Phrases for a Merry Christmas

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It’s happening all around you: holiday decorations in all the stores, strings of lights on homes and businesses, and Christmas music playing on the radio and in shops. It’s Christmas in America! And as an international, it comes with a lot of phrases and vocabulary you may wish you knew more about.

 

I’m here today with some phrases and well-wishes you will probably hear floating around your workplace and with American friends. The Christmas season starts right after Thanksgiving and lasts all December… and since it lasts so long, I definitely want you to feel confident engaging the holiday season in your job and community. So take a look at these common Christmas phrases, and Happy Holidays to you!

 

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And just in time for holiday gift-giving, I’m offering a 4-week intensive course on clear American communication, coming up in January 2017! Give yourself or someone you love this wonderful gift, and we’ve even got a printable gift certificate for Christmas morning.

 

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Check out the course here to get a great deal on my online interactive class. Look forward to seeing you there in the new year!

 

For information on accent reduction and American pronunciation, take my free accent screening and receive a free pronunciation guide at losemyaccent.com.

Amazing Cyber Monday Deal!

A special surprise today for Lose My Accent followers…
I’m offering an amazing discounted price on my online clear communication course!

This 4-week intensive online course will combine all the resources of my 8-week course, Speaking and Learning Together, into one month for faster results.
You’ll master the key skills you need to listen easily and speak more clearly in English.
And today, it’s at an incredibly low price!

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This course in January 2017 includes 4 online videos and workbook materials…

Or choose the interactive session – including group calls where I’ll answer your questions and speech concerns – an amazing value at just $147!

Click here to get your Cyber Monday deal now!

At this price, giving yourself or someone you love the gift of clear communication has never been so affordable. Plus, we’ve got you covered with a printable gift certificate for gift-giving!
gift-certificate

Don’t let this course fill up without you…
Click here to learn more about the course and secure your Cyber Monday pricing!

For information on accent reduction and American pronunciation, take my free accent screening and receive a free pronunciation guide at losemyaccent.com.

Phrases for a Happy Thanksgiving

It’s time again to stuff the turkey (and ourselves!) as Thanksgiving is upon us this week. You know, Thanksgiving is some people’s favorite holiday because it’s all about THE FOOD. I hope you enjoy a tasty Thanksgiving meal with friends or family, as we gather to celebrate the blessings in our lives.  

I’m thankful for you, and for my international clients and followers I’m explaining some American Thanksgiving phrases you may hear as you celebrate this week. Enjoy the video, and a Happy Thanksgiving from Lose My Accent!

For information on accent reduction and American pronunciation, take my free accent screening and receive a free pronunciation guide at losemyaccent.com.

Are You Fried, or Flowing? Improving Your Vocal Quality

professional-presence-vocal-qualityHave you ever listened to or watched a recording of yourself, and cringed at the sound of your voice? Perhaps when giving presentations, you know your voice isn’t projecting the confidence you’d like… or maybe your company has realized it’s time to give employees an edge with clients and shareholders by investing in their voice.

This component of your professional presence is called vocal quality, and it’s a major factor in how your message is perceived by others. I’d like you to first think about how you’d describe a voice that you find irritating in presentations or meetings… one that distracts from the presenter’s message. Your list may have some of these descriptors:

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Now take a moment to reflect on what makes a voice sound pleasant to you – one that enhances the message rather than distracting from it. It may be easiest to think of an actor/actress, broadcaster, or other public figure whose voice you find pleasing to listen to. What qualities make their voice stand out to you? Make a list! It might end up looking something like this:

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So how do we lessen qualities from the first list, and encourage qualities from the second? Let’s look at what you can and cannot control.

What you’re born with.

We’re all given a set of pipes at birth with factors we have no control over: the length and width of our neck and vocal muscles, the formation of our chest cavity and nasal passages… all the anatomical details that make our voice uniquely ours has a genetic stamp. Some people may also have medical issues that have influenced the configuration of their vocal anatomy.

What you learn.

Similarly to the genetic impact on your voice, your environment plays a crucial role. You learned tones, rhythms, and even how much air to put behind your words as you were learning speech from those around you as a child. Not only do you receive vocal genes from your family, but many of their vocal habits as well.

What you can control.

