Tell me if this resonates with you: you’re comfortable in your workplace when it requires reading emails and going through written material… or writing to co-workers and jotting down notes.
But when needing to speak out loud to a co-worker, or asked to speak up at a meeting, you say as little as possible.
You’ve been misunderstood so many times, it’s just easier to stay quiet.
If you learned English outside the U.S., you probably spent years structuring sentences, memorizing vocabulary, and listening to English. You excelled in reading and writing, and by all measures became fluent in the English language.
You might have been surprised, then, when you came to America as a scientist, researcher, or engineer, and found that others had trouble understanding you!
Accustomed to learning in a passive way rather than an active one, and without an emphasis on speaking, you prefer to listen instead of engage in conversations. You’re tired of repeating yourself, and misunderstandings have caused embarrassment or perhaps a shy personality.
May is “Better Hearing and Speech Month”, as sponsored by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). ASHA is my credentialing organization, and this year’s theme is “Communication Takes Care.”
So today, let’s talk about how you can “take care” of yourself and others by speaking up!
Make Simple, Creative Daily Changes
There’s no way around it… it’s going to take work on your part to practice speaking out loud and identify your problem sounds.
So let me give you an example of a simple way one of my clients practices speaking out loud:
He purposefully pays his bills over the phone, rather than mailing them in.
This way, he can practice his pronunciation with a variety of listeners, taking note of any words they don’t understand, so he can practice them again before the next interaction.
Here are some other ideas:
Use Technology to Your Advantage
The same client I mentioned above also uses voice recognition software to identify problem sounds for him to practice. A program like Dragon® Naturally Speaking is a small investment, but can turn nearly everything you’d do on a PC into a voice command – and it’s instant feedback for you on which sounds you should work on.
Using the voice assistant on your phone, like Siri®, to do web searches or take notes, can also give you great feedback on which sounds give you trouble – and practicing challenging words in the privacy of your home can feel more comfortable.
But I’ve got another wonderful way for you to use technology to reduce your accent… my upcoming 8-week online clear speech course!
I’m so excited to be leading this course once again!
“Speaking and Learning Together” starts June 9… and it includes online training videos and livestream group sessions where you can work personally with me and others who are also working toward clear speech. And right now, you can bring a friend along for free!
Find out more about this fantastic course here and register before it fills up!
If you’re hoping to reduce your accent by simply listening, it’s probably not enough to create a change.
We need the listening skills of others, friends to practice with, and the support of a community around us to motivate us to improve our speech.
Hoping to see you on June 9!