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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Do you know any ESL books that can help me? 

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“Dear Ai,
I’ve been in Vancouver for more than a year. My level of English is advance in my school. The only thing I haven’t improved much is pronunciation. I still have a strong accent and people can tell easily that I am from Japan. Because of this, I’m afraid of talking to people. Do you know any ESL books that can help me?” Keigo – Japan

“Hi Keigo, thank you for your question. It is quite hard to eliminate an accent when people learn a second language. It is unfortunate, but possible to feel scared of talking if you are not confident in your speaking. But the more you practice, the better your pronunciation will be. So be patient and most important, be kind to yourself!

I have met people who speak English like native speakers, but they’ve never left Japan! I asked them how they achieved this and here is what they told me.

First, you need to find a local Canadian person (either your friend or tutor). Then ask the person to correct your pronunciation each time you make mistakes. The person should be patient and you should also feel comfortable being with her/him.

It is also a good idea to listen to CDs and audios that have a pronunciation exercise. Listen and repeat them while you are driving, taking subways, or cooking dinner! Repetition is boring, but it is necessary for you to improve pronunciation. Have you ever wondered why you remember that you can sing along even though you’ve never read or study the lyrics?

Watch English news on TV with the audio off. Try to guess what the announcer says by watching his/her mouth and facial movement. You will be amazed to see the amount of information you can get without any sound.

I did a little bit research for you. There are 14 English pronunciation textbooks for Japanese people at the Vancouver Central Library!! I picked up two excellent ones for you to check. “Say it right! Pronunciation practice for Japanese students” by Harvey M. Taylor and “English pronunciation for Japanese speakers” by Pauletter Dale and Lillian Poms are helpful resources to improve English pronunciation for Japanese speakers.

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