Have you ever discovered that you’ve been pronouncing a word incorrectly?
You know the feeling: you hear a native speaker say a word that you thought you knew how to say. It’s a word that you use all the time. But their pronunciation doesn’t sound anything like your pronunciation.
You think: How many times have I said that word incorrectly?
Did everyone go home and laugh at me?
And why, oh why, didn’t anyone correct me?!
Well, don’t worry about it. Everyone makes mistakes. They’re a natural part of the language-learning process. Plus, English pronunciation isn’t easy!
However, any English learner can achieve perfect English pronunciation with a little time, a little patience and perhaps the help of a few apps.
Simple Ways to Improve English Pronunciation with Apps
Before we move on to the right apps, it might be useful to keep these tips and tricks in mind:
- Record yourself while you speak. Sometimes, we don’t know exactly how we sound until we carefully listen to our own voices. So when you’re practicing pronunciation, record yourself and then compare that with the learning material.
- Make your learning social. Pronunciation isn’t like spelling or grammar. You can’t expect to memorize certain rules and magically be able to pronounce everything the right way. You need to speak more often and get feedback from the people you speak to, in English.
- Supplement pronunciation apps with other English content. The more exposure to English that you get, the better. So when you aren’t using your English pronunciation app, watch English television shows and follow the news on BBC, paying attention to the way people speak.
- Replay videos again and again. You won’t be able to memorize how a word is pronounced just by listening to it once. So replay your audio or video materials over and over until you’re confident you’re getting it right.
- Learn the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA): The IPA is a pretty useful thing to learn, especially for non-native speakers. As you can see on the IPA chart, different sounds are represented by particular letters and symbols. Once you know the chart by heart, you’ll be prepared to pronounce any word.
7 English Pronunciation Apps to Speak Clear, Confident English in 2021
There are several English pronunciation apps out there, which might make it difficult for you to choose the right one. I’ve made a list of seven powerful apps that you can browse through and pick from, based on your needs, goals and budget.
Do you like watching fun video clips? Do you want to learn with authentic videos?
Combine the two with FluentU!
Unlike traditional language learning sites, FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the English language and culture over time. You’ll learn English as it’s spoken in real life.
FluentU has a variety of engaging content from popular talk shows, nature documentaries and funny commercials, as you can see here:
FluentU makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you'll see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning and recommends examples and videos to you based on the words you’ve already learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning the same video.
You can start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, by downloading the app from the iTunes or Google Play stores.
How cool would it be to have a private English tutor who points out all your pronunciation issues and patiently helps you improve your accent?
Well, there’s an app that lets you do just that. Focused on American English, ELSA Speak comes with speech recognition technology that’ll help you correctly pronounce common English words and phrases. Moreover, just as though you were talking to a real person, you’ll receive feedback on the right way to move your lips and tongue to get the sounds just right.
You can even create your own pronunciation curriculum by choosing certain challenges and topics, as well as tracking your progress.
If you want a high quality pronunciation course, you might want to consider exploring the Creativa Mastering North American English Pronunciation course.
Creativa provides premium, highly produced videos for learning English and business communication skills. Creativa provides entertaining videos, useful but unexpected tips, and goes beyond just English to teach you body language and intonation. Creativa is a new product from the FluentU team.
Here’s a sample video from Creativa’s Mastering Business Video Calls in English course, which has tips for expressing yourself effectively:
Creativa does not yet have a mobile app but the site is mobile-responsive so it should work on any mobile phone.
Pronunroid – IPA pronunciation (Android)
I’ve already mentioned the IPA above, and if you’re interested in taking that route, then this is your go-to app. Through a series of fun guessing games, you’ll learn which spoken sounds are associated with which letters or symbols. Soon, you’ll be able to look at an unfamiliar word and have a pretty good guess of how it’s pronounced.
In addition to learning the IPA, this app also comes with a search feature that lets you look up the pronunciation of any word.
English Pronunciation (Android)
Many of us struggle with pronouncing certain words, while being perfectly fluent with others. There are particular vowel and consonant sounds that give us trouble all the time. If that sounds like you, English Pronunciation will be a great app to download.
With this app, you’ll be able to confidently pronounce different sounds in the correct way. First, you’ll receive detailed guidelines (with pictures) that show you how to move your tongue and jaw in the right way to produce a certain sound. You can also tap on words individually to learn their correct pronunciation, as well as get access to special videos that explain “phonetics” (the art of pronunciation) in a clear way.
This app has a unique learning technique that’s especially great for visual learners. If you’re not very confident about judging your pronunciation by listening to your recorded voice, then maybe looking at a visual representation of your voice might help.
A visual representation, you may ask? Allow me to explain. This app generates a picture of the sound wave created when you speak a word. All you have to do is compare the visual sound wave of your voice to the sound wave produced by a native speaker. Moreover, this app has the option of slowing down any recording. So if it’s a particularly long word such as “hypothetically” (I dare you to look up the pronunciation right now!), you can touch and drag on a difficult part, to slow it down and make it easier to learn.
Note: As of January 2021, only the American English version of the app is available. In addition, since this app has changed hands, it is no longer the same quality and is missing some of the original features. Please be aware of this and read the reviews before you install it!
Original description: This is a fantastic app to have, as it includes pronunciation charts in both British and American English. Most of the above apps are geared towards either British or American English, but with this app you can shuffle between both, depending on your learning goals.
Plus, the premium version has pronunciation quizzes, special word lists, videos and some useful tips to help you become a fluent speaker.
Learn English Daily (Android)
This app promises to improve your listening and speaking skills at the same time. There are a lot of everyday conversations all featuring native speakers, which you can listen to and learn from. In addition to learning the right ways to pronounce different words, you’ll also learn useful vocabulary and work on your grammar. The app even provides access to an offline dictionary.
So if you’re looking for a good all-around app to help with learning English, but with a special focus on pronunciation, you’ve found the right one.
The only fool-proof way to improve your pronunciation is to practice speaking English as much as possible.
Yes, when you’re starting out you’ll make a lot of mistakes, and that can feel embarrassing. But the important thing is to learn from those mistakes. It’s the only way to improve.
The more you speak and the more you interact with other English speakers, the faster you’ll learn. So keep trying and don’t give up hope! Soon, you’ll sound like a native speaker.
Archita Mittra is a freelance writer, journalist, editor and educator. Feel free to check out her blog or contact her for freelancing/educational inquiries.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.