BECAUSE IT IS THE FIRST THING THAT PEOPLE NOTICE WHEN YOU ARE SPEAKING RUSSIAN!
You can live without advanced vocabulary — you can use simple words to say what you want to say. You can live without advanced grammar — you can use simple grammar structures instead.
However, there is no such thing as “simple pronunciation”. If you don’t have good pronunciation, you have bad pronunciation, and I want to make sure it´s the former!
Without clear pronunciation, messages can get lost or confused. The listener might even start to feel frustrated because they don’t understand what you´re saying!
Pronunciation is not about removing your accent. It is about making your accent sound clear and distinct, so that there is no confusion.
THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT CLEAR PRONUNCIATION MAY BE JUST A FEW MINIMAL PAIRS AWAY!
WHAT IS A MINIMAL PAIR?
The term minimal pair refers to two words that differ in only one sound, such as ПЕЛ (he was singing) and ПИЛ (he was drinking). Minimal pairs serve as tools to establish a contrast between two or more sounds. A difference in sound means a difference in meaning! For example:
МЫ́ЛО (soap) vs. МИ́ЛО (nice)
СОФÁ (sofá) vs. СОВÁ (owl)
ШЁЛК (silk) vs. ЩЁЛК (click)
БРАТ (brother) vs. БРАТЬ (to take)
WHY ARE RUSSIAN MINIMAL PAIRS SO IMPORTANT?
If you mispronounce just one sound, the meaning of the word can change completely!
If you confuse basic minimal pairs like Ы – И, Ж – Ш, Ш – Щ, either you will not understand what a native speaker is saying because you can´t distinguish the sounds, or you will be misunderstood by a native Russian speaker because you mispronounce words, changing their meaning completely.
These Russian minimal pairs can make or break your Russian pronunciation! Spend a few hours practicing the pairs that you find the most challenging and you´ll never have to worry about your Russian pronunciation again.
Bad pronunciation has consequences. Even if you use correct advanced grammar and vocabulary, people simply may not understand what you want to say if your pronunciation is wrong. It´s crucial to START with mastering pronunciation and THEN to focus on grammar, vocabulary and everything else.