.  This is not meant as a dig and I'm not referring to satirical accents.  I just listen to genuine French accents and try to mimic them when I use French words.

Do you mean like the way this guy speaks? → https://www.youtube.com/user/DDTop20/videos

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4 hours ago, Blaveloper said:

Do you mean like the way this guy speaks? → https://www.youtube.com/user/DDTop20/videos

Jesus. The way this guy speaks is rather annoying......:(

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Generally speaking, talking and listening are the best ways to perfect your pronunciation. Talking, because you use the words over and over and eventually they will be second-nature. And listening and repeating, because that is the best way to learn a language in general, not only good pronunciation of certain words.

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On ‎12‎/‎5‎/‎2015‎ ‎7‎:‎15‎:‎08‎, Blaveloper said:

Do you mean like the way this guy speaks? → https://www.youtube.com/user/DDTop20/videos

His voice IS annoying. But, similar to that, yes.  How he sounds very nasal, but I don't quite mean to that degree.  This is a good exaggeration of my point, though. 

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Watching movies in that language, having friends from the country where the language is spoken and talking to them, living in that country for at least a year...all of them helped me a lot!:)

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Listen, listen, listen. The best advice I can give, and what helped me the most, is watching movies or shows in the language you are learning, as well as music, talking to people online via skype or in person, and YouTubers. Pronunciation is so tough to get the hang of through just reading and studying text, so listen to anything and everything you can find. Then your next goal would be mimicking them to the best of your ability, and it definitely takes practice. It took me a month to try and pronounce the word "twelve" in German correctly, but I mostly just kept talking to myself and finding videos where people actually would sound out the word slowly.

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24 minutes ago, loulou said:

Listen, listen, listen. The best advice I can give, and what helped me the most, is watching movies or shows in the language you are learning, as well as music, talking to people online via skype or in person, and YouTubers. Pronunciation is so tough to get the hang of through just reading and studying text, so listen to anything and everything you can find. Then your next goal would be mimicking them to the best of your ability, and it definitely takes practice. It took me a month to try and pronounce the word "twelve" in German correctly, but I mostly just kept talking to myself and finding videos where people actually would sound out the word slowly.

Let me add that if you listen, you shouldn't listen passively.
You should listen actively (note how they speak and mimic them as early as possible).

I say this because too many people still have their misconception about learning a language through listening, so they get as many movies from ThePirateBay as possible and just watch.
But if that would be a way to learn languages (including pronunciation!), I bet way more people worldwide would have been hyper polyglots. :P

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I agree with you @Wanda Kaishin, a step by step process is always a good option when learning anything new, pronunciation included. I can't be really of an assistance when it comes to Japanese or Spanish, but I know what you said can be useful for English. 

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  • 5 weeks later...

Right now my best friend is the ''Naar Nederland'' course ;)  I like it because it comes with  the most basic words of the Dutch language (some are not so basic though), so when I am in doubt about the pronunciation of any given word I just check their word list.  In my opinion there is no other method that excels at teaching you how to properly pronounce most words than listening to natives.  That and getting a good phonetics book f the language you are trying to learn, as simple as that. 

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