Hello today I'm going to talk about why so many learners struggle when it comes to English pronunciation. So, this is a weakness for a lot of students. I talk to students, and they tell me that this is an area in which they want to improve, that they feel comfortable with things like grammar, but this is an area in which they have problems. And this lesson is going to focus on why I think that is common in the English language learning world. And then, I'm going to talk about what you can do to solve this problem, what you can do to improve this area of English. And the tips I'm going to give you can be implemented and followed on your own and from anywhere in the world. Now, be sure to stay until the end because I have a question for you.

Now, I first noticed this issue when I taught in Spain. So, I taught for a year in Bilbao and then for a year in Valencia, and a lot of the students I came across all had common issues with specific sounds of English, and other areas of pronunciation, too. And I believe that the main reason for this is not enough focus is put on this area of English during general English lessons. So, think about any language classes that you have taken before. I'm pretty certain that the majority of these haven't focused on how to produce the sounds of English, what to do with your tongue, what to do with your lips, what to do with your mouth, in general, to produce the right sounds in the right way. And this is because most classes have multiple students in one class, so it's very difficult for the teacher to listen to problems that people have and to give them one-on-one feedback. And, in some case, the teachers have issues in this area too, and these problems are passed on to their students. Now, just to give you a quick example of this, when I was in Spain, a lot of learners had an issue with the d sound. So, if I asked them to say something like "dad", it was very common to hear "thath" because, in Spain or in Spanish, to make the d sound, your tongue touches your teeth, but, in English, this doesn't happen. Your tongue touches the ridge of your mouth behind your teeth. So, listen to this difference, "thath", "dad". And that's just one example. Now, the students that I taught had never been taught this area. No one had told them, to make this sound put your tongue here and make the sound in this way. They didn't know what to do with their mouth to make the sounds of English. I'm sure you can think of some examples in your native language, where people who are learning English make the same mistakes in this area. It might be a specific sound, it might be word stress, it might be intonation, or other areas of English pronunciation. Now, before we get too deep and too far into this topic, I want to talk about why this area of English is important, and it is important because it's a key element when it comes to reaching the high level of English to be able to speak English fluently and automatically and accurately. Just a quick example of this. If somebody asks you, "How's it going?", and you say, "Not too bad", and you say this perfectly, you say this flawlessly, then the person who asked you this question is going to think that you have a high level of English. They are going to be impressed by the way that you speak. Now, the phrase that you used was quite simple, it was quite basic, "not too bad". A lot of you learned this in your first class. But, I think that the way that you speak leaves a stronger impression than the words that you use. People are going to notice the way you speak more than they're going to notice grammar mistakes or vocabulary errors. So, that is one reason to improve this area.

The second reason to work on this area is quite obvious. The better you speak, the better your pronunciation, the better people are going to understand you. And, finally, improving this area of English is going to allow you to speak more naturally and fluently. When you can make the sounds in the correct way, and you can use correct intonation, rhythm and stress, then things are just going to flow. You're going to feel much more relaxed when speaking because you're going to be more confident, as well. So, when you are speaking and you have that confidence of knowing that you can produce the sounds in the right way, then things are just going to flow. You're going to feel confident, and you can focus more on what you need to say instead of how to say it. So, let's talk about how to improve this area of English. 

Now, the first step is to learn how to make the sounds of English. So, going back to the d sound. Learn how to make the d sound. And then the t sound. Now, people also have problems when it comes to the difference between the f and the v sound. Some Spanish speakers, for example, make the b sound instead of the v sound. They'll say "ban" instead of "van". So, know exactly what to do to make the consonant sounds in English and the vowel sounds in English. I'll leave some resources for you in the description so that you can work on this area on your own. But it just comes down to knowing what to do with your mouth in order to make the sounds. Step two is to practice these sounds and to get feedback on it. So, practice "dad", "dad". Look at my mouth, "dad". Know what to do. Your tongue touches the ridge behind your teeth, "dad". Now let's practice "van". Repeat after me, "van". And this is just all about practicing. But, I want you to get feedback on the way that you say this, too. Now, there are two main ways that you can get feedback. Firstly is for a teacher to tell you if you make mistakes. 

And, secondly, you can do this on your own by recording your own voice and then comparing your version to the original. So you can find a word online, for example, dad, you can listen to this, repeat it, record your version, and compare your version to the original. And then, from that comparison, you can make changes to the way you say it. And I want you to do this until it's almost identical or identical, to the original version. So try and master these different sounds before you move on to the next step.

The next step is to get lots of practice. Because, just like learning a new skill in sports, for example, a golf swing, you learn what to do, but it's the practice that you need to build muscle memory. And getting this muscle memory means that you'll be able to produce these sounds in English automatically when speaking. You won't need to focus on what does my tongue do. It touches the ridge. If you get lots of practice, saying the sounds in the right way, then you can just do this automatically. It will come out naturally when speaking, but you need to get the repetition, you need to get the practice to reach this stage. Now, English pronunciation isn't just about the sounds of English, there are other areas involved here, too. So, things like stress, things like connected speech or relaxed pronunciation. And what I want you to do, to master these different elements, is to imitate native speakers. Here's an example for you to practice. I really wanna give it to her. I really wanna give it to her. So there are a few things there that you can learn just by imitating that one sentence. The first one is that we emphasize really to give it more emphasis. I really, so you notice the stress on the word really. Then we had wanna, instead of want to. And this is an example of relaxed pronunciation. And then we have the connected speech where words link together. Give-it, give-it, give-it. So not give it, but give-it. So, learn these different areas. For example, I have a article tutorial on relaxed pronunciation, and then imitate native speakers. So, find audio in English, repeat after the audio. Again, record your own version and then compare it to the original. The last step is to get lots of natural practice because what we are doing so far is we are training. Now it's time to play a game. So, you can put all of this together and get natural practice. Speak to people, have conversations. And this is going to help you just become more confident in the way that you speak, and it's going to allow you to practice these different areas in a natural way. So, be sure to find the time and to make the effort to get some speaking practice.