How to improve your pronunciation with podcasts? It takes time, but if you follow these simple steps, it will do wonders!
- Download onto your mobile phone the the BBC Learning English app from Google Play (Android) or Appstore (iOS). It’s free. Go to Programmes –> Vocabulary and scroll down until you find, e.g. a podcast called 'A quieter world’. Alternatively, choose the podcast from the BBC 6-minute English and download it. Each is accompanied by a downloadable transcript!
- Listen to the whole podcast for pleasure (without the transcript).
- Listen to the whole podcast once again for 'interesting’ words (even an easy podcast may include some). Note them down as you hear them.
- Listen to the whole podcast again, but this time look at the transcript as you listen (look up the words that got you interested in a dictionary). Take notes (if you like).
- Warm up your tongue, lips and cheeks with some mouth gymnastics! To release jaw tension, massage your cheeks with your knuckles. Then, chew & hum with 'mmm’ for 10 seconds with your lips closed in a circular motion. Don’t open the jaw, just move the muscles. Keep chewing and humming for 10 seconds. Repeat it 3 times. Now, clean your teeth using your tongue. Use the tip of your tongue to rub up and down on the inside and outside of each tooth. Touch each tooth! Finally, snort like a horse to relax the lips. 😉
ACTIVE PRON PRACTICE
- Let’s get back to the podcast. Choose a couple of sentences from the podcast (6-7 lines of the transcript correspond to, roughly, 30 seconds of a spoken text). Maybe the sentences with the challenging words? Record yourself (e.g. on your phone) reading these sentences but don’t listen to yourself yet. You’ll see why in a moment. 😉
- Now, listen to the sentences in the podcast 3 times first and then try to read along them (mirror them) with your lips only (at least 3 times). Don’t produce any sounds yet. This is a crucial step, as this is where you realise how similar to the original your reading is. Don’t get frustrated if it doesn’t work after 3 trials, 8 is what usually works with my students, as they need to adjust a little bit to the speed of the recording. This is where you can complain a lot! 😉
- Listen to these sentences again and mouth or whisper along them (at least 3 times). Try to pretend you are the recorded speaker.
- Listen to each sentence separately, stop and repeat it (at least 3 times). If the text is lengthy, chunk it, e.g. by stopping at punctuation (. , : ; -. ..) or before words such as or, and, but, if.
- Now, listen and read along the sentences aloud (at least 3, 5 or 8 times). Don’t make the original recording too loud. Keep it in the background.
- Have you practiced enough? Do you feel you are ready to read the bit aloud all by yourself? Try! 🙂 Record yourself as you read out the sentences and listen to this recording comparing your reading with the original to decide what to improve on. Find the beauty in your reading! Catastrophe!? Naaah. 😉 I’m sure you’re doing much better than at the beginning. If you feel you need more practice, go back to step 9.
- When you’re super ready, listen to the sentences in the podcast once again, mouth them, then stop the podcast and record them all by yourself just by looking at the transcript. Remember your voice is beautiful!
- Go back to the very first recording from step 6 and compare it with your final recording. Can you hear the difference? It is so much better, isn’t it?
SHARE YOUR RESULTS!
If you want to share your results, you can do it on my Padlet here. Just remember anyone can see it and comment positively on your progress.
WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT LISTENING DECODING SKILLS?
If you want to listen to a podcast on the top mispronounced words in the English language, check out this BBC 6 Minute English podcast: Pronunciation Problems.
If you are a teacher and want to find out more about listening decoding skills, familiarise yourself with the works of Richard Cauldwell on his website Speech in Action.