And how not to lose confidence in your speaking skills
You need to improve your pronunciation, so you start pronunciation training. Of course, you want to improve but you must know there are dangers.
It’s often true that the more you know you feel like the less you know. The problem is that the more you learn about how you can make your speech clearer and more natural the more you realise that your pronunciation needs work. Maybe, speaking English is already a bit of a challenge. It’s not something that is generally focused on at school, where class sizes and maybe a teacher who doesn’t have English as their first subject can be an issue.
A lot of people come to me with a lot of anxiety about speaking English already. Often, at least a part of this is centered around how they speak. They’re afraid of not being understood or making a fool of themselves by mispronouncing words (though, in reality, most people don’t care, and the ones that do don’t matter!). Others are also concerned about talking “too Swiss” or speaking “Bundesrat Englisch”.
Pronunciation training will help you to have a solid foundation to reproduce the sounds and rhythm of the English language. You will see the results as miscommunications are reduced and you feel more at ease speaking the language, giving you confidence in the long run. The side effect though can be a temporary loss of confidence as you start to realise what work needs to be done.
For this reason, it is important that you take it slow and ideally find someone to help you navigate this stage of the process. In my pronunciation training, I start with listening exercises so that first the learners can identify the sounds they are having trouble with and can tell the difference between similar sounds. Then, we move on to learning the mouth position and air release needed to make these sounds before practicing them individually, then in words, and finally in sentences. The same with word and sentence stress, linking, and intonation. Everything we do goes from small to big, from parts to the whole.
While you’re learning a new feature it may be impossible to incorporate it into your speech at work or school straight away. You can’t pause before every “th” to make sure you’re doing it right, for example. This will make your English very difficult to understand. What you can do is notice how you are producing the sound. Be mindful. When you realise that the sound is not perfect, instead of allowing that knowledge to make you lose confidence, you can remind yourself that you’re going to correct it and soon it won’t be an issue anymore. When you are confident about making the new sound or using the new feature at home you can start to use it in daily life.
Pronunciation training should give you confidence, not take it away. You just have to remember that being aware of your mistakes is the first step toward correcting them.
For a limited time, you can do my pronunciation test, and receive full feedback and an action plan for free! Sign up here: https://sw-english.com/pronunciation-assessment-sign-up/. To find out more about my pronunciation training and Business English lessons send me an email to email@example.com