English pronunciation can be difficult for international students. Yet, it is very important to have clear pronunciation. Perfection is not required, but clarity is. After all, it doesn’t matter how great your grammar and vocabulary are if no one can understand you.
So, how can you improve your English pronunciation?
I recommend the following steps:
1. Identify A Very Specific Result That You Want
To improve, you must have a very clear goal. General goals such as “I want to have better English pronunciation” have no power. You need a much more specific goal.
For example, pick your favorite American actor or actress and decide to speak like them. Your goal might be, “I will speak exactly like George Clooney”. This goal is much more powerful because it is very specific.
2. Choose A Deadline
Goals are powerless without a timeline. You must choose a specific date when you will accomplish your pronunciation goal. Your goal, therefore, might be: “I will speak exactly like George Clooney by June 4, 2009”.
3. Find A Lot of Compelling Reasons For Your Goal
As Anthony Robbins says, “if you can find enough ‘why’s’, you will easily find the how’s”. In other words, if you are very motivated, you will find a way to succeed. Motivation (psychology) is more important than method.
It’s not enough to have a goal. You must make that goal emotionally powerful. You must have very powerful reasons.. a long list. So, you need to brainstorm. Imagine all of the incredible benefits that will come to you as a result of having excellent pronunciation. Find powerful emotional reasons. Also, imagine all of the terrible results of failing.
Your list might include:
I’ll get a fantastic job and make a lot of money because my English speech is so clear!
I’ll meet beautiful American girls, have a lot of dates, and find an amazing girlfriend because my spoken English is so fantastic!
The important thing to do is to find the reasons that are powerful for you. Exaggerate them. Imagine the best possible consequences!
4. Take Massive Action
You have a very specific English pronunciation goal. You have a deadline. You have a long list of emotionally compelling reasons.
Now it’s time for action. Create a massive action plan. Here’s what I recommend:
Buy a few movies that have your favorite actor or actress.
Each day, watch one scene of the movie. Play the scene a few times with subtitles… and listen carefully to the actor’s intonation (the rise, fall, and rhythm of his/her speech).
Next, rewind and play just one sentence. Pause and copy the actor’s speech. Copy it EXACTLY. Copy the rhythm. Copy the volume. Copy the pauses. Copy the emotion.
Also, copy the actor’s gestures. Move your body exactly like they do. Copy their facial expressions exactly. Copy their posture. Remember, your goal is to look, act, and speak exactly like them.
Follow this system for 20-30 minutes every day.
5. Measure & Celebrate
After a few months of using this system, it’s time to measure yourself. Play a scene from a movie with your actor in it. Then pause it– copy the actor’s speech AND record yourself. Record yourself speaking the same scene.
Next, rewind your recording and play it. Then rewind the movie scene and play it. Listen to both and decide– how close are you to the actor? What is different about your speech and theirs? What are you doing well?
Use this measurement to adjust your focus…. then continue using the system everyday.
Finally, when your deadline comes and you succeed– be sure to celebrate! Have a party! Go crazy! Fill yourself with happy, excited, grateful emotions. This will increase your motivation and will help you continue to improve as you move to your next goal.
In my opinion, this is how to learn English pronunciation most effectively, most enjoyably, and most efficiently.