Time to Speak Up! Caring About Your Communication

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.

Sound familiar?

Speaking Out Loud FB

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.”

ASHA BHSM

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:

TalkEatCall

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!

 

SALT

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.

So don’t let my “Speaking and Learning Together” course pass you by… and you can also take my free accent screening and receive a free pronunciation guide at losemyaccent.com.

Hoping to see you on June 9!

American Pronunciation of Stare and Steer: What’s the Difference?

Welcome! In this video, you get some American pronunciation practice as we talk about the difference between the words stare and steer. We’ll talk about the double meanings of each word and how they are pronounced, and you will improve your American accent as you learn how to say each sound.

 

Episode #1 – Your New Year’s American Pronunciation goals

 

Transcript:

Hi, It’s Lisa Scott with losemyaccent.com. Have you written your New Year’s Resolutions or set those New Year’s goals? I will tell you in just a minute why that might not be a good idea.

But first, I want to share with you how excited I am about some of the new developments we have here at Accentuate. One of the biggest changes is that we are moving to much more video this year. When you ask pronunciation questions, it is so much easier for me to explain them when you can actually see what I’m explaining. So, starting today, the majority of my blog posts will be videos rather than written articles.

You have asked for some lower priced video trainings, and those are coming as well. I have an all new 6 week series that is almost ready for you, so I’ll be sharing the details very soon. I can tell you that since my birthday is at the end of January, I will be running a very special birthday sale as I launch this new series.

And lastly, I have started a Facebook page that is just for us to talk about your questions and concerns regarding American pronunciation. So, come visit me at www.facebook.com/losemyaccent and tell your friends to join us too. Introduce yourself, share your concerns with learning English, and ask your questions about pronunciation, grammar, intonation – whatever is on your mind! I will try to answer simple questions on the page and I will choose some of them as topics for future blog post videos. I’m really looking forward to connecting with you there!

And now, back to my comment at the beginning on why New Year’s Resolutions might not be a good idea.  People make them every year and every year they get frustrated because they just can’t stick with them. But what if instead of focusing on the specific goal, you focus on the outcome, or who you want to be when you meet that goal. Let’s take the example of setting a goal to reduce your accent. You could set a measurable goal of improving 50% on a pronunciation test, and that would be great. But you don’t really care if you score 50% higher on that test, do you? What you really care about is being understood more easily, not having to repeat yourself, and feeling confident when you speak English. Right? Those are outcomes rather than goals, and it is those outcomes that truly make you feel like you’ve accomplished your goal.

So, how do you change your focus? First, you think about your goals for the year one by one and think about how you will be different when you meet that goal. What will you gain by meeting that goal? What will the outcome be? That is your true motivator and the way to help you stay focused to accomplish that goal.

And if one of your goals is to improve your American pronunciation, and the outcome you are looking for is to be understood more easily and feel more confident when you speak, then I hope you will be an active part of our community this year. Watch these videos, share your questions on the facebook page, and let me know what I can do to serve you as you work towards the outcomes you desire in 2013.

See you next time!

 

 

Your American Accent: Time for Some Spring Training

Nothing is as American as baseball, and this is the time of year for Spring Training – baseball’s preseason practice games which help the teams prepare for the main season. As I have been helping some clients prepare for work presentations recently, I thought that we could benefit from some Spring Training on our American accents, too.

In baseball, spring training is a chance for more experienced players to practice some skills that they may not have used in a while, and an opportunity for new players to get their feet wet in a game before the competitive season starts. Those who participate in Spring Training definitely have a competitive edge over those who wait for the “real” season to begin.

When it comes to American accent training, many people wait until they have a crisis to begin working on their pronunciation. Maybe they have a huge presentation or a job interview in just a couple of weeks, or perhaps they were just passed over for a promotion at work. While you can make improvements in your accent in just a few weeks, you will see much greater improvement- and feel much less stress – when you plan ahead and begin training before the “big game”, so to speak. That way, when the big event comes, whether it is a presentation, a job interview, or the opportunity for a promotion, you can focus on demonstrating your superior skills without worrying about your accent. Your pronunciation practice will have paid off.

So, let’s begin our spring training together with those very words: Spring Training. One common mispronunciation that I hear is a difficulty with the -ing ending. There are actually two very common pronunciation errors that occur with this ending sound. The first is the short I sound. Often, it is incorrectly pronounced as a long E. The second problem happens with the NG sound. This sound, when made correctly, involves pushing the back of the tongue up against the palate in the back of the mouth. Many non-native speakers substitute an N sound for the NG. However, the N is made in the front of the mouth while the NG is made in the back.

If you want to hear me pronounce these sounds, be sure to listen to the audio download at the bottom of the post. We want to hear Spring Training, not Spreen traineen. When you substitute the N sound, it sounds like you are saying THIN for THING or SIN for SING. If you change the vowel and the NG sound, it sounds like you are saying BREEN for bring, SEEN for SING, and THEEN for thing.

Now try saying these words: bring, sing , thing, ring, going.

Now try them in short sentences:

  • Please bring me a towel.
  • Can he sing?
  • What is that thing?
  • She has a beautiful ring.
  • I have to be going now.

Commit to your own spring training and practice along with me until you can say these sounds with ease. Whether you are a fan of baseball or not, this kind of spring training will get you ready for big payoffs with your American accent.

If you’re still having trouble with the pronunciation of these sounds or others, please visit www.losemyaccent.com to take your free accent screening. I want others to hear you and not your accent.

Listen to or download the podcast here and practice your pronunciation along with me:

Download

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Spring Has Sprung: A Fun Poem for Pronunciation Practice

In the last couple of weeks, spring has suddenly burst into life, with fresh green leaves and beautiful new flowers appearing daily in my yard. Every spring, I am reminded of a silly poem that I heard growing up. I mention it here to give you a taste of American culture, and also because of the fun pronunciation practice. You can download an audio below to hear the correct American English pronunciation.

You need a few pieces of information to better understand the poem. First, ris is a shortened form of risen. It is not grammatically correct, but the poet used it to make the lines rhyme. Second, whitewash is a liquid similar to white paint that is not used much in the US anymore. (Hint: the poet is not talking about actual whitewash). Third, a sissy is someone who is afraid or a coward.

Here is the poem:

Spring has sprung;
The grass has ris.
I wonder where
The birdie is?
There he is
In the sky.
He dropped some
Whitewash in my eye!

I am no sissy;
I won’t cry.
I’m just glad
That cows can’t fly!

Did you get it? I hope it made you laugh a little. And I hope you are enjoying a beautiful, glorious spring day!

Don’t forget to download the audio below of the American English pronunciation of this poem. When you practice, try to make your pronunciation and intonation match mine. And make sure you get your FREE guide, How to Speak English Like an American, by visiting www.losemyaccent.com

Download [Duration: 0:37 | Size: 580 KB]