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Video:Learn ESL: Tips for Improving Your Pronunciation

with Patricia Jagt

Once you've learned the basics of English as a second language, the next step is perfecting your pronunciation. This video from About.com will offer some tips on how to improve your pronunciation.See Transcript

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Transcript:Learn ESL: Tips for Improving Your Pronunciation

Hi, I'm Patricia Jagt in Vancouver, B.C. for About.com. In this video, you will receive tips for improving your pronunciation. This video is for advanced ESL students. 

The first thing that you must know is that when you are learning how to pronounce English properly, you cannot trust the spelling. English is not phonetic. This means that although the letters give you an idea of how something might sound, you don't know until you learn the pronunciation.

Improve Pronunciation: /r/ and /l/

The first tip is that there is a difference between /r/ and /l/. It might help to think of the /r/ as a /wr/ where the lips must come together and the tongue is not touching the tip of your mouth. The /l/ is a sound that requires the movement of your tongue touching the roof of your mouth. Practice saying, "right light" or "real river" until you can finally say them fluidly.  

Improve Pronunciation: /th/ and /f/

Another challenging area can be the difference between /th/ and /f/. The /f/ requires that your top set of teeth touch your lower lip. With the /th/ sound, start with the very tip of your tongue between your teeth. Slide your tongue in at the same time you breathe out. Practice saying, "I like free things" or "things for free." 

Improve Pronunciation: /v/ and /b/

Some speakers confuse the differences between /v/ and /b/. To uses the /b/ sound, you have to curve both of your lips together. The /v/ sound is in the same area of your mouth but instead of your top lip, you use your top teeth. Practice saying, "Big Van" or "Beautiful Vancouver."

Improve Pronunciation: /i/ and /Ey/

The next tip is a pair of vowel sounds. You have /i/ as in ship and /Ey/ as in sheep. You can hear these problems come up in pronouns like: this, it, is and these. Practice, "This ship is like these sheep." Or "Eat these, eat it."

Improve Pronunciation: Practice

Practice the above sounds in a mirror by looking at where your tongue, teeth and lips are placed when you make these sounds. Try this tongue twister in front of the mirror: Very green brass and very clean glass. Another thing you could try to do is record your voice. Once you hear from a recorder how you sound, it will be easier to hear the difference between what you think you say and what you actually sound like.  

Thank you for watching. For more, visit About.com. 

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