It’s most useful to deliberately learn good pronunciation as it typically does not come naturally to adult learners.
Pronunciation is especially important for languages with very diﬀerent phonology to English, such as Chinese or Vietnamese.
Poor pronunciation learned during the early stages can become ingrained and hard to ﬁx, so learning as you start speaking is preferable.
The advantage of learning good pronunciation is that it’s probably the easiest way to sound ﬂuent at an upper beginner or intermediate stage, and early eﬀort will continue to help you throughout your language endeavors.
If you’re the outgoing type or are learning primarily to communicate verbally, good pronunciation is a good way to keep people happy conversing with you and get compliments on your skill.
Learning how languages vocalize is a reasonably sizeable topic. This post is a quick start to help you get most of the way there.
We recommend you to find a good pronunciation guide for your target language.
A common method of many courses, guides, and dictionaries is to give an English approximation for each sound.
Generally, this is insuﬃcient to achieve accurate pronunciation. The best guides will explain each sound using diagrams, explanations, or special symbols (called the IPA) in addition to audio to show you how to make them.
First, take note of elements of your target language that are diﬀerent from your native language. Here are some things that will be diﬀerent:
• Sounds — also known as phonology
• Tones (if your language has them)
• Intonation — tone throughout the whole sentence
Spend focused eﬀort improving each of these aspects. Dedicate some time to doing some activities in which you practice speaking some words alone in front of your computer.
Use a dictionary such as Forvo or Wiktionary or any audio input to get a good example to try mimic. It is helpful to practice throughout your study by trying to read texts, ﬂashcards, or anything you encounter aloud.