In my opinion, the hardest part in teaching EFL is the pronunciation. Some of my students, a lot of them, can’t pronounce English consonants well. Let alone, Sundanese students have a difficulty in distinguishing the sound /p/ and /f/. They tend to pronounce both sounds the same. For instance, the phrase four pipes is sometimes pronounced either /fɒ: faifs/ or /pɒ: paips/.
I’ve tried to get them practice the /f/ and /p/ so many times, but I’m afraid my effort is useless. Hence, I told them to practice the English tongue twisters at home frequently hoping that one day, they’ll have better pronunciation. Here is some tongue twister practice I got from both other sources and my own thought.
Practice of /f/ and /p/: That fat Piper picked up five pipes and four flat plates
Practice of /ð/, /θ/, and /t/: They think that their teeth get thinner at times they want to taste think meat
Practice of /s/ and /ʃ/: She shall see the seashore so she can sing
Practice of /ʤ/ and /ʧ/: Joy to see your chin, jaw and cheek
Practice of /ʃ/ and /ʒ/: She has vision to share pleasure with Natasha
So, that’s some tongue twisters for all EFL learners to practice distinguishing the consonant sounds. I hope it’s useful.
1. Observe and imitate the mouth movements of those who speak English well
You can watch from Youtube, movies, or real people from the real world near you who speak English well. Don’t be ashamed to look silly, or to be mocked by the people around you. You’re the one who will get better in speaking English correctly in the end.
2. Learn also the correct intonation and rhythm
Different English accents have different intonations and rhythms. I suggest you learn the standard accent first, i.e. standard American accent. Why do I suggest standard American? Because Indonesian people are easier to imitate the Americans because of the Hollywood movies, so it’s easy to find sources to learn the standard American.
3. Don’t speak too fast when you’re still learning
If you speak fast and you make mistakes in the pronunciation of some words, you’ll look stupid and people won’t understand what you say if you speak fast. But don’t speak too slowly, either. You don’t want people to think you’re a robot or mental retarded, do you?
4. Read aloud in English for at least 10 minutes daily
Find an English novels, short stories, news, anything. Read them aloud along with the intonation and rhythm. Reading aloud for ten minutes daily is enough to help you improve your pronunciation and lose you native accent.
5. Install a speaking dictionary on your computer
This is very practical rather than buy a dictionary. Why do I say this is practical? Because the technology advancement (notebooks, netbooks, even tablets) that makes your life a lot easier. You can even install a speaking dictionary on your smartphone (of course you must use the mobile version of the dictionary). I recommend you install Concise Oxford English Dictionary. When you install it on your device, you can look up for a word, click on the speaker logo, and voila, it pronounces the word!
6. Record your own voice and find the pronunciation mistakes
You can do the number 4 tip and you record it while you’re reading. Listen to your recording, and find the pronunciations that you think you need to improve.