We help you speak English clearly.
Free Speech Lesson

How long to form a habit.

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.