Correct pronunciation is considered essential for language learners. It is true that 100% native like pronunciation is not possible for a non native speaker but one should try for maximum accuracy. A language is best learnt from its native speakers. So for the sake of good English pronunciation, the best sources are the native speakers of English. English has an advantage that a hell lot of supporting material is available, along with multimedia resources that can be used easily to make your English language abilities better.
The pronunciation and listening or in other words speaking and listening are interconnected. One cannot speak if s/he hasn’t listened. Listening is input for you, listening is the base on which the building of your speaking abilities is built. So good listening can not only improve your comprehension abilities but it ultimately helps you improve your pronunciation and speaking skills. If you are a good computer and internet user and spend your some time online, there are a lot of resources available online which can help you improve your pronunciation. Here I am going to discuss a few resources that I, being an English student and Language Teacher, found and got benefit from.
- Use free dictionary to get meaning and pronunciation of an English word. Click on speaker icon present next to the word.
- Use Google Translate to get English to Urdu (or your language) translation as well as pronunciation of English word.
- Listen to podcasts.
- Listen documentaries and other clips posted on Youtube.com. It will not give you pronunciation of specific word but your general listening and speaking will improve.
- Watch English movies. Torrentz.com is a good place to get pirated versions of English movies. Older movies (2 to 3 years old) usually have good quality as well as a subtitles file with them. This can help a lot initially to understand the words spoken by native speakers, and thus improve your pronunciation.
- There are not only movies available, but there are TV Series also available. A TV series is good as compared to movie in various ways, in my point of view. It has a long story, a TV series can last for several years, viewer can have better understanding of story, context and characters. A TV series is usually in Standard English (while movies sometimes get characters which do not speak in Standard Accent). So you may select a TV series of your own choice and get it downloaded, and watch an episode whenever you get time. You’ll feel that you’ve developed an interest, love the story and characters, and understand what the characters say. I love to watch Science Fiction series like Star Trek The Next Generation, Star Trek Deep Space Nine, Stargate SG1. And it has helped me a lot in improving the pronunciation as well as listening comprehension.
- Listen Audio Books. If you love to read books, then do not read but listen. There are audio books available for every popular novel or story of today, and you can get them from torrentz.com. I love to listen fantasy stories like Wheel of Time, Harry Potter, Codex Alera. This not only gives you very good pronunciation and listening practice but also improves your expression and vocabulary.
- The traditional sources: use Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary or Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. The CDs can be purchased from market or installation files can be downloaded from torrent websites. OALD is my favourite for pronunciation of different Standard Englishes. Currently it provides British and American English pronunciation which can help a beginner to distinguish the pronunciation differences.
- Real communication has no alternate. If you happen to have a friend in North America, Australia, Canada or England and s/he speaks English. Do contact her/him and ask for voice call on Skype or Google Talk. A spontaneous interaction with native speakers will increase your listening and speaking abilities alike. And you may get a very close net friend as well.
So these were a few tips to improve pronunciation and listening skills. I would write a few tips for vocabulary improvement and other areas of language development in up coming posts. Stay tuned!