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Speech Tip

P for “Priority” for Massed and Distributed Practice

This is Number 4 in our series of recommended sequence for fast, easy mastery of American English speech sounds.  The directed instruction is for English consonant P and the word “priority.”

It’s estimated it takes 35 accurate repetitions of a new word to memorize it accurately.  That’s called massed practice. That will get you in to the associative phase of  procedural learning.  Getting to the autonomous phase where the pronunciation is automatic and long term learning is gained through even more accurate pronunciation.  That is best spread out in time,  and is spaced learning or distributed learning or timing.  More information?  http://www.cleartalkmastery.com/blog/2023/05/10/the-endgame-is-procedural-memory/

By practicing different words, you are giving your motor system and motor memory variety so it can p for producing the P sound with the needed tension in the lips and pressing of the lips when the speech sounds preceding and following the target speech sound are different.

That’s why the words I, 3 and 4 in this series all have directed instruction on the video for the English speech sound p—“probably,”  “anticipate,” and “priority. “

Copyright 2023 by Clear Talk Mastery

P for American English and Syllable Pronunciation for Clear Speech

This is our Number 3 in the series of recommended sequence for consonants and vowels.

      Like Number 1 which has the word “probably,” this video also directly instructs for the American English (AE) consonant speech sound P.

       Ninety, 90,  sovereign and non-sovereign entities have English for their official language including India, South Africa, Nigeria, to name a few. (See For more information on “other” Englishes, see http://www.cleartalkmastery.com/blog/2023/03/17/assessment-why-bother/.)   However, the pronunciation for the consonant speech sound P is different in other Englishes than American English. The consonant sound for P in American English has a puff of air after the lips are pressed together.  If  listeners cannot hear that puff of air, they cannot accurately identify it as an American English sound for P.  Instead, they are likely to perceive the AE speech sound for F. 

  To do “clear English speech,”  perceptually enhance or make it very easy to hear the puff of air for AE.  Make the puff of air loud.

 For deliberate pactice here for the consonant sound for P, press your lips together firmly.  That tension or stiffness will make the fast twitch muscles grow bigger, stronger.  For American English proficiency and mastery, you want the stronger fast twitch muscle fibers in your lips.

      Advice for proficiency of AE– practice many times! 

      That’s why I (Antonia Johnson) am posting this recommended sequence of English speech pronunciation video tutorials (also on YouTube)—to help you get lots of deliberate practice.

     English speech proficiency is accuracy in words.  In the Accent Reduction Tip Number 71 below, you get video and audio and direct and guided instruction for the AE consonant sound P for the word “anticipate.”  Plus, you get coached on syllable pronouncing syllables clearly and accurately.  “Clear Speech” is a style or mode of talking where each spoken syllable is clear, not slurred together, so the listener can hear each syllable.  All syllables in English have a meaning.

      Consider doing this video tip speech instruction (about 2 minutes) multiple times.  Aim for AE accuracy each time.  Of course, you are getting accuracy on many speech sounds when you deliberately practice words.  Deliberate practice means your goal is to get better!

K and T English Sounds

We continue our series of recommended sequence for American English consonants and vowels. For practice this is Number 2.

Deliberately practice with this video with the intention of getting better. Don’t do this practice in a mindless manner. Just a couple of minutes.

This SECOND speech tip is our chosen one for systematic learning. It will help the muscle memory in your brain remember the four English consonants that are quick and have NO voice as a group (P, T, K, Ch).

Here’s the English speech sound K (often written as C) and the consonant sound for T.

In American English speech, speech sounds K and T have a loud puff of air.

Deliberately practice this word loudly, especially the consonants.

Deliberately make portions of your tongue stiff and tense— the back of your tongue stiff and tense for the consonant spelled c and pronounced K, and the front tip of your tongue tense and hard for the consonant T.

You get instruction for the American English short vowel A in this speech tutorial. That’s probably the most frequent error for vowels for nonnative-born speakers.

P and B, Start– or Refresh with These Speech Sounds

Today we begin the series of recommended sequence for consonants and vowels.

Deliberate and focused practice is best. Imitation is the easiest way to learn. Watch, listen, and do! Accuracy is everything!

This FIRST speech tip is our chosen Number 1 for systematic learning. Brain organizerer is that the Quick speech sounds in English are p, t, k, ch, b, d, g, j. The first four have no voice but in American English have a loud puff of air. The second four have a voice.

For deliberate and focused practice, make the word loud, especially the consonants. that I am focusing on.

Speech is words, and all words have vowels. So you’ll get accurate practice for those in this word.

Positioning of the lips for p and b is everything.

For American English, make the muscles in the lips press together hard and open quickly for the p and b.

