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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

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.

Speed Up Learning Clear English Speech- Grow Tongue Muscle Fibers via Exercises and Tactics

Speed up Learning  Clear English Speech — Grow Tongue Muscle Fibers via Exercises and Tactics

We will describe specific exercises and tactics which have speeded up learning and increased accuracy of English speech sounds for our student-learners (measured by assessment).

First, scientific physiological information.  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— for slow English consonants, they extend the duration and articulator movements (which is congruent with the task-dynamic model of speech production—Kelso & Tuller, 1984).  Getting the English duration and position of articulators is challenging to the nonnative speaker. That is so critical, we teach that right away.   Of course for some speech sounds, the positioning and speed of  the articulators are the same  as for other languages.   It’s where English is different that makes the challenge.

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

To acquire  clear, easy to understand  TH  or L speech sounds require the tongue to be extended forward and for the duration of the speech sound to be extended  for at least double or greater duration 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 tip to extend to the front of the mouth.

We teach the position of the tongue tip for the TH sounds and the L consonant sound to be the same—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.   Those consonants are slow in speed with durations 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 all the way to touch the lower lip gives sensory feedback to the brain when the target has been reached— and it takes time— milliseconds—which adds to the duration.  Thus you as speaker are taking advantage of biomechanical characteristics of movement of the tongue forward to extend the duration of the speech sound for the slow consonants TH and L.  Likely 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.

So where does muscle strengthening come in?  Lengthening muscle fibers, in this case slow twitch muscle fibers, will make those fibers grow in length.   Maximum extending of the tongue muscles for maximum lengthening we call workout practice—like going to a fitness center and doing exercises like boat rowing  or doing yoga exercise muscle stretches to build muscles.   Maximum stretch for many people is to push the tongue tip down past their lower lip and down the chin.

Specifically, for TH and L stretch out forward  the tongue blade  and direct the tongue tip to go down  — to extend between the top and bottom front teeth  and go down toward the bottom of the chin as far as you can for workout practice.   Do this during home practice—direct practice and during coaching sessions (for our student-learners).

However, in daily life English speaking, do not stretch your tongue out and down toward your chin as much as you are able—too weird.  Do that for  home practice and with your coach.   For speech in daily life for conversation and presentations, push your tongue forward to go between your upper and lower teeth or to go to your lower lip.   I personally like lower lip best because  the sensory system feels the tongue muscles stretch forward and feel the  tongue tip on the lower lip.   

Tactic advice. For any practice with reading words and words in sentences, do the  maximum extension exercise/training  called Workout Mode for home practice.  When in public or friends, extend tongue to lower lip or between teeth– we call that Leveled-Up or Careful Leveled-Up Clear Talk Mode. 

The longer you extend the duration of the speech sounds TH and L, and hold onto the extension of the tongues slow twitch muscle fibers, the more you are loading the muscles, and the more muscle growth you will get for slow twitch muscle fibers.  Enhance the feature of lengthy duration of the voicing for the  consonants TH and L to at least double the speech sound length compared to English quick consonants such as  D or B.

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 where they  do the 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 for this tongue slow twitch muscle fiber exercise is  3 minutes total.

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 —it worked!

A video is worth a thousand words— so imitate our You Tube English speech tip videos so for direct practice you can see and hear the  exact positioning of the tongue for  L and TH.  The biomechanical extension of the tongue along with the action at the vocal folds for a voice automatically renders the feature enhancement for clear, easy to understand English speech sounds L and TH.  YouTube videos  English Speech Tip Number 35 for L, in the words “file” and “value.”  Following that  are English Speech Tip video 45 for voiced TH in “that” and unvoiced TH in English Speech Tip 53 for “thirty” and “thirteen.”

15 Dimensions For Acquiring Clear English Speech

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

Intro to the 15 Dimensions for Acquiring Clear English Speech

Methodology of Clear Talk Mastery Courses

Physics has its M string theory, with eleven dimensions – the explanation and theory behind all things “physics.”  We submit that acquisition of clear North American English speech has fifteen dimensions.

For nonnative-born speakers of North American English speech (adults), prior learning of English is typically five to seven years.  Thus they are not newbies with zero knowledge.

The time has come to communicate detail for the methodology of  Clear Talk Mastery courses which is achieving gains with student-learners previously unheard of.  Even with us, the additional consistent gains of student-learners in the last two years has surpassed and surprised us.  In the preceding twenty years, student-learner made great gains – but between 2020 and beginning of 2023, the gains have even significantly surpassed those.

Why the big leap forward?   Actively since 2017,  my dream has been to put everything we have learned together and come up with coherent theory for how best to facilitate acquisition of clear North American English.  I’ve done lots and lots of thinking, putting ideas, our experience, and findings from scientific assessments together.  Especially the last 18 months was the delving back into the seminal and current research on as many of the 15 dimensions as possible.   The great leap came because I was doing all that thinking, researching, and working on Edition 4 of three of our textbooks so as to get all that information down on paper (in the textbooks!).

