Different systems list different numbers of phonetic symbols but all of them come to
approximately 30 symbols. Only 30 symbols.

On top of that, some of the symbols are pronounced in the same way as in Japanese, so in fact there are even fewer symbols which you have to be careful about.

When you practice so that you can fully recognize those sounds, that’s really a limited amount of work and you can clearly see when you are going to finish it. Surely it doesn’t take more than a day to check through all the sounds once.

But just giving all the sounds the once-over is not enough to get a firm grip of them, so, to make it an unconscious process, you should take a whole week and work on it thoroughly.

M 君が一週間で音が聞こえるようになった、というのも、こういう過程を踏んだということなんです。M 君の場合はそれにより、今までの知識が一気に花開いたというわけですね。
It was through this process that Mr. M learned to recognize English sounds in a week.
In his case, all the knowledge that he had accumulated before that bore fruit thanks to this process.

Recognize English sounds not as Japanese sounds or noise.

Actually hear the sounds and realize the differences.

By pronouncing them, gradually convince the brain that these sounds are necessary for English.

Now he can recognize English sounds as they are.

(the amount of English he can listen to and comprehend increases)

By reading aloud, tries to use his own mouth. Practices outputting what he has learned.

Now he can speak, listen, and understand!

あなたもこのような道を必ずたどれます。あなたは日本人のこれこそ9割ははまっているといわれる 罠そして壁に今きづいているのです。M君にとっては見えない壁だったものです。
I’m sure you can follow the same process too.You are now aware of the trap, the barrier that is said to prevent nearly 90 % of Japanese English learners from going forward, which was invisible for Mr. M.

おそらく彼の勉強を数年にわたってくじいていて、ほうっておけばそのままだったのかもしれません。そして M 君はその間に留学に300万円も使ってしまったのです。TOEIC810 点を留学前に彼はすでに持ってましたから、50点しか効果はなかったのです。
Probably that was what had hindered his progress for several years and if that hadn’t been removed, he would have been totally stuck there. Meanwhile, Mr. M had spent as much as 3 million yen studying abroad. His TOEIC score before that was already 810, so studying abroad made the difference of only a 50 points improvement.

I think you will all agree what a waste of time and money that was.

Ah, by the way, I said there are three or four “a”-ish sounds in English, but that varies from person to person, or rather from scholar to scholar. The number could fluctuate from three to five, depending on how they argue.

その一週間(2週間やればかなりの効果が得られます)の後は、特に発音練習用というわけではない自分の好きな英語教材の CD なり、その他の生の英語を聞いていくわけですが、その際はもちろん、発音を知らない単語が出てきたら、きちんと辞書で発音記号をチェックする、ということを習慣づけていきましょう。特に最初のうちはね。で、発音してみる。
After that week (If you go on for two weeks, you’ll experience a considerable difference), you don’t have to stick to pronunciation practice books but can listen to your favorite textbook’s CD or listen to real English in some other way. In doing so, you should try to get into the habit of looking up words you don’t know in a dictionary and check their phonetic symbols, particularly at an early
stage. Then pronounce the words yourself.

You thought, “That’s a pain in the neck”, didn’t you?

最初のうちからきちんと意識的にそうするようにしていれば、だんだんそれが習慣化しますし、ちょっと面白いことがおこるんですよ、実は。何だと思います? はじめてみた単語を面白いくらい発音に関して当てられるようになりますよ。いくつかの単語をこなしていくうちに、音に関しての勘がさえてきます。
If you make a conscious effort to do those things properly from the beginning, it will gradually become a habit, and also, something interesting will happen. What do you think that is? You’ll be surprised to find yourself correctly guessing the pronunciation of words as you first encounter them. After working through several words, you can develop a feeling for English sounds.

This comes naturally, and you can actually experience it because this is a way of drawing out the best of your potential.

A logical explanation of this process is given in the pronunciation training book I mentioned, but you can actually feel it without reading it.

Of course, it is widely known that English is a language in which sounds and spellings don’t correspond to each other, and you can’t always make correct guesses, but you’ll be able to guess correctly quite often, and your intonation will definitely improve.

If you look at a dictionary, it shows phonetic symbols. In the cases where American English and British English have different pronunciations, the phonetic symbols for both are usually listed separately.

Textbooks available at bookstores usually adopt American English, so you’ll be more likely to write down the phonetic symbols for American English.

If possible, it’d be better to check which English it is before writing down the symbols.

The more you get used to doing this, the better you’ll be at guessing sounds without checking symbols. That’s the proof that you have got the hang of it.

Even after that, you should check sometimes and improve your skills.