When most people think of ways to improve spoken English, they think of listening to audio recordings, reciting practice words and sentences, and conversing with others. Rarely do they think of using their sense of touch as part of their practice routine. Rubbing smooth stones, twisting a bracelet, or moving a watch may not seem to have anything to do with improving your American accent, but for some people, those activities can provide just the incentive needed to make the necessary practice a natural part of their day.
Everyone needs reminders of some sort when learning a new habit, and each of our five senses can provide different ways of cueing, or reminding us, to do something new. We can see a note reminding us, or listen to a phone message, or perhaps touch something that triggers our brain to engage in the new behavior.
You may not think about using your sense of touch as a way to improve your spoken English, but I would suggest that you give the following activities a try. You may be surprised at what you learn about how your brain remembers best!
Choose a day that is an ordinary day, and choose just one sound to practice. Make a list of 10-20 words that have your target sound in them, and either memorize them or keep the list with you.
Find a small smooth stone that you like the feel of to keep in your pocket for the day. If you don’t have pockets, wear your watch on the opposite wrist or wear a stretchy bracelet that you’re not accustomed to. The idea is to have something unfamiliar touching you during the day so that you will notice its presence, but not be too uncomfortable. (This rules out wearing your belt too tight or wearing an itchy sweater, as those are too much of an irritation!)
Every time you feel the stone in your pocket, or stretch the bracelet, or think about moving your watch back to the other wrist, use that momentary interruption in your day to practice a few of your words out loud.
As you continue to practice throughout the day, you will find that almost without trying, you are thinking more about your target sound and using it correctly in more situations.
You may find that you like wearing your watch on the other hand or carrying that stone because those simple reminders begin to make a big difference in your pronunciation.
Experiment with different items in your pocket or jewelry on your wrist until you find the item that you feel works best at reminding you to practice and improve your spoken English.
Not sure which sounds you should be practicing? Why don’t you take my free online speech and accent screening at http://www.losemyaccent.com It only takes a few minutes, and you will get free personalized tips to improve your American accent.