IELTS Vocabulary and Pronunciation Guide
When you are appearing for the IELTS Test, surely you have a goal or purpose in your mind. Either you are going for a higher study or job/training-related issues. In any case, one thing is common that, you are going to an English-speaking country from a non-English-speaking country (with some exceptions). Therefore, you have to understand the country’s native-English speaker’s pronunciation as well as you have to pronounce in a right way so that the native English speakers understand you well. For a non-native English speaker it’s quite an uphill task to speak fluently in English with right pronunciation, more so if you are from a non-English medium schooling background. Even if you are an American, and you want to move to the UK for higher study or work related issue, the common ‘British People’ non-familiar with typical ‘American Accent’ would face problems in understanding your language.
So, your pronunciation has to be in tune with the International English. You are not supposed to speak with an American imitating his accentual bias, or with a ‘Chinese’ with his accentual bias, right? Here comes the requirement of the ‘Perfection of Pronunciation’ which is acceptable to any people of any country worldwide. As The English language is basically the mother tongue of the British people, it can be taken as that the ‘Pronunciation of a word in the British way’ should be granted as the perfect pronunciation. But still there remains a riddle. There is a distinct difference in ‘Pronunciation’ between the ‘Southern part’ and the ‘Northern part’ of Britain, though officially the ‘British English’ is free from southern or northern bias. Anyway, we are not going to make a research on ‘English Pronunciation’. We need to know and follow the path that is accepted by the IELTS authority. For getting detailed knowledge over accurate English pronunciation, you may please visit: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/pronunciation/english/correct. Now let’s come to know what the IELTS authority accept as right pronunciation.
In the IELTS Tests, your ‘Pronunciation’ does not matter only in speaking test. Your understanding of the ‘Pronunciation of Native speaker’ matters in the ‘Listening Test’. In the speaking test, your pronunciation is responsible for 25% percent your marks, so it is really important to pronounce correctly. The problem in pronunciation inevitably matters your fluency, and it is often the area that causes a problem with non-English speaking candidates. A major number of them think that it is too tough to learn to pronounce correctly. However, it is actually a skill which needs to practice the right way. For the speaking test, you should use a wide range of ‘Pronunciation Features’.
What is, ‘Pronunciation Features’?
Pronunciation features include a lot of things, which needed to be discussed in details, like:
Individual sounds: Every ‘Sound’ coming out of the mouth of the speaker of the English language follows a ‘Phonemic Chart‘.
What is a Phonemic Chart and how it would help your English Pronunciation?
The phonemic chart consists of a set of symbols that represent each and every sounds in spoken English. You can click the link given above to study it further. For a person who faces problems in pronunciation, the phonemic chart is very useful for helping him identifying difficult sounds. More or less, everyone finds difficulty in pronouncing some or other words, and if they can fix the problems using the phonemic chart, they would really be able to improve their pronunciation noticeably. Here we are giving a link to the British Council’s interactive phonemic chart, which is like a rule book for rectifying pronunciation.
Next, comes, Phonemic Spellings: If you have difficulty with spellings, you may try to get the phonemic spelling of the word you are having a problem with. Most of the online dictionaries (some offline ones as well) would provide you with what you need, but probably the Cambridge Online Dictionary is one of the most reliable sources to serve the purpose. Also, there are some very Good Websites you may take help from to practice at home. Using those websites you would get to know how a native English Speaker pronounces a word. Click on the given links and read the websites to have a clear understanding of ‘How to rectify your pronunciation’. Some students get confused between, ‘Accent’ and ‘Pronunciation’. But the two are clearly different from each other. While ‘Accent’ means a particular ‘Speech Pattern’, the ‘Pronunciation’ means ‘The manner of uttering a word’.
So, how you will rectify your pronunciation?
