Spoken English: How to sound like a Native Speaker?
When you are speaking in any language, your pronunciation matters. So, when you are speaking in English, you must speak with correct pronunciation and right accent. You must follow the pronunciation of the ‘Native English Speakers’ to make you sound good. You should also follow their accent without imitating their accentual bias; otherwise, it would sound funny.
The mother tongue of both the ‘British’ and the ‘Americans’ is English. But, the American’s English accent is way different from that of the British. There are lots of differences in written English between the two as well. The style of the written English of the Americans is accepted all over the world, and it has almost become the ‘International English’. Still, while speaking, you should better follow the British pronunciation and British accent as it is much easier to understand, because of less ‘Typical Accentual Bias’.
Now, assuming that you can speak in English, let’s start the discussion, how you should make yourself sound like a native speaker. This discussion is made keeping in view that you are preparing for the IELTS Speaking Test, though the details of the speaking test are being skipped, as that is not our subject of discussion (the test continues for 11 to 15 minutes).
Here, there are two possibilities:-
1) You can speak in English, and your ‘English Pronunciation’ is perfect or at least close to perfect.
2) You can speak in English, but your ‘English Pronunciation’ is far away from perfection.
In the non-English speaking countries, a large number of people who are fluent in English found to speak in faulty pronunciation. So, let’s start talking about how to rectify your pronunciation. Let’s present the discussion point-wise:
For the preparation of the IELTS speaking test, you would get huge study materials free to download from the Internet. Numbers of audio files would be there, which are meant to help you prepare for the speaking test. Listen to the audios, mind the pronunciations of the native speakers and try to rectify your pronunciation by trying to pronounce that of the native speaker’s. Learn the way they put stress on syllables. Watch the pronunciation of a few words: Interview: in-tur,vyoo, Appointment: u’poynt-munt. Frustrating: frús,trey-ting. You would get all these in dictionaries. Even if you want to hear the pronunciation, take the help of a dictionary using your PC or your mobile, type the word and ask for ‘Hear pronunciation’ or ‘Read aloud’ options as is available.
From the Internet, you will get lots of study materials for the IELTS Listening Test, where you would get a lot of ‘Recorded Conversations’ of native speakers. One important point to mention is that in those audios you would get to hear the English of the British people, the American people, the North-American people and so on. In order to learn the pronunciation follow how they pronounce, but don’t imitate their accent, because there you would get to hear a whole lot of distinctly different accents.
Listen to the daily news on International ‘TV Channels’, the news readers are trained to pronounce perfect English. Do watch the leap movements of the English news reader’s, it would help you pronounce perfect. Listen to different ‘YouTube Videos’ on spoken English. There are fantastic lessons for improving your English pronunciation. Read aloud a newspaper and record your voice using or mobile or any recording device. Now hear your pronunciation, and judge how do they sound. A great software you can use if you have a PC/Laptop/Notebook PC or an android phone. The software is called ‘Text to Speech Software’. Type a few lines with some words which you feel are hard to pronounce on an MS Word or Notepad file. Then click the software’s ‘Read Aloud’ button and listen to the pronunciation of the speaker. The voice of male and female are available, and you can choose between ‘British English’ and ‘American English’ while installing the software.
Apart from doing all these, you have to speak a lot. If possible, collect a study partner (only, if he or she is good in spoken English) chat with him/her a lot. Ask your partner to help you to rectify your pronunciation in such a way so that you might sound like a native speaker.
Use some ‘Tongue Twisters’ like “She sells”, seashells on the seashore. Tongue twisters make you get rid of any mother tongue bias
The more you hear your own pronunciation by playing a recorded speech/conversation of you and match it with a native speaker’s speech/conversation, you will improve the faster and better.
Anyway, its’ easier said than done. To make this happen you will have to put a lot of effort with a “must-do” attitude. Sounding like a native speaker being a non-native speaker is not very easy. You should not listen to or try to learn from ‘Colloquial English’; you must stick to learn from ‘Official English’. So, listen to English News on TV, debate shows on TV, English Tutorials’ from YouTube using your mobile or other gadgets. Speak in English all day whenever and wherever possible, and with time you will be able to become a ‘Fluent English Speaker’ who sounds like a native speaker.