We help you speak English clearly.
1.800.399.9517
Free Speech Lesson

Speech Tips

English Speaking- The Amazing Journey from Spanish Patterns to Clear English Patterns

English Speaking- The Amazing Journey from Spanish Patterns to Clear English Patterns

 shutterstock_112318643Growth leaped ahead 53% for the Hispanic population in the United States to 54 million from 2000 to 2013.   That was mostly growth among US-born Hispanics, not immigrants according to Washington-based Pew Research Center.  That’s compared with 12 percent growth in the total population.

The number of Hispanics who speak Spanish at home reached a record 35.8 million because of the overall growth in the Hispanic population.

About half of U.S. born Hispanics speak Spanish and about half of their children retain Spanish.

From the English speech perspective, Hispanic pronunciation or Spanish accented English is different depending on the Hispanic country of origin or local dialects within a country.  Here are a few of the most common patterns of Spanish accented English. People with Spanish as their first language often insert a quick vowel sound before an “s” at the beginning of the words.  Another common pattern is inserting a “g” sound before a “w” sound.   The English “b” is made with stiffer lips pressed together and has a stronger sound than the Spanish.  Similarly, the English “v” and “j” have much stronger voice from the throat.

Importantly, while Spanish and English use the same 5 letters for vowels, there are 5 vowel sounds in Spanish but 14 vowel sounds in English.  That means learning the rules for pronunciation of American English vowels is also critical.

There are several other substantial differences between Spanish and English.  According to research, Spanish is the fastest spoken language in the world.  Therefore, all the sounds, consonants, and vowels, are spoken quickly in Spanish.  In contrast, for English, some consonants and vowels are produced with quick muscles and others are produced with slow muscles. For example, to make the English “sh,” use slower muscles than the Spanish sound.  The English “ch” is very quick.

Because Spanish speech sounds are spoken quickly, the stiffness or tenseness of the speech muscles of tongue and lips is supposed to be relaxed.  In contrast, for clear American English, muscle tone or tenseness and stiffness is much greater.

That gives you a little window into the challenge of learning the patterns of clear American English when you have Spanish as a first language.

What we call accented English is what happens when a person has learned another language or languages first and then is working to learn and master the pronunciation of the English language.  In short, they use the pronunciation patterns of their first language for English.  For some speech sounds, the pronunciation pattern is the same in their first language as in clear American English.  In other sounds, the pronunciation pattern is different.   The difference could be in the position of the tongue, lips, teeth, and jaw.  It could be in the stiffness or tenseness of the muscles.  It could be in the speed, quick or slow, of the muscles.

So what is the path of learning clear American English?  It is learning and practicing the pronunciation patterns for clear American  English.  First, you need to learn what those patterns are.  Then you need to practice and do those patterns perfectly over and over until they are engrained as habit in your brain and muscles.

A last comment.  Systematic learning is wonderful.  It makes learning easier.  It makes learning efficient, thus quicker.  And when you persevere step by step with your mastery, you will end up with glorious mastery.  Ah, now that is a sense of wellbeing.  You are making yourself the best version of yourself.

Be sure to watch our English Speech Tips videos and Accent Reduction Tip videos for more English pronunciation and accent reduction exercise.

Check out our new advanced weekly speech tip program, our new subscription called ClearTalk Weekly, www.subscription.cleartalkmastery.com

 

Rerun from May 20, 2015

What to do Now for Staying in Touch

What to do Now for Staying in Touch

If you have not been focused on staying in touch with people, take a leap now and get in touch to make connection.   A great goal?   One person a week to reach out to.

Here’s an extra tip.  When are some of the best times to call – Early start in a work morning or shortly after 5:00 p.m.  You will often find people in their office and not tied up in meetings.

 

 

Rerun from May 18, 2015

English Speaking Training- Opening a Conversation: The Other Magic Question for Conversations

English Speaking Training- Opening a Conversation: The Other Magic Question for Conversations

 shutterstock_136514936

In the culture of the United States, when we first greet a person, we will ask a question to get a general idea of how the person is doing.

Typically, we will ask “How are you doing?” or “How are you?”

But I have another question which I think is many times better than these most popular greeting questions.

Let me explain.

The practical purpose of a greeting question is to get an indication from the words, the tone of voice, and the body language about the emotional and physical state of the other person.  We want to know the degree of well-being the other person has.

Importantly, communication savvy people set the tone of the conversation depending on the answer.

By way of example, if the conversation partner indicates he or she is doing great or good, then the conversation can be steered to sharing other happy events or excitement can be expressed about the topic or task of the moment.

On the other hand, if the person indicates by tone of voice, body language, or actual words that he or she is not doing well, then good- to-great communicators will try to approach or match the emotional level of the other person.  At the least, the good-to-great communicator will not use an exuberant tone of voice or body language.

