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Fluentzy.com > English > Fluency Facts > Fluency & Pronunciation of English
  Back to index of questions   Fluency Facts >> 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15    
  Answer to Q14.
Fluency & Pronunciation of English

  Q14. There is one more thing I'd like to ask you about. I've been wondering whether a self-study course will be able to teach me English pronunciation. Do you think this can be done?
  'Fluency skill' is not the skill in speaking English with a particular accent
  'Pronunciation skill' is not the skill in speaking English with a particular accent
  International standard: "Englishness"
  Speak with an accent full of "Englishness"

It'll certainly be possible to teach pronunciation through a properly designed self-study course — especially to advanced learners. But understand one thing here and now: The Fluentzy system is not such a pronunciation course. No, it isn’t. The self-study course you’ll be able to do with the help of the Fluentzy books — that self-study course is a fluency course. It concentrates on fluency, and not on pronunciation as such.

But don't think that the Fluentzy system ignores pronunciation. The Fluentzy system does give great importance to it. Yes, the Fluentzy system teaches you a lot of things that do have a lot to do with pronunciation. But you know, the Fluentzy system does this from the fluency development angle. You see, there are certain aspects of pronunciation that can add to your fluency. The Fluentzy system deals with those aspects in depth — but only with those fluency-building aspects. You see, 'connected speech production' is what the Fluentzy system concentrates on, and not the pronunciation of individual words.

And we're sure of one thing: Once you complete a self-study course using the Fluentzy books, your pronunciation also will have improved. But this is only a beneficial spin-off from the Fluentzy system — a secondary benefit. The chief effect of the Fluentzy system will be on your level of fluency.

'Fluency skill' is not the skill in speaking English with a particular accent
Mind you, there is no direct one-to-one relationship between pronunciation and fluency. No, there isn't.

Thus, a person who can pronounce English words exactly (as described in a dictionary) need not be a fluent speaker. Similarly, a fluent speaker of English need not be very good at pronouncing English words exactly as described in a dictionary - or like a BBC broadcaster or announcer. You become fluent if you can speak English smoothly and continuously — without hesitations bothering you. What you say must also make sense. And of course, your speech units must sound like English speech units - and not like speech units in your mother tongue - so that your addressees are able to understand you.

The point is this: A particular accent or a distinctive mode of pronunciation is not an element of the fluency skill. What is important is the flavor of "Englishness". (We'll come to this aspect in a minute).

As you know, the Fluentzy books are meant for people who already have a reasonably good knowledge of English. This means that people who buy the Fluentzy books already know how to pronounce most of the core English words acceptably well. If they have any difficulty with the pronunciation of a particular word, they can easily sort it out with the help of a modern dictionary.

'Pronunciation skill' is not the skill in speaking English with a particular accent
Understand one thing: No two people pronounce English exactly alike. No. Neither in England nor in America - nor anywhere else in the world.

Many people think that every English word has a rigid and universally correct pronunciation. But this is a wrong notion. First of all, in connected speech, the shape of an English word often varies considerably from verbal context to verbal context, depending on the shapes of other words that occur before it and after it and on other factors. Secondly, English is pronounced differently by different groups of people - and not in the same way. You see, even in England, people pronounce English differently in different areas. Similarly, people in different parts of America also pronounce English differently. And the way people pronounce English in different parts of England is different from the way people pronounce it in different parts of America. Even within the same region in England or America, people of different ages and different educational backgrounds pronounce English differently. And within the same locality, people from different social classes speak English differently.

What we're trying to tell you is this: Different groups of people speak English with different accents - and not with the same accent. That is, people belonging to each group pronounce the words and word groups of the English language in a distinctive way, and their pronunciation shows which country or which part of a country or which social class they come from.

International standard: "Englishness"
Mind you, the things I've said so far don't mean that you can pronounce English in any way you please. No. You shouldn't let your English sound like French or Hindi or Japanese or Arabic. Your English must sound like English itself. Yes, it should have a lot of 'Englishness' to it. The Fluentzy books help you here.

You see, though English is pronounced differently by different groups of people, there are certain features that are common to fluent English speech of all different accents. These common factors do two things: First, they give Englishness to your English and make your English sound differently from all other languages. Second, they help add to your fluency.

And so, the Fluentzy system deals with these core aspects thoroughly and extensively. And the Fluentzy books train you intensively in them. And note this: There's nothing complicated or difficult about learning these aspects or about putting them to practical use. And they do not need any involved demonstration. You can supplement your learning by watching talks, interviews and commentaries on the BBC, CNN, Star TV and other English channels, and by listening to radio programmes broadcast by the BBC and others. You'll also benefit a lot if you watch English films and English TV serials. Of course, at first, it won't be easy for you to follow and understand the spoken content - especially, when you watch films and serials. That's why you should learn fluency techniques first. Once you learn fluency techniques and how spontaneous speech is composed, you'll find that your listening skill has become sharper.

Speak with an accent full of "Englishness"
Don't be under the impression that a sizeable percentage of English-speaking people speak English with an accent that approaches the BBC accent. No, they don't. Only a minute percentage of people do that. An extremely small percentage - so small as to be insignificant.

In fact, there's a tendency among the present younger generation (even in England) to reject the BBC accent - because they consider it as being associated with the 'Establishment'. Why, even the BBC themselves have relaxed their attitude towards pronunciation. Things have changed so much that many of the BBC announcers now have accents that are non-British and that are markedly different from the traditional BBC accent.

So remember this: Just because your accent is different from that you hear on the BBC or the CNN or from the accent that you hear some foreigners speak with, you needn't try to change it. No.

Then what accent should you speak English with? Surely it must be one that can be understood by people who live and work with you as well as by people of English-speaking countries. An accent that makes your English sound like English itself - rather than like your mother tongue. This is the sort of accent that the Fluentzy system helps you speak with. And it'll instantly be recognized as the accent of an English-educated speaker anywhere in the world — and it'll have international prestige.

Now if your aim is to achieve a particular accent like the London accent or the New York accent, understand that the Fluentzy books do not deal with Regional Accents. If you want to develop a particular Regional Accent, you'll have to go and live in that region for several years. And you'll also have to spend years training in a language laboratory under the personal supervision of experts in that accent. Yes, years. But even then, adults whose native language is not English can almost never acquire that very accent with 100% perfection. Almost never.

Please understand this. This is a fact, and not an opinion. An unvarnished, plain fact. Mind you, children alone have the ability to imitate the sounds of a foreign language like English perfectly. Children alone. That too, till they're 10 years old. But once they're past 10 years of age, even children begin to lose this ability quickly.


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