English, Português

Dearest creature in creation…

Marina Borges / 27 de setembro de 2013

… study English pronunciation


It’s been some three months since I started having English classes with this fun Englishman.

“But, Marina, I thought you were a translator and interpreter! How come you need English classes?”

I am a Brazilian translator and interpreter, my native language is Portuguese. I do know a lot about the English language so far – due to my educational and professional background – but I have no problems in admitting there are some words I only know in a written form, not a spoken one.

Ideally, it is necessary to spend some time abroad in order to get immersed in an English-only culture and force yourself to listen, speak and read English better. I would love to have such an opportunity, sure, but since having an Englishman living nearby is much cheaper, that’s what I chose to do by now.

One of the most interesting aspects of this experience was to realize how I actually did not pronunce properly. At all. For some unknown reason I assumed one did not need to pronunce the word as a whole, e.g. the final m sounds, such as aim, or the more usual t sound rather than d in words ending in “ed”, e.g. disorganized, developed, etc. Portuguese influence, of course.

Another typical Brazilian mistake my teacher pointed out was the initial consonant s sound. Take the word “special”, for example – we always tend to pronunce “eespecial”, as in Portuguese there is no such a thing, without any vowels helping out. I’m watching my back now to say simple words such as sport, structure and such.

When I feel like annoying my teacher I end up my sentences saying “and such”. He says there’s no sense in saying this expression, unless I say it “and such like”. The problem is now it has become a problem to me, I tend to end all my sentences saying “and such” while I mean to say “etc.”

I think in the long term, along with shadowing exercises, my spoken English will improve. But I truly recommend getting a native speaker’s opinion on your speaking skills – they are the only ones who can warn you of anything absurd you may be saying.

Though I bet my teacher is not able to pronunce the poem of the link above properly. At least not the very first time.

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