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Free Speech Lesson

Accent Reduction

/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 Skill: Encourage Conversation- The Road to Rapport

English Communication Skill:  Encourage Conversation- The Road to Rapport


Relationship is the heart of social and work life. Communication is the heart of relationship and rapport. What’s the cardinal characteristic that encourages others to feel comfortable and converse? Observation.

Look around and notice what surrounds another person– say a picture of an ocean setting– and start a conversation.  When stumbling on a topic of importance to the other person, pursue it and reveal something about the self.  Revelations. experiences, viewpoints, and desires give other persons something they can respond to. Conversation blossoms.

The best communicators listen and get to know others.  In the work place, that is how to get to know how to meet colleagues needs which is part of the give-and-take of organizations.

Go out of the way to make people feel comfortable.  The CEO of Child Readiness Foundation on holidays wears his tie with little children on it– eye-catching and fun.  People know he’s approachable and gives them something to talk about.

Women can invite conversation with fun, unusual pins, earrings, or bright scarf.  When we see someone with something unusual or fun, we know they are inviting conversation and it’s okay to comment.

Conversational T-shirts are ice-breakers  We wear our opinions, ideas, and commitments across our chests.  We get them as gifts or  as “part of the event.”  In either case, they give others something to talk about.  Get these wearable ice=breakers from art museums, music venues, amusement and national parks.

Coming out of two years of Covid pandemic, all the sweeter is the encouraging and making of conversation, especially when the techniques are so easy.

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

Speech Tip #2

English Speech Tip 2: Short Vowels a, e

In this video Dr. Antonia Johnson shows how to pronounce the American English short vowel A and short vowel E.

Let us know what sounds or words you would like help with!

Speech Tip #1

English Speech Tip 1: l, r, e “clear”

In this video Dr. Antonia Johnson shows how to pronounce the American English word “clear.” She focuses on the English l, r, and long ē sounds.

Let us know what sounds or words you would like help with!