For anyone trying to improve the quality of their voice, it may feel like the genetic and environmental components are too great to overcome. It all seems too unfair, doesn’t it? Not at all! You actually have a great deal of control over how your genetic voice ends up sounding to others.

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Hydration & Nutrition.

Taking care of any part of your body starts with proper nutrition and hydration. Take a cue from professional vocalists: Most singers will forgo dairy before a performance, because of how the casein protein lines the vocal cords. You may have experienced this as a “phlegmy” feeling after drinking milk – and a need to constantly clear your throat, leading to a “gravelly” sound.

Some singers will also forgo alcohol for days before a performance because of its dehydrating effects. When your vocal cords don’t get enough moisture, they can’t perform. Drinking water and eating foods with a high water content is best for vocal health.

Vocal Exercises.

Correct breathing from your diaphragm – deeper and controlled breaths – greatly influences your vocal quality, as do head and mouth exercises that relax your throat muscles and improve resonance. These exercises help you find the right pitch that is comfortable for you, and comfortable for others to listen to. Even practicing smiling while you speak will impart a friendliness to your voice.

Actor Morgan Freeman attributes the quality of his celebrated voice to an excellent diction coach, and also to the power of yawning – noting that repeated yawning relaxes the vocal muscles and allows the voice to achieve a soothing lower register. It’s hard to argue with the voice of God (from the movie Bruce Almighty, of course)!

Addressing Clinical or Learned Issues.

Clinical vocal issues, such as hoarseness or a raspy voice, can be caused by ongoing medical issues or improper breathing support. Acid reflux, laryngitis, and overuse or misuse of your voice (think, trying to talk in a noisy crowd) can all lead to chronic vocal quality issues when not addressed.

Another vocal quality issue becoming prevalent in younger women is “vocal fry”… an elongated, low-register harshness – usually at the ends of words or phrases – popularized by young women, mostly on reality television shows. Those who are hearing vocal fry and adopting it (whether consciously or not) are actually damaging their vocal cords… and it’s an irritant to many listeners, women and men alike, in a professional setting. One study has linked vocal fry speech patterns with a negative connotation in the workplace, possibly undermining the employability of young women.

Because I’m a licensed speech pathologist – as well as communication skills trainer – I help resolve these clinical voice problems that affect the vocal quality of anyone needing to speak in a professional setting. Remember, your genetics make your voice unique… and improved vocal quality make it exceptional!

Ultimately, your vocal presence can either enhance or break down your meaning.

Check out my previous article on vocal presence to discover why this is crucial for your career and business!

My corporate professional presence training engages the issues of vocal presence to increase productivity, create stronger client relationships, and improve clarity of internal and external presentations and processes.

Learn more and contact us today at AccentuateCommunication.com.

Hispanic Heritage & Your American Accent

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¡Hola, mis amigos!

It’s an honor to be celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month once again with my Latino friends and followers across the country and the world! It’s a time to recognize the rich traditions and culture that have brought so much joy and unique perspective to the United States.

I have a couple questions to think about as you celebrate your heritage: Is it possible to improve English pronunciation while holding onto your culture? Will you lose part of your heritage if you decide to work on your American accent?

This can be a worrisome topic for anyone with an accent: You worry your family will think you’re letting go of your culture, or that changing your speech will somehow change you. But I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way, and that you really can have the best of both worlds! When we talk about reducing your accent, we’re really talking about changing the parts of your pronunciation that make your English difficult for others to understand. You will still have your culture, your heritage, and your accent… just an accent more easily understood by native English speakers.

In fact, I was just featured in an article for El Sentinel, the Spanish-language version of The Orlando Sentinel newspaper, on this very topic. The article highlights how Latino workers are seeing their career prospects improve after their company offered them accent reduction training… not to eliminate their accent, but to make it more easily understood.

So which sounds are difficult for Latino speakers?

Most of the pronunciation issues for Latinos have to do with voiced and unvoiced sounds. Check out my video below to learn more about this concept, and use it to practice these most commonly mispronounced sounds.

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S and Z use the exact same tongue and mouth shape; the difference is in the voicing. The S sound is produced without the voice, but the Z sound requires the voice. To feel the difference, put your hand on your throat and try saying S-s-s-s. You should not feel anything. Now try saying Z-z-z-z. You should feel a vibration in your throat. Practice saying words like “Sue” and “zoo.”

