The Secret to Perfect Pronunciation: Train Your Ears

Are you trying to improve your English speaking skills and have perfect pronunciation? Would you like to reduce your foreign accent?

If so, you’re not alone. Many who speak English as a second language struggle with feelings of self-doubt or, at worst, workplace discrimination.

No matter how long you’ve been speaking English, it’s certainly possible to reduce your accent. Doing so could open the door to new friendships and more opportunities at work or school.

To improve pronunciation, you must first train your ears. In this post, we’ll outline how to improve English pronunciation by training your ears to listen more carefully.

Practice make perfect pronunciation.
Practice make perfect pronunciation.

1. Train Your Ears to Listen

Some languages, such as Spanish, French, and Tamil, are syllable-stressed. This means that all syllables are equally stressed and there’s little or no vowel reduction.

English, on the other hand, is one of many stress-timed languages. This means there’s more variation in intonation and rhythm. Unstressed syllables are spoken more quickly and vowel reduction occurs.

This “rhythm” sounds natural to a native speaker–but it’s incredibly challenging to a language student.

As an example, take the phrase “What do you want to get her for her birthday?” Even beginner learners can pick out the stressed content words–what, get, and birthday.

It’s the words in between that present the challenge since they’re reduced and spoken at a faster speed. “Get her” sounds more like “gedder” and “want to” sounds like “wanna.”

To improve pronunciation, you must first realize which words are stressed and which ones are reduced. Nouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs are almost always pronounced clearly.

Meanwhile, shorter “connector” words, such as pronouns, conjunctions, prepositions, and articles are usually reduced.

Understanding these differences will train your ears and, over time, improve your pronunciation.

2. Use Songs or Poems to Help

One of the best ways to improve and have perfect pronunciation is by listening to songs or recorded poems.

As you do, write down everything you hear. Next, try to identify which words or syllables are reduced and which ones are stressed. Practice reading or singing the lyrics aloud, trying to match your intonation to the speaker’s.

By listening to natural, conversational English, you’ll start to hear more clearly how native speakers pronounce certain words. You’ll pick out patterns of speech that repeat. This will help you improve your own English pronunciation.

3. Focus on Being Understood

A final tip for improving pronunciation is to focus on your end goal.

This should not be to sound like a native speaker. In most cases, you will never completely remove your accent. And, in fact, many Americans enjoy the sound of an accent–so long as they can understand the speaker.

Rather than trying to eliminate your accent, focus on speaking English in a clear, understandable way.

Remember, we all have an accent–even native English speakers. It’s being understood that counts.

For Further English Pronunciation Training

By using these tips, you’ll be able to train your ears and boost your confidence when speaking English.

If you’re wondering how to improve English pronunciation, another surefire way to improve is with a pronunciation course. Click here to learn more about how it works and how English pronunciation training can help you.

Any questions or comments about this post? Contact us today and we’ll get back to you shortly.


English Pronunciation & Fluency Expert
Annie Ruden M.S.CCC-SLP
CEO | Accent Reduction Trainer
[email protected]

Be Understood. Be Confident.