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  • Hey guys welcome to FIngtam languages this video is about five ways that you can improve your pronunciation

  • In a foreign language. Now last week

  • I did a video about why you should never feel ashamed of your accent, and that's true

  • I still stand by that. If your accent is not preventing you from being understood, then you should never feel self-conscious about it

  • But if people are having a hard time understanding what you're saying to them, now we have a problem. And fortunately,

  • It's a problem that can be solved. So that's what we're going to talk about in this video today.

  • My first tip is to watch what native speakers do with their tongues their lips and their mouths when they're speaking.

  • Then look in the mirror and try to reproduce that yourself.

  • Now, if you don't have a ton of access to native speakers that you can watch and creep on all day

  • YouTube is a great resource for that and it's arguably even better than talking to native speakers in real life because on

  • YouTube you can slow it down.

  • For example in Spanish T's and D's are not pronounced exactly the same way that they are in English.

  • In English, you put your tongue against your alveolar Ridge, which is a little further back in your mouth.

  • But in Spanish you put your tongue all the way against your teeth when you're pronouncing T's and D's.

  • So I want to show you a YouTube video of someone that I watched a lot when I was learning how to pronounce these sounds

  • in Spanish.

  • I want to show you guys this video that I watched when I was trying to figure out exactly how to

  • Pronounce T's and D's in Spanish, and I'm going to show you this video of this girl talking

  • Alright now I want you to pay attention

  • To what's going on right here in her mouth with her tongue as

  • It comes against her teeth and I'm gonna play it at full speed first

  • Then I'll slow it down as we go forward and we'll see what information we can glean from this

  • (Speaking Spanish)

  • Alright now that was pretty fast. Let me see if I can back it up here a little bit

  • That was pretty fast, but if you were paying attention you might have been able to notice her tongue

  • Popping out of her teeth right here

  • When she was doing her T's and D's. Now like I said

  • The really beautiful thing about YouTube is that you can go over here to the settings, and you can slow it down

  • I actually have my YouTube in Spanish right now

  • but this says speed. Now we're gonna slow it down to 75% at first, and we'll see how this goes and

  • We'll see if there's a big difference here

  • So you can probably tell if you speak any Spanish this was much easier to

  • Understand than the first time that she spoke, and we only slowed it down to 75% now

  • It's still kind of difficult to see exactly what she's doing with her tongue. You can see there

  • She's sticking her tongue out quite a bit

  • Let's watch another clip of it

  • So the tongue when we're speaking move so fast that even a 75% speed

  • it's still kind of difficult to see what's going on, so we're gonna slow it down even further to

  • 50% and we'll go back to maybe right here

  • Alright now see if you can pay attention and pay close attention to what's going on with her tongue right in this region around her

  • teeth and it'll be even more clear

  • So

  • This was just really useful for trying to figure out exactly

  • What is going on in the mouth of a native speaker and you can even slow it down even further to

  • 25% if you really want to hone in on that

  • See her D's there

  • That was a C there. There's a D. Let's go back to that D. Right here cuz that's really interesting

  • Now she's in the process of saying a D right here. She was saying "La cantidad de veces que decimos"

  • and this is the D of "que decimos". And you can see how far

  • She's sticking her tongue out when she's pronouncing this D.

  • And that's very different from what we do when we're speaking English.

  • So this is a great

  • example of how you can use native speakers to try to figure out exactly what they're doing and sound more like them and

  • YouTube is just a great resource because you can slow it down and really

  • Pinpoint what the native speakers are doing. After you spent a lot of time watching what native speakers do with their tongues and their mouths

  • And their lips and their whole vocal tract then you go to the mirror and you try to reproduce that same thing yourself

  • My next tip is to listen to your target language a lot without reading it.

  • I am a huge advocate of reading in your foreign language

  • I think you should do it all the time

  • but there's also something to be said for listening without reading and the reason for that is you don't want the

  • spelling of your native language to influence the way you're perceiving

  • Your target language. This can be a really big issue because in a lot of languages spelling does not reflect the proper pronunciation

  • Not to mention in the language that you grew up reading a given letter may have a very different

  • Pronunciation in your target language. For example, the R in Spanish is not pronounced anything like the English R

  • They just happen to be spelt with the same letter. R's in Spanish are actually pronounced a lot closer to the way

  • Americans pronounce the letter T when it comes between two vowels like in water or butter or later.

  • Now if you're just listening to your target language

  • There's a good chance you'll pick up on some of these subtleties

  • But if you spend more time reading it, then there's a good chance that your perception of these letters might be

  • Affected by the way these letters are pronounced in your native language. The second step will be

  • Marginally effective by itself, but it will become really effective if you combine it with the third step

  • And that is repeating the words out loud. You can't learn to play the piano

  • Just by thinking about it in your brain.

  • You have to actually move your fingers to get that muscle memory down and it's the same thing with your tongue and your mouth

  • You have to practice doing it out loud in order to really develop that muscle memory. A great time to do

  • This is when you're using Duolingo or Memrise. When I use these apps

  • I actually pronounce every sentence and every a vocabulary word out

  • Loud after I hear the computer speaking. And the key is trying to reproduce those sounds as closely as

  • Possible to what you're hearing and not letting your perception of the spelling

  • Affect the way that you're thinking about it. Another great option is following along in Pimsleur courses

  • These are audio courses that are either on CD or mp3 format

  • And they have native speakers speak a full sentence

  • And then they pause and give you the opportunity to repeat that sentence.

