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Is there a real importance of pronunciation in language learning?

This is a really great question to consider answering if you are trying to learn a language for the first time. Why? Well, some people feel that learning the correct pronunciation of words is too difficult in language acquisition and sometimes allow this to affect their learning process.

What can contribute to this? Attitude. When a language learner has the wrong attitude or viewpoint toward the importance of pronunciation in language learning, it could lead to adapting many bad habits that sometimes may be extremely difficult to strip off for beginners if not corrected. To illustrate this, have you ever heard someone speak and butcher a language? Why does this often occur for learners? One reason is because some learners may say words or expressions without respecting accents that govern the targeted language. Some do it on purpose while others may not be aware of it. I have noticed this when some speak Spanish. Some learners may simply conform and be content with their way of pronouncing a specific word and may not put forth much effort in using the correct way as natives.

It makes me think of an expression that I hear often “they understand me” or “they know what I meant to say”. However, when it comes to the importance of pronunciation in language learning, was it really true that the person was understood? Was the message relayed in a clear and effective way?

As a language lover, I raise these questions because I remember going to Spain in 2001 on vacation with some friends. We were at a restaurant and decided to order in Spanish. I wanted to order a “turkey sandwich” in Spanish which is “un sandwich de pavo”. However, versus correctly pronouncing pavo in Spanish, I said “polvo” which when translated means dirt or dust. The waiter’s reaction? He laughed because he thought I wanted a dirt sandwich versus turkey.

By relating this brief experience, do you see the real importance of pronunciation in language learning? It doesn’t matter what the targeted language is, a learner must understand that language learning is a true art that requires time and continuous effort. However, the attitude of the learner should never be one of self-contentment, rather to strive to correctly pronounce words.

What are some things that will help learners to improve pronunciation?

One thing that you can do in your targeted language is listen to audios everyday and strive to mimic the way natives speak the language. Secondly, try to associate daily with natives that speak your targeted language. Thirdly, don’t be afraid to ask natives to correct your pronunciation if necessary. This will help you to consistently improve your comprehension and speaking skills over time.

Hopefully by this review today, you have come to a greater appreciation of the importance of pronunciation in language learning and communication.

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