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!
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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