English pronunciation is certainly tricky. If you want proof of this, have a look at this poem "The Chaos"; it will provide a challenge for advanced learners but might make a beginner give up in horror (as the poem itself suggests as the solution!)
Pronunciation matters because when we don’t pronounce well, it can complicate communication and cause frustration. I should know; I haven't forgotten my first months living in Spain and the regular looks of incomprehension I would get when I tried out my new Spanish.
Over the 16 years I’ve been teaching English, I have heard certain mistakes come up time and time again across nationalities, levels and ages. So, for a mini pronunciation crash course, have a look below and try to avoid these common mistakes! Remember to focus on the stressed syllable (underlined). For those it might help, the word in phonetic script is included in brackets. If you reckon you’ve mastered these, have a go at the tricky ones! At the bottom you can see a short video of my (😜excellent British) pronunciation of these words. Here goes…
Island (ˈaɪlənd) – Say “ai·luhnd,” don’t pronounce the s!
Mountain (ˈmaʊntɪn) – the first part rhymes with cow, the second is more like tin
Environment (ɪnˈvaɪrəmənt) – “in-vai-ro-ment,” skip the second n and it’s not that hard
Genre (ˈʒɒnrə) – say with your best French accent “jon-ruh,” with a soft j
Idea (aɪˈdɪə) – “ai-dee-uh,” (note to French speakers: please don't forget the last syllable!)
Money (ˈmʌni) - “muh-nee,” be careful with the first vowel – it’s not an o sound
Cousin (ˈkʌz(ə)n) – “cuh-zn”
Daughter (ˈdɔːtə(r)) – “dor-tuh,” don’t be fooled by the daugh sound, here it’s pronounced door
Choir (kwaɪə(r)) – “kw-ai-uh” – a bit like quiet with a different ending
Salmon (ˈsæmən) – don’t say the l ! “sa-mun”
Tricky words challenge – if you can say these correctly, you're half-way to speaking the Queen's English!