I’ve been shadowing this French audio from IE languages for a couple days. I recorded myself this morning reading the text aloud so I can hear how different I sound from the native speaker. Hopefully in a few months I’ll be able to look back and cringe at my bad pronunciation.
Here’s the native speaker version:
And here’s my version (after two days of shadowing, ~10 minutes each time):
To my ear, I sound like an American trying to speak French. However, I can’t tell exactly what the differences are or where I’m making mistakes. In Fluent Forever, which I mentioned in the last post, Wyner introduces the idea of using minimal pair flash cards to learn pronunciation. The idea is to find words that differ in only one phoneme, and make flash cards where you hear the audio for one of these words and have to guess which of the two words is being spoken. This trains your ear to recognize the sounds of the language. For pronunciation, Wyner suggests using a phonetic alphabet, among other things.
These sound like good suggestions, but I’m not sure where to start. Again, I’m not pronouncing quinze like “quinzy” or anything so obvious. I know I have trouble with some vowels, though, like the ‘i’ in intérresant. Maybe I should consult with a native speaker at the next French conversation table I go to.
I also recorded a reading of the German dialogue from Slow German about the weather. It’s paid material, so I won’t post the original, but you can hear a slower version on the Slow German website.
This one I’ve been shadowing for about a week, around 15 minutes a day:
I haven’t mastered it (the end especially still trips me up), but I think a week is long enough that I ought to start shadowing a new dialogue. I’ll continue doing this one, but just once or twice a day.
Hey you, reading this! If you happen to be a native German or French speaker and can point out where my mistakes are, I will gladly trade you good karma points, redeemable from participating retailers while supplies last offer expires on the third harvest moon of the sixteenth year after the return of the true Quetzalcoatl.
What techniques have you found for improving your pronunciation?
Native speaker audio
Here’s one possible way to make good Anki cards with audio. Rhino Spike is a site where you can request native speaker recordings of particular sentences. It looks like it works on the Lang 8 model, where you’re more likely to get requests fulfilled if you help fulfill others’ requests yourself. This could also be a great way to make your own shadowing material.