A French woman says, “I’m tired of people asking me what I said. I have to repeat what I say too often. I don’t like it. It’s annoying.” Does that sound familiar to you? Accent and presentation training can solve the repetition request problem.
By contrast, and this is not unusual, she says she does not have time to practice regularly. It’s better to be on a regular practice schedule for accent reduction and pronunciation improvement. Just the same, progress and improvement are taking place. She commented that being aware of intonation and adapting to the falling intonation patterns of English has been helping her. People understand her more easily. And she’s able to manage situations in which someone does not understand her the first time more skillfully, Of course, there’s more that goes with intonation than the typical falling patterns for sentences, phrases, and words. Multi-syllable word intonation and pronunciation are key to improving and being more easily understood.
She was, also, pleasantly surprised to know that mispronouncing consonants is not as much of a problem as she thought it was when it comes to people not understanding what she said the first time. The key is choosing what the priorities are and focusing on what it will take to solve this problem, reach objectives, and achieve goals.
So far the individual sounds I’ve chosen to work with are initial H, final S, final Z, and initial EM, as in “employee, (not “umployee”). We’ve worked with TH sounds a little, but TH is more of a problem in certain words, not necessarily all the time. It’s not easy for her, for example, to go from L to voiced TH in “although”. Other TH sounds, both voiced and unvoiced, are not as difficult to produce, but still could use some work.
Additionally, because of the intonation training she’s received so far. she is able to notice how others really speak. She’s more aware now of how her American colleagues speak and how they pronounce English. She improves and makes progress with accent and presentation training.
So what’s significant about this?
- She does not have a lot of time to practice. She’s a busy executive, and takes care of a family.
- Awareness helps her. Practice is necessary, but becoming aware of what you have to change is the first step to changing and improving.
- Her aptitude is very strong. She can use this training and make it work for her even though her practice time is minimal. Still, I’ll say it again. It’s better to maintain a regular practice schedule.
- She’s not a perfectionist when it comes to improving her accent or pronunciation. She wants people to understand her the first time and not always ask her to repeat what she says. And this does not mean that she has to sound like a native speaker of American English. Pronunciation, or accent, does not have to be “perfect” in order to develop speech that is listener friendly and that you can use for your presentations, project updates, weekly reports, and monthly meetings.
- Again, an intonation-centered approach works best to develop clear speech and speech that is easier to understand. Awareness is an important and valuable first step to improving. Aptitude helps for those who say they don’t have time to practice as much as they really ought to practice. But that does not mean it’s okay to spend only minimal time practicing. With regular practice, determination, and persistence. you will reach your accent and pronunciation goals. You will speak better English. Believe it. Practice it. Do it. It will happen.
Give presentations and come across as clear as a bell to your audience! What a great feeling that is! Yes, it’s great to overcome English communication challenges and just get on with the project updates, the meetings, client conference calls, and the presentations. And that’s what accent reduction and pronunciation training does.