How to get good pronunciation of foreign words

Q: 안녕하세요! Now I may be a little different as I am actually learning Korean…not Japanese (good job on GenkiKorean by the way), but I feel that this question may apply to anyone learning any language.

I mainly have a problem with pronouncing these words in a way that seems…well…decent. Doesn’t matter what language I try. It was the same with French and Japanese–No matter how much I tried, I always sounded the same.

It may be a self-esteem issue (my self-esteem isn’t that good, I admit) but after a while, this problem makes me lose all motivation in trying. Doesn’t matter which learning method I use (Michel Thomas, Pimsleur, lots of TV).

Is this a problem you’ve ever had? Do I just have bad self esteem? – Richard

A: Hi Richard!

Working on self esteem is *always* something that’s worthwhile, and something we’ve all felt at some point. But luckily working on this is by far the single biggest investment you’ll make and well worth grabbing the bull by the horns and just going for it!

So how do we do this with languages?

The trick is to go totally, totally, totally over the top with your accent.

Like imagine no one is looking and you are trying to do the worst possible impression of your favourite JPop/KPop, JDrama/KDrama/Samurai/Ninja star.

Start off with saying a phrase in English with your regular accent.

Then say it with this crazy, crazy over the top accent.  Outloud.  (Remember no one is looking so it’s OK!)

Now say the phrase in Korean or Japanese with your “regular” accent.  Doesn’t that sound rubbish?

So now say it over and over again in the crazy stereotypical accent.  Make yourself into that movie star or samurai!!

And whenever you are alone start saying the language in this crazy over the top accent.

You really can’t go too far, just push and push because what you think is over the top is probably just right for the person listening!

Having the courage to do this will certainly improve your self esteem.

And it will also push you to really go for it with the accent.

I did this with French and Japanese and on the phone now people don’t know I’m English until I say my name.

Good luck and remember Genki English Rule Number One:  You can do it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Be genki,


One Response to “How to get good pronunciation of foreign words”

  1. Chrystel says:

    Wow! I was just thinking about that as I am taking classes in college for Japanese level 2. Everybody in class is a bit shy when Sensei asks someone to read something out loud for everybody to hear. But when we’re fooling around and actually having fun it actually feels more comfortable and lively in the classroom.
    Thanks for the tip Richard! This really made my day!

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