• Daiane Publio Dias

English isn't a phonetic language

The spelling of the English language doesn't correspond with its pronunciation. For example, the spelling and meaning of the words flower and flour are different, but the pronunciation is exactly the same. However, despite the similarity in spelling of the words though, through and tough, their pronunciation is completely different.

Unlike languages such as German, Spanish and Portuguese, whose phonemes* correspond with the spelling of the words, English spelling isn't guide to practice pronunciation. "But what happens if I read the words as they are written?" The answer to this question ranges from "you will embarrass yourself" to "no one will understand you".

So how do I learn to pronounce English words?

1. Watch your favorite movie or series with English subtitles. Don't worry about understanding the meaning of each word. Focus on connecting the written of the words with the pronunciation you hear.

2. Sing your favorite song. Choose a song and have the lyrics on hands. Listen to the song and follow the lyrics silently. When you feel confident, sing along following the lyrics! Singing neutralizes your accent and without much effort you will pronounce the words more naturally.

3. Use the Oxford and Cambridge online dictionaries. The Oxford and Cambridge online dictionaries offer an amazing tool for pronunciation practice: when you look up a word, they present the pronunciation. Listen carefully and repeat the word aloud. See the example below with the word through.

If you incorporate these practices into your daily life, not only will your English pronunciation improve, but also your listening comprehension. Did you like this post? Share it with someone who needs to improve their English pronunciation.

*Phonemes: in linguistics, a phoneme is the smallest sound unit of a language, which combined with other phonemes, form words and sentences.

Written by Daiane Publio Dias

CELTA English Teacher

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