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How Long Does It Take to Become an Elite… in Anything

How Long Does It Take to Become an Elite… in Anything?


     Popular knowledge says 10,000 hours of  practicing the correct way.  That was popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his bestseller Outliers: The Story of Success in 2008.

     Popular knowledge talks about years too – 10 years to become an expert. The first to say that was Herbert A. Simon (Nobel Prize, 1976) and his colleagues who  estimated that expertise took learning approximately 50,000 chunks of experience (Rose, Greg, 2013).

     Decades of scientific investigation indicate that the 10,000 hours of practice is the average for world-class musicians but not every skilled profession.  Vladimir Issurin, 2017, in Sports Medicine reported the following:  Exceptionally talented athletes in endurance, power and combat sports achieved world-class status after 7 years of specialized preparation, doing 3,000-7,000 hours of purposeful training.  On the other hand, Olympic artistic gymnastics champions achieved world-class status following an average of 9.7 years of specialized preparation, doing an average of 8919 hours of specialized training.

       A 2019 study published in Royal Society: Open Science of 13 violinists found that the less accomplished violinists had logged an estimated 6,000 hours by age 20 while the good and best had both logged around 11,000 hours, reported authors Brook Macnamara and Megha Maitra.  So the number of hours did not account for all the differences.

     There is evidence that a combination of genetic factors, environmental factors, their interactions, and motivation, practice, and opportunity goes into mastering a skill (Macnamara, Maitra, 2019; Issurin, 2017).

     Here’s more. In Tim Gibbons and Tammie Forster’s landmark study for the United State Olympic Center’s Athletic  Development Program, “The Path to Excellence,” they researched the development of U.S. Olympians who competed between 1984 and 1998.

     A few of their conclusions:

     U.S Olympians began their sport-specific participation at the average age of 12.0 for males and 11.5 for females.

     Most Olympians reported a 12- to 13- year period of talent development from their sport introduction to being placed on an Olympic team.

      Olympic medalists were younger –1.3 to 3.6 years —  during the first  5 stages of development than non-medalists.  This suggests that medalists were receiving motor skill development and training at an earlier age.

         US Olympians played an average of 3 sports  between ages of 10 and 14  (Dr. Brad DeWeese, USOC, 2014).

        According to  Greg Rose 2013, the 10-year-rule has been shown to also apply to the development of expertise in other domains, including  music (Ericsson, Krampe, & Tesch-Romer, 1993; Hayes, 1982; Sosniak, 1985), mathematics (Gustin, 1985), swimming (Kalinowski, 1984), distance running (Wallingford, 1975), tennis (Monsaas, 1985), soccer and field hockey (Helsen, Starkes & Hodges, 1998).  Data suggests golf is a 20-year developmental sport, not 10 years.  Research by PGA of GB and Greg Rose came up with an average of 21.5 years to become a winner on the PGA or European Tour.

      The 10,000 hour rule is still highly debatable in the research (some show 4,000  hours, some 6,000 hours) but all studies indicate a significant investment in time is required.

      Much of the debate about how many hours is required to master an area is due to lack of agreement between experts on what they consider practice.   Is any type of repetition practice?   What is correct practicing?.  I’ll get to that later.

      Soooooo,  this is an article directed to nonnative-born speakers of English.  What does all this have to do with successful acquisition of clear American English Speech and development of  mastery or expertise?  Typically nonnative-born persons get an average of 5 to 7 years of English instruction in their home country.   All of that counts toward development of expertise and mastery.  Also recall that the U.S. requires formal schooling  from age 6 to 16—all of which is conducted in English.  Those 10 years are viewed to be  minimum for acquiring English communication skills for work and social life through the person’s lifetime.

      Furthermore, Clear Talk Mastery measured average English speech intelligibility for the initial diagnostic assessment for almost a thousand people since 2000 to be 34%. Compare that to the native-born  U.S. A. person’s average score of  90% when speaking casually and 95% when instructed to speak clearly.   Written and oral interview for each adult nonnative-born person doing the initial diagnostic assessment clearly showed that the type of English instruction and the kind of practice is vastly different among individuals and between countries and within countries (63 different countries).

      Recall that  debate  for how many hours it takes to master a domain (such as sports, music, mathematics) is due to the lack of agreement between experts on what they define as practice.  The range from 2% to 83% for the initial diagnostic assessment (average 34%)  for English speech intelligibility is likely an indication of the kind and quality of previous instruction and practice for English language, especially speaking clear English.  And it is likely due also to other factors, a combination of genetic factors, motivation, and opportunity  for speaking English.

       There is general agreement about the kind of practice needed by kids (and others) if they want to get better.  I’ll get to what a comprehensive review of this topic uncovered.

How Long Does It Take to Get Accurate and Clear English Speech?

How Long Does It Take to Get Accurate and Clear English Speech?


   On average it takes  about 70 days of practice every day to change or form a daily life habit (Frothingham, 2019).   The range for daily life habits is 18 to 254 days according to a 2009 article in the European Social Psychology  by  Lally et al.  It depends on the habit.  For example, it takes a shorter number of days to form the habit of drinking a glass of water with breakfast than to automatically engage in daily performing 50 push-ups before breakfast.   Notice the phrase in the first sentence  “ it takes about 70 days of practice every day.”  It goes without saying, the amount of time to acquire a habit also depends upon the person.

    Speech which is easily understood by others is called Clear Speech.   Acquisition of clear American English (AE), Clear Speech has been investigated since the 1920s for native-born AE speakers (Denes & Pinson, 1993, Smiljanic & Bradlow, 2009). Not so much investigation has been reported in journals for nonnative-born speakers for American English (Smiljanic & Bradlow, 2009).

      Antonia Johnson put together the research for her dissertation  in 2000 for the mode or style of AE Clear Speech.  That mode or style of speaking includes greater speech volume or loudness,  aiming for accuracy for all words, clear enunciation of consonants and vowels, and not slurring words together.  These strategies are consistent with the Task Dynamic Model of Motor Control and Task Dynamic Model of Speech Production (Kelso & Tuller, 1984, Saltzman et al, 2010, also see Parrell et al, 2018). 

    Both Casual Speech (“every day” speech)  and Clear Speech  are styles or modes of talking.  So both Casual Speech and Clear Speech  are coordinated manners of talking.  The difference between these modes ia comparable to the differences for muscles and movement in human walking compared to running.

        For native-born AE speakers, the characteristic of enunciating speech sounds when doing the Clear Speech mode or style targets feature enhancement of AE speech sounds (Kelso & Tuller, 1984,  Smiljanic &Bradlow, 2018).  For instance,  native-born speakers of North American English automatically emphasize the lengthier duration in time for the SH speech sound compared to the CH English speech sound, and they emphasize the lengthier duration and the two speech sounds for the English long vowel O compared to the short vowel O.

      Importantly, when nonnative-born speakers engage in the strategies of Clear Speech, unless they are deliberately taught which English speech sounds require feature enhancement and how to produce accurate AE speech consonants and vowels (not produced the same in their mother language)  the result is not greater speech intelligibility or understandability, Instead the result is only louder words and sentences in which the speech sounds continue to be errors for American English and continue to  match the speech sounds from their home or mother language.

       Our work at Clear Talk Mastery has found that  forming the habit of using the strategies of Clear Speech along with the requisite or needed feature enhancement  (also called accurate enunciation or pronunciation)  for the 23 or 25 consonant and 14 vowel sounds on average takes 70 days. Learned and habitualized is the dynamic task of the Clear Talk Mode in American English.  For intelligibility and understandability, those skills are most important.  

       Once those highest priority habits have been acquired, then other skill sets can be added systematically. That’s because proficiency in English intelligibility or understandability and communication includes other skills, notably core skills for pronouncing multiple syllable words. These skills include English written word syllable division rules and patterns.    Crucial also for AE proficiency is acquiring AE word syllable accent stress for multiple syllable words.   American English word syllable accent stress is different than, for example, Spanglish,  Chinglish, Indian English or  South African English. 

     High priority for a wide variety of persons at their workplace is acquiring the American English speech characteristics of voice inflection in sentences ranging from a few sentences needed for talking in a meeting to many sentences in a presentation. The overarching purpose for the dynamic task of the speaking style with voice inflection is to enhance or improve the listener’s memory and understanding of information.   

   The most practical purpose of using the voice inflection patterns is so that your speaking is not monotone and boring.

    The economic  and career advancing purpose is that experts say that voice inflection (and asking questions) are the two skills most important for native-born persons for advancing their career.  We think the same is true for nonnative-born persons for their career.  So we teach that skill in Level Two and higher levels.

      Because information giving in meetings or explaining information in English is a minimal requirement for all work situations requiring English, mastering the characteristics of optimal or good presentations are  the logical next step after the acquisition of the core American English speech skills for intelligibility and using the Clear Talk Mode of speaking which includes accurate enunciation.    Fact is, if listeners cannot understand the words you are saying in American English, what good is having voice inflection and  mastering the characteristics of optimal presentations?

        How long does it take to form the habits of clear and accurate English?   We break those habits into systematic and ordered skill sets and adhere to the average 70 days to form a habit for that speaking tool set.  For more detail,   http://www.cleartalkmastery.com/blog/2023/03/17/assessment-why-bother/

   Later, we’ll get to the keys and secrets to how to speed up the process of acquiring  accurate and clear American English speech along with other critical English speech skill sets for English speech communication proficiency.  Hint—one is needs assessment and skills assessment.  Another is distributed learning.  Another is purposeful deliberate practice.  And there really are 15 dimensions for successful acquisition of clear English speech.

Assessment– Why Bother?

Article 5 English Speech Assessment? Why Bother?


How important is assessment for  successful acquisition of clear American English (AE) speaking?  If we didn’t care about efficiency of learning, not important at all.   Your money is worth a lot, but your time is worth even more.  Important is determining  nonnative-born individuals’ pronunciation for the 23 (some count 25) consonants and the 14 AE vowels (some count more), their knowledge of pronunciation rules and their current manner of talking.  Easy to recognize is that in all spoken languages there are  consonants and vowels which are pronounced the same as American English, others that are different.  If the instructor (teacher, coach, tutor) and the student-learner know the errors for AE speech sounds and pronunciation rules, then instruction and learning can put disproportionate and more time to acquiring the AE pronunciation for errors and deficient skills with more efficiency and less time.  “Thus, you know what to fix and what doesn’t need fixing.”  Also, we also know what is the appropriate Level of Course for each person.

Critical is to assess or test all of the AE speech sounds, the most important pronunciation rules and the manner of talking  Critical also is to assess or determine sources of the speech errors, including underlying physical differences, such as vocal strengt, range speech volume or loudness, and vocal flexibility.

We use the term  “English speech communication and intelligibility.”   Other terms used for decades include “Accent Reduction” or “Accent Modification”  or English Pronunciation.  What is “accent”?  It is a pattern of speaking.  Twenty-three languages of the roughly 7,000 languages in the world’s 196 countries are spoken by more than half of the world’s population, according to Ethnologue and The Intrepid Guide, 2022.  Also there are a multitude of Englishes. The 2018  CIA World Factbook  “Field Listing-Languages” reported that  58 sovereign states and 28 non-sovereign entities use English as their official language.

Fact is, many nonnative-born speakers of English or persons who have English as a Second Language (ESL), or English as an Other Language (ESOL) are using the pronunciation of consonants and vowels from their  mother-tongue  (the language they started speaking at about age one to four and beyond).   Even if the individual is from a country where English is the official language, the pronunciation and other physiological characteristics of speech are not the same as American English speech.

For example, a prevalent and frequent  difference in the  pronunciation of consonants and vowels in other languages compared to American English is the duration of the speech sound.  Specifically 70% of AE speech consonant and vowel sounds are double in duration of time (“slow”) compared to the quick or short in duration consonants and vowels.  Other languages frequently speak the same consonants and vowels in a quicker or shortened duration compared to American English.  For instance, prevalent is nonnative speakers pronouncing V, TH, M or N  much more quickly than American English speech.  Or the first language could make the speech sound more lengthy or slower.  For example, in Spanish, the consonant sound CH is pronounced slowly, like the AE speech sound SH.

Not only that, the general stiffness or tension of the speech articulator muscles  or the force of contraction (especially tongue, lips, jaw and muscles in the throat attached to the vocal folds) is a recognized feature of speech production (Gracco, 1994).   Based on the articulatory acoustics (the “sound characteristics” of consonants and vowels) our observations and reports from nonnative speakers,  American English has differences  compared to other languages for speech articulator muscle tension and force of contractions  in addition to critical differences for position of the tongue, lips, teeth and jaw.  Muscular features can be inferred from an oral assessment  of speech that tests all of the consonants and vowels in American English and uses sentences designed to control for coarticulation effects. 

Task Dynamic Model of Speech Production focuses on the dynamics of human speech in that speech production, including clear English speech production, is a coordinated action (Kelso and Tuller, 1984,  Saltzman et al, 2010, Parrell, B. et al 2018).  Specifically, American English and clear American English speech are examples of  manner or mode or style of speaking. The Central Nervous System (CNS) and especially the brain, dictates in a complex way the stiffness or tension of the muscles, the force of the muscles, the activation of motor neuron units and slow twitch and fast twitch muscle fibers,  the duration of the speech sounds, and the coordination with the voicing at the vocal folds in the larynx of the throat.  For more detail see Article 3 “Task Dynamic Model of Speech Production” – link here.

Initial diagnostic assessment tells the student-learner and the instructor/teacher/coach what to focus on for efficient acquisition of clear American English speech.  We’ll come back to more on this later.

To circle back — 90 sovereign and non-sovereign entities have English as their official language,  includjng India, Australia, Nigeria, Great Britain.  British English matches most frequently American English pronunciation except for notably the American English short vowel A, short vowel O, and consonant R.  For the other Englishes, there are multiple differences for duration of the consonants and vowels, the movement or the articulators (tongue, teeth, lips and jaw), and  the volume or loudness of consonants especially at the ends of words or syllables.  These differences put together are called “accented English.”  Put simply, the more heavily the English is accented or the more differences in the speech production features compared to American English, the more difficult it is for native-born American persons and other internationally born speakers to understand the nonnative-born speaker.  That’s called intelligibility (understandability).

Back to the topic of “Why bother with oral speech assessments? ” Vitally important are mid-course assessments to determine the change in pronunciation of all of the AE consonants and vowels, skill for pronunciation rules and patterns,  and manner of talking.  Is there an improvement  in AE intelligibility (understandability)?  Which AE speech sounds have improved and which sounds have not.  Is the instruction and practice working for the individual like it works for most people?  Thus at 3 weeks and 6 weeks of the 10 week instruction course, we do another assessment using an equivalent phonetically balanced test (10 different assessment tests).  Thus, the instruction and home practice/direct practice and focus on deliberate practice in daily life (taking every opportunity to deliver clear American English) can be modified.   Since on average it takes  70 days of practice everyday to change a habit (Frothingham, 2019) –in this case from accented English to clear American English speech– the end of the course assessment (10 weeks of coached instruction), is essential to determine intelligibility change.  Assessment, especially after 10 weeks, is critical to measuring efficacy or success of the course and the methodology, and measuring speech changes which accompany specific changes in instruction.

As a sidebar,  our initial diagnostic assessment also includes determining intelligibility of the student-learner when talking with background noise.  That’s because  all humans, especially  those in professional roles that call for extended speaking such as teachers/professora, supervisors, ministry, tech people in collaboration, leaders, etc. need to be understood in large rooms or where there is background noise.

Sidebar number two-  our initial diagnostic assessment includes a segment where we do a brief     (about 25 minutes)  training of the student-learner of the Six Clear Talk Strategies used by American English talkers when they want to be easily understood.  Also the brief training includes critical enunciation instruction for clear American English, such as where to position or place the tongue for particular consonants and which AE speech sounds are quick and which have lengthier durations in time.  Then we assess the student-learner on a different equivalent phonetically balanced test to determine how well they learn the strategies with added enunciation instruction.   That information tells us a great deal about student-learners: How well do they learn from auditory instruction?  How do they respond to the (dynamic) task of speak clearly using these strategies with the added enunciation training for American English.   This gives us a leg-up or advantage to making the instruction for the coached course for each individual   even more efficient.

And the initial diagnostic assessment answers the question of prognosis for the student-learner for the methodology of Clear Talk Mastery. In other words, with that brief training, did the student-learner measure better on the intelligibility test after the brief training compared to before the training?  What speech sounds improved, and what are the likely sources or reasons for  speech sounds and intelligibility not improving for American English after the training?

To circle back to the initial question, how important is assessment for successful acquisition of clear American English?  Our answer — scientifically based English speech assessment is critical  for several reasons.   Most importantly, initial diagnostic assessment and mid-course assessments make for more efficient learning.  Crucial for our instruction is also long-lasting learning – more about that later.  Post course assessment  examines the  efficacy or success of the learning in our clear American English speech training program.   It goes without saying that to determine success or efficacy requires comparison to skills and assessment before the instruction- the initial diagnostic assessment. The key question for post course assessment  is “Does the Clear Talk Mastery program work or not?”  and what are the successes and failures. That’s part of our Action Research—keep doing what works and change what doesn’t work  (after you have tested it on a multiple people, not just one person!).  Training and instruction improvement is one goal.  Discovering what to change or keep for efficient and long-lasting American English, — that’s the other target for assessment.  Can instruction and learning get better with using assessments and Action Research?  We bet our life and work on that.

copyright Clear Talk Mastery, Inc 2023 Antonia L. Johnson

Can Tongue Muscle Exercises Speed up Getting Clear English Speaking?

Can strengthening the tongue’s muscle fibers via tongue muscle strengthening exercise speed up acquisition of clear American English speaking?


Muscle strengthening sure does work for other activities which use skeletal muscles. The tongue is a skeletal muscle, with slow and fast twitch muscle fibers.

Nowadays, coaches of many sports require their athletes to do muscle strengthening and endurance exercise – running  cycling, field hockey, football,  rowing, baseball, swimming (Stern, 2022) for skeletal muscles. 

Armed with physiological research about human tongue muscle fibers (Sanders et al, 2013) and reviewing articles on slow and fast muscle fibers (including Biggers, 2020), starting in 2022 we pursued this addition avenue of direct muscle strength exercises to get more efficiency for student-learners to acquire clear American English speech.

Tongue strengthening exercises.  In the last year we have had student-learners add to their vocal strength exercises (5 days a week), tongue strength exercises.  What dd we begin with? Because of the lengthy training time it typically takes to acquire and master (habituate) speech sounds which require tongue tip forward positioning—we began with tongue slow muscle fibers for the American English speech sounds TH with a voice, TH with no voice, L  (and American English  short vowel A).

Here is a description of the tongue exercise we began with.   Specifically, student-learners began tongue exercise to strengthen the “Push the tongue forward/ Stretch the length of the tongue forward” slow twitch muscles. 

The instructions : Do the speech sounds for TH with a voice and TH with no voice, and L using the extended tongue to as far out and down  to the chin for as long in duration time as they can.  Their homework assignment includes doing that 3 times for each speech sound consonant  of  L, TH no voice, and TH voiced for 5 days a week.  Maximum time added to homework or direct practice for this tongue slow twitch muscle fiber exercise is  3 minutes total.

At first we began to assign this tongue exercise to student-learners at Level Two—for those who continued to error on the TH and L speech sounds in words.   Student-learners demonstrated improvements during coaching and on assessments within 3  weeks.

Currently, we  assign these exercises to Level 1 students when they begin Module Two (or Section 2).   Later and systematically, we add to homework tongue muscle strengthening exercises for fast twitch muscle fibers and for tongue tip,  then slow twitch muscle fibers for back of the tongue,  as well as slow and fast twitch muscle fibers for the lips.

Yay for students.  In 2003,  a student from South Korea taught me the position of the tongue for TH  and L she had learned as a teenager for pronouncing TH and L—it worked!

Now you have it— the description of strengthening slow twitch muscle fibers in the tongue to speed up learning the clear English pronunciation of TH and L— using tongue slow muscle fiber exercises.  Based on much physiological research for skeletal muscle strengthening, we surmise that these tongue exercises are strengthening the exact slow twitch muscles needed for these sounds which are either not in the first language or pronounced differently in the first language. 

Just to remind you, as described in February 23, 2023  the blog  muscle Tactics during reading aloud exercises and for daily life speech interactions and presentations is critical and core skill for speeding up the process of acquiringr accurate American English pronunciation /http://www.cleartalkmastery.com/blog/2023/02/23/speed-up-learning-clear-english-speech-grow-tongue-muscle-fibers-via-exercises-and-tactics/

Acquiring (learning) clear American English speech is a procedural skill which means that distributed practice over time is essential for mastery.  It takes 10 years to become an elite athlete.  Experts say it takes 10,000 times of practice to become elite in any skill.  In the United States, youth are required to remain in school until they are 16-years-old— at that point they are deemed to have acquired enough English language skill to manage the next stages of their human development in modern culture.

The beauty is to discover and teach the secrets of  efficiently acquiring clear, easy to understand American English— and make the learning built to last (a long time!) .  Give a hungry person a fish, and he or she will not be hungry for a day.  Give a fishing pole, and he or she will be hungry for the rest of their life.   That’s the goal, and the beauty of the Clear Talk Mastery instruction and methodology.

Copyright 2022 by Clear Talk Mastery, Inc

Clear Talk Mode and the Task-Dynamic Model of Speech Production

Clear Talk Mode and the Task-dynamic Model of Speech Production

Why read this?   It’s for people who are a little intense about getting the best out of learning.


Does the nature of the speaking task, like the nature of the movement task, change the dynamics of the system?

Did you ever do running in a race?    Did you do a sprint—50 or 100 meters or yards?   Or long distance?  Then you know that  act of running changes the tenseness of muscles, the rate, and rhythm  of movement compared to walking.  Those features of the muscle actions are also different for sprint (relatively short distance “as fast as you can”) compared to long distance or marathon running. This is called the task-dynamic model  (Kelso and Tuller, 1984, Saltzman et al, 2010) and hierarchical task-based control model of speech incorporating sensory feedback by Parrell, B. et al. (2018).

For human speaking, these task-dynamic modes are called registers or speaking styles , or speaking modes.  One speaking style or mode is  “motherese” or the speaking pattern mothers all over the word use when talking to young children.  What do you hear in “motherese” – higher pitch, emphasizing words by going up in pitch, emphasized sounds and movement of the articulators—lips, tongue, jaw, teeth.

Other modes in English have been  investigated  beginning in the 1920s and summarized by Denes and Pinson (1993) and later studies also summarized by  Smiljanic and Bradlow (2009). These research investigations included  the effect of the  range of sound intensity (loudness) on intelligibility , the effect for intelligibility when talking over background noise, the features of English speech when the task is to talk clearly to persons who have a hearing impairment, and the style called Clear Speech.   Very limited study has also been reported by Smiljanic and Bradlow for the style Clear Speech for other languages or Clear Speech style of talking in English for non-native speakers of American English (AE).  In 2000, Antonia Johnson published her dissertation which compared a   Clear Speech prescribed mode or style of speaking to conversational style in non-native speakers of English.

Briefly, research study determined that features of  clear speech in English includes greater speech volume (louder), feature enhancement for consonants (e.g. making fricatives like S, SH, F, V, TH lengthier in duration), feature enhancement for vowels ( e.g. using greater opening of the mouth for the first part of  long vowels A, I, and O,  and extending the duration time for the English short vowels A and O and changing of formant frequencies and change for vowels).

Since 2000, we at Clear Talk Mastery have scientifically analyzed assessment for almost a thousand different people with  63 different languages and from  64 countries for intelligibility (pre diagnostic assessments, mid-course and end of course assessments).

