Tips to help with pronunciation in russian, is it shadowing really effective?

Hi, i´ve been learning russian for a year (i live in Moscow). Right now im able to construct many phrases and mantain a decent conversation, however is very frustrating that everybody tells me that my accent/pronunciation is really funny, basicly russian people laugh at my face when i talk to them ! :smiley:

How can i fix this? i´ve been listening the pronunciation of the letters, and repeating a lot, but doesnt help… Many times when they talk i cant notice any differences between ь ъ. и ы. в Б. So i guess the first step should be to listen and listen, like Steve says, to improve my hability to notice, even if right now it seems impossible.

Also im starting the system of Shadowing, repeting at the same time i listen and recording myself, but surprisingly i noticed that my pronunciation is better when i read loud alone, than when i shadowing: maybe because when im shadowing my brain is thinking more in the audio than what is coming out of my mouth. Anyway my pronunciation continues to be horrible.

Besides shadowing i dont know how to approach this problem. Which kind of training is there for this? Could somebody tell me some tips? should i just speak more and more and hope that this will get better alone with practise? I iknow i always will have a certain accent, but i dont want it to be so bad that people is laughing at me.


Yes, listening is the best way.
Listening and pay attention to the pronounciation of the native speakers.
You can also use my course here ‘Русское произношение’ from the Russian library - I try to tell about some specific Russian sounds, and besides I pronounce slowly the most important Russian words beginning with А, Б, В, Г, Д etc.

I like shadowing a lot, but I don’t practice it in the very concentrated manner presented by Arguelles. I’ll ‘shadow’ very quietly as I walk around doing errands, or while driving. It’s really something I do without thinking once I have gained a large amount of familiarity with a certain recording.

“i´ve been listening the pronunciation of the letters, and repeating a lot, but doesnt help.”

If you have already tried but it does not work, then you should explore other ways. I wonder if you have tried asking people to point out your pronunciation problems. Quite often a direct comment on your errors is much more effective than listening to something and repeating it many times.

I have tried using the LingQ Exchange recently, and found it a very effective way to identify my own pronunciation errors. You may want to give it a try.

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I am trying the following with a Chinese friend to improve both his comprehension and his pronunciation. Pick a paragraph in a lesson at our site. Listen to a sentence while reading. Listen several times focusing on the rhythm or music or intonation of the sentence. Then trying to read the sentence out loud with the same rhythm. Don’t worry about words that you mispronounce. Focus entirely on the rhythm. Do this several times for one sentence and then move on. If it is too difficult to do for a sentence, do it for a phrase. Don’t yet record yourself to compare. Do this for a month or so, and do it daily for 10 or 15 minutes.

After a month you can record yourself and see if you can hear the difference between yourself and the native speaker. At that point you should also consider recording yourself and having a native speaker here at LingQ comment on your pronunciation, using the exchange.

Good luck.

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I’m sorry some folks laugh when you talk in Russian! Us Russians can be quite insensitive about many things, which I find curious considering how rich and nuanced the language is - it lends plenty of opportunity to get your point across without sounding harsh. I also think it’s more of a chuckle than a laugh, they do it in a benign way, without an ill intent. They just don’t think it’s necessary to care about the fragile self-esteem of a language learner :slight_smile:

The way I learnt English years ago was repeating words, phrases and sentences until I was blue in the face: listen very carefully to the recording, repeat intonation and pronunciation as well as I can, rewind the cassette, listen, repeat, rewind. You’re already doing exactly this. I’d keep at it.


Thanks for the advices.I will keep repeating and do what Steve said. By the way, it still amazes me how Steve can pronounce accents. His spanish sounds so good. I´ve never have heard anybody from North America speaking spanish with so good accent like him. And his chinese, it sounds like a native to me. I guess some people have more talent than others for that!

You do realize Mexico is in North America, where Spanish is the native language… Right? :slight_smile:

That is strictly speaking true LFJ, but in Spanish Norte Americano and in general usage in English North American refers to English speakers, although there are also French speakers and Spanish speakers.

Josu, thanks for the kind words. I think that people who learn many languages get better at accents since they have absorbed a wider variety of sounds and are not so influenced by their native language. In addition, I think that accent is the area in language learning where “natural talent” may have the greatest influence. On the other hand anyone can learn to use the words and phrases correctly and naturally, and learn to understand well. And that is more important than accent in my view.

Continuing with the same topic… Just found on youtube a video of professor Arguelles talking about accent formation. He says if you want to get a foreign accent the only thing he can advise you is to start to learn phonetics. Thats interesting, i would like to know the opinion of the people about this topic. Is it worth to study phonetics in order to pronounce better in your target language?

Here is the link of the video.

update: found a couple of interesting videos on russian phonetics, i guess thats what i was looking for…

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Native-like accent in Luca Lampariello’s blog


I think this kind of thing is personal. I have never studied phonetics and have no interest in them. I think a big part of acquiring a native like accent is our attitude, our willingness to leave our own cultural space and embrace the behaviour and attitudes of another culture and language, to visualize ourselves as one of them. To go full bore in imitating like an actor does. But above all we should not be disappointed at the results, nor too worried about how we sound, as long as we are understood.