Top Ten Secrets of Learning a Foreign Language: Tip #4

Tip #4 of Learning a Foreign Language:

Foreign Language Pronunciation – As an adult, your mouth and brain have been programmed to pronounce words according to your native language. When you start learning a foreign language, you tend to pronounce the new words based on your native language. In other words, you will have an accent and sound like a foreigner – it is possible that you may not even be understood. So what should you do? The key to great native pronunciation in a foreign language is to learn, see and hear how natives pronounce it, and then form habits of pronouncing the new sounds correctly. Having native pronunciation is all about forming correct habits from the beginning. If you start learning a foreign language with incorrect pronunciation, you will form habits that are difficult to break and may even stay with you for the rest of your life if you don’t initially form correct pronunciation habits. Have you ever heard foreigners who have lived in your country for 20-30 years and still have an accent? It’s because when they first learned your language, they didn’t take the time to form correct pronunciation habits, and as a result they continue saying certain sounds incorrectly. When you learn a new foreign language, it is very important to dedicate enough time to forming habits of correct pronunciation. If this is done, almost anyone can attain close-to-native speech – it just takes time and effort. If your goal is to have native or near-native speech, it is recommended that you take 15 minutes per day, three to five times a week with the sounds that are most challenging in the foreign language. Every foreign language usually has about 12 sounds that take extra work to master. Once you form a habit of correct pronunciation with these sounds, you are set for life!

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  • John September 27th, 2011 at 10:02

    This is extremely helpful. Thanks for the article!

  • Wilhelm Schulz February 3rd, 2012 at 19:01

    This is another wonderful blog post here, as are the rest of the tips you offer! I recommend this website to the students that take my online language courses. Of course, it would be great if you guys had some updated content for 2012!

  • Jose September 4th, 2012 at 15:21

    This is probably the toughest part in the learning process, for me. I think it has to do with self-confidence as well and also with your own shyness! Trying to pronounce like native people do is like acting!

    • Taylor Pebley September 20th, 2012 at 13:58

      I totally agree that it’s like acting! I used to try to speak with different accents as a kid, and now I’m using that same effort while learning Spanish.

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  • incredibox May 23rd, 2023 at 19:35

    You’ve provided some valuable insights about foreign language pronunciation. Indeed, incredibox as adults, our native language influences our pronunciation when learning a new language. Developing native-like pronunciation requires dedicated effort and practice. Practice imitating the sounds, intonation, and rhythm of native speakers. Repeat words and phrases aloud to develop muscle memory for the correct pronunciation.

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