How to Improve your Pronunciation

On this page: About Pronunciation; Steps for Studying PronunciationHow to Test Yourself; Materials

Related pages: Pronunciation.

About Pronunciation

Pronunciation has 3 main sections:

  • Individual Sounds
  • Stress – some sounds in words and some words in sentences are louder and clearer than others
  • Intonation – the rise and fall of the voice; e.g. to show questions or surprise

Steps for Studying Pronunciation

  1. Analyse your pronunciation. You can do this in 2 ways:
  1. Ask a CILL teacher for the Oxford Listening Test. This is a test of your ability to tell the difference between sounds. If you can’t hear the difference, it’s very difficult to learn how to pronounce the difference. Make a checklist of your pronunciation problems.
  2. Make a one-minute recording of yourself reading something, doing a presentation or discussing something in a seminar. Bring the tape and the text to a CILL teacher, who will give you advice on what you need to improve. Make a checklist of things to study from this advice.

2) Decide what areas of pronunciation to study:

  1. Use your checklist to choose a pronunciation area to study, for example, some individual sounds, stress in words and sentences, or intonation. Listen to the model pronunciation on the tapes or in the computer programs. Copy the model. When you think you can pronounce it correctly, check with a CILL teacher.
  2. You can also study the pronunciation of words that you read in your daily life, for example in your course books. Use the Longman Interactive CD-ROM dictionary to look up a word and hear and see the pronunciation. Listen to the model pronunciation in the computer program. Copy the model. When you think you can pronounce it correctly, check with a CILL teacher.
  1. Keep a record of the pronunciation of new words you learn, either in your CILL portfolio or a notebook, or by making a recording of the pronunciation of new words. Revise them two or three times a week.
  2. Use your new pronunciation skills when you practise speaking. You can speak English in English lessons, in CILL’s SAP scheme, with the CILL teachers, in English-speaking clubs and societies, and while practising with friends and classmates.

How to Test Yourself

Do Step 1. again, using either the second Oxford Listening Test, or by making another one-minute recording of your speaking. Give your checklist and both the old and new recording or test to a CILL teacher for comments.



Books (on the Pronunciation shelf, with audio tapes)

Individual Sounds:

  • Tree and Three (E)
  • Ship and Sheep (I)
  • Clear Speech (UI)
  • Pronunciation Tasks (EI)


  • Intonation Practice (EI)

All areas:

  • Headway Pre-intermediate Pronunciation (EI)
  • Headway Intermediate Pronunciation (I)
  • Headway Upper-intermediate Pronunciation (UI)


Computer Programs (in the pronunciation section of the main menu)

  • ‘Sounds’ – for individual sounds, especially of British English
  • ‘Pronunciation Power’ – for individual sounds of American English


Last updated on: Monday, March 26, 2012