• Daiane Publio Dias

Your English pronunciation is undermining your success

English is undeniably the language of #business and #science. The lingua franca of interaction between people of different cultures. Nonetheless, people often fail to communicate adequately due to poor English pronunciation.

Pronunciation is oftentimes neglected and deemed as mere aesthetics or superficiality, being overshadowed by other linguistic aspects such as grammar. Yet, #pronunciation is undoubtedly the major cause of communication breakdown. A person whose vocabulary knowledge is wide and accurate but whose pronunciation is difficult to understand, will certainly lose professional opportunities or suffer social isolation.

Your pronunciation can be negatively affected by your accent if it impedes communication or undermines your credibility, in other words, how you are perceived. For example, as much as a French accent may sound delightful to the ears, if it impedes comprehension, it is wise to identify what features of pronunciation are causing this communication breakdown. French native speakers often substitute the sound of th as in the word thunder for z.

Some common pronunciation features that affect comprehension are:

· Long and short vowels sounds (e.g. leave and live, pull and pool or rich and reach). Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese native speakers should pay careful attention.

· Diphthongs: the combination of two vowel sounds such as in face /eɪ/ or goat /əʊ/. English has different diphthongs that might be particularly difficult for Spanish, Japanese, Arabic and Russian native speakers. Bear in mind: difficult, not impossible.

· Consonant sounds. For example, th sounds such as /θ/ in thankful or /ð/ as in though. Do not fool yourself believing these words are pronounced the same, for they are not. Native speakers of French and German tend to pronounce both th sounds as a plain s or z, which can seriously impede communication.

· Silent consonants such as the silent l in almond, the silent t in mortgage or the silent b in numb.

These are only a few pronunciation features that can be challenging. Others such as syllable stress, #rhoticity (the pronunciation of the r after vowel sounds) and the famous Schwa sound /ə/ will be discussed in another post. So, stay tuned!

Ultimately, what really matters is being understood without having your credibility undermined, as well as feeling comfortable with yourself and your cultural identity, expressed by your accent.

If you feel that pronunciation is what is holding you back from getting your message across and achieving your goals, I can help you with my hands-on pronunciation course, focused on the challenges posed by your native language.

Which words in English do you find particularly difficult to pronounce? Do you think your accent negatively impacts communication or it adds flair to your English? Share your thoughts!

Written by Daiane Publio Dias


My name is Daiane Publio Dias, and I help professionals, scientists and scholars create outstanding presentations and speak English flawlessly in a globalized world.


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