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Improve Pronunciation Fast: 2,000+ Commonly-Mispronounced Words [eBook]

(Pronunciation in audio and written form. Common patterns of errors.)

Do you hesitate to speak certain words because you are not sure of their pronunciation?

Do you get pointed out for mispronunciations?

And worst, which is the case with most non-native speakers, you don’t even know you’re mispronouncing by dozens every day, with people silently forming an opinion about you and your communication skill. Even one or two mispronunciations in a five-minute talk can leave poor impression about a person’s communication skills. And conversely, correctly pronouncing words like in the second exercise below can impress people.

Why most struggle to improve pronunciation?

There are two main reasons why most struggle to improve pronunciation:

1. Most don’t even know that they mispronounce

Though native speakers of English too mispronounce, the problem is far graver with non-native speakers. It’s rare (yes, rare!) to find a non-native speaker not mispronounce, degree varying of course. (You can test your pronunciation skills in the next section.) There is a simple reason for it. Pronunciation instructions non-natives receive in elementary school are typically limited to repetition of few common words in chorus. Thereafter, they’re expected to – and rightly so – gradually pick pronunciation of many more words by listening to others – in person or audio or video.

But many pronunciations floating around in non-native environments are incorrect. We absorb them, assuming them to be correct. And then we pass them on to other eager ears, perpetuating a vicious cycle. (Most mispronunciations occur because we pronounce words the way they are spelt. But English is not a phonetic language, implying that spelling doesn’t always lead to correct sound.)

Sometimes though this vicious cycle is broken, but in most of those cases acquisition of pronunciation is not efficient.

2. Acquisition of pronunciation is inefficient

Let me start with a little anecdote, which I’ve narrated few times earlier.

While watching 2017 Shanghai Rolex Masters final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, I heard the commentator say ‘sahyz-mik’. I hadn’t heard this pronunciation before, but I knew in a flash that the word just spoken was seismic, which I used to pronounce as ‘seis-mik’ (the way it is spelt). That’s one way we come to know of few of our mispronunciations.

Another way is to check pronunciation when we aren’t comfortable pronouncing a word. We type in the word on Google, listen to the audio on Google itself, and move on. Some of us use an online dictionary instead, but the process remains more or less the same.

Whichever method we use, we fail to retain most new pronunciations because we fail to take further steps. To give an example of what I mean, seismic after being noticed goes through my regular process of pronunciation acquisition, which essentially comprises of practice that mimics pronunciation while speaking and spaced repetition (this has been demonstrated in the video accompanying the eBook). It all takes few seconds.

Identifying mispronunciations is hard, and we let most of what we identify slip away because of an inefficient acquisition process.

Test it yourself

Read the following paragraph loudly. After finishing, note down the words you think you might have mispronounced and then listen to the pronunciation of words mentioned in ‘Answers to Exercise 1’.

Exercise 1

With workers sewing garments amidst the ratchet of machines, the scene was chaotic on the factory floor. But Chen, indifferent to what was happening around, buried his head on the task as he was striving hard to reach higher echelons of the factory hierarchy. Soon came the floor manager and, standing right behind Chen, teased him with a mischievous grin, “It seems at your speed you’ll be late for your few pints of beer today.” Daniel replied, “No, because I prefer draught beer.”

Answers to Exercise 1

[Pronunciations of sew/ratchet/chaotic/bury/echelon/mischievous/pint/draught]

Did you pronounce these eight words correctly? If not, were you aware that you’ve been mispronouncing these words, possibly for years?

But if you pronounced most of them correctly, then you are few notches above an average speaker.

Here is another paragraph – but of a different kind – to read aloud, with the same instructions as in the last exercise.

Exercise 2

The government has shown political will to combat climate change through progressive regulatory and financial interventions. On the financial side, the country has allocated $260 billion to bring down the share of petroleum products in its energy needs to 25 percent by 2030. Whereas all agree on the measures, experts advocate a more aggressive approach, some of whom recently filed a petition in this regard with the government.

Answers to Exercise 2

[Pronunciations of political/progressive/allocate/petroleum/agree/advocate/petition]

(If you noticed, unlike pronunciations in the first exercise, the seven pronunciations here depart only slightly from their common mispronunciation, which is nothing but the word pronounced as it has been spelt.)

How did you do this time? If you mispronounced, were you aware of these mispronunciations?

If you pronounce such words correctly, you’ll impress the best.

How to solve a problem when you don’t even know it exists?

How do you improve your pronunciation when you don’t even know which words you’re mispronouncing?

That’s the problem I faced when I resolved to improve my pronunciation. I adopted every possible way to unearth common mispronunciations – observing others’ speech, speaking out loudly myself and observing slightest of fumble, checking pronunciation in an online dictionary at the slightest of doubt, and so on. Over months, as I met with success (which I define as using previously-mispronounced words correctly in speech and catching others’ mispronunciations), improving pronunciation turned into a passion. I’ve now more than 3,000 words in the list, which is close to saturation as I barely get 1-2 new words in several weeks.

