Learning pronunciation can be frustrating for beginners and advanced speakers. English letters often don’t correspond to one sound, so it’s hard to know how to pronounce words correctly...
In addition, learners often take two opposite approaches to pronunciation in English. Some believe it doesn’t matter, and they don’t even practice pronunciation. Others focus way too much on details, spending a lot of time and energy on minor speech imperfections that nobody but them can see. Luckily, you can take a smarter middle ground with the right tools.
We collected useful resources so that you can comfortably learn English pronunciation!
What is English pronunciation all about?
Firstly, English isn’t a phonetic language. This means that how you spell words isn’t always the same as how you say them. However, this comes with an advantage: English allows a lot of variances. There are multiple correct ways to say things as long as you follow basic rules and know the sounds. So, regardless of accent, your pronunciation determines how well others can understand your speech.
Improving your English pronunciation allows you to:
Say words and phrases correctly in ways that any English speaker can understand.
Articulate your thoughts and ideas without a communication barrier.
Stress important parts of your speech, such as feelings, key ideas, and so on.
Adopt and understand accents such as American, British, Australian, etc.
English pronunciation reference guide
Practice different parts of pronunciation to improve your English:
Main phonetics and rules of pronunciation. While English has 26 letters, it has approximately 44 sounds used in speech. In addition, there are often multiple ways to pronounce the same words.
Sounds that don’t need vocal stricture. English has 20 vowel sounds and 6 vowels - a, e, i, o, u, and y - where y sometimes acts as a consonant.
Sounds that need complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. English has 24 consonant sounds.
Two vowel sounds combined in the same syllable. English has 8 diphthongs, where oy/oi and ow/ou are the most common.
Specific rules related to how letter combinations in different parts of the word are pronounced.
Letters and sounds added to the beginning or the end of words to change their meaning.
Combining sounds from different words in sentences to create seamless phrases.
Skills that build up from your ability to pronounce basic sounds. They show how smooth your speech is and how well you can deliver meaning. Speech skills reflect your ability to sound natural and be understandable to others.
Covers your ability to produce distinct sounds and avoid common mistakes in speech.
Covers the rhythm or flow of your speech. Helps you deliver meaning with the right inflection.
Covers your ability to put emphasis on certain sounds or words in order to show their importance.
Covers your ability to show attitude and emotions by changing the pitch of your voice.
Covers your ability to place appropriate pauses in your speech for different effects.
Covers your ability to use continuous spoken language and the different sound changes in it.
Personal speech patterns and ability to change them. For example, you may be able to speak in a neutral American accent with some effort or even copy someone else’s manner of talking. This section covers the most common accents.
Different accents in the USA as well as the Standard American or Network English - accents without distinguishing features.
Different regional accents in the UK, as well as Received Pronunciation - the regionally neutral British accent.
Accent specific to Australia that came as a result of different varieties of English blending together.
Also known as Hiberno-English, it’s an entire range of local dialects native to the Republic of Ireland.
Varieties of English spoken in Scotland. The regionally neutral version is Scottish Standard English.
A wide range of English accents spoken across the world. Includes patterns specific to native and non-native speakers.
Test your English skills
Find out how good your English is with our language learning tools. Test different aspects of language and instantly receive feedback about what you should improve. Get suggestions for your English practice with Promova.
4 Ways to improve your pronunciation online with Promova
Native English Tutor
Learn and practice pronunciation with a native tutor. Choose between our American, British, Australian, and other tutors. Study at your best time with lessons tailored to your interests.
Language Learning App
Get English pronunciation practice directly in the app. Learn from bite-sized lessons and improve all your skills. Turn language learning into a daily habit with smart tools.
English conversation club
Join for free and meet fellow English learners from around the world. Listen to presentations on exciting topics and discuss your opinions. Practice pronunciation in live conversation.
English Group Class
Practice with fellow learners of the same level in a small friendly group. Learn English pronunciations of different people from across the world. Get guidance from a certified tutor.
Free Pronunciation Resources
People often ask
How important is English pronunciation for learning the language?
Many new learners ignore directly learning pronunciation and simply try to imitate the words and phrases they hear. Unfortunately, this is very difficult for adults because they already have established patterns in their native languages. In other words, if you don’t practice pronunciation, you risk developing an accent other people will find hard to understand.
However, regarding pronunciation, English offers a lot of room for differences. You can have an accent from anywhere in the world and still speak well if you know how to pronounce key sounds. So it’s important to learn and practice correct pronunciation. Still, it’s ok to have a bit of an accent and not say everything perfectly.
Can I change my accent with the correct pronunciation?
Yes, however, some people find it a lot easier than others. Studies show that people are best at developing and changing accents in their teenage years. If you’re not a native speaker and didn’t receive acting training, it might be challenging to change the way you speak because your mind got used to pronouncing words in a certain way.
However, if you put yourself into an environment where people speak with a certain accent, you will naturally start to adapt. So speaking a lot with American, British, Australian, and other natives is a great way to change your accent over time. You’ll also need to think about how to pronounce words and correct your habits either on your own or with a tutor.
In short, English pronunciation practice can help you speak with any accent. Still, you need to dedicate a lot of conscious effort to make changes permanent.
How much should I practice pronunciation?
You can learn to pronounce words by following phonetics, mimicking others, speaking, practicing in an app, or doing other similar activities. Of course, your exact practice decisions should depend on your personal goals.
For example, suppose you want to speak with a perfect neutral accent. In that case, you need to practice a lot and might even consider taking an accent reduction class. However, to communicate for work or social activities, it’s enough to learn the main rules with a tutor and get as much speaking practice as you can.