I always listen to news broadcasts while I drive. I repeat words that I know, expressions that I like, interesting sounds. Constantly.
My hope is that I am learning sounds the way a baby does, plus listening to words in context, and increasing my listing skills.
Eventually, I will find if my strategy works.
I think my wife is going to leave me over this~ Totally kidding of course!
But I basically babble nonsense Japanese and random words out loud a lot. That’s the current extent of my clearly very thought-out pronunciation practice!
Also; when I read, I read out loud most of the time. I’ll first stumble my way through the sentence as I work out what it says, and then I often try to repeat it a few more times to get it closer to the natural cadence that it might be spoken in. Not every sentence, but a fair amount.
All I do for pitch accent is use [Userscript] WaniKani Pitch Info to make sure I’m aware of the pitch accent for the words I’m learning. I don’t actually practice with other people, but I do read words and sentences out loud.
Personally I have trouble pronouncing the ん that is followed by あ・い・う・え・お.
I’m not a native English speaker and I have a higher than average knowledge of linguistics, so those two things help a lot. My first language has a similar rhythm to Japanese, though with tones I do need to pay attention too. I find my partner has a lot of trouble with Japanese pronunciation, though (he’s British), so I often cannot understand what he’s trying to say.
I’d believe the most important bits for English speakers would be to remember that in Japanese, every syllable (kinda) gets the same amount of stress, and that vowels are single, short (quickly pronounced) sounds (unless made longer).
I personally think if someone wants to learn other languages, they should at least look a tiny bit into the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) (Edit: You need to enable flash on the site for it to work.) to gain a better understanding of sounds in human languages. It has been so far the most useful tool for me.
To off-top for a moment: when my wife started learning Dutch, she had to get used to certain vowel sounds that English just doesn’t have.
Teaching her to distinguish and reproduce them included such quality instructions on my part as comical mimicry of a sea lion, because she could remember and reproduce the sound if she pictured me doing that ridiculous imitation.
So the Dutch talk like a bunch of sea lions? (I heard it from you)
I worked with a Vietnamese man for a year or two. The boss was horrible, and if there was a question about what needed to be done, he would just yell it louder.
(oh yeah, I forgot, the other employee was deaf. So, I got stuck being the English, Vietnamese, ASL translator)
(Which made me into the “little Boss” which really stunk because I would take the blame for the bad work of the guys, and the bad orders of the Big Boss)
So, it took me months to realize, that although this young man was very literate in English, he could not hear many of the sounds we make in English. He just though they were weird sounds that we make. I know, for instance, that he couldn’t hear a hard L or an f. It helped me lots to communicate with him once I realized this.
shadowing is a great way to get your pronunciation in order.
i started with audio courses, did audio drill stuff like … i forgot the name, but it taught me stuff like 宿泊設備 i had no immediate need for that, but i did the drills, for weeks and months.
then i came to japan and realized i still sound bad (pronunciation was fine, but pitch was terrible).
nowadays, 8 years later, i sound not too bad, but i still would be more comfortable in kansai than in kantou, because i sometimes unconsciously put stress, which japanese doesn’t have, which then sounds like western japanese pitch.
yeah, so shadowing is awesome and i can totally recommend doing it. even if you feel like an idiot. don’t worry about it.
I’d also throw my hat in the shadowing ring. Reading out loud is great exercise, but shadowing is just that bit better because you’re imitating correct Japanese and so less likely to accidentally end up with bad / incorrect habits.
For simpler Japanese I quite like using graded readers which come with (native speaker) audio recordings. Reading practice and shadowing in one