Note: This eBook has fewer than 3,000 words because the longer list has been pruned (by dropping proper nouns such as names of brands, persons, and countries, among other things) to make it manageable and practical for users.

If you have a similar list, you’ll drastically reduce the time spent on improving your pronunciation.

About

I’m Anil, the person behind this eBook.

Continuing with my experience in pronunciation, of more than 3,000 words I’ve added to my list, I covered nearly 75 percent in flat six months, hunting for words, noting down correct pronunciations, and preparing flash cards. And the good part is that these pronunciations have embedded in my memory for long: I had a retention rate of more than 95 percent (in a sample of more than 1,000 words) even after two years. Learn more about my pronunciation journey.

But a skill means nothing if you can’t use it in the real world. I could not only use the words while speaking, but I could also instantaneously catch mispronunciations in others’ speech, including experts’. I could catch mispronunciations in the speech of participants in TV debates, including anchors, who are supposed to have flawless pronunciation. (Do you think those anchors will mispronounce if they know they’re mispronouncing? Correct pronunciation, after all, is their bread and butter. This reinforces the point that most don’t even know they’re mispronouncing.) And all this when I was watching these shows with focus on what people are saying, and not on mispronunciations. I narrated this experience not to impress you, but to tell you that this can be achieved by anyone. It’s just about a process.

I’ve also worked with school (Grade 6 onwards) and college students in improving their pronunciation, with good results. To give an example, they’ve shown retention rate of more than 80 percent after six months when they didn’t follow some of the best practices. That’s also because learning pronunciation is one of the most mechanical and easy components of English language.

More:

Who is this for?

This eBook is for anyone above 10 years who is looking to improve their pronunciation of English words. For reason mentioned earlier, it’ll be more beneficial to non-native speakers, but native speakers too will benefit.

What people say?

“Thanks to the comprehensive list, I could lay my hands on several words that I was earlier mispronouncing without being aware of. No doubt, it’s a quick way to improve pronunciation.”

Mayank

“The 2k list of commonly mispronounced words has been quite helpful. I never learnt IPA symbols for pronunciation, but the non-phonetic form in the PDF is quite intuitive and helped me prepare my own flash cards. This wouldn’t have been possible with IPA symbols or sounds.”

Juan

eBook

The eBook comes in two shapes: Option 1 contains eBook and instructional video; Option 2 contains eBook, instructional video, and practice paragraphs.

Here are the details of these components:

A. eBook

The eBook, in PDF form, contains 2,000 commonly mispronounced words I’ve gathered over the years through different methods mentioned earlier. Few highlights:

1. The eBook is divided into two parts:

  • First contains words whose pronunciation has little to no resemblance with spelling of the word. Exercise 1 that we saw earlier contains such words. More examples: Awry, Epitome, Hyperbole, and Sewer.
  • Second contains words whose pronunciation is close to spelling but differs slightly. This is where most mispronunciations happen. Exercise 2 that we saw earlier contains such words. More examples: Accessory, Algorithm, Omnipotent, and Profound.

2. Each word is accompanied by its pronunciation in audio and written form (both phonetic and non-phonetic).

3. Pronunciation in both British and American English are included if the two differ.

4. It contains comments that will help you learn common patterns of mispronunciation. Learning these patterns will significantly improve your success rate in pronouncing unforeseen words.

You can download a sample copy here:

B. Instructional video

The video demonstrates how to learn pronunciation in the list so that you retain it for long and transfer it smoothly to speech.

C. Practice paragraphs

It’s a PDF containing practice paragraphs (totaling more than 20,000 words) like the two you saw in the exercises.

After finishing every hundred words in the eBook, you can read out loud their corresponding practice paragraphs to reinforce the pronunciation you’ve learnt. Practicing with text that seamlessly weaves difficult-to-pronounce words takes your practice closer to real situation.

Shed your hesitation of speaking certain words and stand out for your correct pronunciation. Start improving from Day 1 through an efficient process and a custom list of 2,000 commonly mispronounced words.

(This option contains eBook and instructional video.)

Money Back Guarantee: I’m confident you’ll find the eBook valuable, but in case you don’t, you can get full refund within 30 days.

Shed your hesitation of speaking certain words and stand out for your correct pronunciation. Start improving from Day 1 through an efficient process and a custom list of 2,000 commonly mispronounced words.

(This option contains eBook, instructional video, and practice paragraphs.)

Money Back Guarantee: I’m confident you’ll find the eBook valuable, but in case you don’t, you can get full refund within 30 days.

Question? Drop a message.