Improve English Pronunciation- 1 Simple Tip (Free PDF+Video)

One of my students was reading an English advertisement for fruit juice. She was having difficulty pronouncing the word ARTIFICIAL. 

Pronouncing long words can be challenging for ESL students. I worked with my students and used my own experience as a language student (French and Japanese) to develop this method. This technique will help you easily improve your English pronunciation. 

Long words should be broken down into syllables so you can ‘count the beats.’ Read the word slowly with a focus on each ‘beat.’
For example, the word artificial has 4 syllables (beats). AR – TI – FI – CIAL
Start slow and increase the speed with a little time and practice. This can work for any word.

This pronunciation method works best when combined with listening practice. I’ll share how I do that with my own students with a link to one of my favorite FREE online English resources.

*This pronunciation method is something that I use myself in my own Japanese study.

One Simple Trick – Syllables as BEATS

One Simple Trick - Syllables as BEATS

There are many ways to improve your English pronunciation and listening to English is very important. As I said above listening and using Syllables as BEATS work great together. Talking with a native speaker, recording yourself, reading out loud, etc. can also be helpful. But…


These ways are great for practicing but you need to say the word before you can practice it. The first step is to break the word down into BEATS. Everything else comes after.

Pronouncing the words clearly and slowly is your foundation, your base. Improving your pronunciation is an important step in improving your listening and understanding skills. Most people overlook this practice. Let’s use it now.

Syllable – Definition

Pronouncing long English words

A syllable is a unit of sound. Words are divided into these sound units. A syllable is made of a vowel sound and usually one or more consonants.

Vowels are the letter – A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y.
Consonants are the rest of the letters in the alphabet – b, c, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, w, x, and z.

How It Works

Syllables are like drum beats.

If you think of it like music, one syllable is one beat

  • The word Dave has 1 beat. – one syllable
    • DAVE
  • The word English has 2 beats. – two syllables
  • The word Syllables has 3 beats. – three syllables

Thinking about pronunciation this way has been very helpful for my students.

“Dave taught me how to improve my English pronunciation using syllables.” (SYLLABLES)

Music is more fun than grammar study for me.

Syllables as BEATS – Practice

Syllables as BEATS - Practice

How many beats (syllables) does the word “pronunciation” have?

One, two, three, four, five.
Five syllables.

At first, you want to read this very slowly. It will sound unnatural, but that’s okay. After reading the word slowly just two or three times you will feel comfortable speeding up a little. It will feel quite natural. Give it a try

*NOTE: Speed up little by little. When talking with and being understood by native speakers, slower is always better than too fast. Don’t rush. We crawl before we can walk, we walk before we can run. 

Let’s try the word that my student was having trouble pronouncing. Artificial
How many syllables? 

This word has 4 beats. 

*NOTE – In English, the letters “CIAL” sound like “SHALL.” SHALL is the last BEAT in our word.

A Second Benefit 

Syllables as BEATS - confidence

Long words can intimidate language learners. (Long Japanese words intimidate me.)

Reading the words slowly, BEAT by BEAT makes long words easy to say. This improves your confidence. Improved confidence improves communication. This confidence is very useful when we do other kinds of pronunciation practice.

Thinking about pronunciation this way has been very helpful for my students.

Counting Syllables for New Words

If you read a new word that you want to listen to so you can hear the correct pronunciation, I suggest the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary web page.

You can get the meaning of new words and listen to how they sound. I use it often with my private students. This site also has simple English definitions for new words.

When I learn a new Japanese word, I find it’s better to understand the meaning using other simple Japanese words or images.

Dave – WorldEnglishBlog

Just doing a direct translation into your native language doesn’t help you remember the meaning later on when you want to use it again.

Pronunciation Plus Complete Sentences 

Pronunciation Plus Complete Sentences 

This next tip is one that I use with my students and myself for my own second language training. Whenever you learn new grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, or any new language you should always do this one thing. LEARN COMPLETE SENTENCES.

Don’t memorize lists, and don’t focus only on learning grammar rules. If English communication is your goal then you want to learn complete sentences. Complete sentences are like language patterns and you are learning all points of grammar without realizing it. 

Full sentences contain articles, different verb tenses, prepositions, adverbs and adjectives, plus more. 

After using the syllables as beats method to correctly pronounce a new English word, find that word used in a natural sentence. This is another great chance to use the dictionary resource – Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary.
More ideas for how to find (and HOW NOT TO FIND) great example sentences can be found HERE.

Now practice that whole sentence. While you’re practicing pronunciation you’re also remembering correct sentence grammar. Using natural full sentences will improve your confidence, and this improves communication

Practice Time – Your Turn

  1. Choose a long English word that you have a hard time pronouncing. 
  2. Type your word into and listen to the audio. 
  3. Count the syllables and divide the words into BEATS.
  4. Read the word slowly, BEAT by BEAT. Start to read the word a little faster.  Listen to the audio again. Is it the same?
  5. Make a full sentence and practice reading the whole sentence.

Try using this simple technique the next time you are having difficulty pronouncing a long English word.

Pronunciation PDF E-guide

Download your printable pronunciation PDF E-guide below. (It’s FREE!) PDFs contain the live links from the post.

More HELPFUL pronunciation blog posts 



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