2K and G sound are both produced in the back of the throat, but the K is unvoiced and the G is voiced. Try saying K-k-k and then G-g-g-g. You should feel the tickle or vibration on your throat when you say the G sound. Practice saying “coat” and “goat.”

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P and B are both made by pushing the lips together and releasing them. P is made without using the voice while B uses the voice. It’s important to hear the difference, because one letter sound can change your entire meaning, as with the words “cap” and “cab.”

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The V sound is made by placing the top teeth on the lower lip, turning on the voice, and blowing. If you put both lips together and blow, you get a B sound instead of the V. Practice with words like “very” and “berry.”

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If you put the top teeth on the lower lip and blow without turning on the voice, you will make an F sound. To make the V sound, you need to turn on your voice. Practice by saying “fine” and “vine.”

 

Again, the goal here isn’t accent elimination, the goal is to be understood… and I think that’s a goal that you, and your friends and family who love you, can get behind!

¡Hasta la próxima, amigos!

 

If this article and video helped you, check out my free pronunciation guide and accent screening to further explore personalized accent reduction.

 

My corporate accent reduction and professional presence training engage communication issues to increase productivity, create stronger client relationships, and improve clarity of internal and external presentations and processes.

Learn more and contact us today at AccentuateCommunication.com.

Professional Presence: Finding Your Voice

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Picture yourself in this everyday office scenario:

The staff is gathered for a presentation on a new company initiative.

The presenter passes out their information, and in a monotone fashion proceeds to plod through the slideshow presentation on the topic with seemingly little enthusiasm.

At the end they announce, “We really want everyone to get excited about this.”

Are you excited?

Have you bought into your company’s new project?

Given the lackluster presentation, probably not!

 

Maybe this presenter really is excited about the initiative, but they don’t know how to convey that to others… or don’t even realize how their demeanor is being perceived by everyone in the room.

And what would the ramifications be if this had been a pitch to a client, or prospective investors?

The non-verbal communication in this situation was the difference between increased morale at the launching of a new project, and just another boring meeting!

 

The 7 Percent “Rule”

You may be familiar with a “rule” that states communication is only 7% verbal, the other 93% being vocal tones (38%) and facial expression (55%). While the studies from the late 1960s that originated this “rule” have been widely misinterpreted – and the results really only apply to the circumstances of the study – it was still a benchmark in recognizing how we interpret messages based on our physical sound and presence… and other studies still reinforce how nonverbal communication influences how we perceive messages from others.

 

Take for example, a later study indicating that the combination of many non-verbal cues had over 4 times the effect of simply verbal cues. And a study out of Harvard University published in 2003 showed how tone of voice increased or decreased subjects’ perception of politeness in statements and questions.

 

Even so, science may not always be able to pin down a statistic about our use of nonverbal cues… but the evidence exists in those won or lost clients, daily engagement with customers and co-workers, and surveys of employee satisfaction.

 

It’s What You Say, AND How You Say It

We know the words we choose are important… no one wants irrelevant, illogical information or interactions. But it’s not just our words – strictly the information – that influences others, and determines their perception of us. Even when our words are in the right, is that enough to convey our meaning? In the example above, the speaker’s overall tone hindered the message of company enthusiasm. No doubt you’ve experienced either embracing or rejecting projects, ideas, or initiatives because of the way the message was delivered to you.

 

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Dr. Ann Utterback, a vocal coach exclusive to broadcasters, says that the world is looking for “comfortable communicators”: presenters who make you feel like you’re the only one with whom they’re interacting. In an interview with Al Tompkins of the Poynter Institute, she describes one aspect of this as ‘vocal energy’ – “focus and passion for what you’re saying.”

 

So just knowing how to run the slide software isn’t enough… the balance of what you’re thinking, feeling, and projecting creates the dynamism to win and keep customers, influence investors, and excite and engage those around your on your team.

 

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Ultimately, your vocal presence can either enhance or break down your meaning.

And this presence is made up of many components… some you may feel comfortable with, and others that may need work in order to really find your voice, and allow others to hear your true meaning.

