Learning how to pronounce a foreign language like a native speaker is difficult at first, but not impossible. The more you practice, the easier you will find it to understand a native speaker. With your ears tuned to the sounds and rhythms of your new language, you’ll find learning how to pronounce the language gets easier and easier.
If your language course includes a recorded pronunciation guide with exercises, listen to them but don’t try to learn everything in one go. Beware of pronunciation guides that compare the sounds of your new language with your native language. This can be misleading as the sounds, particularly the vowels, are often different.
Some language courses can help you learn the basics of pronunciation: when introducing new words they break them up and teach you how to pronounce each syllable. Rosetta Stone courses also help you learn basic pronunciation. Once you’ve got to grips with the pronunciation of your new language, you need to learn how to associate the sounds to the written letters or symbols of the language.
This is pretty easy for languages like Italian, Spanish and Japanese, which are consistent with their pronunciation schemes. Other languages, such as English, French and Danish, present more of a challenge since their spelling is more irregular and seemingly chaotic. Learning a language written with a different writing system can add to this difficulty.
Singing a language
If you enjoy singing, try learning some songs in the language you’re learning. This is a fun way to improve your pronunciation. You could also try learning to recite poems and stories. Listening to songs in your new language is an enjoyable way to improve your listening comprehension, especially if you have the lyrics written out so that you can follow them as you listen.
Human speech can produce a total of over 800 different sounds. Babies and small children can hear all possible phonemes but soon develop a preference for the sounds they hear in their native language(s). Children tend to be very good mimics which enables them to learn foreign languages faster and with native sounding accents.
When learning foreign languages in later life, most people are used to the sounds of their native language(s) and find it difficult to hear and pronounce phonemes not present in their native language. This is why most adult language learners have a foreign accent.