Pronunciation Tactics or Techniques To Speed Up Learning Clear English Speech

Why you should grow tongue muscle fibers using pronunciation tactics or techniques to most efficiently acquire and maintain clear American English speaking.


Understand this: By the time  native-born children are 4 to 5 years old, they typically have a 1,500 to 2,200-word expressive vocabulary (Barnes, 2022).  They pronounce most sounds correctly but may still have trouble with TH, R, S, L, V, CH, SH, and Z.  At 8-years-old, native-born children have mastered all speech sounds as well as rate, pitch and volume and are capable of carrying on a conversation with an adult (Stewart, 2022).    Notice that even for native-borns, the TH and L are not acquired accurately by 4 to 5 year old children who have been talking for 4 years!

Now for the topic at hand. Specific speaking tactics and exercises have speeded up learning and increased accuracy of English speech sounds for our student-learners. How do we know? Not just because we hear that, but because that is measured by assessments.

If you know the “why” you will understand the “how.” 

For skeletal muscles (tongue muscles are skeletal), there are two kinds of muscle fibers, slow twitch muscle fibers and fast twitch muscle fibers.  Scientific evidence indicates average percentage of slow twitch muscle fibers in human tongue is 54% — two-year-olds and adults (Sanders et al 2013).  

Most English consonant and vowel sounds have an extended duration in time, double or more, compared to the quick consonants or vowels.  Additionally, when  the task is to speak clearly,  English talkers do feature enhancement—they extend the duration of speech sounds (the slow consonants and lengthier duration vowels) and  range of articulator movements (which is congruent with the task-dynamic model of speech production—Kelso & Tuller, 1984). 

Getting the long duration English consonants (16 of 24 total consonant sounds) and vowels ( 9 of 14 vowel sounds) and  mastering a different position of articulators for clear easy to perceive English speech sounds is challenging, to say the least,  to the nonnative speaker. That two pronged skill is so critical, we teach it right away.   Of course for some speech sounds, the positioning and speed of  the articulators ( tongue, lips, teeth, jaw, vocal folds/chords) are the same  as for other languages.   It’s where English is different that makes the challenge.

For example TH both voiced and not voiced and L are high error speech sounds for nonnative speakers.

To produce clear, easy to understand  TH  or L speech sounds requires the tongue to be extended forward and for the duration of the speech sound to be extended  for at least double or greater duration in time than a quick English sound such as the consonant sound D.   With the eye, humans can’t see the slow twitch muscle fibers in the tongue.  But it stands to reason that slow twitch muscle fibers are activated to push the tongue blade forward and to extend out or stretch out the tongue blade so the tip extends to the front of the mouth.

To systematize the new learning and to simplify  (and because it works!), we teach the position of the tongue tip for the TH sounds and the L consonant sound to be the same.  That is, push forward  the tip of the tongue so it goes between the upper and lower front teeth or, better yet, to touch the lower lip. 

Consonants TH and L are slow in speed and duration of the speech sound is lengthier than the quick consonants.  The action of pushing the tongue tip all the way to the position of between upper and lower teeth or to touch the lower lip gives sensory feedback to the brain when the target has been reached.  Critically, it takes time— milliseconds— for that tongue action which adds to the duration in time of the TH and L English speech sounds.

Thus you as speaker are taking advantage of biomechanical characteristics of movement of the tongue to extend the duration of the speech sound for the slow consonants TH and L.  It stands to reason that your brain processes the task of pushing your tongue forward to  the lower lip or between top and bottom front teeth  and activates exactly the correct slow twitch muscle fibers.  The central nervous system and the slow twitch muscle fibers must learn this pattern for easy to perceive North American English consonants TH and L.  To make that tongue gesture and movement habitual takes much repeated practice.

Take home message for today, to acquire accurate American English pronunciation requires a tongue forward position for the consonants TH voiced and unvoiced and for L  (and for the American short vowel A).   The same is true for maintaining  the accurate pronunciation for these speech sounds and maintaining the strength of those slow muscle fibers in the tongue needed for these speech sounds.  The key  for acquiring accuracy and maintaining speech sound accuracy is activating the slow muscle fibers to push forward and stretch forward the tongue—that stretching and lengthening the tongue blade not only grows the slow twitch muscle fibers but also biomechanically lengthens the duration of the speech sound when coordinated with voicing at the vocal folds.

Seeing and hearing is understanding.

Below is our speech tip 4 for WORLD— see the pronunciation for L. Hmm, picture says “PAPER.” Unfortunate that YouTube made a mistake for the picture– but click on this YouTube video for WORLD and L. You’ll be glad you did!

Copyright 2022 by Clear Talk Mastery, Inc