Lisa Scott Featured Speaker at Thought Leader Forum

 

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Did you know that almost one third of the American workforce in engineering, computer science, and healthcare is made up of immigrants? Many of them have studied English for years, but may still have trouble mastering the nuances of the language. Accent reduction training enables talented international professionals to engage more fully in American culture both at work and in the community.

I welcome the opportunity to share the positive impact of accent reduction with other professionals who may not be familiar with this specialized communication training. Highlighting the hard work it takes for foreign-born engineers, doctors, and professors to engage in American culture is something I always want to promote!

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I was honored to be a speaker recently at the Velocity Thought Leader Forum, where I detailed how my proven methods at Accentuate have turned the English language struggles of many immigrant professionals into success stories for their career and everyday life… and how these successes translate into better business for American companies, which now have a way to stop the money leaks caused by communication breakdowns.

I’m very grateful to have received so much positive feedback from other CEOs, executives, and professionals at the Velocity event about my talk and what Accentuate is doing for foreign-born professionals and American corporations.

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Is your international team performing at its full potential?

Communication breakdowns cost large corporations over $62.4 million per year.

Is your company missing out on grants, sales, or important clients because of heavy accents or presentations that are hard to follow?

Accentuate can help remove these cross-cultural barriers.

Schedule a consultation with Lisa Scott today – and visit AccentuateCommunication.com for more on how your company’s productivity can benefit from a team that is clearly speaking the same language!

Prepositions of Place: “In” “On” & “At”

Last week we discussed how the small connecting words of the English language are just as important as mastering a larger vocabulary… but the correct usage of these tiny words can sometimes fall through the cracks for non-native English speakers. You may start to use words like “in,” “on,” and “at” interchangeably, when they actually each have a specific purpose. Incorrect usage of these prepositions can cause native English speakers to question your fluency, or become confused by your meaning.

 

when do you say (place)

 

Last week, we looked at how to use “in,” “on,” and “at” when describing time… This week, we’ll follow the same principle when using them to describe locations.

 

If you can remember this order, “IN, ON, AT”… then you can remember this general rule for how to describe places:

 

gen rule place

 

See again how “IN, ON, AT” progress from general to specific locations as you read their descriptions:

 

Prepositions of Place

 

I have some more sample sentences for you again this week. Take a look and choose the correct prepositions for each location.

 

Fill In Place

 

This video I created a few years ago further explains the usage of “IN, ON, AT” with regard to location beyond what I’ve detailed here. Check it out and then look below to see if you got the sample sentences correct!

 

 

Answers Place

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

Prepositions of Time: “In,” “On,” & “At”

Have you ever asked a co-worker to join you “on 3:00” for a meeting?

Perhaps you mentioned to someone that your birthday was “at Friday.”

Though you may not have realized it, you were using these prepositions of time incorrectly!

 

When do you say

 

In trying to grasp a larger vocabulary, a student of English may start to overlook the small connecting words that bind language together, but these prepositional words have a great impact on others’ perception of your mastery of the language. Using them incorrectly could cause confusion with co-workers or make you feel insecure in your speech.

 

If you can remember this order, “IN, ON, AT”… then you can remember this general rule for how to describe points in time:

 

General Rule

 

See how “IN, ON, AT” progress from general to specific as you read their descriptions:

 

Prepositions of time

 

At the beginning of this article, the correct usage would mean the meeting is “at 3:00,” and that your birthday is “on Friday.”

 

Take a look at the following practice sentences and see if you can choose the correct prepositions.

 

Fill in white

 

Now check out my video from a few years ago that further explains the usage of “IN, ON, AT” and will help you practice how to use them… and then see if you got the sample sentences correct below!

 

 

Answers white

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

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?

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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!

 

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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!

Are You Next to Me, Near Me, or Just Nearby?

 

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How to Improve English Spoken by Chinese Americans

If you were born in China but now live in the United States, you are part of a large and talented group of people. According to the latest census information, there are over 1.6 million Chinese immigrants in the United States. Of these, two-thirds are of adult working age and two in five have a college degree or higher; however, two-thirds have limited English proficiency and need to improve their spoken English.

This means that, if you are Chinese and living in the United States, there is a good chance that you are a highly educated person who has come to the United States expecting to succeed, but you may have trouble advancing in your career because you have not learned how to speak English like an American.

ESL classes are a wonderful place to start and they do a terrific job of teaching the basics of English vocabulary and grammar. I highly recommend them!

