Mimic Method Review: a game changer for pronunciation?
The Mimic Method is a pronunciation course, which claims to help you in Spanish, French, German, Russian, Portuguese, English, Chinese, Italian and Japanese (as of January 2020).
I went through the Elemental Sounds courses for all the foreign languages that I speak in their range. That amounts to 6 of them! (at the time of originally writing) 😀
So those were Russian, German, Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese. I speak all of these languages to a minimum of intermediate level (so B1/B2 according to the European Common Framework of Languages).
Pronunciation is a competence that I recommend that you focus on in the beginning of learning a language as it is really hard to correct engrained mispronunciations later on (takes a lot of time to correct) and it will really help with building your confidence in your new language as it will be easier for you to be understood by native speakers and you will also be able to pick out the words a lot quicker in the new language.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Idahosa Ness, the creator of the Mimic Method, gives a webinar overview of the elemental sounds of each language plus a description of how to distinguish the various new sounds from the closely related sounds in English, as well as, how to make those sounds in your mouth.
Idahosa uses the IPA representation of the mouth to show you how and where the sounds are made. In these courses, you learn the mechanics, as well as, the phonetics of pronunciation.
Each module includes video lessons (inc. Q&A), audio drills and homework assignments (which I skipped). Moreover, there is a resources page, which includes a 500 word frequency list, phoneme index and an elemental sounds checklist.
1. This is the course that I wished had been available when I first started learning languages. Nailing the pronunciation from the beginning just makes learning a language so much more efficient. It saves a huge amount of time in the long run and allows you to gain confidence quickly in your new language.
2. Idahosa’s explanations are really clear when pointing out the differences in sounds and in showing you where to make the sounds in your mouth.
3. The courses give a thorough and valuable overview of the terminology associated with pronunciation. I really learnt a lot about the mechanics of making the sounds with this course and that’s even though I’ve already learnt to speak more than 10 languages. 😀
4. The course starts with the easiest sounds first to let you build up confidence and understanding before reaching the more difficult elemental sounds.
1. The Mimic Method Elemental sounds courses do not teach prosody (or the ‘rhythm’) of the language per se.
2. You will still need to work with a tutor in order to ensure that your pronunciation is on track. I recommend that you look for tutors on iTalki and/or use Speechling (TSAR18 for a 10% discount) which is a program that has native speaker review of your pronunciation. You can read my reviews of Speechling here and iTalki for Irish here and for Ukrainian here!
3. The production quality was lower than I expected. The courses are given in a series of webinars and at times there were typos on the slides at times that should have been corrected before publication. Also there were some stress mistakes in Idahosa’s Italian pronunciation of certain words. Finally the camera used appeared to be a webcam left on autosettings – not the most pleasant viewing experience.
I wish that this course had been available a decade ago. It simply would have accelerated my language learning by years. My experience with pronunciation in foreign languages has been a frustrating one since high school and this course is really a game changer.
So while the Mimic Method’s elemental sounds courses are basic in what they set out to achieve (teach you to identify and then recreate every sound in your new language), it has been really great in helping me achieve just that.
I would recommend this course to anyone starting out on a new language and someone (who like me) is looking for a way to improve their pronunciation in the language they already speak.