When we start out on a language learning adventure, I’m sure we all have some grand mental image of ourselves speaking the language easily, with the sounds just flowing forth confidently and clearly. Of course, that is the ideal… and then there’s reality! Some days I feel like Korean is just rolling off my tongue, and other days it’s like a cat spitting up a hairball. Not pretty!
If you’re having difficulty achieving your desired pronunciation, or maybe you think you just sound weird in the other language, maybe you can look at the pitch of your voice. There’s no need to consciously force your voice into an unnatural pitch, though I personally do notice that my the “normal” level of my voice is a bit different in each of my languages. My Mandarin’s baseline is a bit higher than my English and Korean, for example, because if I were to start from the same point in Mandarin as I do for English or Korean, hitting the lower points of the tones would be hard. However, that was something that I found developed naturally as I practiced.
A good way to develop pronunciation skills to listen to and repeat native speech. You can do this with about anything—audio CDs that come with textbooks, podcasts, dramas and other TV programs, etc. Just listen and try to copy the sounds as best as you can!
Ultimately, don’t get too discouraged if you can’t hit all the sounds right, especially if the ones snagging you up are sounds that you don’t really use in your native language. Perfect pronunciation is not required to be understood, so just aim to get as close as you can 🙂
Good luck, everyone, and happy studying~