It’s the end of the year and we usually reflect on it and try to see what worked and what didn’t.
Here’s what I managed to do with my English this year. It boils down to 3 aspects of English.
This year was very good for my pronunciation in general because I finally started to work on it.
Before it, I would just passively watch videos without taking any action towards them.
But this year was different. I put all my knowledge that I had about English phonetics into practice.
I finally was able to make it consistent practice and I’m so shallow to say that I still stick to it.
Of course, there’s a lot of work to do but I was able to fix my mispronunciation of some key English sounds: a as in cat, a as in father, shwa, R, sheep-ship, pull-pool minimal pairs. I will write a separate post about my practice and results later.
For now, I’d like to share my main takeaway:
Practice makes better. Even if from the beginning you can’t even read properly some of the words and think that you won’t be able to pronounce them correctly. Take your time to practice.
Pronunciation drills work, and 10-30 minutes a day of practice is enough to feel the difference in 2 weeks.
I used Hadar Shemesh pronunciation drills from the Accent Makeover program but she also has a lot of free stuff you can use for your practice (I put the links in the description).
If you’re not sure why you should put any effort into English pronunciation read this post where I explain why it’s the key element of learning English that will give your confidence in speaking you might lack.
It’s a different element of speech that can reveal that your foreign origin even if your pronunciation and vocabulary perfect.
Basically, it’s how we speak, the melody of our speech. Our mother tongue has a different intonation than English but when we speak English we use our natural intonation and that makes it so obvious that English is not our native language.
The good news is that we can change it by imitating native speakers. But of course, it’s more difficult than drill sounds.
We’ve been speaking with our native intonation all our life and it’s not that easy suddenly switch into a different mode especially if you can’t quite get the difference.
So this year I think I finally got to the point where I was able to distinguish that difference and see some of the patterns.
Awareness is the first step to further changes, when you can see and hear it you can repeat it.
Now the only way to change your intonation is practice. Specifically, practice with speeches. The best is to take excerpts of the speeches (TED talk, Youtube, etc) and mimic the speakers, their pronunciation, and intonation.
You can see how it looks like in this video:
As you can see it’s not always perfect but this is why we practicing. Practice makes better.
A chunk of 10 sentences is enough to work during a week. You can set aside 10-20 minutes a day for training. So by the end of a week, you’ll see results.
The more such small chunk you do the better your pronunciation and inoculation will be.
I’m also at the beginning of this practice and I hope to get much better in the next year.
If you’d like to know more about intonation and how to develop it check out Hadar’s podcast about it (I put the links at the end of the post).
I can’t tell you that I became much better at writing this year. But it became much easier for me to write in English.
And it happens because of routine: I write a post at least once a week for my website and also do some other writing for my pages on social media. You know when you need something you’ll find a way to do it.
So I need to create helpful posts for English learners and to connect with them on my social media. Therefore I need to write consistently. No more excuses.
Again here’s also practice makes better.
You don’t need to write huge texts in order to start writing in English. Start from the small one.
I started even from the comments in the InFluency community. Eventually, it developed into posts and then into my website.
The best part is that you can always edit and re-write your texts. Something you can’t do with your speech or intonation.
In case you’re not in InFluency Community, you can also watch the video about my journey in 2020.
That’s it. I hope that some of the examples and techniques I shared will be helpful for you.
Now it’s your turn to share what were your discoveries and achievements in English. Share in the comments what worked for you and what didn’t. I’d be happy to hear.
Useful links for getting results in your English learning: