Speaking & Listening in English

Speak English Clearly!

Speak English Clearly!

By Annabelle Beckwith
A clear accent - and a good speaking voice in any language -requires you to open your mouth in order to form the words properly.
It sounds obvious, yet how many times have you heard someone mumbling nervously through an interview, or speaking to quickly in a corporate presentation?
Speakers with, for example some Indian accents and some regional British accents (Glasgow and Liverpool in particular) don't tend to open their mouths very wide when they speak.
For non-native speakers of English, what this means is that when you DO speak English, you are literally not opening your mouth wide enough to make the sounds and speak the language properly! Some of the long English vowel sounds such as the 'aw' in 'prawn' and the 'oh' in 'phone', both of which need an open mouth for correct pronunciation, are shortened to an 'o' sound....which is not correct for a clear, neutral British accent.
So, what can you do?
The main thing is to practice opening your mouth wider than you would normally when you are speaking English. Yes, it will feel a little strange, but you will find that by moving your mouth more, your are able to pronounce English words clearly and with a better accent.
The is a particularly important for the correct pronunciation of English vowel sounds, which non native speakers, as I have mentioned, often pronounce incorrectly by not keeping their mouths open enough, or by putting their mouths in the wrong position.
How much does this matter? Well how well do you want to speak English?! The important point is that a strong accent can be difficult to understand, and if you are difficult to understand, people will just stop listening.
One of the most useful things you can do is practice vocal exercises to improve your pronunciation. The following exercise encourages you to practice English vowel and consonant sounds without forming them into words, and it's one that I often use in accent reduction and public speaking classes:
The sounds are:
Oo as in shoe Oh as in phone Or as in port Ah as in cart Ay as in pay Ee as in sheet
As you can see, these are all long English vowel sounds, so stretch them out to make sure that you aren't shortening them.
Of course, it's difficult, if not impossible to imagine the sounds of English from the written word, so listen for these sounds as spoken by native speakers, and copy them.
Improving your English is often about changing mother tongue habits and opening your mouth a little wider when speaking English is one of them.
Article by Annabelle Beckwith Annabelle is the author of "Confident English - improve your spoken English...today!" at
http://www.coachmeconfident.com and a professional communication skills trainer and accent reduction coach.
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How an Accent Reduction Coach Can Help You

How an Accent Reduction Coach Can Help You
By Susan M Ryan
Susan-M-Ryan_242186
An accent reduction coach can tell you which sounds and patterns you currently use that contribute to your accent. Then you can focus on the areas that are problems for you and help you learn the sounds and patterns of spoken English.
People from many different fields are now looking for ways to improve their American English pronunciation and reduce their accents. These include: doctors, nurses, clergy, business executives, engineers, professors and call center employees. They understand that clear spoken English will allow them to communicate more effectively with business associates, customers, colleagues and friends.
You may be one of the many people learning to read, write and speak English in your native country. Chances are that your reading, writing and grammar are excellent. However, you may have found that your spoken English is so accented that American English speakers don't always understand you when you speak. Your foreign accent prevents American listeners from understanding you, causing frustration and breakdowns in communication.
Accent reduction involves changing or modifying some of the sounds and patterns in your current speech to make you sound more clear and comprehensible to American listeners. By learning to recognize and change the sounds and patterns that you unconsciously transfer from your own language to English, you can learn to speak in a way that will allow American listeners to understand you more easily.
An accent reduction coach can identify the pronunciation features that stop Americans from understanding you. Then she can teach you the sounds and patterns of spoken English that you need to adapt in order to sound more American.
After each session with your coach you simply must practice your pronunciation every day for 20-30 minutes, even more if you can. This will help the new sounds and patterns you are learning to become natural for you. Most people actually begin to both hear and speak English differently once their coaching sessions begin.
People who take accent reduction courses are usually highly motivated individuals who are looking for better job opportunities or promotions. increased social opportunities and better cultural understanding. If this sounds like you, it may be time for you to investigate one on one accent reduction coaching.
Susan Ryan helps professionals reduce their foreign accents so that they can communicate clearly and effectively in the workplace. Visit her website at
American Accent Coaching to learn more about her one on one accent reduction coaching program.
Accent reduction coaching is the most focused and efficient way for you to reduce your accent and improve your American English pronunciation.
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Successfully Reduce and Eliminate Your Accent

Successfully Reduce and Eliminate Your Accent

By Patrick Bilson
I used to have an accent. I didn't mind the accent itself, what bothered me was constantly being judged by strangers. If you have an accent too, I'm sure you've noticed that you are being treated differently than your friends who are native English speakers. Anybody who judges people with accents probably doesn't even mean to. It's mainly a subconscious thing and, of course, labeling people with accents as unsophisticated isn't limited to the United States; it happens in every part of the world. Growing up in another country I used to stereotype people with accents too and it probably wasn't different wherever you grew up.
Understandably, almost everyone working and living in the US would like to be able to speak without an accent, but relatively few people succeed. Effects of accent reduction programs are rarely immediate, so most students give up the battle against the accent shortly after having started. So, first of all you need to have the right attitude. Try to avoid saying things like "I'm too old to work on my accent now." or "Who cares whether I have an accent or not?" Yes, getting rid of an accent gets increasingly difficult as you get older, but it's most certainly not impossible. No matter how old you are, it will require a big effort and a great deal of determination.
There are three key steps that are essential to anybody's success when getting rid of an accent. In the end, how successful you will be and how long it will take depends on the time you are willing to invest and how open you are to changes.
First, you need to accept that reducing or eliminating your accent has affects on your whole life. It's crucial that you step out of the comfort zone and realize that you need to make new friends and surround yourself with as many English speaking people as possible. Take advantage of the fact that you live near thousands of native speakers. Go out there and socialize with them. This is what most people fail to realize, you cannot expect your accent to go away if everybody around you speaks your mother tongue and you rarely even speak English.
Then, speaking English as much as possible is a pretty obvious step. All the books you read and the hours you work on your accent won't be of any use unless you go out there and talk to people. Remember that mistakes are part of the learning process, so don't be ashamed to mispronounce things. Keep talking and you will see your English improving very quickly. Also, tell all your friends and family that you want them to speak English with you. This is very helpful, especially in the beginning, since you already feel comfortable talking with them.
Last but not least, an often overlooked factor is how important active listening is. By carefully paying attention to what native English speakers around you are saying, you will not only learn lots of new terms, but also learn the correct pronunciation of words. If you don't have many English speaking friends yet, you can watch TV and listen to the radio which will basically give you the same results.
Whether you already have some experience in eliminating your accent or you're just getting started, these basic rules should be a big help. Naturally, you'll have to find out yourself what methods and exercises work best for you. I advice you to talk to people who have successfully eliminated their accents. I'm one of those lucky few and my friends are often surprised at how simple the things are that I did to get rid of my accent. Give all the methods and exercises that sound right for you a try and stick with what works best - that's how I succeeded.
Patrick Bilson, Author of the ebook Eliminate Your Accent [http://www.eliminateyouraccent.com]
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