Using your phone to practise pronunciation


Speaking in English is a very difficult to practise outside the classroom if you don’t have anybody to practise with.

However, you can still improve your pronunciation on your own and gain confidence!

Understanding the word you want to practise

Before working on your pronunciation, first you need to understand the word you have found and want to learn. For example, the word you don’t understand and want to learn is ‘wide’. If you have found this word in context you will be able to identify that it is an adjective.

First, we always recommend using an English dictionary before using translation into your language. The Cambridge Dictionary or The Free Dictionary are two of our favourites.

Here is the Cambridge Dictionary entry for ‘wide’:

The great thing about the Cambridge Dictionary is different entries for different language levels

Hopefully, now you understand the word and you can write it down in your vocabulary notebook. If you still don’t understand, let’s use translation. We recommend Word Reference for this (download the app for your phone if you don’t have it – it’s free). Here is ‘wide’ in Italian (as an example):

We can confirm it is an adjective, and we have the translation and example sentences.

Now you understand the word, what about the pronunciation?

Example pronunciations

All of the dictionaries and translation websites we mentioned above have the pronunciation of the word for you to listen to. We prefer the Word Reference system because it allows you to choose variants of English. Which one should you choose? That’s up to you. If you are more familiar with British English, choose UK. If you’re more familiar with a US accent, choose that.

You can choose from a wide range (haha we used the word ‘wide’) of options and the playback speed
You also have the phonetic spelling if you understand the phonetic symbols

Listen to the UK pronunciation for example and try to copy it as best you can. Do this several times until you think your pronunciation is similar to the example.

Yes, but how do I know I’m pronouncing it correctly?

Without a teacher or a native speaker friend to help you, it’s difficult to know exactly, but here is where your phone can help you.

First, we can use the voice input on our phone to find words in Word Reference. You will need to add English as an input language. To do this on Android, open the Google app on your phone, go to Settings > Voice. Here you can add English as a voice language.

Set English Language in Google
You can choose the variant of English that best suits you

Now, in the Word Reference app, select ‘English > your language’ and tap the microphone button. Say ‘wide’. If the app understands you correctly, success! If not, don’t worry, try again.

The Android interface of the Word Reference app

To test your pronunciation a bit more, and help you gain confidence, now let’s try asking Google/Siri a question using the word ‘wide’. Open your Google Assistant and ask, for example:

How wide is A blue whale’s tail?

If Google understands you successfully, you should see something like this:

We know you are desperate to find out the answer to ‘Do whales sleep?’ now

Now you can ask a variety of questions to Google/Siri to practise your pronunciation. ”What is the capital of Lithuania?’ ‘How many states are there in the USA?’ You can be more imaginative than us!

Extra help with pronunciation if you need it

If you need some more help, particularly when you have two words that have similar pronunciation, a good tool is to use Google. In the next example we are using the words ‘loved’ and ‘laughed’. In a lot of cases, if you search Google for the word you want + pronunciation, you will see something like this:

You can listen to the pronunciation, see the phonetic pronunciation and watch the movement of the mouth
Now you can do the same with ‘loved’. Can you pronounce the two words clearly?

You can watch the movement of the mouth and lips and listen to the example in both British and American English. Hopefully this will help you gain confidence and precision in your pronunciation!

What do you think of our tips? Will you use them to help your pronunciation? Is there anything else you would suggest? Let us know in the comments below.



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