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Pronunciation tips

Good pronunciation is a skill that is really useful for learners who want to do one of the Cambridge exams. However, knowing how to pronounce English words can be really difficult.

Here are just a few of the difficulties of English pronunciation.

Same spelling - different sound

Quite often my students tell me about an alcoholic drink when they want to tell me about a big animal. A bear isn't a beer!

The word 'bear' does not rhyme with 'ear' or 'fear' but does sound like 'care' and 'share' whereas the word 'beer' does rhyme with 'ear'.

Different spelling - same sound

Some examples include 'care and bear', 'write and right', 'where and wear' and 'one and won'. These can cause problems when writing, even for native speakers. It's very easy to pick the wrong one but if you check your writing, you should be able to spot the mistakes.

Silent letters

There are lots of these in English, sometimes at the start of a word (mnemonic), at the end of a word (bomb) or in the middle (listen).

Difficult letter combinations

The 'th' sound is difficult for many learners of English so you might have to practice it with your teacher. Other letters might also be difficult if you don't have the equivalent sound in the other languages you speak.

Word stress

Sometimes the first syllable of a word is emphasised, sometimes it isn't. Some words are spelled the same but pronounced differently depending upon the word class. Compare present (n) and present (v). Understanding word stress will help you to improve your pronunciation skills.

The letter u

I have to add this as this is the letter I struggle with the most! Being brought up in the north of England, my pronunciation of the word 'pub' is different to the version you'll hear in a dictionary. When I'm speaking or writing German I struggle to distinguish u and ü. Children are very good at copying pronunciation but this is a skill that tends to diminish as we get older. This doesn't mean I'll never be able to know the difference between u and ü but I will have to work at it!

What to do next

Pronunciation is a key skill in language learning. You can improve your pronunciation by doing lots of listening, checking how to pronounce a word, following pronunciation experts on Instagram, or by coming to lessons with Kreis 6 English.

In the meantime, have a go at this set on Quizlet. See if you know how to pronounce 12 words that my students find difficult.


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