Debunk the myths about English pronunciation

Usually Russians who speak English can be heard a mile away. The sound “r”, no different from the Russian, the absence of sounds “θ” and “ð”, as well as the difference between long and short vowels: our compatriots consider all this to be the norm, they say, “they will understand that way”. At the same time, English-speaking people frown at first (something like how we are from “ringing” and “poklal”), and then they laugh at all. Heavy Russian accent is by no means a compliment. So how to improve your pronunciation without moving to the English-speaking environment for a long time? Dispelling popular myths about learning pronunciation.

Often, students pay great attention to unfamiliar grammar, forgetting about such an important thing as pronunciation. It is believed that the main thing - to speak correctly in terms of grammar, but not in terms of pronunciation. But think for yourselves: would you be pleased if a foreigner spoke Russian, but with a monstrous accent that hinders understanding? In English, the same longitude and brevity define the meaning of a word. You would be at times harder to perceive speech with an accent. There are many myths associated with English pronunciation that have been cultivated diligently since high school. Let's find out which of them can be safely forgotten.

Myth one: you need to learn British English

When students come with the installation “I want to learn British English,” the first thing I want to ask is which British English is exactly? There are dozens of dialects on the territory of tiny Britain. In this case, residents of London can hardly understand the people of Manchester or Newcastle. It usually turns out that the Russian citizen has British English - this is RP, “received pronunciation,” the so-called “royal English”. In fact, RP was created artificially by the upper class of society, and for a long time it was believed that its carriers were certainly rich and educated. RP has also long been the official dialect of radio and television, so the glory of the “traditional” version, which is taught by foreigners, was entrusted to it.

And in fact…

Even the representatives of the Windsor dynasty do not speak RP. The grandsons of Her Majesty have repeatedly noticed the use of more mundane dialects in order, as they say, “to be closer to the people.” The same British English, which everyone wants to know, in fact, almost never used. What to do? To use modern textbooks: in them, listening assignments are recited by carriers of different dialects (for example, in our video puzzles you can choose any of 4 accents: American, Australian, British, Irish). Watch videos and listen to podcasts in which people from different countries speak. In life, you can easily come across a German who speaks English, and believe me, it will not sound like an English speaker. Listen as much as you can and you will get used to the flow of unfamiliar speech. Focus on phonetics yourself. You can't sound like a foreigner ...

Myth two: we must speak without an accent!

... because it is physically impossible. Your articulation machine, if you are not bilingual, reproduces sounds in his usual way all his life. When you start teaching it to other people’s sounds, it adapts as it can, but it’s impossible to utter a sound perfectly anyway. We all speak with an accent, and it is useless to deny it, because each of us is unique and sounds differently. You can hone your pronunciation and pronounce the English sounds and words correctly, but for a native speaker you still will not sound natural.

In fact…

You will have to accept the fact that you will always have an accent, and understand that this is not at all scary. Emphasis is your feature. You can avoid the canonical Russian accent, having completed the correct pronunciation. So you will sound many times more pleasant and clear, and if the speech does not cause difficulties in perception, then no one will pay attention to your background.

The third myth: to speak as a carrier, you need to live abroad

We are still getting used to the fact that as a carrier you never speak, right? Living abroad also does not always help to get comfortable and start speaking confidently and with similar pronunciation. In the large Russian diasporas abroad, there will certainly be more than one person who has been living in a foreign country for 20 years, but does not speak the language at all.

In reality, however ...

You can do your own pronunciation. For this you need to constantly listen and imitate what was heard. Here are some tips on how to make your pronunciation better:

1. Start small: find opposition exercises like bad - bed, always listening. Listen to the difference and try to reproduce it. Do not be alarmed if you do not hear her! This is completely normal. The Cambridge University Press even took this into account in their textbooks on phonetics, and now you can find there a page with a list of countries and numbers of lessons that native speakers of these countries can miss. Believe me, not everyone can hear the difference between the sounds or play a particular sound. For example, in African languages ​​there are characteristic clicks that are practically not given to Europeans. We must be born in the country to be able to reproduce the sounds of her language.

2. Burn yourself. Often, students cannot hear their mistake, because it seems to them that they all speak correctly. Try to write how you do the exercise or read the text. Immediately understand how the interlocutor hears you and what it is worth working on.

3. Pay attention to the exercises on the connected speech. If you really want to sound close to English-speaking people, you need to master linking, the arrangement of logical stress in a sentence, the intonation model of a sentence, and much more. All these aspects are given in high-level textbooks.

4. Practice alone. A common cause of the language barrier is the fear of making a mistake over which they will laugh. If you lack self-confidence, read out loud alone with yourself, create small dialogues, play out situations. It seems strange from the outside, but in reality alone you’ll come up with answers more quickly and don’t focus so hard on what you can make mistakes.

The fourth myth: it is written "Manchester", pronounced "Liverpool" - remember nothing!

And this is true. In English, reading rules, of course, exist, but there are many more exceptions to them. For some sounds there are no rules. For example, there is no rule that regulates the longitude and brevity of the digraph “oo”: here you have both good with a short sound, and a fool with a long one, and the door is not with “u” at all, and the blood is with “ʌ”. How to live with it? To practice. Moreover, in Russian the emphasis is also not fixed, and it is impossible to understand why it is “useful”, but it is not possible to “ask” foreigners. Listen and read as much as possible, and the exceptions will be remembered by themselves.

English pronunciation is not so scary. Include phonetics in your general course and give it no less attention than reading or grammar, and with time you will begin to sound beautiful and correct.

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