Studying a new language can look different while practicing each part of the language, such as the vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, and comprehension. While it takes time and dedication, learning a new language can ultimately connect you to many people and cultures throughout your life as well as feed your brain power.
One solid study habit to form is focusing on pronunciation. This one can be difficult, and not only for adults — after about 5-6 years old, it’s difficult for anyone to learn a new language and pronounce new words correctly. Some languages are easier than others, but here are some tips to keep you motivated to improve your pronunciation skills.
First, don’t start by practicing words you will not use often according to your level. For example, a beginner English student doesn’t need to practice a word like ‘ophthalmologist’. Being mindful of practicing words for every day use is highly beneficial and helps one not become overloaded with how much there is to learn about a new language.
Next, keep a pronunciation glossary to write the pronunciation down in a way that can understand how the words sound. You can do this by finding a similar sound in your own language, for example, the ‘a’ in ‘casa’ in Spanish is pronounced similarly to the ’a’ in ‘father’ in English. Or take the French word for ‘please’; it’s spelled ‘S’il vous plaît’ and pronounced ‘Seel vooh pleh’. Another example from the Russian language is the word for ‘good morning’, which is spelled ‘Доброе утро’ and pronounced ‘Dobraye ootro’ for English speakers. Writing the pronunciation down in a way that you will remember is a great tip for using a ponunciation glossary. Breaking words into syllables along with writing out the pronunciation is key to mastering certain tones and letters in a language.
Another tip is, if you’re taking a class, to ask your teacher to read for you. While many teachers ask students to read so the they can practice, the teacher should also be reading too. At least 10 minutes per class dedicated to pronunciation is important. When doing so, choose a paragraph and ask your teacher to read slowly so you can take notes on how to pronounce certain words. Keep these notes in your pronunciation glossary, practice and refer back to those notes as you improve.
Lastly, modern technology helps with auditory learning, such as practicing with Siri by conversing or using a translator app to speak words back to you. Music and movies are another great auditory learning tool and can aid in your practice. Whether you know it or not, auditory learning plays a huge role in today’s society and is a great way to practice alone or with a group.
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