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Kenny同志

Need some comments on my English pronunciation

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Kenny同志

Many years ago when I planned to correct my English pronunciation, I posted a sample clip here for feedback. But I was so frustrated at my progress that I gave up about one month later as I found that even with daily practice for so long I still could not pronounce several phonemes properly or distinguish some of their pairs.  

 

Now I am determined to invest whatever is needed to be able to speak fluent (British) English. But before I officially go about it, I need your help with a few questions.

 

1. I have bought two textbooks on pronunciation, i.e. An Intermediate Pronunciation Course (Third Edition), authored by Ann Backer, and Intelligent Learning in English Pronunciation. The first book is for learners of British English but it does not cover all the pronunciation skills. The second book is much better in this regard but I am not sure if it is for learners of American English or British English. Here I have attached a short recording from the second book (Audio 1). Could you please tell me whether it is British English or American English? If it is the former, could you identify the area where it may be spoken?

 

2. I subscribed to about half a year’s spoken English (British) lessons many years ago. These are in the form of short conversation clips and I can still access them. The only problem is that I find the pronunciation a little exaggerated at some points—it is very likely that I am wrong though. Here I have attached a short recording of the lesson (Audio 2). Could you please tell me if this is how people in the south of England actually speak? If the pronunciation used in these lessons is appropriate for daily life, I would still want to use them for practice as the topics are quite good.

 

3. I tried to copy a conversation in one of the lessons today and have also attached my own recording here. Could you give me some feedback or advice? Besides accent and naturalness, I am particularly concerned whether you have difficulty understanding me speaking English.

 

Thanks for your help.

Audio 1.mp3 Audio 2.mp3 My recording.mp3

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889

No 1 is British. Note the stress on symbolise.

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Kenny同志

Thanks very much for confirming this, 889. I will use the textbook then. 🙂

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realmayo

You are right that in audio 2 there is some exaggeration, mainly from the man speaking. It sounds like he is in 'story-teller' mode - and of course he is.

 

One observation on your own speaking: sometimes you run syllables together across words in a sentence, by "swallowing" or downplaying or ignoring certain consonants. Obviously, sometimes native speakers run sounds together like that and it seems normal - indeed, it would sometimes sound unnatural not to do that. But if you do this in the wrong places, it sounds unnatural or confusing.

 

I'm not an expert on teaching English. But I would advise you to be aware that you're doing this - that you're not pronouncing consonants fully - and then try to work out if native speakers would or wouldn't do the same for that particular word or phrase. In my limited experience, Chinese speakers tend to focus well on the first consonant and first vowel of a word, but if the word has any more sounds, they kind of rush through them as if they're not important (and, sometimes they are, sometimes they aren't).

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Kenny同志

Very useful comments and advice, Realmayo. Thank you. 

 

One more quick question if you don't mind, are there any parts in the recording that you find hard to understand? You don't need to mark out those parts. I just want to know how much of my recording is well understandable to you as a native speaker. 

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realmayo

There were a few words I didn't understand, or had to guess at.

 

Listening again, one example of what I referred to earlier might be "well I didn't get it" where the "ll" of "well" is so unclear that I hear a kind of "we + i" sound which sounds more like "way".

I'm sure there are times that I don't prounce the "ll" in "well I" either, but, I'm sure I pronounce it differnet to you!

 

 

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Kenny同志

I see. I will take note. Thanks for taking time to provide all the feedback, Realmayo. I appreciate it very much. 🙂

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feihong

Kenny, I agree with @realmayo’s comments. There were some words that I couldn’t understand even on the second listen, but I could easily understand what the overall conversation was about.

 

You didn’t do this much, but on a couple of occasions it felt like you didn’t have enough separation between some words. In these cases, it sounded like you were inserting a soft vowel sound between the two words instead of just letting there be a proper empty space in the middle.

 

Also, in terms of accent it sounded more American than British (for reference my own accent is American).

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Kenny同志

Many thanks for your feedback, Feihong. I appreciate it. Maybe I should hire someone to correct my pronunciaiton. 🙂

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Kenny同志

Hi folks,

 

I have been practising speaking every day recently and here are two recordings I made today. How much can you understand?