The problem comes for many people who have learned to speak and write English but find that they still cannot communicate with native English-speaking Americans. Have you experienced this? Have you had someone ask you to repeat yourself when you thought you had been perfectly clear? It can be frustrating and disheartening, especially for someone who has worked so hard, to find that it is not a lack of education or effort that is holding them back, but the difficulty in being understood.

So, if you have taken ESL classes and you speak English every day, what can you do to be understood more easily? One of the best ways to improve your spoken English is to try and speak with an American accent. You can ask American friends to gently correct you when you mispronounce a word. Write down words you have trouble saying correctly and practice them at home.

Every language has rules to its pronunciation, and understanding those rules is very important to reducing an accent. There are some rules in English that are very different from the Chinese rules, so they can be quite confusing to Chinese speakers of English. Some of these include:

  • distinguishing between the and l sounds
  • distinguishing between the n and ng sounds
  • knowing when to pronounce final consonants
  • understanding the difference between voiced and unvoiced consonants, such as and gp and b, and t and d

These sounds can be very difficult to learn on your own because they are so different from your native language. You will probably experience the most rapid results by working with an accent reduction specialist, who can help you learn to speak English like an American. This professional can recognize where you are having difficulty and teach you new speech patterns that will make speaking English much less frustrating. As you improve your spoken English, you will find that your confidence improves as well, and you will begin to feel more comfortable living in the United States.

To start working on your American accent today, download my FREE report, How to Speak English Like an American: 6 Steps You Can Take Starting Today.

 

Foreign Accent Causes Woman to Miss Bus

You’ve probably heard the saying, “If you don’t care where you’re going, any road will get you there.”

But what if you do care where you’re going, but can’t communicate it clearly to the person driving. Or, even worse, what if you are confident that you have the skills to get you where you want to go, but you still end up in the wrong place. Pretty humbling experience, isn’t it?

Let me tell you a story that happened to me when I was in college. I minored in French in college and had already been to Paris once after high school, so on this trip to Paris, I was feeling a bit too sure of myself.

My French was good enough to communicate with those around me, and just for fun, I wandered away from the tourist hot spots to areas with more “local flavor” to try my language skills on the real native speakers. I did just fine in several little shops, which boosted my confidence even more.

I decided that I was ready for a little day trip, and someone had recommended that I visit the Chateau at Chantilly. I went to the bus station, asked for directions and boarded the correct bus. Or so I thought. As the bus pulled away, I looked at the list of bus stops for this bus. Chantilly was not one of the stops listed. How could the attendant have told me to get on the wrong bus?

However, as I looked more carefully at the list of stops, I realized what had happened. I was on the bus headed for Chatelet. I thought my French pronunciation was good enough to get me through any situation, but in this case, a subtle difference in the way I said a word had landed me on the wrong bus.

Fortunately for me that day, it didn’t really matter where I ended up. But, I missed seeing a sight that I was looking forward to and may not ever have the opportunity to see again.

But, what if that day, I had been headed for a job interview, and I missed a great job opportunity because of that little pronunciation difference?

Then, it would have mattered. A lot.

What job opportunities or promotions might you have missed out on because your speech wasn’t quite as clear as you thought? Some very intelligent professionals are so confident in their abilities that they do not realize the difficulties that their accented speech can cause. Have you ever thought about the consequences of being misunderstood? Of missing a promotion … a critical contract … or a better job offer? Did you know that by working with an accent reduction specialist, you could eliminate those consequences altogether?

You know that clear speech and accurate communication are critical to advancing in your career, and an accent reduction specialist can help you to speak standard English like an American. If you are a non-native speaker of English or an American with a regional dialect, you can improve your American accent in just a few short weeks. So, if you have any question about your communication skills, contact a professional who can help you improve the clarity of your speech and the direction of your career.

I don’t want you to miss the bus.

Secrets of an English American accent for Koreans

You want to speak with an English American accent, but you’re having a hard time figuring it out. You’re not alone! In 2003, 74.2% of people polled in a government survey in Korea admitted that they had difficulty communicating in English.

And it’s not all in your head. The Korean accent is particularly difficult for listeners to understand. A survey taken by the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy in Hong Kong asked foreigners to rate how easily they could understand speakers of English from 12 different Asian countries. Koreans ranked at the bottom of the list.

So, now what? You know you have a hard time speaking English clearly and that others have a hard time understanding you. But what can you do about it? I’m going to share with you some secrets to an English American accent that you would normally only get when you work with me one on one to improve your spoken English. So, practice these techniques on your own, but be sure to get in touch with me if you get stuck. I’m available for further help over Skype no matter where you live.

And now for the secrets to being able to speak like an American:

Secret #1: You must understand the difference between voiced and unvoiced sounds.

