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How Can I Practice Pronunciation on My Own?

A common question that my students ask is “How can I practice my pronunciation at home, on my own time?”

Practicing pronunciation is fun and easy at the English Language Institute at Pace University because we have excellent, well qualified instructors.  However, pronunciation is a skill that is difficult to practice alone, without a teacher. This is because speaking is impermanent. Once you say something, it is gone. Unlike, say writing, there is no record of it. Unless, of course, you make an audio recording of yourself speaking. In this post, I will give you some online tools and some simple exercises to use to practice pronunciation by yourself.

Before we begin, it is important to understand, that in order to pronounce a word correctly, a person must first hear the word.  This doesn’t mean they listen to understand the information the other person says. It means that the listener must learn how to listen to the sounds of a word.  

With this in mind, here is one method I give to my students so they can practice pronunciation on their own. There are two exercises below but they are basically the same. The first exercise is the easiest. It is used to learn to say new words correctly. The second exercise is a little more advanced. It is used to say phrases correctly.

Exercise 1 - Practicing Words

When we learn new vocabulary words, it is important to learn to say the word correctly. As we all know, this is more difficult than it might seem because the English spelling system is crazy and complicated!  

Follow the steps below to practice saying words.

  • Input the vocabulary word into any dictionary that has an audio function which allows the user to hear the word. I like Google’s dictionary but feel free to use whichever your favorite dictionary is.
  • Open vocaroo.com. Or open any app on your phone that will let you record yourself and play it back.
  • Click on the audio sample of your word in your dictionary and listen carefully to the word. Pay close attention to the sounds of the letters in each syllable of the word.  You can practice saying the word after each listen at this time. Sometimes it’s also helpful to say the word simultaneously with the video.
  • Record yourself saying the word several times in Vocaroo or on your phone.
  • Listen to the recording of yourself and the audio from the dictionary and compare. Do this several times.
  • If your pronunciation is inaccurate, repeat these steps until your pronunciation improves.

Exercise 2 - Practicing Phrases

As our English improves, we need to practice more advanced pronunciation. One aspect of more complex pronunciation is reduced speech and connected speech.  Sometimes, reduced and connected speech can change how we say vocabulary words. Therefore it is important to practice saying new words in phrases.

Follow the steps below for practicing saying phrases.

  • Open youglish.com. This website searches YouTube.com for a word being use in everyday speech. This provides great, real world examples of words and phrases being spoken naturally, by mostly native speakers.
  • Open vocaroo.com or open any app on your phone that will let you record yourself and play it back.
  • Type a phrase (or word) into the search function of youglish. Play multiple videos, listening carefully each time the speakers say the phrase (or word) that you searched. Find a video where the speaker says the phrase (or word) clearly, in a manner you would like to imitate.
  • Play the video of your choice several times and practice repeating the phrase in exactly the way you hear it after each time you play the video.
  • Then play the video and practice saying the phrase at the same time that you play the video. This will allow you to mimic the intonation and stress patterns of the speaker in the video.
  • Record yourself saying the phrase in vocaroo or on you phone.
  • Listen carefully to the recording in vocaroo or on your phone and then listen carefully to the recording on youglish. Compare your pronunciation to the pronunciation of the speaker on youglish.
  • If your pronunciation is inaccurate, repeat these steps until your pronunciation improves.

I hope with these exercises pronunciation is something that can become easily practiced in your own home, in your free time.

If however, you would also like to practice your pronunciation with the wonderful faculty at the English Language Institute at Pace University, we would love to have you come and join us in New York City or Westchester! Contact the ELI for more information or apply now.


Word List:

  • impermanent (adj.) – not permanent. Temporary.
  • audio (n.) – Sound, especially recorded.
  • with this in mind (idiom) – as the listener does something, he or she needs to think about what the speaker said.
  • syllable (n.) – a unit of pronunciation of a word with one vowel sound.
  • simultaneously (adv.) – at the same time
  • inaccurate (adj.) – not correct or wrong.

WRITTEN BY PATRICK RUSSELL