A question I have heard many times from students is ‘What is the best IELTS pronunciation – American or British?’ The truth is that it doesn’t matter; American English and British English in terms of pronunciation are only a question of accent. Good pronunciation is not really a question of accent.
I have had a lot of requests from visitors to this site to provide some help and tips on British pronunciation in preparation for the IELTS Speaking Test.
Visitors know that I’m English and have also requested that I focus on British phonetics.
As a result, I’m going to dedicate the next series of posts to improving your pronunciation for IELTS.
So what are the basic areas of pronunciation that the IELTS examiner will look for? If you look at the IELTS Speaking Band Descriptors, you will see that the examiner looks for the following:
• the use of a range of pronunciation features, used correctly
• consistency in these features being used correctly
• how effortlessly a candidate can be understood.
What are pronunciation features?
• Individual sounds (phonemes) – these are the smallest sounds in the English language that a native speaker recognises as making a difference in meaning.
• stress – the greater emphasis of some syllables or words over others during speech.
• rhythm – the regular repetition of stress in time.
• Intonation – the rise and fall of the voice when speaking.
In this post I’d like to look at the phonetics and phonology of British English. This does not mean that I think British English pronunciation is preferable over American English or Australian English etc but that as an English woman, this is obviously the pronunciation system I teach.
In the following video, I’d like to look at vowel sounds and how they are pronounced in British English. You can also download the British phonemic chart for your own personal reference.
Here’s to the best IELTS score possible!