Learning a new language requires a lot of effort, commitment and investment. The problem of the majority of French speakers is not only that they have not spent enough time to study pronunciation correctly, but also they have spent all their life pronouncing things wrong (and thinking that they were pronouncing it correctly).
Indeed, in which world can « choir » (chorus) be pronounced as « quaia »? It’s that they do not even look alike! And I am not talking about any exceptions, just have a look at more common words like « water » (water) pronounced « ou – o – tah » (in British English)
It is common knowledge that the learning of English is not immediate, but here I will offer you a few tricks to practice your knowledge and surpass them.
The first thing you want to do is slow down! Many people believe that if you talk very fast, it is more difficult to correct bad habits. Practice some basic things every day. It starts with simple sounds, then continues with words and later go on to pronounce whole sentences.
To improve your vocabulary, you can read in English, as having clear notions of what you are going to read allows you to build better grammatical bases. You can read anything, from novels to short stories, news articles, anything, as long as you enjoy what you are reading. A good way to start reading in English: read books you’ve already read and enjoyed in French.
In English, the writing and pronunciation of words are different in the vast majority of cases and this can cause confusion. Once you have learned to differentiate the sounds corresponding to each letter, the next step is to achieve an accent that brings you closer to the pronunciation of the natives.
To achieve that, you need to learn to listen, in order to pronounce better. In this life we go so fast that we even forget to listen. I do not mean to hear what they say, but to listen with calm and attention. However, it is the key to improve pronunciation, because in the end what we want is to imitate a way of speaking.
But, what to listen to will you ask? Well, subscribe to a British or American YouTuber!
Some have become very famous and have millions of visits in each video! From videogames to fashion, to beauty, travel or simply people who record themselves telling their lives and adventures … There are for all tastes, you just have to choose yours!
And why do I recommend YouTube and not to watch TV, listen to the radio or watch movies to improve pronunciation? For the simple reason that in Youtube Videos, there are native speakers who are talking in a natural way, in exactly the same way that a British would talk in the street: vocabulary, expressions, speed, and intonation…
Listen as the natives pronounce the words and try to identify the sounds that are made. Pronounce the words aloud again and again until you notice that you have said it correctly.
Once you have integrated these three main points, here are 3 tips to work on your pronunciation in English
1. Differentiate vowels with the same sounds
This is something that usually happens for example in the words « beer » and « bird », or the very famous « sheet » and « shit ». The trick here is to always pronounce the combination « ee » with the vowel « i » of the French language, while the words with « i » as the second case of each example, it is better to pronounce them with an « e » of our language, but very soft.
2. Convert the O into an A and the A in an O
That’s right, the correct pronunciation of the O is often a kind of combination between O and A! Try to pronounce in this way some words like « rock » or « color » and you will see the difference, they sound in a much more natural way.
An exception to this rule is when the O is at the end of the word, as in « Do », in which case it becomes a French « ou ».
Converting the letter A in an O does not apply to all words that carry the letter A, but you have probably noticed in many words the A has a sound more like the O of our language. Take for example words like « Awesome », « Walking », « Talking », « Although », « All », in all these the pronunciation of the A corresponds to an O.
3. Blowing the P, T and K
A good way to sound more natural during pronunciation is to « blow » the P, T and K. This means that you shall not make a dry sound as is normally done in the French language, but should try to « take a breath » with them as you are pronouncing them.
After working on the pronunciation, you need to actually talk right? For that, two main tips. First, you should record yourself speaking English. In order to know where your errors are at the time of pronouncing or to what aspects you should pay more attention, it is better to analyse the way you speak from the outside. You will be surprised to hear yourself and you can more easily change what you think should be improved. And last but not least: share with a partner! Having someone with whom going through an English language learning process is a good way to compare your own progress in the language. Practice, learn and try to solve your doubts with your partner.
Finally, you must remember that constant practice will give you greater fluidity. Apply the tips I have detailed and you will notice the progress in the way you speak and thus pronounce English