How to innovate?   That is what we have strived for since 2000—to find as many ways as possible to help nonnative-born adult speakers of English acquire clear English efficiently for long lasting learning.  To paraphrase Confucius:  Reflection is gold, imitation is quickest, and experience the most painful.  Innovation requires all three avenues.  For imitation, humbly remember that we are all standing on the shoulders of many others who have come before us.  For experience,  if you are not making enough mistakes (and feeling bad about it), then you are not innovating.   Reflection takes oodles of time.  Like Einstein said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I would spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about the solution.”  In 2017, we had reached 17 years of providing instruction for successful clear speaking mastery of North American English and it was then I started my big thinking  to codify and describe the many dimensions which are described in this article.

For this article, rejoice–  you get the end of the story first.

Below are the 15 dimensions for a person with English as a second language to successfully acquire clear North American English speech communication.  Success is defined as efficient and long lasting learning.

  1. Critical importance of assessment– initial diagnostic assessment to determine needs, then mid course and end of course assessment to monitor progress, redirect goals and methodology for the course(s), and also use the end-of-course assessment to scientifically assess the success for different strategies, tactics,  and methodologies. 
  2. From the beginning of instruction, training for six Clear Talk Strategies and four Tactics.  The 6 Strategies were derived from decades of previous research about the difference between characteristics of clear compared to casual English,  the characteristics of speech sounds accurately perceived as North American English, and clear speaking training used for improving the speech intelligibility of person’s speaking English.
  3. Systematic learning for positioning and action of articulators,  and coordination between articulator systems (e.g. vocal folds and voicing coordinated with positioning and action especially of articulators tongue, lips, teeth and jaw), 
  4. Muscle strengthening  for requisite slow and fast muscle fibers (MF)  needed for North American English accurate pronunciation especially for the tongue, lips, jaw and muscles attached to the vocal folds (for voicing).  Muscle strengthening is associated with growth of numbers of slow and fast MFs.  We used both direct articulator exercise and modes of clear talking to specifically grow and strengthen requisite speech muscles for North American English,
  5. Systematic learning for sequencing of English speech communication skills, especially English speech intelligibility  (e.g. speech sound accuracy before adding learning skills for word syllable accent stress and voice inflection of sentences). 
  6. Using the categories of coordinative structures or coordinated modes observed during 20 years of instruction, which we give the terms  Workout Clear Talk Mode, Careful Leveled-up Clear Talk Mode and Leveled- Up Clear Talk Mode– all of which are conscious but get easier with lots of practice, 
  7. Cognitive learning (learning rules and patterns)  to “bootstrap” physical learning and enhance memory for the complex procedural and multidimensional learning needed for English speech intelligibility and speech communication,
  8. Employing mastery learning principles (80 to 90% mastery before graduating to the next module’s learning) which also adheres to the well known principle of  “don’t add too much learning too quickly.”
  9. Distributed learning or spaced learning for the procedural learning associated with the complexity of intelligible North American English  and for  long lasting learning–    “What’s the good of efficient learning if you forget everything within months (or years) of finishing your instruction.”
  10.  Combining skills to level-up communication proficiency including, for example, combining thinking information and talking clearly at the same time or combining voice inflection patterns during sentences/connected speech and high English speech sound articulation accuracy,  
  11.  Speech feedback to the student-learner and standards of speech production which train high level attention and increased duration of time for attention to the task of accuracy–  “It’s not practice makes perfect, but perfect practice makes perfect,”
  12.  Student-learner’s commitment to the program of learning  (e.g. 12 consecutive weeks, etc)  –“It takes 70 days of practice every day to change a habit”, for example,  changing Spanglish, Chinglish,  Indian English,  Vietnamese English, Arabic English, etc., to clear North American English speech,  
  13.  Student-learner’s personal involvement in doing direct practice homework, deliberate practice in daily life, and focused attention during coachings– plus using enhanced tutoring via  24/7 video and audio lessons for direct home practice,
  14.  Student-learner’s belief in the learning principles explained  by the coach/instructor and in the textbook, videos, audios, 
  15.  Student-learner attachment to wanting to go to the next level of communication in English and notably the process of learning, interaction, encouragement with another human person who is coach or instructor.

It is all of these 15 dimensions which contribute to the exceptional progress of  our  student-learners for acquiring clear North American speech communication.   Note especially that without attributes of the student-learner for commitment, involvement, belief, and attachment, exceptional gains for acquisition of clear North American English speech could not be achieved.

©Clear Talk Mastery, Inc. 2023