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#171

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Meet Pronto and learn how to pronounce any word in English

Learning to speak a new language can be challenging, no doubt about that.

Especially English.

All those funky words like knight, laugh, paradigm and psychology that have all these letters that are not pronounced.

And what about the confusing pairs like celery-salary, back-buck, pool-pull that if we confuse them, we may sound unclear?

Or words like beach, focus, spreadsheet and fox that if we mispronounce them, we might get a face-palm moment ?‍♀️??!?

Even when you know how certain words should sound like, you don’t necessarily know what to do in order to pronounce them correctly.
And this uncertainty leads to insecurity.
But what if I told you Google has come up with a brand new feature just for that?
Pronto is a tool I helped Google develop, and it’s based on the experience and detailed feedback I give to my own students.

How to use it:

  • Open Google on your mobile phone and make sure you’re logged in to your Google account (use Safari on iPhone)
  • Type “how to pronounce” and add any word you’re not sure how to pronounce. The Google search tool would spell the word for you as it should be pronounced. The transcription is plain and pretty straightforward.
  • Listen to the pronunciation of the word, and pay attention to the sounds that are most challenging to you
  • Push the “practice” button
  • Record yourself saying the wordPronto would detect the specific sounds that you mispronounced and let you know what you need to do in order to improve, as well as offer you more words to practice with.

So you don’t need to be confused anymore about whether you pronounce words correctly or not. Watch the video to see how you can use Google’s Pronto yourself:

TRANSCRIPT

Hey, it’s Hadar. Thank you for being here.

Today I have some really good news for you.  Have you ever wished that you’d have someone sitting next to you when you’re practicing your pronunciation or saying new words, telling you, “Yes, that was awesome”, or “No, you got to work on that a bit more”? Well, now you have it and it’s totally free.

Google just launched a new tool called Pronto. Pronto is basically your personal pronunciation coach. As you may or may not know, and I talked about it in this video here, Google now writes the words phonetically when you’re searching for how to pronounce a word.

So, for example, if you were to write ‘how to pronounce arbitrary’, you will see it written out phonetically. Not in IPA, what you can find in other dictionaries, but it’s a representation, a visual representation, using the English alphabet of how to pronounce a word.

Now, if you look closely, you’ll see that they’ve added a small button that says ‘Practice’. If you click on the ‘Practice’, it’s going to ask you to record the word, and when you record it, it is going to give you feedback whether or not you pronounced it correctly.

So you’re going to have a visual feedback. It’s going to color in red the sounds or the places in the words that were not clear. But also, it’s going to tell you exactly what you need to do and what you have done differently that is preventing you from being clear.

And it is so incredibly helpful. And the reason why I’m so passionate about it is because I had the privilege of helping Google’s developers and best minds develop this product.

So, I actually told them all about how I give feedback and how I coach my students and how I tell them what to focus on, and what I say exactly to help them get the right sound. And put it into this incredible tool that is there to help you, and it’s absolutely free.

Now, a few things you need to know in order for you to start using this feature.

First of all, it was just launched last month. So, perhaps, you still don’t have access to it, although you will have soon. Maybe by the time you’re watching this video, everyone has access to it. You can only use it on your mobile devices, and your search language should be set to English.

You need to be signed into your Google account, and if you’re using your iPhone, it’s best if you use Safari and not Chrome. By the way, this feature only works with American pronunciation, not British pronunciation.

Okay, so let’s give it a try. I’m using my phone, I’m using, I have an iPhone, so I’m using Safari, and I’m signed into my Google account, as you can see. Now, let’s try ‘how to pronounce authentic’. Great.

So, first of all, I see the the phonetic representation. ‘aa’ is the A as in father – aa. Then we have ‘then’ – t-h-e-n – that’s the ‘e’ as in red. It’s in bold, so that’s the primary stress. ‘aa-then-tuhk’. The ‘uh’ is a schwa, so basically you don’t pronounce the ‘tik’ there, it’s ‘tuhk’. Authentic.

I can play it: authentic. I can play it in slow motion as well: au-then-tic. Good, which helps me understand better what I need to do, and then I do. I just try and practice it myself.

