Do you ever get frustrated at how difficult it is to read an English word if you have never seen it before? Why are words like through, though, thought, tough, thorough so similar when you spell them but so different when you pronounce them?

English, unlike Spanish, is a non-phonetic language. That means that there is not a one-to-one relationship between letters and sounds. For that reason, when you learn English, you have to pay attention to pronunciation as well as to spelling and grammar.

So, what can you do to improve your pronunciation? We bring you 5 tips that can help you learn new words AND their correct pronunciation.

  1. Use dictionary apps

There are a lot of free dictionary apps which, in addition to providing you with the definition of a word, have the option to play an audio of the right pronunciation. Sometimes you can hear it both in American English and in British English. A great option is Merriam-Webster Dictionary, but you can download any app you like. That way, if you are reading and you encounter a new word, you can easily learn to pronounce it.

  1. Sing along

Some music apps such as Deezer and Spotify have the option to read lyrics while you play a song. If not, you can always find the lyrics online. Find the lyrics to your favorite songs and sing along. That way you will hear the pronunciation and see the spelling at the same time, creating a link in your mind between what you see and what you hear.

  1. Watch short videos with subtitles

TedEd videos are a great way to learn. You can find videos on almost any topic. The videos are usually short and easy to understand. In this case, the idea is the same as with the lyrics to a song. Watch the video with subtitles, pause it when you find new words, and repeat the words several times. Try to imitate the sounds first and then focus on the spelling. Remember to choose short videos because the purpose is to practice pronunciation. If you choose long videos or movies, you might lose sight of that goal and just watch the whole thing.

  1. Practice with voice recognition apps

Once you have practiced a lot of repetition through dictionary audios, songs and videos, you are ready to check your progress. You can use voice recognition software to check your pronunciation. There are several dictation apps that will take notes of what you say. If your pronunciation is wrong, the app will have trouble recognizing the word. Make a list of words that the dictation app doesn’t recognize and go back to the dictionary to practice repeating it again.

  1. Learn the International Phonetic Alphabet for English

Finally, you can check out the International Phonetic Alphabet for English. This chart tells you how to pronounce letters and combinations of letters.  At first glance, it looks very complicated, but if you understand it, it can be very helpful when you need to learn to pronounce new words.

The last thing we would like to mention is that there are some sounds that non-native speakers of English will have trouble producing, because our mouths are not used to making these sounds. You have to place your teeth and your tongue in ways that you never do in Spanish or other languages. However, it is possible to create these sounds once you understand how to do it.

In case you need more personalized lessons to improve your pronunciation, don’t hesitate to contact us!