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Speech Tip

“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.”

/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!

Get “s” and “z” for Grammar “s”

Surprising but true, along with “r” and “l” pronunciation, “s” is most difficult for native-born children in North America. It’s critical for grammar for plurals, subject- verb agreement (“I sit” but “she sits”) and for possessive (“The house belongs to Sam” and “Sam’s house.”

Added to the pronunciation difficulty is that “Grammar s” is always written as an “s” letter, but has rules for when you pronounce an “s” with no voice or an “s” with a voice (which is the “z”) sound.

In general, the speech pathology and science field has much evidence that vocal strengthening tasks can affect speech production.

In particular, over the last month, I have been adding this exercise to daily practice for students enrolled in the coached course (see Services) — Do vocal strengthening for the “s” and “z” 3 times a day. Do this: “Take a deep breath and say “sssss” for as long as you can. And, take a deep breath and say “zzzz” for as long as you can.

The outcome has been noticeably strong “Grammar s” and other “s” and “s” with a voice and “z” pronunciation for all direct practice tasks (reading) and presentation and conversation tasks.

Try it, you’ll like the results!

English communication skills- Networking & Relationships- Power of Writing Notes for Praise & Thanks

English communication skills-  Networking & Relationships- Power of Writing Notes for Praise and Thanks

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Little things in life touch us–like receiving a note from a work colleague or friend– think email, telephone text, paper.  Handwritten is a wow for the recipient: a note can brighten a day, bring a smile, inspire and sometimes change a life.  Expressing gratitude and praising helps people stay uplifted, focused and on track by reminding us to maintain an attitude of gratitude (even amidst tragic news such as war and pandemic).

Here are some four “S’s” of note writing.  A note should be:

  1. Sincere – Express your heart, your emotion.
  2. Short- One to three sentences.
  3. Specific- Focus on something specific to the recipient, i.e., “Great story in your speech about Stefan’s marketing strategy.”
  4. Spontaneous – Enthusiasm has long-lasting effect.

Send notes frequently that say “Thanks for:

  • Your confidence in me.
  • Your friendship.
  • The opportunity to learn more about your organization
  • Ideas you shared with me.
  • Your interest in our organization.
  • Your support.
  • The referral.
  • Sending that article (or the link to that blog).
  • Thinking of me.
  • Taking the time to…
  • The opportunity to do business with you.
  • You are one of my favorite clients. Thanks for being so great to work with
  • Meeting with me.
  • Your encouragement.
  • Staying in touch.

Want a free Sample Lesson with us, contact ALJohnson@ClearTalkMastery.com

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

“Curriculum” -Short u and i, k, L, m