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Is there a secret to sounding like a native speaker? In today’s lesson I’ll share with you the key to PERFECT PRONUNCIATION! English pronunciation can be difficult to master, because it isn’t a phonetic language — that is, words are not pronounced the way they are spelled. In addition, American pronunciation and British pronunciation are very different from one another. So how can you sound like a native speaker? Watch this lesson to find out!

TRANSCRIPT

Hi. Welcome again to www.engvid.com. I’m Adam. Today’s lesson is about pronunciation and phonetics. Now, I said there’s going to be a secret on how to improve your pronunciation in English – here’s the secret. Are you ready? There is no secret. It takes hard work, it takes practice, it takes perseverance. You have to do things, you have to practice things, you have to use your dictionary. You always have to keep working at it, that’s the secret. But I’ll give you a little bit of a tip on how to make this a little bit easier for yourself. Okay?

What we have here is a list of words, each one looks very similar, but it has a different phonetic sound. Now, “phonetics” means the sound of the syllables in the word. “Syllables”… I’ll just write that word here. A “syllable” is the sound part of a word. For example: the word “cat” has one syllable. The word “beautiful”, “beau-ti-ful” – three syllables. Okay? So we’re going to learn how to look at syllables, how to find the sound for each syllable in a word to know how to pronounce the full word.

So we’re going to start with these words because, again, these are very common words. These are words that all sound very similar, plus I had a request on www.engvid.com in the comment section on how to pronounce these.

Let me say all these words first. “Look”, “lock”, “luck”, “lack”, “lake”, “like”, “lick”, “leek”, “Luke”, “bloke”, and “let”. Now, “bloke” and “let” are obviously different words, but there’s no such word as “loke” and there’s no such word as “lek”, so I had to improvise. But we have a bunch of other ones. Now, for some of you, a lot of these words sounded exactly the same I’m guessing. Right? They’re not. They’re very different.

So “lock” and “luck” have completely different meanings. They have no relationship to each other except that they share one, two, three; one, two, three similar letters. “Aw”, “ah”, very similar vowel sound as well. So, what you notice above each of these words is the phonetic symbol.

Now, there are different phonetic lists. Everybody has their own list. Find one that you like. I took these symbols from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, that’s the American dictionary. If you want to find it online: www.m-w.com. It’s a good dictionary and that’s where I got these symbols from. Once you start studying phonetics, stick to one list. Okay? If you want to study British English, use a British dictionary; American English, use an American dictionary. Most of the words are going to be the same or similar; some of them will be completely different. So choose your dictionary, stick to it, practice.

Now, if you look at these words in the dictionary on Merriam-Webster, you will find the phonetic spelling. The “phonetic spelling” means they spell the word according to its sound. So this “u” with a dot-I hope you can see that dot-“look”, “uh”. “Book”, “took”, “bull”. It doesn’t matter what the letters on either side are, the vowel sound is going to be the same with this symbol.

With “lock”, you have “a” with two dots on top of it. “Lock”, “rock”, “sock”, “font”. If you’re not sure what a font is, if you have Microsoft Word or whatever typing tool you use, there are different fonts; Times New Roman, Agency, and Calibri, or whatever they’re called. These are font, but the sound is “aw”.

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28 Replies to “How to sound like a native speaker: THE SECRET”

  1. No matter what you hear from some people, stick to your own distinctive approach to teaching because there are a lot of people eager to learn and develop. I am one of those people who benefit a lot from you. Your style of teaching is authentic, transparent, and "honest," and that is more than enough for me!

    I am, by the way, a pre-service teacher of the English language. From my minimal experience with ESL or EFL students, I am sure the problem is neither the lesson nor the teaching strategy, but the problem is the learners themselves. Sometimes, I meet people saying, "Hey dude, I want to be perfect in English within two months, so I came to you to help me become fluent. Note that this is your job, and if I fail to achieve my goal in any way, it will always be your fault".. Such people wait for someone to cast a spell on them like a magician using his magic wand!!! I always reply with the same lines. "Whatever I will do, it will lead to nowhere because you are not willing to understand the basic concept of practice and hard work." They are not willing to exert any effort, even the least thing which is googling… It will never be your fault… Keep it up! I am proud of people like you.

  2. I don't get any of the dislikes. I can actually speak English pretty well with native speakers but it always bothers me that something's not right when I wanna sound like a native. In the end the most basic thing, pronunciation, is what matters most (in my opinion) to sound more like a native speaker.

  3. 2:01 drink

    Throw em back, till I lose count

    I'm gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier
    I'm gonna live like tomorrow doesn't exist
    Like it doesn't exist

  4. Hi!
    Thanks for your interesting explaining. I wish you and your team creative success and health.
    Unfortunately, I didn't understand how to write the website with dictionary you said. I searched but I didn't find it. Write me this website like answer, please. Thanks again!

  5. English Language is in need of reconsideration of its letters and pronunciation, no matter what that secret is you will master it , unless you are keeping it in mind by practice no one can teach you a rule to solve this problem because it has no stable formulas.

  6. I learnt the majority of these by trial n error. I know phonetics ,but the vowel-sounds can differ greatly. The phonetics for foreign students differ some….to some extent. Thank you.

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