When working with students on accent modification in English, I’m a big fan of recycling. That is, of using-reusing and doing-redoing. Adjusting your accent to enhance your intelligibility requires paying careful attention. It involves recycling often.
If someone tells you that you need to stress the stressed syllables in words more, I recommend avoiding the temptation to simply nod your head, keep talking, and forget about it. The stressed and unstressed sounds are very important for speaking clearly in English. Make an effort to recycle. The process could look something like this:
- Ask yourself, What is word stress? How do I produce the stressed sounds?
- Pay attention to how other speakers use stress. Listen for it. Ask yourself, Do they use stress? Can I hear the stressed sounds?
- Record yourself for 20 seconds-1 minute.
- Listen to your use of word stress. Ask yourself, Do I hear it? Do I use it?
- Re-record yourself again, and listen again. Ask yourself, Do I hear the stress? Do I use it?
Repeated exposure to and practice of a specific pronunciation feature is the kind of recycling I’m talking about.
Review Clear Speaking Awareness
Up to this point, I’ve talked about the following:
Before moving forward, I’m going to ask that you review these past posts.
Check out these resources, too
The online resources below may also help you to recycle some of what I’ve talked about so far. Find an audio or video recording that you particularly like. Pay attention to a speaker’s enunciation, rate, use of pauses, and movement. Ask yourself, How is he or she communicating in English? What do I especially like? What do I want to focus on and practice doing?
- TED: Ideas Worth Spreading is a great website for listening to and watching lectures in English on a variety of topics.
- Open Culture is a website that offers access to free audio books, podcasts, videos, and courses on different academic topics in English.
- American Rhetoric: Online Speech Bank is a website which includes many different types of speeches (e.g., movie speeches, famous political speeches, etc.).
- MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) offers videotaped and audio recorded lectures with lecture notes and course materials to download. Sample course topics include: Architecture, Biological Engineering, Biology, Comparative Media Studies, Economics, Health Sciences and Technology, Linguistics and Philosophy, Mathematics, Music and Theater Arts, etc.
Listen to an audio or video recording actively. Ask yourself, How is the speaker communicating in English? What do I find especially effective? What do I want to concentrate on as I practice? Recycle!