In this video, I’m going to help you learn American English pronunciation the native
But a few notes before we begin. Understand that you WILL hear various accents and intonations
from different American English speakers in everyday life.
So, this video will cover the standard American English you’d most commonly hear on the
news, in most TV shows and movies, and in many conversations.
Next, the rules of pronunciation work about 80% of the time. So learning the rules is
very helpful, but be prepared for irregular sounds and spellings.
Finally, I won’t cover every rule, or teach all 44 sounds of English, because these aren’t
necessary for you to understand the more important idea about how to develop pronunciation like
On to the lesson!
I’ll begin by explaining how natives learn to read, spell and pronounce words so you
can learn to sound like a native.
Then, as we go through some of the progression natives use to learn these sounds, I’ll
share a few rules to help make correct spelling and pronunciation easier for you.
Does that sound good?
Now, what you’ll see in most pronunciation training videos here on YouTube are lists
of sounds followed by a few words they appear in.
Unfortunately, this is a common mistake made by both pronunciation trainers and teachers
of reading that makes it more difficult to understand WHY certain letter combinations
make certain sounds.
Here’s an example from one video I found teaching the s sound: sun, circle, pace, course
See how this method teaches you the pronunciations of a few random words, but DOESN’T teach
you the rules behind these pronunciations so you can easily say OTHER words?
It doesn’t even explain why one of the Cs in “circle” makes the soft C sound while
the other makes the hard C sound. Circle. The rule is usually that when C comes before
I, it’s soft, as in city, citrus and circus. C is usually also soft before e, which is
why you have the s sound in pace.
The truth is you DON’T develop strong listening skills, or native pronunciation, by learning
like this. You develop these communication skills by learning how sounds fit together
IN A COMPLETE SYSTEM.
So let me show this in more detail by sharing the THREE THINGS you need to learn pronunciation
like a native.
First, you need CONTRAST. Your brain learns best when it can compare related sounds, rather
than hearing them isolated, or in random words.
You DON’T want to learn like this:
p pig park paper rapport
You want to learn like this:
short vowels: bat bet bit bot but
Listen again: bat bet bit bot but
Your brain can now easily compare these different sounds, and understand them without being
confused by other sound combinations in words.
Only the sound you want to practice changes. THAT’S contrast!
Now, the next thing you need besides contrast is CONTROL.
Your brain has questions as soon as it connects letter combinations with sounds. What happens
if you change a letter, or add or remove a letter? So you need a way to control the letter
combinations YOURSELF, rather than just seeing them in a video.
I’ll explain how you can do this in a minute, but before that, the FINAL thing you need
to learn pronunciation like a native is INSTANT FEEDBACK.
If you have to wait too long between sounds you’re listening to, it becomes harder for
your brain to hear how they’re different. So hearing the differences between sounds
or words as fast as possible is ESSENTIAL to developing your listening and pronunciation
the native way!
Listen to the difference between the short a a sound and the short u uh sound:
cat cut cat cut cat cut cat cut cat cut cat cut cat cut
When you HEAR words correctly you can PRONOUNCE them correctly!
If you’re getting this, and feeling more confident about these words, be sure to subscribe
for more, and click on the bell icon so you’re notified about new videos.
So, how can you control what sounds you hear so you can compare sounds instantly?
Well, very soon, we’ll be releasing our first-of-its-kind mobile app that ANYONE can
use to develop their reading, spelling and pronunciation skills.
Cat cap can cam
See how you can compare sounds as fast as possible to train your ears and pronunciation?
This new app is called Frederick, and if you’d like to be among the first to use it to sound
more like a native as fast as possible, click on the link in the upper right of this video,
or on the description.
Now, let’s continue with the progression natives use to learn reading, spelling and
Remember how I said that the rules of pronunciation work about 80% of the time? These are the
PHONETIC rules of English, also called phonics.
Native English speakers learn these rules, and additional words that break the rules
known as SIGHT WORDS. We say “sight” because you remember them by seeing them, rather than
by “decoding” their sounds.
A word with clear phonetic rules, for example, is “thank.”
th a nk – thank
But “the” is a sight word that would be incorrect if you tried using phonics to pronounce
We don’t say th e the, we say the. But natives see and hear this word so often that they
learn to pronounce it the right way automatically. And so can you!
Sight words are also covered in Frederick, so I won’t take time teaching a bunch of
But I WILL go through the basic progression for the first few levels of phonics instruction
so you understand how to develop pronunciation the native way!
We’ll begin the short vowels and consonants.
The 5 vowels are A E I O and U. And these all have short sounds like this:
a, eh, ih, ah, uh Listen again.
bat bet bit bot but
The consonants are the other 21 letters of the alphabet, though Y can make vowel and
You will hear some “nonsense” words in the following examples, like “dat,” but
these are important to learn as they often become pieces of longer words.
b bat c
cat d dat
f fat g gat
h hat j jet
l let m met
n net p pet
k ket r rat
s sat t tat
v vat w wet
x tex y yet
Next, we begin blending 2 and 3 letters together. Their sounds don’t change, but they are
cl clab cr crab
dr drab fl flab
gl glab gr grab
pl plab sc scab
sl slab sn snab
st stab tr trab
ft deft mp demp
nt dent sk desk
scr scrap spl splap
spr sprap str strap
Next, we move to letter combinations with NEW sounds:
ch chip sh ship
th thip wh whip
ck duck tch dutch
Next, ng and nk:
nk dank denk dink donk dunk ng dang deng ding dong dung
Next are combinations of short vowels with the letter L:
al bald el beld
il bild ul buld
ol like in “bold” is a long o sound. gold hold mold sold
le bangle dangle fangle tangle
The final phonetic point we’ll look at today is known by names like magic E and silent
E because the final e is silent. The “magic” part is that adding the E changes the pronunciation
of other letters it DOESN’T touch.
Here again, we want to contrast sounds so you can hear how ALL of the letters sound
when the final E is present or not.
Notice how the final E changes the other vowel from the short sound to the long sound:
bac bace bac bace bac bace
The C also becomes soft before the e, which is why the hard C sound from bac becomes the
soft C sound of bace. We covered this earlier in the video.
Here are some more examples:
fac face mac mace pac pace rac race
See how it’s the CONTRAST that makes it easier to understand, unlike the typical random
examples shown at the beginning of this video?
Let’s look at some more magic E. Notice the pattern:
bic bice mic mice lic lice ric rice bod bode mod mode pod pode rod rode
Again, we designed Frederick to make these kinds of contrasts incredibly fast and easy
for pronunciation practice.
And you can go from individual sounds up to full, blended sentences all in the same app!
So be sure to click on the link in the upper right to learn more about having this complete
system to practice with whenever you like. It’s like having a native speaker in your
pocket wherever you go!
Well, there’s a lot more to learn, but I hope you now understand how you can develop
the listening and pronunciation skills of a native speaker if you just learn the right
If you enjoyed this video, please like it and share it with TWO MORE PEOPLE who also
want to improve their pronunciation!
I’m Drew Badger, the founder of EnglishAnyone.com, and thanks so much for joining me today.
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