10 Steps to Improving Your English Pronunciation
and Language Skills
1. Learn and become aware.
After learning the various rules of English, you must become aware of the errors that you make in your speech.
Keep an organized list of your corrections that have come from being monitored by other speakers, preferably native English speakers. If you don’t have a native English speaker to monitor you, simple listen and repeat with the Elemental English pronunciation and speaking lessons, and take note of how your pronunciation differs from mine.
For example, does my [θ] as in “think” [θInk] sound like [t] or [s], as in “tink” or “sink”, when you say it?
Once you become aware of the errors you make, you are then ready to correct them. Obviously, if you are oblivious to your errors, you can’t fix them!
Any time you are corrected, write down the correction that you were given on a special “monitoring” list.
Constantly update this list, and keep it organized. This is extremely useful, because the errors that you produce are usually not random mistakes that come from “a slip of the tongue”. Most errors are part of a pattern of mistakes that you repeat again and again.
3. Repetitive Review.
Consistently review your monitoring list of errors. You should start to notice a pattern and then be constantly aware of that pattern of what you need to correct.
4. Repetitive Practice.
Now that you are aware of your errors, you need to routinely practice the corrected pronunciation (or correct syntax, vocabulary use, etc.). Practice again and again.
I suggest that you practice out loud at home. Listen to the sounds that you produce, and compare these sounds to native speakers. Ask yourself questions when you pronounce the sounds, such as “How is my mouth moving?” “Where is my tongue?” “Are my vocal chords vibrating?” Notice the physical aspects of pronunciation.
With practice, you can develop the imperative habit of self-correction. Be so aware and in tune with the sounds of English that you can notice and hear your own errors. This ability to self-correct can only come from the above steps of monitoring and awareness.
6. Write down your questions.
There are plenty of times when all of us wonder how to express something in another language, but then do nothing with those questions! When you are unsure of how to say or ask something in English, write it down so that you can ask a native speaker, google it or post your question on ElementalEnglish.com.
7. Keep a running vocabulary list.
Be organized. Write down vocabulary that you want to look up but don’t have time to at that moment. Make a habit of reviewing vocabulary. If you don’t do this, you can easily forget new words before they are locked into your long term memory.
8. Think in English.
A huge mistake English language learners make is to think in their native language and then translate into English in their heads.
This is a mistake, because English syntax and word order is typically something that cannot be translated from another language.
9. Talk to yourself out loud at home.
Talking to yourself out loud will help you in the process of thinking in English instead of translating to English from your native language. Get in the habit of speaking freely without the worry of being heard or criticized.
Play with the sounds and write down the ideas you want to express, but don’t know how to. It’s those questions that you should ask a native speaker or post on ElementalEnglish.com.
10. Train your Ears.
Listen to a lot of English in the form of podcasts, television shows, movies and radio.