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Can Tongue Muscle Exercises Speed up Getting Clear English Speaking?

Can strengthening the tongue’s muscle fibers via tongue muscle strengthening exercise speed up acquisition of clear American English speaking?


Muscle strengthening sure does work for other activities which use skeletal muscles. The tongue is a skeletal muscle, with slow and fast twitch muscle fibers.

Nowadays, coaches of many sports require their athletes to do muscle strengthening and endurance exercise – running  cycling, field hockey, football,  rowing, baseball, swimming (Stern, 2022) for skeletal muscles. 

Armed with physiological research about human tongue muscle fibers (Sanders et al, 2013) and reviewing articles on slow and fast muscle fibers (including Biggers, 2020), starting in 2022 we pursued this addition avenue of direct muscle strength exercises to get more efficiency for student-learners to acquire clear American English speech.

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.  What dd we begin with? Because of the lengthy training time it typically takes to acquire and master (habituate) speech sounds which require tongue tip forward positioning—we began with tongue slow muscle fibers for the American English speech sounds TH with a voice, TH with no voice, L  (and American English  short vowel A).

Here is a description of the tongue exercise we began with.   Specifically, student-learners began tongue exercise to strengthen the “Push the tongue forward/ Stretch the length of the tongue forward” slow twitch muscles. 

The instructions : Do the speech 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 added to homework or direct practice for this tongue slow twitch muscle fiber exercise is  3 minutes total.

At first we began to assign this tongue exercise to student-learners at Level Two—for those who continued to error on the TH and L speech sounds in words.   Student-learners demonstrated improvements during coaching and on assessments within 3  weeks.

Currently, we  assign these exercises to Level 1 students when they begin Module Two (or Section 2).   Later and systematically, we add to homework tongue muscle strengthening exercises for fast twitch muscle fibers and for tongue tip,  then slow twitch muscle fibers for back of the tongue,  as well as slow and fast twitch muscle fibers for the lips.

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 for pronouncing TH and L—it worked!

Now you have it— the description of strengthening slow twitch muscle fibers in the tongue to speed up learning the clear English pronunciation of TH and L— using tongue slow muscle fiber exercises.  Based on much physiological research for skeletal muscle strengthening, we surmise that these tongue exercises are strengthening the exact slow twitch muscles needed for these sounds which are either not in the first language or pronounced differently in the first language. 

Just to remind you, as described in February 23, 2023  the blog  muscle Tactics during reading aloud exercises and for daily life speech interactions and presentations is critical and core skill for speeding up the process of acquiringr accurate American English pronunciation /http://www.cleartalkmastery.com/blog/2023/02/23/speed-up-learning-clear-english-speech-grow-tongue-muscle-fibers-via-exercises-and-tactics/

Acquiring (learning) clear American English speech is a procedural skill which means that distributed practice over time is essential for mastery.  It takes 10 years to become an elite athlete.  Experts say it takes 10,000 times of practice to become elite in any skill.  In the United States, youth are required to remain in school until they are 16-years-old— at that point they are deemed to have acquired enough English language skill to manage the next stages of their human development in modern culture.

The beauty is to discover and teach the secrets of  efficiently acquiring clear, easy to understand American English— and make the learning built to last (a long time!) .  Give a hungry person a fish, and he or she will not be hungry for a day.  Give a fishing pole, and he or she will be hungry for the rest of their life.   That’s the goal, and the beauty of the Clear Talk Mastery instruction and methodology.

Copyright 2022 by Clear Talk Mastery, Inc

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