As a basic preparation, you must start speaking and hearing a lot of English. The best and common sources are ‘TV NEWS’, ‘Debate Shows in English’ on International TV channels for listening. For speaking in English, select your friends/relatives or whoever he or she may be, but the common quality of those persons must be that they speak very good English. Then move a step ahead, download chosen audios made for the IELTS Speaking Tests of course from the Internet. If your destination is the UK, you should download recorded the conversation of ‘Native British Speakers’, if it is the USA, you should download recorded conversation of ‘Native American Speakers’. Now listen to them repeatedly, then write the conversations in a paper. Arrange a recording device, your cell phone should be good enough for the purpose. Now read aloud what is written in the paper and record your voice, try to pronounce like the native speakers, but don’t imitate their accent. This is probably one of the best ‘DIYS” processes to enhance your pronunciation. Now take help of a ‘Good English Teacher’, who would rectify and guide you properly. You can take help of ‘Phonemic Chart’ from the online dictionaries as already discussed. Do take the help of an ‘Experienced and English-Speaking Teacher’ to enhance your learning process. Read English Newspaper aloud and find the words you are experiencing trouble to pronounce. Again take the help of ‘Online/Offline English Dictionaries’ to solve your problem yourself. Find out difficult to pronounce words, add them to your vocabulary for the IELTS Tests (especially speaking test). Now, using the online/offline dictionaries listen to the pronunciations, it would be of great help.
Some difficult to pronounce words, like:
Moustache, Hazards, Excited (ends with an ‘id’ sound), Finished, Laughed (ends with an ‘t’ sound), Shouted (shaw-tid), Wednesday (sounds like wenz-dey), Talent (ta-lunt), Colleague (ko-leeg), homoeopathy (ho-meeo-pu-thee). Some similar-sounding different words like Weather (sounds like we-dhur), Whether (sounds like we-dhur).
There are so many words like the above ones, you don’t need to cram them. However, once you get the sense of pronouncing the right way, the problem would be over. You have to listen to know, the words as per phonemic chart, as they cannot be typed on the keyboard to make you understand. Here is an example of a Phonemic chart which you should study and understand. It looks like:
Does the picture make complete sense? No, that’s why these pronunciations are to be listened to understand, reading the chart would not help you. Apart from that, you have to learn where to put ‘Stress’ while uttering or pronouncing any word. Usually, there are two types of stress: ‘Word Stress’ and ‘Sentence Stress’.
What is Word Stress?
Say you are uttering the word photograph, the stress you have to put on is shown by underlining the word > fo-tu, graf, thunderbolt>thun –dur bowlt. Actually, every word is made of 2 or more syllables and while uttering the word, one or other syllable in a word is said strongly (put stress on). So if a non-native English speaker, don’t put stress rightly, it wouldn’t be clear to a native speaker, that means it would be counted as a wrong pronunciation.
What is sentence stress? While speaking in English, some words are stressed, depending on which the meaning for the sentence changes. Which words should you put stress on? The answers are the Underlined words:
Do come tomorrow, sharply at 9 am and meet me on the 3rd floor Room no:307.
Do come tomorrow sharply at 9 am and meet me. Remember I’ll be on the 3rd floor, in room no:307.
There are two types of words in the two sentences, the ‘Content words’ (which are usually verbs. adverbs, nouns etc.) and the other types of words are, ‘Function words’ (they are grammar rules like pronouns, articles, prepositions and so on.
You should also learn ‘Shifting Stress’: In the following sentences, change of stress will change the meaning:
1) I didn’t say that we should kill the dog. 2) I didn’t say that we should kill the dog > Stress is shifted and meaning is changed. In the first sentence, the speaker wants to say that, I didn’t say (means denying that he said), but in the second sentence the speaker says, he didn’t instruct to Kill the Dog (It could have scared away or beaten, but not to be killed). Thus by using some online/offline dictionaries, you might learn: The weak sounds, the Linking sounds, Linking consonants to vowels, Linking vowels to vowels, Doubling out of sounds, Micro listening, annotation. All this will help your pronunciation get better through scientific route, and you would be able to pronounce unknown difficult words with ease.
As we have already mentioned that your English pronunciation would matter 25% of your marks in the speaking test and in the listening test ‘your understanding’ of native speaker’s pronunciation would matter as well. You shouldn’t be too scared about ‘pronunciation’, its’ quite easy to learn if you follow the suggested ways. Rather it is a bit tough, though not too tough, to get rid of your ‘mother tongue bias’. It’s a must for any candidate. A candidate speaking English in his mother tongue bias sounds very ugly. So, candidates are always suggested to take help of an ‘English Speaking’ English tutor who can help them get rectified in a few months. In the speaking test, while a candidate speaks up with correct pronunciation, it surely impresses the examiner and as a whole, the result reflects on his Band Score.
Originally posted 2017-03-02 14:16:36.