The revelation of a person’s emotional state is most often heard more from the tone of voice or body language than from the actual words.

The magic question I want to suggest to you is the greeting question, “How is it going?”

That question allows other people to express as much or as little of the happenings in their life and feelings as they wish.

An open-ended question, “How is it going?” allows the other person the freedom to talk either about a happening or how they are doing emotionally.  Importantly, for those persons going through difficult times, it allows the other person a socially acceptable way not to express a negative emotional state.

Fact is, in this culture we expect the answer to the greeting question to always be “Fine,” or better than fine.

So for a person who does not feel that “fine” state of well-being, he or she still feels the social pressure to say “fine,” when they do not feel that.  If the person is going through a long-term or relatively long-term time of difficulty, they know they will not be feeling truly “fine” for a good long time.  Instances of that are death of loved ones, chronic illness or injury, or mental distress, such as clinical depression or anxiety.

Importantly, sometimes for the sake of moving forward with people on tasks and meetings, a person wants to stay focused on the moment at hand and move with that moment only.

Another reason to use the question, “How is it going?” is because people typically feel better if they tell the truth.  The question, “How is it going?” calls for an answer to “it.”  Thus the responder can truthfully state, “It goes fine” no matter how he or she feels.  The responder can also answer, “I am hanging in there.”  That leaves the hint that at present the responder has difficulties, but the responder is handling all.

The third reason to use this question as your greeting question is that this open-ended question allows the other person the freedom to describe an “it” in his or her life, a current happening.  Thus it opens up self-revelation by the responder.  Learning about the important and meaningful events in another person’s life makes for a giant step in building relationship and rapport.

Because of all these reasons, I habitually say the greeting question, “How is it going?”  Because I really do care, there is often a pause before the respondent answers.  He or she is not automatically responding to the typical greeting question and takes a moment to think.

Also, I like being a good communicator, so I watch carefully for the body language and speech tone that goes with the responder’s answer.  Then the conversation proceeds as a dialogue from the revelation of status of well-being or current meaningful happening of the respondent.

So, try this magic question: “How is it going?” The magic is in your listening, seeing, and responding to other’s revelation in the answer.

Be sure to watch our English Speech Tips videos and Accent Reduction Tip videos  for more English pronunciation and accent reduction exercise.

Check out our new advanced weekly speech tip program, our new subscription called ClearTalk Weekly, www.subscription.cleartalkmastery.com

 

Rerun from May 13, 2015

More Thoughts on Staying in Touch

More Thoughts on Staying in Touch

The previous Monday speech tips have been about seven different kinds of calls you will be making to friends or colleagues in your network.  You now have examples of openers for those kinds of calls.  When you know what to say, it gives you confidence with telephone communication.  Voices are delightful.  They are windows to the heart and soul.

Do stay in touch with friends and colleagues.  That gives you a support system over a lifetime – much joy and fulfillment.

 

 

Rerun from May 11, 2015

English Speaking Training- Magic Question for Conversations

English Speaking Training- Magic Question for Conversations

 shutterstock_190376891

What is a magic question for conversations?

To make a satisfying conversation—consider the strategy of asking a good number of questions.  That way you are in dialogue with the other person, and both people are learning about each.   You have already figured out that monologues, where only one person is revealing things about himself or herself, is not as interesting or satisfying as dialogues.   People enjoy learning about other people.  There is connection in sharing.

Satisfying conversations are like tennis games or badminton games. The conversation goes back and forth like the tennis ball or birdie. You talk for a minute or two, then you ask the other person a question.

What to do if you can’t think of a question after you have described something to the other person?  Try one of my favorite questions in that situation: “What do you think about that?”

Thus the respondent can go in any direction at all in answering the question.  The respondent can refer back to something you said earlier.  Or express an opinion. Or change the topic by saying “That reminds me of something that happened to me last week.”

Gosh, I think that question is magic.  The responses from the other person are often so very interesting.

“What do you think about that?” is a great open-ended question.  Remember from previous blogs English Communication Skill: Asking Questions- Secrets of Open-Ended Questions  that open-ended questions are fantastic when you are wanting to get more information because they invite the other person to open up.  Also, remember to use them when you are doing any kind of negotiating or planning.

Open-ended questions and especially the question of “What do you think about that?” are fantastic in everyday conversation.  That is because you can get farther in understanding other people through understanding their experience and opinions.  That makes for lovely connection.  That is building relationship.

Go for it. Try the magic question: “What do you think about that?”

Be sure to watch our English Speech Tips videos and Accent Reduction Tip videos  for more English pronunciation and accent reduction exercise.

Check out our new advanced weekly speech tip program, our new subscription called ClearTalk Weekly, www.subscription.cleartalkmastery.com

 

 

Rerun from May 6, 2015