My corporate professional presence training breaks down these components:

Vocal quality

Vocal variance

Rate of speech

Accent clarity

Body posture and gestures

 

And you may be surprised how factors outside of your physical voice can be used to great effect in magnifying your “voice” and message:

Crafting a powerful story

Knowing when to speak, and when to listen

Adjusting responses to questions for different audiences

 

We’ll be exploring these components of your professional vocal presence in the weeks to come!

 

My corporate professional presence training engages the issues of vocal presence to increase productivity, create stronger client relationships, and improve clarity of internal and external presentations and processes.

Learn more and contact us today at AccentuateCommunication.com.

 

Watch Your Language! Knoxville Businesswoman Urging Florida Companies to Invest in Foreign­-Born Workforce

Local CEO and speech pathologist brings her expertise to Orlando’s emerging tech hub.

Watch Your Language! LMA

KNOXVILLE, TN – August 2016 – Speaking at the 2016 HR Florida Conference in Orlando, Knoxville-based speech pathologist and Accentuate Communication CEO Lisa Scott has a clear message for Florida businesses: Investing in the language skills of your foreign-born professionals is crucial to financial growth.

 

“Orlando is positioning itself as a hub for technology and start-ups, and has an opportunity to learn from the English skills work we’ve been doing with foreign-born professionals at major research labs in the Knoxville area,” said Scott. “Specifically, we’re helping foreign-born engineers improve their American accent to better relate to the Knoxville and surrounding communities, and minimize those communication breakdowns that cost companies billions every year.”

 

In Tennessee from 2000 to 2010, the number of foreign-born workers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jumped more than 84 percent. And in Florida, almost one in four STEM workers with an advanced degree was a foreigner in 2010.

 

“The language frustration is real for companies with a significant non-native workforce,” said Scott. “They’re seeing grants slip through their fingers. They’re losing out on big clients. And many talented internationals can’t move up the ladder because their English just needs a little more work.”

 

And new research is now backing up how improved English-language skills are helping college-educated immigrants succeed all over America.

Invest in Yourself

In a 2015 survey of college-educated immigrants by IMPRINT (Immigrant Professional Integration), respondents who did not speak English as a primary language – but had strong English skills – were “dramatically more likely” to have achieved professional success than those who didn’t.

 

“This research proves what those of us in the field of foreign accent reduction have already known – that increased English-language proficiency correlates with all measure of immigrant economic success,” said Scott.

 

According to the Migration Policy Institute, over 41% of Tennessee’s foreign-born workforce – and nearly half of Florida’s – hold management, science, business, sales, or office jobs: fields where a heavy foreign accent and cross-cultural miscommunication can routinely cause costly delayed projects, missed funding opportunities, and “brain waste” of skilled immigrant professionals.

 

But Gallup research is showing that companies are ignoring this social component of business and project management.

 

“That’s where Accentuate comes in, to help companies take hold of the potential their international team already possesses. Clear speech – and strategies to understand each other cross-culturally – are the missing link for effective, happy employees and increased profits for businesses.”

Scott is a featured speaker at the upcoming HR Florida Conference on Monday, August 29 with her session “Beer and Bounced Checks: Why Diversity Initiatives Can’t Stop at the Front Door.”  

The 2016 HR Florida Conference & Expo runs August 29-31 at the Hilton Bonnet Creek in Orlando, attracting over 1,500 human resource professionals from across the state of Florida and the world.

 

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As a certified speech-language pathologist and CEO of Accentuate Communication, Lisa Scott is trusted with accent reduction services at several of the country’s top research labs, and has influenced a myriad of other world-class institutions in her over 25 years of experience.

Watch Your Language! Florida Companies Urged to Invest in Foreign-Born Workforce

New research for Miami area shows immigrant professionals – with a little help – are ready to move up the ladder.

 

Watch Your Language! LMA

 

KNOXVILLE, TN – August 2016 – Speaking at the 2016 HR Florida Conference in Orlando, speech pathologist and Accentuate Communication CEO Lisa Scott has a clear message for Florida businesses: Investing in the language skills of your foreign-born professionals is crucial to financial growth.

 

“I’m especially interested in the high diversity of Miami-Dade and Broward counties, and excited for the potential that companies there have to reduce the English language and cultural barriers even further – to minimize those communication breakdowns that cost companies billions every year,” said Scott.

