How to speak better English: Pronunciation

One of the most difficult things for people learning English to do is to pronounce or say words. It is very easy to mispronounce English words, even native English speakers will have problems saying a word correctly they have read if they have never heard it pronounced before.

So if pronunciation can be difficult for native speakers, how can non-native speakers ever learn to say English words correctly?

In fact, it doesn't have to be very difficult. You just have to know what to do.

To learn how to say/pronounce English words correctly you first need to understand why English is so difficult to pronounce and then use a good method to learn how to say words.

In this article, I'll first explain why English words are difficult to pronounce and then explain a quick and simple method that will help you pronounce English words as if you were a native.

Click here to do a free online pronunciation test from blair english.

Why are English words difficult to say?

In many languages, how you say a word is the same as how it is spelt/written. In English it often isn't. There are 2 main reasons for this:

1. You don't always pronounce all the letters in a word

With many English words (but not all), some letters in the words are silent/not pronounced. For example:


In English, this word is said with both the 'W' and 'R' being silent. Like:


Listen to the pronunciation:

2. Letters can be pronounced differently in different words

Some English letters or letter combinations have different sounds in different words. For example, the letter combination 'OR':

In the word 'more', it is pronounced like the word 'or'.

But in the word 'doctor', it is pronounced like 'eh'.

Listen to the pronunciation of 'doctor':

When you know that both letters are silent in some words and letters can have different sounds, it will start to help your pronunciation. Unfortunately, until you actually hear a word being said you won't know whether a letter (or letters) is silent in it or what the pronunciation of the letters in it are. So to improve your pronunciation, you have to do something more.

The Method: Listen to the word, don't read it

Because sometimes letters in words are silent or pronounced differently, it is a lot easier to pronounce a word in English if you listen to the word and say it without looking at how it is written/spelt. For many words, the spelling will confuse you to how you should say it.

There are two things should do when learning to say a word:

1. Say each syllable

First, listen for the pronunciation of each individual syllable (the parts of a word that are pronounced separately) of the word. Then say each syllable separately a couple of times. For example:

The word 'happy' has two syllables 'ha' and 'ppy'.

Listen to the pronunciation:

2. Say the word

When you think you are pronouncing each syllable correctly, then say them all together. Slow at first and then quicker and quicker.

For example, listen to the pronunciation of the word below. Say each syllable first and then say them all together (remember to not look at the word when you are listening to or saying it!):

To improve your English pronunciation is really that simple (I do this with my students, and their English pronunciation has improved dramatically).

Where to find English words to listen to

You don't need to have an English teacher to do this, you can do this yourself on the web. Go to the Google Translator web page and type in the English word you want to listen to (make sure that you select the language of translation to be also English) and then listen to it and say it. Although Google Translator is not perfect (the words are sometimes said quickly), it is free.

To help you to improve your pronunciation by yourself, there is a free online pronunciation test on blair english. This exercise/test will help you say/pronounce commonly mispronounced words in English correctly.

In addition, you can listen to the pronunciation of words and phrases on all blair english vocabulary exercises (except the email exercises). When you answer a question correctly on the quiz at the end of the exercise, an icon will appear "" next to the answer box. By clicking on this icon, you can listen to the pronunciation of the answer.