 

To be clear, my new focus is not to sound British or American or anything but just to make my pronunciation understandable to native speakers. 🙂

 

Many thanks in advance for your comments/feedback. 

 

 

 

 

hybrid car.mp3 prolem neighbour.mp3

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889

You need a trained speech teacher to tell you precisely what the problems are.

 

But overall, what comes through to me are problems with rhythm or syncopation or whatever it's technically called. It's very choppy, but it's more than just choppiness: it lacks the natural flow of normal spoken English.

 

There are specific problems with pronunciations of some very common words, like give and he. And you're putting tones into words that don't need them at that point in the narrative: if you were m~e~e~e~.

 

In plain English, you need to flatten and smooth it out. I'll let others put that into technical terms.

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Kenny同志

This is very frustrating but thanks for your comment, 889. I appreciate it. 

 

By the way, how much of the recordings can you understand without difficulty? 

 

Edit:

 

I have been also thinking of hiring a teacher but it is too expensive. I will see if I can find some serious language exchange partner. 

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Larry Language Lover

I think your English is very advanced to be able to read advanced texts like this.   I think sometimes you are trying to speak too fast and that is what makes certain parts unclear where a native speaker would need to really concentrate to understand.   If you speak slower and clearer it becomes much easier to understand.  One very positive thing however, is that especially in "problem neighbour"  I noticed a British influence on several words.    I am American,  but I have taught English for several years in Spain and use exclusively Cambridge materials in my teaching (British).

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Kenny同志

Many thanks for your feedback Larry. It is much appreciated. 

 

I am aware that I speak very fast but that is because the native speakers I imitate speak even faster. I think I may need to find some other materials for practising. 

 

And thanks for pointing out that Britishness in my recording. That's great to hear. 🙂

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889

There are no stretches that are particularly difficult to understand: it's pretty consistent.

 

You do come across as someone who's done a great deal of book learning but who hasn't really listened much to every-day spoken English. Maybe free-style speaking rather than reading a text like a news broadcaster would be more useful.

 

I do agree there's a touch of a British voice in your speech.

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Kenny同志

Thanks for your further feedback 889. I will keep what you said in mind. 

 

In fact, the audio clips that I use for practising are supposed to be English for a variety of settings, for example daily life, business, and formal discussions. If you don't mind, could you please check the attached clip in this post and let me know whether this is how people actually speak in England? Or is it okay to speak this way?  Thanks again. 

 

 

 

hybrid car 03.mp3

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889

Nobody in real life speaks like a professional announcer reading a script. It's a chore listening to that tape: the voices sound so laboured, like the speakers are working so hard to be super-correct.

 

I don't think that type of material serves as a good model for your own speech. Maybe if you were training to be a professional announcer, but not otherwise. I think it's designed to prepare students for listening comprehension tests, since the speakers on those tests usually do sound like those tapes.

 

You need to find tapes reflecting natural every-day speech, in terms of both the speaker and the text.

 

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Kenny同志

Thank you so much for your feedback, advice  and huge patience. I really appreciate them.

 

I will look for some new materials for practising.  

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Larry Language Lover

The last audio is definitely correct British English but very professional proper voices like read by a news announcer or teacher.

It is identical to the kind of listenings that accompany our Cambridge books that we play for the class or that are used in listening comprehension exams.

 

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Larry Language Lover

On a side note,  in some of the Cambridge University materials that we use,  the audio sounds like a very regional form of British English.   Some of the Spanish teens laugh at the extreme pronunciation and imitate it and laugh when the exercise is a listen and repeat exercise.   I don't think all British talk that way.    For example, the "a" in "all" and "always" is very drawn out and sounds as if the mouth is very rounded and the jaw dropped way down.    "Los Angeles" is pronounced "Los Angeleeze",   "drawings"  sounds like "drawRings", "Africa" sounds like "AfricuR" (very slight "r" sound).  I don't know if this is general British pronunciation or specifically from the Cambridge area.

 

The unusual thing is that Cambridge University Press has given us some new materials to try that I only use as a supplement sometimes but I noticed that the student's books all use American terms and spelling and the voices in the audio and video clips are all American pronunciation!

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