Improving your pronunciation

I always recommend that learners record themselves when trying to improve their pronunciation and intonation, especially when they have a lot of fossilized errors (as do most people who spend years in the grammar/translation system of language learning).

I use a rule of 5x5x5, although it could also be 3x3x3 or whatever – I just like 5.

1) Learners record themselves reading an article or a dialogue for which they have the native speaker audio as well. Audio content should not be very long, maybe 1 or 2 minutes maximum.
2) They listen to the content 5 times without reading, paying attention to the pronunciation and especially to the intonation, as intonation is more important for overall comprehensibility (I read this in Ann Cook’s American Accent Training Program).
3) They listen to and read the content 5 times, once again paying special attention to the intonation.
4) Repeat step 2
5) They record themselves reading the piece again and then compare themselves to the first recording.

Do this every day with a different text, and every day listen to the text from the day before to review.

Students who’ve done this have noticed a definite difference in the quality of their personal reproduction of the content.

Having said all of this, I only recommend that people who have a lot of fossilized errors do it. If you’ve never spoken much English, just hold off a bit and give yourself time to soak up more of the language naturally so that you may never have to do ‘drills’ like this.

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