The Key to Good Pronunciation: Exaggeration

This is a re-post of one of my recent contributions ( in the LingQ Forum, with a couple slight additions:

Good pronunciation is very much a question of attitude towards and acceptance of the foreign culture, and it’s impeded by fear.

Fear of sounding ‘too foreign’, of leaving the comfortable boundaries of the sounds and intonation of your native language.

In my opinion, exaggeration is the key to good pronunciation. EXAGGERATE everything you do in the language, based on what you see and hear native speakers doing. Try to look (that is, move your mouth and face) and sound like them, imagine you are them.

All of this, of course, must be preceded by lots of natural exposure to the language, i.e. listening and reading. Remember that Steve didn’t speak Russian for two years after he started learning, that is, he gave himself time to assimilate the sounds and intonation of the language before he started speaking.

Steve actually talks about this subject in his interview on Radio Canada

and in this thread on the forum

Once you’ve heard a lot of English and have become accustomed to hearing and understanding different accents, it’s important that you choose one you’d like to imitate and try your best to emulate it. Otherwise you will always have a foreign/international accent (and there’s nothing wrong that).

Check out this video (and YouTube channel and blog, in that order) on Language Learning and accents from Hyunwoo Sun, a Korean tutor at and a popular YouTube polyglot

and watch this Chinese cop and the way he imitates a New York accent by exaggerating (and ends up sounding pretty good)

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