English Pronunciation

Every language has its own accent and ways of making sounds. It is important to pronounce English words correctly if you want to sound like a native English speaker. 

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All English Tenses

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All Tenses

Before we begin, it is important to note that there are many different forms of the English language. American English and British English are two of the most popular forms of English.

American flagBritish flag

Although American and British English have many similarities, there are important differences in the way individual words are pronounced. It is also important to remember that there are many different dialects and accents in both American English and British English.

Six tips to improve your English pronunciation and accent

1. Learn individual sounds in the English language

The English language may have only 26 letters in its alphabet, but those letters make over 40 different sounds. If you want to improve your English pronunciation and accent, then you need to learn how to say each of these unique sounds.

Phonology is the study of the basic sounds and speech patterns in a language. You can read more about the phonology of the English language here:
The International Phonetic Alphabet, or IPA, will also help you learn how to pronounce each English word correctly.

You can learn more about the International Phonetic Alphabet here: Or you can study individual sounds with these lessons from Really Learn English:

List of Lessons

Lesson 01: International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)

Lesson 02: Word Stress and Syllables

Lesson 03: Long E sound (meet, see)

Lesson 04: Short I Sound (sit, hit)

Lesson 05: UH Sound (put, foot)

Lesson 06: OO Sound (moon, blue)

Lesson 07: Short E sound (pen, bed)

Lesson 08: Schwa Sound (the, about)

Lesson 09: UR Sound (turn, learn)

Lesson 10: OH Sound (four, store)

Lesson 11: Short A Sound (cat, fat)

Lesson 12: UH Sound (but, luck)

Lesson 13: Soft A Sound (arm, father)

Lesson 14: Long O Sound (boat, know)

Lesson 15: Long A Sound (say, pain, make)

Lesson 16: Short O Sound (not, off, socks)

Lesson 17: Diphthong (a combination of two vowel sounds)

Lesson 18: P Sound (cup, punch, pull) and B sound (cub, bunch, bull)

Lesson 19: The Nasal Sounds (M, N, NG)

Lesson 20: F Sound (four, lift, graph, tough) and V Sound (love, knives, grave, vine)

Lesson 21: W Sound (wow, quit, where)

Lesson 22: R Sound (red, sorry, write)

Lesson 23: H Sound (he, behind, who)

Lesson 24: T Sound (top, it, later) and D Sound (do, had, made)

Lesson 25: S Sound (sit, box, cats) and Z Sound (zip, buzz, boys)

Lesson 26: K Sound (kid, talk, black) and G Sound (go, big, dog)

Lesson 27: L Sound: Light L & Dark L (tall, like, English)

Lesson 28: Y Consonant Sound (yes, you, beyond)

Lesson 29: CH Sound (China, century, watch) and J Sound (Germany, educate , judge)

Lesson 30: TH Consonant Sounds – voiced TH sound (the, father, them) and voiceless (unvoiced) TH sound (think, birthday, south)

Lesson 31: SH (shop, chef, special) and ZH (usual, massage, Asia)

Lesson 32: T and TT Sounds (true T sound, D sound, stop sound, silent T)

Learn English Video Section

Man talking

2. Learn word stress and syllables

Word stress and syllables are the next important thing to learn if you want to improve your English pronunciation. Your accent will sound more natural if you can stress the correct syllable in a word.

A syllable is a part of a word that contains a single vowel sound. Every word has one syllable or more. When a word has more than one syllable, one syllable will be the stressed, or accented, syllable. A stressed syllable is pronounced with greater force than other syllables in the word.

You can use a dictionary to learn word stress of new words. In some dictionaries, the stressed syllable will be in bold print.

For example:
  • English => [ing – glish]

    Since "ing" is in bold print, we know that it is the stressed syllable in this word.

In other dictionaries, there will be a stress mark (an apostrophe) either directly before or directly after the stressed syllable.

For example:
  • English => ['ing – glish]

  • English => [ing' – glish]

    Both of these examples show that "ing" is the stressed syllable. 

    In the first example, the stress mark is directly before the stressed syllable.

    In the second example, the stress mark is directly after the stressed syllable.

3. Learn new words correctly


When you learn new words in English, be sure to learn how to pronounce them correctly!
Use a dictionary to learn how to pronounce words.

It is easier to learn a word correctly the first time than try to fix a mistake later on. If you get used to pronouncing a word incorrectly, you will find it is difficult to change the way you say it.

A dictionary will show you how to pronounce each word and which syllable you should stress. Some Internet dictionaries even have an audio pronunciation of English words. Look for a speaker symbol beside the word. Listen to the audio pronunciation and try to imitate the sounds you hear.

4. Record your own voice to listen for mistakes

It is important for you to hear what you sound like when you speak English. If possible, record yourself reading out of a book or speaking new words and listen for mistakes. You can use your computer, a cell phone or a digital recorder. You can also use this online high quality voice recorder on any device for free. Compare your recording to an audio recording by a native English speaker.  man speaking
  1. Listen to a sentence from an audio book or audio recording.

  2. Record yourself saying the same sentence or words.

  3. Compare the two recordings.

  4. Keep trying until you get it right!
By listening to yourself, you should be able to pick out your own strengths and weaknesses. Then, you will know what you need to focus on as you continue to learn.

5. Ask friends and teachers for help

If you have good friends who are native English speakers, ask them for help. Ask them to correct you when they hear something wrong.

Many people will not correct you unless you ask them because they do not want to hurt your feelings by pointing out your mistakes. Tell your friends that you want to improve your English accent and would like their help!

You can also ask a teacher to evaluate your English pronunciation. Your teacher can tell you what you are doing right and help you focus on what you are doing wrong. Your teacher may also give you specific exercises to help improve your weak areas in English pronunciation.

6. Practice and be patient!

Learning a new language takes time. The best advice we can give you is to practice every day and be patient! Take time to learn the language correctly.

Listen to English and speak English every day. Do not overwhelm yourself by trying to learn everything at one time. Focus on one sound or skill at a time and practice it until you master it.

Practicing will also help you feel more comfortable speaking English! Read more about it here:

How to  Speak English Fluently

If you take your time and practice every day, you will hear an improvement in your English pronunciation!

man and woman talking

These were tips to help improve your English pronunciation and accent. Now that you know them, it is time to practice your accent! Get our ESL Books.

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