Authentic (speaks with an accent). Now, what I did is I mispronounced 3 sounds and actually detected it perfectly. I said O instead of aa, a common mistake. I pronounced a T instead of a TH – ‘ten’.  And I put an ‘ee’ sound instead of a schwa – ‘teek’. Oh-ten-teek, Oh-ten-teek.

So, it recognized that I mispronounced those three sounds, just quite impressive. And the ‘aa’ as in father – you may have mispronounced the aa. So I’m going to take a look here. And it says, “try to open your mouth wide and relax your lips.” aa, instead of O, aa.

“Your tongue should be low and flat in the back.” Cause if it’s high, O, it’s going to sound more like an Oo. aa, aa. And then you have some examples here that you can play in practice with: job, hot – hot, office – office. Keep in mind the notes that you were given, okay. So you can actually apply it. Try to visualize it.

And then I’m going to move on. You may have mispronounced TH. “Try to bring the tongue to your top teeth.” Right? “Then let the air out slowly between your tongue and teeth.” Right? ‘TH’ – not T.  And then gave me some example words here: think, thanks, theory, method. Great. So I can practice with. ‘then’, ‘then’.

And then you have mispronounced ‘uh’. “Make sure your tongue is on the bottom of your mouth as you make a very short ‘uh’ sound.” uh, uh, uh, tuhk, okay. So, first of all, work unit by unit, syllable by syllable.

Now, let’s say I practice it a bit, I tried it a few times. I practiced the aa, practiced the TH. And then, what you need to do is just practice it again. Try it again. Practice the sounds that were detected, drill the words, watch my YouTube videos, come back to it and try it again. Fun!

So this is a really great tool that will help you take action and start changing and seeing the change.  Because watching YouTube videos is one thing, and obviously that’s something that you do, you’re learning from YouTube, otherwise you wouldn’t have been here. But then, you need to take it to the next step, which means active practice.

And sometimes people tend to not do it or avoid that, that stage because they say to themselves, “Oh, but I don’t know if I’m doing this right.”

So, now there are no more excuses and you got to start taking action. Again, remember that you have to use your phone. For now, the search language needs to be set to English. When you get to the pronunciation box, make sure it’s only set to ‘American pronunciation’ and sign into your Google account.

Okay. I can’t wait to know what you think. I absolutely love it. I know I’m not objective, but I love it. And I hope you will too.

Be sure to subscribe if you want to learn how to pronounce the sounds that you’re practicing using Pronto.

Have a beautiful week and I’ll see you next week in the next video. Bye.

The InFluency Podcast
The InFluency Podcast
8. Google corrects your pronunciation and tells you how to improve
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Did you try it? Leave me a comment below the video and tell me what you think!

In my previous episode on Google Pronto, I talked a bit about the process of its creation. You can watch it here.

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7 Responses

  1. Amazing Hadar! You point exactly the mistakes, explain why they are made and teaches us how to correct them.
    Your videos are really useful, thanks 😉
    And I was wondering if you could give a tip about Hebrew pronunciation: how to pronounce the ר “reish” like Israelis…
    I’m Brazilian, living in Israel for more than 25 years, and still speak the ר like in Portuguese, with the front/top of the mouth (instead of the throat)…
    תודה רבה

  2. Hadar, you are a great teacher! Thanks for your support ! learning English is fun riding with you

  3. I simply loved this video, It was pretty useful! about the rhythm, there are different intonations here in Brazil depending on the region, but your rendition was perfect, now I know how I know when a Brazilian is speaking even when they speak very good English. about that: is it just for me or some American English speakers make all sentences sound like a question?

    1. Hi Ismael, Karen here from Team Shemesh. I’m glad you enjoyed the video! Regarding your question, it depends on the American accent, but people from California tend to finish each sentence in a high tone, which makes it sound like a question. You can search more about the Californian accent 🙂

  4. Hi Hadar. I’m a Brazilian Portuguese speaker and I have to say that you made a great job about our English mistakes. Many of them I can recognize when I speak. It is very difficult for me to recognize the schwa sound and reproduce it.
    But my most terrible “nightmare” (if I can use this expression) is to say correctly the “th” sound.

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