English pronunciation can be tricky indeed—but there are numerous ways to practice and numerous resources to help guide you. Many of the resources are free, online, right at your fingertips and specialize in those learning the language pronunciation for the first time with English as a second language.
ESL pronunciation can be even more confusing when the English words have the same letters as another language but an entirely different way to combine them and an entirely different sound. One glaring example is with French, where the word for dog is chien. “Chien” is pronounced with a soft beginning sound, a diphthong vowel sound in the middle and only a hint of a nasal n at the end. French speakers would therefore say something like “shee-yehn.”
Switch that same word, chien, to an English pronunciation and it ends up with a harder initial sound, like in chuck, and a prominent final n. This would give you something like “chi-enn.”
There are also many words that have the same vowel pronounciation but use different combinations of vowels to produce those sounds. A few examples of those include reign, in which the “ei” sounds like “ay,” plane, where the “a” sounds like “ay,” and maim, where the “ai” sounds like “ay.” Yes, English pronunciation can be complicated.
But do not fret. Learning English pronunciation can be achieved through a lot of practice and a lot of listening. If possible, get recordings of books and read along while you look at the text. Mark any words that give you trouble as you move along. Listen to newscasts, radio broadcasts and TV to grasp more of the sounds.
Myriad websites offer different types of lessons, some that include both written, oral and listening drills. Flashcards are another good way to learn English pronunciation, as long as you practice with someone who pronounces things correctly.
Once you get used to the general rules, you’ll be able to pronounce words you’ve never heard before—unless they fall into the pronunciation exceptions. In that case, you’ll want more flashcards.