The task for our student-learners has been  to acquire clear English speech—to increase intelligibility or understandability of their American English speech. Johnson discovered in the dissertation work that in order to go into the clear speaking AE mode and learn the six strategies which native-born speakers of American English use when speaking clearly, non-native born speakers of English needed more.  They required specific enunciation instruction—what features of the 23 consonants and 14 vowel sounds to enhance,  precisely where to position the articulators of tongue, lips, teeth, jaw, instruction on making articulator muscles stiff and tense, which speech sounds to lengthen in duration and which to produce quickly.  These we called Tactics (Tactics are details for strategies.)

Notably, the task-dynamic model was our important guide— the task was for student-learners to acquire a clear speaking mode which made  AE (American English) highly understandable to all listeners (native born English speakers and non-native speakers of English).

A sidebar:  Based on the speed of being able to use strategies of clear speaking derived from previous and our own research, we have concluded that all languages have  a clear speaking mode— probably used at a minimum when talking in noisy environments from childhood or perhaps talking to a person with a hearing impairment (like a grandparent) when the purpose of the speaking task was to be understood.  For example, who hasn’t noticed a toddler aged 18 months up to age 4 requesting an item from the mom or caretaker when in a noisy room? 

We found that the style of clear talking or Clear Talking Mode when first learned— along with specific enunciation instructions—produced a predictable mode or style of speaking.   Student-learners reported using high energy, high attention when first learning the Clear Talk Strategies with the added enunciation instructions (including Tactics).   The features of this mode when speaking in a sentence included pauses between the words (and syllables) as the talker was processing in the brain the “plan” for the next word and a quick review in the brain of the accuracy of the previous word.  Our instruction for AE speech sounds including for learning purposes to hyperarticulate the consonants so they were at least double loud and double slow (for lengthier duration consonants) and double fast (for quick AE) consonants.  The rationale for this hyperarticulation was that the brain learns faster when the movement or action is highly salient—easy to feel and hear.

Accurate vowel pronunciation for 14 AE vowels was instructed after “mastery” of consonants (about 80-90%) using the clear speaking mode.  For home practice, to speed up learning, student-learners used maximum effort, maximum accuracy of positioning of the articulators, hyper or very enhanced feature of prolonging appropriate AE consonants and maximum tensing the articulator muscles.  By 2017, our observations during instruction and assessments made it clear that this learning mode has unique characteristics so we gave it a name – we called this Workout Practice, or Workout Mode of Clear Talk.  There is more to be said on this, which I will get to later.

Importantly, we emphasized that in daily life  when talking with other people, the optimal Clear Talk Mode or style of talking would be a mode where the articulator muscles continued to be stiff and tense but not maximal tenseness and the pauses between words not as lengthy.   This mode or style we called Careful Clear Talk Mode.   Because muscles and the brain or central nervous system were learning a new series of patterns (procedural learning), it was impossible for student-learners to make the change quickly in speech gestures of the consonant- to- vowel -to consonant speech sounds in a word.  For example for the word “tag”, to  push the tongue to the roof or top of the mouth hard and quickly for the T consonant then push tongue forward (and flat) for the AE short vowel A, then raise the back of the tongue blade to the roof of the mouth at the back of the mouth for a  G consonant  — these series of speech gestures  were impossible for nonnative speakers to do as quickly as an adult native speaker of English or a child because native speakers of AE  had literally years of practice.  In other words, it was impossible for the non-native learner to imitate the speed of a native-born adult AE speaker. 

Based on much research, including our own Action Research (ongoing assessment which directed change in instruction), we adhered to the Task-Dynamic Model  of  human movement and speech production.  It was a mode we were instructing—much like a physical trainer would instruct a runner eager to succeed in long distance running.

Like other physical activities, speech is central nervous system (brain and nerves) and muscles.  Just as there is the Task-Dynamic and Hierarchical Task-Dynamic model for Motor Control (motor means movement), there is also a Task-Dynamic Model for Speech Production.

For efficacious clear AE speech instruction,  we used diagnostic pre assessment,  mid-course and post course assessment.   More on this later.

copyright 2023, Clear Talk Mastery, Inc. All rights reserved.