How do I learn the pronunciation of a language?

Language courses often explain pronunciation by comparing sounds in the language you’re learning with those in your native language. This can be misleading as the sounds are rarely exactly the same, and some of the sounds may not be used in your language and you may find them difficult to distinguish.

You need to listen to a language as much as possible to tune your ears to the sounds, intonation patterns and rhythms. You can do this by listening to radio broadcasts, watching TV programmes and films, listening to songs and so on. Try to mimic what you hear, and also pay attention to the gestures and facial expressions people use, and the ways they interact.

If you’re having particular difficult with certain sounds, it might be useful to ask a native speaker to pronounce them in an exaggerated way. Try to copy the sounds and also the movements of their mouth.

Some people believe that it is best to spend quite a long time – perhaps several months or longer – listening to a language before you try to speak it.

Pronunciation is something you need to keep on going back to and refining, as the closer your pronunciation is to that of native speakers, the easier it will be for them to understand you.

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