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Try These Apps to Improve Your Pronunciation

Education Tips: Try These Apps to Improve Your Pronunciation
Education Tips: Try These Apps to Improve Your Pronunciation
Try These Apps to Improve Your Pronunciation
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Have you ever been sure that you were pronouncing a word correctly only to find out just how wrong you were?

That happened to me on a trip to France a few years ago. I was at a cafe ordering food. When I said the word “egg” in French, the server did not understand me. After a few more tries, he still had no idea what I was trying to say. I was very surprised.

That experience reminded me of something: Having too few chances to speak a language can leave us unclear about our pronunciation ability. Many of you out there can probably relate. You may have had trouble finding English practice partners in your own city or country.

One answer is to use an app for pronunciation practice. While most such apps are imperfect, they may support your overall efforts to be better understood in English. On today’s Education Tips, we will talk about four American English pronunciation apps.

Say It: Pronunciation
Say It: Pronunciation

Say It: Pronunciation
(iOS | Android)

The first one is called Say It: Pronunciation. This app’s goal is to help learners improve the clarity of their pronunciation. It was developed by Oxford University Press – the same publishers that brought us the world’s biggest dictionary.

Users of Say It: Pronunciation can practice more than 35,000 words.

With the app, you can:

  • Take a pronunciation test of words pre-chosen by the app, from easy to difficult
  • Touch letters from the IPA to hear what each sounds like
  • Record yourself saying a word. The app then creates a waveform from your voice and you can compare it to that of the model speaker. A marker shows which part of each word to stress
  • Play your recording at a slower speed to hear differences between your pronunciation and the model’s
  • Save a list of words you would like to practice often
  • And share your pronunciation recording with a friend or teacher

Say It: Pronunciation offers a free version. But its usability is limited. You would need to buy the paid version to get full use of the app, which costs $6.99.

ELSA Speak
ELSA Speak

ELSA Speak
(iOS | Android)

Next up is the app ELSA Speak.

ESLA Speak uses artificial intelligence, or AI, to act as your own American English pronunciation teacher. One of the strong points of this app is that it offers a speaking test with detailed results and a score. Another is that its AI software lets you have conversations with the computer and get feedback.

With the app, you can:

  • Take a speaking test to help you understand your biggest pronunciation problems
  • After the test, ELSA Speak puts together your personalized lesson plans
  • Listen to ELSA Speak, repeat its words or phrases and get immediate feedback on how to move your lips and tongue for better sound clarity
  • Do four different types of lessons: pronunciation, listening, syllable stress and conversation
  • And choose a time that you want to practice and get reminders from the app each day

ELSA Speak has a free 7-day trial version that lets you take the speaking test and use its 1200 lessons. After that, you would need to pay for the full version. Prices range from $0.99 - $99 for in-app purchases.

Accent Training
Accent Training

Accent Training
(iOS | Android)

Next up is Accent Training, which was designed for iPad and can operate on an iPhone. It also has an Android version, which goes by the name American English Accent Guide. Both center on a few important elements of pronunciation, including reduced speech, intonation and connected speech.

With the app, you can:

  • Practice listening to and using reduced speech
  • Read along as you listen to short passages and see, in red, which phrases are reduced
  • Try recording yourself reading the passages and compare your recordings to that of the model
  • Learn about different elements of pronunciation, such as voiced and unvoiced consonants and the schwa sound
  • And connect to other useful apps, such as ‘VOA English Learning,’ which is not our app, but does use our content

The iPhone version offers 16 practices. The Android version offers a virtual conversation room. However, some users have complained about the room’s technical problems.

The app is free, but unwanted ads show up often. You can choose whether to pay $2.99 to remove them.​

English Pronunciation Tutor
English Pronunciation Tutor

English Pronunciation Tutor
(iOS | Android)

And finally, we have English Pronunciation Tutor. On Android, the app is called American English Pronunciation Tutor. Developed by Language Arts Press, the app is useful if there are specific sounds in English that give you continuous trouble.

With the app, you can:

  • Focus on one element of pronunciation in each unit. For instance, Unit 1 is about the front vowels
  • See drawings and hear recorded explanations of the mouth shape and tongue positions that produce each sound
  • See pictures of similar sounds side-by-side and touch the pictures to compare how to produce each sound
  • Record yourself saying words and compare yourself to the model
  • And take a listening quiz on the sounds of each unit

The app is free for the first unit only. After that, you would pay $5.99 to activate the full version.

Make communication key

Again, none of these apps can replace real-life speaking practice. But if you are in serious need of pronunciation support, they may help.

A word of advice: Aim for better communication rather than perfection. Keep in mind that having an accent is normal and only an issue if it prevents listeners from understanding you. So, make your goal to be understood, not to sound exactly like an American. Note that many Americans, in fact, admire the accents of English learners.

I’m Alice Bryant.

Alice Bryant wrote this story for Learning English. Susan Shand was the editor.

Have you ever used a pronunciation app? What was it called? What did you like or not like? What improvements did you notice? Write to us in the Comments.


Words in This Story

pronounce – v. to make the sound of a word with your voice

practice – v. to do something again and again in order to become better at it

app – n. a computer program that performs a special function

IPA – n. (International Phonemic Alphabet)

stress – v. to pronounce (a syllable or word) in a louder or more forceful way than other syllables or words

artificial intelligence – n. (AI) an area of computer science that deals with giving machines the ability to seem like they have human intelligence

feedback – n. helpful information or criticism that is given to someone to say what can be done to improve a performance, product, etc.

score – n. the number of points that someone gets for correct answers on a test, exam, etc.

accent – n. a way of pronouncing words that occurs among the people in a particular region or country

admire – v. to feel respect or approval for someone or something