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The Hardest Thing For English Learners, And What To Do About It

Firstly, an interesting fact:


80% of communication breakdowns come from poor pronunciation, not grammar…


The real problem is that despite communication breakdowns being the major issue for learners, pronunciation is also the least taught part of English language teaching.

In addition to this, pronunciation is the number-one hardest thing for East-Asian students. This is because English is really a messy language. English has a huge variety of sounds compared to Chinese—22 vowels in fact! This means that more mouth and face movements are needed to say words.

Because of this, a lot of vowels become approximated to a schwa sound [Ə ], which is the neutral sound the mouth makes without any effort—similar to the middle C note in music. For example, when saying the word ‘eight’ [eɪt] our face and mouth muscles move a lot, but without this movement it just sounds un-expressive, as in ‘et’ [Ət].

Generally speaking, English is a very musical, or ‘prosodic’, language, which means we really need to speak it with tone and feeling to fully communicate.

The key point here is that pronunciation matters and pronunciation requires a lot of practice. Clear pronunciation comes with time. There are no shortcuts. You can’t learn pronunciation from a book or even blog posts like this! Instead, you needs lots of listening and lots of speaking over a long time, and that is why having a native English speaking teacher can be so helpful.

If you want a teacher to help you one-to-one with your English pronunciation, then get in touch with Next Level Learning Group today and we will set up a program that is perfect for you.

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