Over the past few months I’ve been working on my Mandarin pronunication a lot more - especially tones - using shadowing and chorusing techniques. I document my experiences of doing this in my latest blog: How I’m Trying to Master Chinese Pronunciation – I'm Learning Mandarin
How do you work on your pronunciation in your target language? Let me know your thoughts
Listening as much as possible to the native speakers - is the best and the simpliest method.
Reading some sophisticate books about the pronunciation of this or that language is the worst method IMO.
Early on I would play a sentence and then try to mimic what I heard. I do that less now, and to a degree I can hear most new words I come across “in my mind” based on all the listening I’ve done in the past. Sometimes, I will double check a word though to make sure I’m right, and then try to pronounce it. Beyond that, I simply read aloud or under my breath and try to match what I’ve heard before.
Personally, the very first thing I would do if I were starting a language from the beginning would be to do as much Pimsleur as possible. And nothing else at the beginning, just Pimsleur. Just play it over and over again and listen and imitate, and listen and repeat, etc. Without ever having seen the written form or without ever having seen the Latinization, which I think biases you early on. And do Pimsleur as long as is feasible or as long as you can stand it. I think this has helped the most with my pronunciation in the few languages that I have dabbled in.
Well, to improve your pronunciation you need to know how the sounds work in your mouth and throat. So, the first think I do, if the language I’m studying is different than mine, it’s to search information about the tones and how they work.
Watch videos that explain the movement of the muscles and the vibration of the muscles and now you know what to do.
The rest is just a question to endless train yourself to replicate and emulate those sounds until your mouth is capable to do it (because at the beginning it could even hurt a lot like when you go to the gym) and then you can start working with anything other people have already said.
Shadowing. And figuring out where the tongue has to be in the mouth to make the sounds.
Most folks don’t realize when they’re learning their first language that their second language actually has different consonents and vowels even if it’s close.
For example Spanish: the “d” in spanish touches the tongue behind the teeth/between the teeth whereas the “d” in english is touching the top of the mouth.
Mind blowing when you realize it at first but there it is.
Here’s another one: the “sh” sound in Russian is split into two. One is the same as the English “sh”. The other one which is hard AF to copy is a “sh” at the top of the mouth. It’s definitely a “sh” sound but it’s wierdly different.
I can imagine Mandarin will be radically different tongue placement. And tones too? Oh man.
For Japanese, in my experience, once you’re familiar with the basic accent rules it’s just a matter of shadowing a lot until you can naturally mimic native speakers.
Exactly. When starting any language people should start first from the alphabet and the mechanic of the phonetics. The very very basic stuff but really important for the foundation of everything else. Imho.
My wife was like “WHAT are you doing?”
Me: “I’m babbling like a russian baby”…