Hello, I’m John Grant and I would like to show you a great way to practice and check your pronunciation.
A common question I’m asked by my students is how they can check their pronunciation of certain words or sentences by themselves. If you don’t have English speaking friends, this may seem quite difficult. Luckily, technology has an answer.
Have you ever heard of note taking apps on your smartphone?
These are applications that you can use to jot down memos to yourself. On iPhones, the app Notes (メモin Japanese) is already installed on the phone. If you’re an Android user or have a different phone, you can download Evernote or a similar app. I use my note-taking app for shopping lists and things to do.
So how do we use it to help with our pronunciation? With these apps, you can click on the microphone to record your voice and it will transcribe your words into the app.
First of all, make sure your keyboard is switched to English.
Now try to read a few sentences into your phone. You can choose a model answer from a textbook or a script from a TOEFL or IELTS listening task. Your phone should pick up the same words that are in the script. Make a note of any words that your phone misunderstood and practice those words. You can use Google pronunciation to practice those words. I have discussed this in a previous blog post.
This is a great way to check your pronunciation by yourself, especially those that will take the TOEFL test. As you may know, the TOEFL test is now graded, or rated, by a person and a computer program called Speech Rater®. So you have to speak clearly or the Speech Rater® will not understand what you are saying. This can adversely affect not only your Delivery mark, but also your grammar and vocabulary rating. By using the above study tip, you can check if a computer AI can understand you.
This method is particularly useful for working with minimal pairs. A minimal pair is a pair of similar words with just one sound different, typically a sound that is difficult for students to produce. An example of a minimal pair would be light/right or sink/think. I’m sure many of you have struggled with these sounds, and now you have a way to check if you are saying them correctly and practice them until you get them right.
In my next post, we will go through these pairs, focusing on ones that Japanese speakers find challenging.