K and G are almost the same sound, but G uses voice and K does not. What do I mean? Put your hand on your throat and say “ahh” Feel the vibration? Your voice is on. Now say k-k-k-k. You should not feel vibration. Now try saying g-g-g-g-g. You should feel the vibration again. This voicing is the only difference between the word coat (a piece of clothing) and the word goat (an animal).

Secret #2: You must learn to hear the difference between the f, v, b, and p sound.

This is a difficult concept for many Koreans because the f and v don’t really exist in your native language, and the b and p are often interchangeable. However, in English each of these sounds is distinct, and using the wrong sound can easily change the whole meaning of a word. Here is a very simple example:

fan — something that blows air to cool you off

van — a vehicle you can drive

ban — to prohibit or not allow something

pan — a cooking utensil

The only difference in each of these words is the first letter, but it completely changes the meaning of the word. So, you can see how easily an English speaker would be confused if you substituted one of these sounds for another.

The difference in these sounds is in the lip and teeth placement, and also in the voicing, like we talked about earlier.

F and V are both produced by putting the top teeth on the lower lip and blowing. The V uses voicing and the F does not.

B and P are both produced by pushing the lips together and releasing. The B uses voicing and the P does not.

Try saying the words fan, van, ban, and pan. When you master the four sounds, each of those words will sound different.

Secret #3: You must understand the difference between short and long vowels.

A common confusion is between the long e as in sheep and the short i as in ship. To make a long ee sound, pull your lips back into a smile. Practice saying words like sheep, sleep, team, green, and street.

The lips are not pulled back as far when saying the short i sound. This is the sound in words like ship, slip, Tim, grin, and swim.

Secret #4: You must learn to hear the difference between the w, r, and l sounds.

You are probably aware that this is a challenge, as once again, your native language does not really distinguish between these sounds and English does. The w is produced by rounding your lips, turning on your voice, and releasing the sound. It comes out as “oooh -uh” at first. The l sound is made by placing the tongue behind the front teeth and turning on the voice. The r is made by producing the l sound, then pulling the tongue a little farther back in the mouth, keeping the tip up but no longer touching.

These four secrets are some of the biggest reasons that Korean speakers struggle with their English American accent. Now that you know the secrets, I want you to practice the sounds until you can hear and say the different English pronunciations.

If you cannot hear the differences on your own, or you want individual help to practice, please feel free to contact me at www.losemyaccent.com. I offer a free 20-minute consult over Skype so you can decide if you are comfortable working with me. I want you to have all the support you need to feel confident speaking English!

OFW Wants to Speak English Like an American

If you are an OFW, an Overseas Filipino Worker, or a native seeking a job in English, you may be concerned that your English skills are not good enough to compete with your peers. You want to speak English like an American, but what is the best way to learn? First of all, if you have not done so, you should enroll in ESL classes. These classes are a great way to learn the basics of English grammar and pronunciation. Look online for additional courses and practice opportunities. Speak English at every opportunity and don’t be afraid to ask others for help if you’re not sure about an English word or expression.

What if you have done all these things, and you feel that you know English pretty well, but other people still don’t understand you? Then you need to find an accent reduction specialist. This person is usually a professional speech pathologist who specializes in accent reduction. He or she has learned how to teach others to produce the sounds in American English. As an accent reduction specialist myself, I want to offer you some tips on English pronunciation to help you get started. Though each person’s language and accent is unique, there are common sounds that many Filipino speakers struggle with in English. I have listed several sounds below and suggestions of ways to sound more American.

  • Open your mouth more when saying vowels. Many of the a sounds come out sounding more like o with Filipino speakers. I know it may feel awkward, but you can’t make an a sound without opening your mouth.
  • Be sure to enunciate final consonants, particularly ones made inside the mouth, like h, k, and n. Many Filipinos leave these sounds off entirely, which changes the meaning of the word.
  • Say w not v, in words like water and where. W is made by rounding the mouth like an o and voicing, then opening the mouth slightly. It may sound like o-uh when you first try it.
  • Say f, not p, in words like four and find. F is made by placing the top teeth on the lower lip and blowing slightly.
  • Practice hearing and saying the difference between voiced and unvoiced consonants. The only difference between k and g or t and d is whether your voice is turned on when you say them. Try it — no voice makes k, and voice makes g. It makes a big difference in American English whether you pronounce those sounds correctly. So remember, k and t have no voice, but g and d do.

Hopefully, those tips will help you to speak English like an American. If you want more personalized help, please visit my website at www.losemyaccent.com and take my free accent screening. I’ll listen to it and send you feedback specific to you. It only takes a few minutes!