Here are 5 mistakes people make when learning English:

1. I’ll work on my English pronunciation after I learn English.

Often people say this when they start learning English. Then they realized that while they were practicing their English language skills, they could have been practicing speaking clearly at the same time, saving themselves a lot of effort.

We’ve had a lot of clients who have used our American, Australian, and British accent reduction courses to speak more clearly after they have gone for job interviews and been told that their communication skills weren’t clear and needed work. There is nothing wrong with an accent in English. But if you can’t be understood, it becomes very frustrating.

So don’t ignore your English pronunciation. It’s very important to be understood when you speak English for your confidence, to fit in socially, and to get better work opportunities. 

2. Once people realize they need to be clearer with their speech, often they forget to practice active listening to native speakers around them.

To native speakers around them. By this, open their ears and actively pay attention to how others are saying things. How are people saying longer words?

Which section or syllable are they emphasizing or stressing in English?

For example: 

accountant  /aeˈkaʊn.t̬aent/     

accountant  /əˈkaʊn.t̬ənt/ with a de-stressed schwa vowel at the beginning /ə/   not /ae/ and a schwa in the last syllable ‘tent’ /tənt/.  And the emphasized or stressed syllable being the ‘coun’ syllable.   

Accountant  /əˈkaʊn.t̬ənt/

Nine dollar and leave off the plural ‘s’ instead of nine dollars.

How are people using rhythm? Are they saying each word with a pause in between or linking words to sound more flowing?

Do they say ‘Can – I  – come – over- in – the – evening? Do they link words that end in a consonant to the following word that begins with a vowel. So it becomes: “ CanI comeoverin the evening? Don’t say ‘evening’, but ‘evning’.

3. Not to pay attention to vowels.

To speak clearly, or to gain an American, British, or Australian accent, learning to speak with the relevant vowels is extremely important.

‘I hahve a phon oonder the bad’

What I needed was an ‘a’ /ae/ in have, an ‘oe’ /oʊ/ in phone, an ‘u’ /ʌ/ in under, and an ‘e’ /e/, in bed.

If you do want to gain a particular English accent, then you really need to make sure you are using the correct vowels.

4. To think that to speak quickly in English equals English fluency.

Especially if it’s at the cost of being clear. Of course, it’s good to be able to speak fairly quickly and flowingly in English, but if you’re being fast for the sake of it,

Of course, it’s good to be able to speak fairly quickly and flowingly in English, but if you are being fast for the sake of it, and are missing out lots of speech elements, then there’s no point. Some people speak quickly, but aren’t speaking with the correct sounds, rhythm, stress, or intonation.

5. Standard clear English is a language spoken more slowly than some of the other common languages.

English is slower.  

High information density of 91, is spoken at an average rate of 6.19 syllables per second.

One 2011 study from the Université de Lyon looked at 7 languages, which reported the order as:

  1. Japanese (7.84 syllables per second), 
  2. Spanish (7.82) 
  3. French (7.18) 
  4. Italian (6.99)
  5. English (6.19) 
  6. German (5.97)
  7. Mandarin (5.18)

So, what does all this mean? 

Because in English each syllable can hold a lot of information such as: 

  • Present 
  • Past or Future Tense
  • Plural or Possessive
  • Male or Female
  • Common Endings
  • Intonation
  • Stress and the Intention or Emotion of the Speaker

English doesn’t have to pack in as many syllables to get the meaning across.  

Because most languages provide roughly the same amount of information per second, the languages that provide less data per syllable, have to use more syllables to get the same meaning across.


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