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Free Speech Lesson

From Weakness to Excellence for You: A Lesson for English Pronunciation

From Weakness to Excellence for You: A Lesson for English Pronunciation



I love reading the sports news.  It tells stories of heroes. 

People say Michael Jordan is one of the greatest sportsmen in history. 

His extraordinary success can be linked to a single quality.  His story can be a guiding light for you. Let me explain. 

As a teenager growing up in North Carolina, Michael Jordan couldn’t even make his high school basketball team, yet today he is the greatest basketball player in history.  How does that happen?  Some people would say it was just luck or a fluke of talent.  Others would say he was in the right place at the right time and had opportunities others didn’t have.  Others would say he just had an amazing growth spurt after high school.  All of these would be wrong.

 Michael Jordan trained harder and longer in high school than anyone else on the team or bench.  When he didn’t make the team, he pushed the coach for a reason.  Jordan’s coach told him his free throw record was poor. So what did Jordan do?  He practiced his free throw.  He made five hundred free throws every day for ten years.  Notice – he didn’t shoot five hundred free throws:  he made five hundred free throws.  He wouldn’t let himself go to bed until he had made five hundred free throws.

Jordan increased his skill and earned his place with hard work.  The guy had talent, yes. But he also worked harder to develop his talent than anybody else.  When he made it to college basketball, he realized his fade-away jump shot was a weakness.  So he focused his practice on his fade-away jump shot until it became one of the sparkling high points of his game.  By the time he entered the NBA he had mastered it – so much so that many thought he had invented it.

When was the last time you identified a weakness in any area of your speech communication and then systematically set about eliminating it?

Do you want something to work on?  Choose your highest error sounds and words.

People ask, what are the most common errors for people with English as a second language. 

Answer:  the “d” sound is a high error sound for many ESLers.  It is frequently used in communication, because we used the suffix  “ed” for past tense.

The short vowel “a” is mispronounced by practically all ESLers because the American English vowel is indeed pronounced differently than the “a” sound in most other languages.

What you just got was a procedure to excellence.  By the way, a very frequently mispronounced word is “procedure.”  We use that word every day in work-related talk.  An excellent procedure for becoming the best version of yourself is constant and consistent improvement of your weaknesses.  Go for perfect practice.  Whew, it feels great!

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