As you know I specialise in helping people with English pronunciation so they gain the skills and confidence to speak English clearly. Today I want to talk about an English pronunciation tip which is often overlooked, and which will make all the difference to you. And also for once, I would also like to talk about a written English tip that has come to my attention, because of the many emails I receive from people all over the world.
The Number 1 English Pronunciation Tip That Will Make All The Difference
Often people work hard on their pronunciation of English sounds and words, and achieve great results, but find there is something that still isn’t quite clear.
To speak English clearly you also need to remember to open your mouth enough, and move it enough.
A lot of languages are spoken with the mouth more closed than in English. To be clear in English you need to open your mouth more when speaking.
Why do you need to open your mouth more and move it enough?
I have worked with many clients who have noticed a major difference in being understood, just by actively putting this tip into practise whenever they speak English.
Opening your mouth more, allows you to project your sounds and words better. Moving your mouth parts enough, allows you to make the sounds in words more fully. For example, if it’s a long vowel say it long enough, then it is easier to use English stress, and also to pronounce the final consonant in an English word properly. Have a look at the free video lesson here to learn how to say the difference between the short ‘i’ vowel and long ‘ee’ vowel. ( for the Australian version of the lesson, click here )
Opening your mouth when you speak English contributes to better English resonance – the words and sounds are not just resonating in the mouth cavity, but outwards towards your audience or listener.
How do I do it?
First you need to open your mouth more. This may mean opening or dropping the bottom jaw more. You may have to over do it at first to get the feel of it. If you feel like it’s too much at first, it’s probably just right! Visualise/ imagine the sounds and words coming out and going towards the person you are speaking to.
Secondly, move your mouth parts enough. You need to make sure that your lips and tongue etc are moving enough. For example, are you putting your lips forward enough for the /w/ sound, or for the long ‘oo’ sound? It needs to be quite pronounced at first so that when you speak English quickly, you still pronounce these sounds correctly and don’t cut them short.
Are you making sure you move your mouth to all the vowel sounds in the English diphthongs and triphthongs. For example, moving your mouth to both the vowel sounds for ‘ow’. Some people say the first part and don’t finish with the lips forward for the second part of this diphthong. For example, they say ‘no’ instead of ‘now.’
Note: When I say this to some people, they tell me they know this, but they aren’t really consciously putting it into practise when they speak English. Your mouth muscle memory needs to have practise over and over again as you practise your accent reduction, so it becomes automatic.
A tip for written English
This is actually more of a cultural tip, but a very important one!
In written form, especially if it is an email to someone who isn’t a friend, it is important to be “polite” in English. This makes the person you are communicating with, be more open to you. You may be considered rude if you don’t include the following elements in your emails especially if it is your first email to them:
- Don’t forget to include a ‘please’ if you are requesting something. For example, If you are asking for more information, rather than just ‘send information’, you could write “Hi Susie, Could you please send me some more information? Thank you, John Instead of “tell me more”, you could say “Hi Ben, Could you tell me more about ……..”
- Don’t forget to include a ‘thank you” if you are offered something or receive something
- Include an ending salutation. Some examples are: Kind regards, Mary; Cheers, John; With regards; Best regards; Warm regards; Best wishes.
Best wishes, Esther