Pronunciation can be defined as the way in which a person sounds the words of a language while speaking. The students of spoken English language or any other spoken language face problems in the pronunciation of the particular language.
Are people having trouble understanding you when you speak, but you’re not really sure why? The hardest part about improving your English pronunciation is figuring out what you might be doing wrong.
Reasons for wrong pronunciation
Here are the reasons why people might be misunderstanding you:
Stressing individual words incorrectly
If you usually speak with native English speakers, this will be the number one reason why they misunderstand you.
Stressing the wrong words in a sentence
Remember that you can completely change the meaning of a sentence by stressing different words in that sentence. For example, you could say this sentence in a number of different ways:
“I didn’t say we should drive this way.”
If you stress I, you emphasize that taking that route wasn’t your idea. On the other hand, if you stress drive, you emphasize the mode of transport.
If you don’t pay close attention to the words that you stress, you could end up sending a completely different message than the one you intended.
Pronouncing certain consonant sounds incorrectly
If people are misunderstanding you, it could very well be due to the confusing sounds you produce. You might substitute ‘p’ for ‘b’ or ‘t’ for ‘d’, for example. These sounds are so easily confused because their only difference is whether or not you use your voice to produce them. If you aren’t careful, you could be making mistakes like saying ‘tuck’ for ‘duck’ or ‘pay’ for ‘bay’.
Mixing up short and long vowel sounds
Vowel sounds, like consonant sounds, can also be confused easily. The main problem with vowels happens when you mix up long and short vowel sounds. For example, the long ‘ee’ sound in ‘seat’ with the short ‘i’ sound in ‘sit.’ If you confuse these sounds, you end up saying completely different words. This can get confusing in conversation and forces people to draw much more from the context of your speech than the speech itself.
Forgetting to finish your words
Do you have a tendency to let your word endings drop? We often hear people drop the ‘ed’ ending off of words in the past tense, for example. This is a dangerous mistake because not only is your pronunciation wrong, but it also sounds like you’re making a grammatical mistake.
Factors affecting Pronunciation:
Mother Tongue Interference:
There is a problem that the students mix up the various sounds of English language with the sounds of their mother tongue and there is a lack of ability to recognize foreign sounds with ease. Every language in the world has different accents and varsities is true that non native speakers speak the target language in a different way. Sometimes, they speak highly differently than native speakers of English do. Some students specifically have difficulty with some English sounds or words that do not exist in their first language. So they produce these sounds under the influence of their first language. Then, the influence of native language is inevitable.
The factor of age:
This is the most important factor in learning English pronunciation. If someone wants to pronounce a foreign language with a native like accent, he/she should start to learn it during his/her childhood. For example, children who start learning English language in foreign language speaking environment. As a result, they have more advantages than the children who learn the second language in their motherlands.
It seems that age is the main factor which affects adults English pronunciation. It is difficult for them to learn English language after reaching adulthood.
Personality and Attitude
This factor affects the pronunciation of most adult students in a bad way if the learners have negative attitudes for the English environment. Also, if the learners have a good attitude for the target culture, they can develop their pronunciation accurately. If the learners have some prejudices on the second language and its society, this event will influence their approach to the language.
Some people who have a good ear, they have the ability to discriminate between the two sounds accurately. So, learners’ phonetics ability affects the development of their pronunciation.
The Amount Exposure:
Many non native speakers have no opportunity to practice the English language in their motherlands. English also is not only used in the classroom. If the learners live in an English- speaking country, the learners will have opportunities to listen and speak with native speakers of English. Conversely, there will be no advantage for learners if they live in a non English speaking country.
It is clear that these above factors are effective in the learners’ pronunciation and also exert much influence on the adult learners. Students face a lot of difficulties due to these factors when they speak English and they sometimes get frustrated when they could not understand the pronunciation of words.