Invest in Yourself

New research on foreign-born professionals in Miami is especially encouraging. In a 2015 survey by IMPRINT (Immigrant Professional Integration), Miami-area college-educated immigrants were less likely to experience job-search discrimination and more likely to have a strong social network than immigrants in the other major cities surveyed.

 

This puts well-educated Miami immigrant professionals at greater potential to succeed financially and professionally from these social benefits.

 

“This research proves what those of us in the field of foreign accent reduction have already known – that increased English-language proficiency correlates with all measure of immigrant economic success,” said Scott.

 

According to the Migration Policy Institute, nearly half (49.7%) of Florida’s foreign-born workforce hold management, business, sales, or office jobs: fields where a heavy foreign accent and cross-cultural miscommunication can routinely cause costly delayed projects, missed funding opportunities, and “brain waste” of skilled immigrant professionals.

 

“The language frustration is real for companies with a significant non-native workforce,” said Scott. “They’re seeing grants slip through their fingers. They’re losing out on big clients. And many talented internationals can’t move up the ladder because their English just needs a little more work.”

 

But Gallup research is showing that companies are ignoring this social component of business and project management.

 

“That’s where Accentuate comes in, to help companies take hold of the potential their international team already possesses. Clear speech – and strategies to understand each other cross-culturally – are the missing link for effective, happy employees and increased profits for businesses.”

Scott is a featured speaker at the upcoming HR Florida Conference on Monday, August 29 with her session “Beer and Bounced Checks: Why Diversity Initiatives Can’t Stop at the Front Door.”  

The 2016 HR Florida Conference & Expo runs August 29-31 at the Hilton Bonnet Creek in Orlando, attracting over 1,500 human resource professionals from across the state of Florida and the world.

 

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As a certified speech-language pathologist and CEO of Accentuate Communication, Lisa Scott is trusted with accent reduction services at several of the country’s top research labs, and has influenced a myriad of other world-class institutions in her over 25 years of experience.

What Does It Mean? “Bury Your Head in the Sand”

Tell me: What involves an ostrich, a myth, and a closed mind?

Give up?

Another American idiom!

 

Bury in sand title

A couple of weeks ago, I used a beach-themed tongue-twister to highlight the difference between the “S” and “SH” sounds in American English pronunciation. Since we’re still in the heat of summer, this week I’m highlighting another “beachy” phrase that you may hear around your workplace.

 

The origin of the idiom “bury your head in the sand” is not really based on fact… but Americans still use this phrase as a way to show their displeasure with someone who is not listening to the facts.

Learn more about it, and how to use it, in my new video:

 

 

Once again, Americans love the beach as much as anyone, and we have a myriad of idioms to prove it. Here are some other “beachy” phrases… do you know what they mean? If not, take a moment to look them up!

 

beach idioms

Is your foreign accent holding you back in your workplace?

Don’t bury your head in the sand…

American pronunciation training could be what you need to gain that next step in your career!

If my video and article helped you with American phrases and pronunciation, or if you’d like more information on accent reduction, take my free accent screening and receive a free pronunciation guide at losemyaccent.com.

Celebrating Friendship in Tumultuous Times

Our world has suffered much heartache this year… perhaps not more than any other time in the history of humanity, but with news available to us nearly instantaneously from around the globe, it seems that way. Violence and suffering weighs heavily on the minds of all people who hope and pray for peace, health, and safety.

Friendship Title

Through my American pronunciation instruction, I’ve been lucky enough to work with wonderful individuals from all over the world… people who also long for peace between all nations.

It starts with US – you and I, choosing to think the best of one another, in friendship!

Please accept these heartfelt wishes of friendship and love in honor of the International Day of Friendship on July 30. To everyone reading this around the world, may we all continue be friends to each other in our online interactions and those around us in our daily lives, the whole year through.

Please share your own message of friendship and peace on your favorite social media sites!

It may seem like only a small step – but it may be the most important step, if all of us shared this with one another.

I leave you with a quote from Mother Teresa:

Teresa

For information on accent reduction and American pronunciation, take my free accent screening and receive a free pronunciation guide at losemyaccent.com.