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Free Speech Lesson

Dr. Antonia Johnson

Reach Out and Touch Someone

Reach Out and Touch Someone.

Everyone has a network of relationships– some are close friends, some are friends you don’t share “close to your heart” details, some colleagues or neighbors, associates in other organizations, and family.

Reach out.

Coming out of the worst of Covid (we hope) makes impetus for reconnecting. Purpose? Growth, action, interaction.

“N” Most Frequent Consonant- Do Vocal Strength Exercise

The consonant “n” is the most frequent consonant in English. Recall all those prefixes and especially suffixes— en, an, in, ment, tion, sion, cian, etc.

American positioning of the tongue for “n” requires muscle stiffness of the tip of the tongue, and extending the voicing at the vocal folds and speech volume are all critical.

So to strengthen exactly the right muscles for pronunciation of “n,” do this: Take a deep breath, push the tip or end of your tongue up to the top or roof of your mouth, right behind the top front teeth — press hard. Then say “nnnnnnnnn” for as long as you can. For our coaching, we recommend three times for as long as you can at least 5 days a week. This exercise will literally make your body grow muscles that you need for this “n” speech sound.

You will hear the nasal sound– vibration of air through your nose.

ust so you know– many languages have a nasal sound which is associated with the written letter “n,” but do not position the tonge in this manner. Get perfect pronunciation of “n” in English when you do this. “N” is twice a slow as the quick consonants such as “t” and “d.”

Accent Reduction: Top–BESTt–Strategies for How to Learn Accurate Clear English

Accent Reduction: Top–BEST– Strategies for HOW to Learn Accurate, Clear English

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Why even look for the best strategies for accent reduction or changing your English speech from using the speech sounds of your native language (Chinese, Spanish, Arabic, Korean, Russian, etc) in your English speaking to using accurate English pronunciation? Making your learning and training efficient in taking less time and long lasting will save you time, effort, and likely money. Plus you will be so happy with your success — not to mention feeling confident in conversation and taking your career to the next level.
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These are strategies that work for both efficient and quick and also long lasting change:

  • It takes 70 days of practice every day to change habits– in this case, from accented English to clear easy to understand American English.  That is 10 weeks of learning.
  • Do  a full diagnostic assessment to know what you already know, such as  accurate speech sounds, and to know what your errors are.  That way you can focus on what you need to change.  That’s efficient learning!
  • Do daily practice of a minimum 5 days a week, at least 30 minutes of English speaking exercises. To get long lasting change in speech patterns means engraining movement memory in your brain and muscles.
  • Take every opportunity  in daily life to practice the skills for clear English pronunciation and other intelligibility skills.  This way you learn to adjust your mouth movements (tongue, lips, teeth, jaw) and loudness of your voice to the circumstances.  And you learn to think and talk clearly at the same time.
  • Use clear talking visual learning and visual models (for example, video lessons using a human teacher not cartoons or drawings)  in addition to voice only recorded lessons to give you the biggest gain. Positioning of the tongue, lips, teeth and jaw for accurate English sounds is critical. Wrong position, wrong sound. Speech sounds too quick or too slow for American English means wrong speech sound.
  • Get periodic checks from experienced teacher to be sure you are using your speech muscles in exactly the right way.  For most people, once or twice in a week feedback during coaching works perfectly.
  • Get specific training advice on exactly what to do with your speech muscles.  Remember, it is not practice makes perfect, but perfect practice makes perfect.

Remember that neuroscientists report it takes 1000 times of doing a new skill to form a mental trace in your brain and 10,000 practices to make that new learning a long lasting habit.

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

/d/- Vocal Strength Exercise

Most common pronunciation error for grammar is the consonant [d] for past tense verbs. (Today I play; yesterday I played.) Here’s a vocal strengthening exercise to get that /d/ right.

—Take a deep breath and pronounce /d/ consecutively for as many times as you can. Do this exercise 3 times a day for at least five days a week and for one month.

Positioning of the tongue is crucial. Press the tip or end of your tongue forcefully to the roof or top of your mouth right behind the top front teeth. At the same time, make a loud voice from your throat with your vocal folds.

This is a quick sound, so quickly press the tip of yur tongue to the roof of your mouth behind your top front teeth then quickly pull your tongue down. Make sure you get a loud voice from your throat at the same time. Now that’s coordination!

Special tip–the position of the tongue and sound /d/ is different for other languages. (For example, for Spanish, the tongue goes between the upper and lower front teeth.) To prevent the inaccurate position of the tongue for /d/ for English, close your teeth on both sides of the mouth.

Remember, it is not practice makes perfect, but perfect practice makes perfect!

P.S. We are using this vocal strengthening exercise for /d/ with our students now and they are mastering this crucial sound much faster!

English Communication Skill: Up Your Listening Game

English Communication Skill: Up Your Listening Game

Communication is connecting with people, and connecting with people is relationship. Half the story is listening.

Do you want to be a better listener.. or gasp!… an over the top listener?  Do you want other persons to know you are truly in the same space with them?

Here’s two techniques, easy and immediate.

First, clear away the clutter–. noise clutter, desk clutter, even mind clutter.

What to do?

  • Don’t just mute devices, turn them off– phone, streaming device or TV.
  • Something else on your mind? Write it down before you enter a conversation. Your note’s the reminder, so no worry about forgetting to get to this issue– and your mind is free to focus on the rest of the conversation.
  • Clear your desk of whatever is between you and the speaker – so you concentrate on the speaker’s message.
  • Can’t turn phone off, then don’t accept phone calls or view texts. Such Interruptions makes the person in the room feel unimportant and makes what you have to say seem unimportant.

Second, count to three. Couldn’t be simpler– to enable you to listen more effectively, just count to three before you speak.  This slight delay enables you to absorb and understand the last statement before you respond. Three seconds to absorb the message and give the other person one last chance to modify the statement or question.  Even if your response is that you must consult with your client, spouse, or boss, pausing for three seconds helps you better understand and remember what the other person said.

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