When we are pulled towards learning a language, the first thing we do is memorize daily words that can be useful once we start speaking in that language. Since vocabulary is the easiest way to start, let’s dive into pronunciation skills. Learning words is great but you want to make sure that you pronounce them right so people don’t frown their foreheads but actually know what you’re talking about.
Here are three techniques to improve your pronunciation and use your vocabulary elegantly.
Rule number one: Read aloud children’s books
When I first started learning German and French, I would feel uncomfortable when I would hear myself pronounce words that were foreign to me. It felt unfamiliar to hear my own voice saying those strange words not knowing if I was pronouncing them right at all. The best way for me to get used to hearing my own voice and becoming self-confident about my pronunciation was to get children’s books with stories in basic German and French. I would sit in my room and read aloud to myself. At first I felt like a weirdo since I was the only person in the room but the more I heard my own voice reading in those languages, the more I got used to the idea of expressing myself in my new languages. When you come across a situation that you have to say something in your new language, you want to make sure that the language feels warm and familiar to you. Children’s books are a great tool to get started and build up that motivation. Now you want to make sure that you don’t only pronounce words loud but that your pronunciation is correct also. Time for rule number two!
Rule number two: Develop your active listening skills
Now how do you make sure that your pronunciation is right? We do this by actively listening to native speakers and repeating after them. Turn on your favorite movie on Netflix and put the audio in the language that you are learning. You can also choose to watch a close interview with your idol on YouTube or a documentary on a topic which you are passionate about. Whatever you decide to watch, make sure that it’s something that grabs and keeps your attention and something which you feel a passion for. Now play the content and press pause at every one or two sentences that are said. Repeat the exact same words in the exact same way. If you feel like you are messing up with your pronunciation, hit replay and give it another shot. Do this as long as your concentration allows you to. How do little kids learn skills while they grow up? By mimicking the adults around them and saying and doing things in exactly the same way. When we try to develop a new skill (in this case, learning a brand new language), we go back to the state of a little child who has to fill the blank pages in his book with new information. This is a perfect state of mind because it’s ready to absorb and internalize valuable new knowledge. Listen and repeat actively and you will see your pronunciation improving day by day!
Rule number three: Ask native speakers to correct you
When you find yourself in situations where you are surrounded by native speakers, tell them that you are working on the pronunciation of your new language. Then ask them kindly to correct you when you say words in the wrong way. The only way to get better is by going wrong first. Allow yourself to utilize the words that you have added to your vocabulary and pronounce them at every single occasion. If you are committed to speak your new language excellently, you will book progress by going the extra mile and have native speakers correct you. Let’s do this!