Are Pronunciation and Accent that Important?
Having a pure British English accent might be very difficult for a non-native speaker. As a non-native English speaker, your organs of speech are used to pronounce sounds in a certain way. This way is typical to your language and region (in case you have a more dialectal speech).
You don’t need to have a perfect British or American accent. However, you might want to put some effort in the development of a correct and beautiful English (British / American) pronunciation. Here’s why:
- It sounds really great!
- Local people will understand you a lot better
- Your speech would be more pleasant to the ear
So you probably wonder “How can I achieve a beautiful English pronunciation?” The answer is: the process would be difficult and challenging, but very interesting and fun at the same time!
Let’s take a look at a number of ways that can help you sound more native-like:
a) Use phonetic spelling and listen to native speaker pronouncing it at the same time
When you learn a new language you also learn how to pronounce each word correctly. People often use phonetic spelling to know how a word is pronounced (for example phonetics -> [fəˈnɛtɪks]. This method is great, however, most people skip the most important step… hearing how a native speaker pronounces it! When you hear how a native speaker says the word, you also hear other things, such as rhythm, intonation and other aspects that are not included in the phonetics.
These two steps are inseparable. If you skip the first step and only listen to the word, you might miss a sound or misunderstand the word. By following these two steps you’ll sound more like a native speaker.
There are a lot of free online tools and websites that provide you with pronunciation of words and even phrases.
b) Pay attention to intonation
Intonation plays a huge role in pronunciation. Intonation describes how the voice rises and falls in speech.
Have you ever noticed that each language has its own intonation? If you didn’t, just search for videos on Youtube, where people speak in different languages. Even British English and American English have different intonations!
There are many books, articles and even Youtube videos that can help you understand how to develop a correct English intonation. After you understand how everything works, you’ll hear that your overall pronunciation sound much more fluent and beautiful.
c) Choose one version and follow it
When you want to develop a beautiful English pronunciation, the last thing you want to do is to mix the different versions of English. There are two main versions for people who start learning it as a second language: American English and British English. Even though, the two of them are very similar they also have some differences in vocabulary, accent, and pronunciation of many words.
Choose one version of the English language, and follow it all the way. This is especially important for beginners. If you have no special necessity to choose a particular version, simply select the one you prefer. Both versions are equally interesting and sound amazing. So it’s just a matter of taste.
It’s also interesting to know the pronunciation and vocabulary of the other version, but remember to learn about it after you have some solid knowledge of the version you chose. This way you’ll protect yourself from speaking a combination of the two of them.