  • And this is great because it's entirely audio with no reading or writing whatsoever and I think that's a big help and really starting to

  • Internalize these sounds this option will be free if you have a library nearby that stacks Pimsleur CDs

  • Another option that I really like is if you can find a song in your target language that is sung very slowly and clearly

  • Then this is gonna

  • be really good practice to sing along with that. And this is really interesting if you're

  • Relatively new to the language, and you don't understand a lot of the words in the song because then you're just practicing pure

  • pronunciation, and you don't have any preconceived notions about spelling or about how vocabulary words sound you're just listening to the

  • sounds of the languages and trying to reproduce them my next tip is to learn about the

  • international phonetic alphabet and to look up the phonology of your language the IPA is a

  • scientific way of transcribing words in any language that removes almost all

  • ambiguity about how they're supposed to be

  • Pronounced remember earlier when I said that ours in Spanish are pronounced almost exactly the same way as certain T's in English there's a symbol

  • In the IPA that kind of looks like a weird little R

  • And that symbol is used for this sound no matter what language you're talking about

  • Remember when I said that DS and T's Spanish are pronounced with the tongue at the teeth whereas in English

  • They're pronounced with the tongue a little further back

  • We have a way of marking this in the IPA as well for the Spanish ones you put a little mark underneath and to me

  • It kind of looks like a little tooth and this reminds me that in Spanish DS

  • And T's are pronounced with the tongue at the teeth

  • When you start to see all this stuff spelled out on paper. It really does start to make a lot more sense

  • I've done several videos about the IPA in the past and so I'll link to some of them up here

  • And I plan on making more because this is a really interesting topic and I do think it has a lot of

  • Potential to help you learn pronunciation

  • In your language if you're not sure where to start learning about the IPA in your language just go to

  • Wikipedia and type in the language that you're learning followed by the word

  • phonology and that will take you to a page that has all kinds of charts and all kinds of information

  • About the language that you're learning

  • I'll also put some IPA resources in the description below

  • So you can check those out if you're still confused

  • In my last tip which kind of pulls all of the rest of these tips together is to practice tongue twisters in your target language

  • And this really goes back to my tip about speaking out loud because tongue twisters are going to give you a lot of

  • Repetition and they're really gonna get that muscle memory

  • forming quickly think of tongue twisters kind of as going to the gym and getting a lot of reps and your bicep curls or

  • Whatever exercise you prefer to do well repetitions and pronunciation are just as important

  • I remember when I first learned that T's and DS and Spanish are pronounced differently than they are in English it does you no good

  • To have the head knowledge that T's are pronounced differently in Spanish from in English if you don't put that into

  • Practice and develop the habit of actually pronouncing them that way

  • So what I did was I got a lot of practice pronouncing those words like came up with a nonsense tongue twister

  • They had a lot of T's and E's in it and I practiced pronouncing them over and over and over

  • intentionally pronouncing them the Spanish way and not the English Way and this coming twister was todos los toros de Davin de Soto's all of

  • The Bulls give you treasures, and it means nothing

  • But that's not the point the point is that I was practicing pronunciation of Spanish T's instead of my usual

  • English

  • Now with all these pronunciation tips laid out. I have a few footnotes for you first of all you will never eliminate your accents

  • 100% and I know this sounds kind of pessimistic

  • But this is just what the science is telling us if you're an adult who starts learning a language as an adult

  • You never will perfect the phonology of that language to a native-like degree now

  • You can get really good at pronunciation in that language

  • But you will never perfect your accents to sound exactly like a native speaker

  • But that's okay my second note is that you should worry about being understood. Don't worry about speaking perfectly

  • We've already established that it's impossible to speak exactly like a native speaker

  • And that shouldn't be your goal your goal should be to improve your pronunciation

  • So the points that everyone can understand what you're saying and that's totally

  • Satisfactory to me after you reach that level if you're really interested in phonology

  • And you want to keep trying to improve yourself

  • Then by all means go for it the difference between the Spanish tea and the English tea is not

  • Significant enough that a lot of people are gonna misunderstand what I'm saying because I use the English tea, but I love phonology

  • It's interesting to me

  • And I just want to keep learning and I want to keep improving and I do want to sound closer to a native speaker

  • So I have no problem with spending a little bit of time learning that but once you've reached the level that

  • 99% of the people are able to understand everything that you say with no problem

  • You don't need to worry too much about that last 1% because we've already established that

  • Becoming perfect in your accent is not gonna happen

  • It's not possible and it's really not even that useful and my last note on the subject is never

  • apologize for your accent this goes back to the video

  • I made last week about spongebob, but as long as people are understanding what you say it's much better to speak with an accent

  • Confidently than to have really good pronunciation and be too afraid to speak we should want to improve our accents

  • But don't let that tear you up inside

  • There are much worse things than speaking with a slight accent, so that's all I have for you guys today

  • Thanks for watching my video, and we'll see you guys next