When communicating in spoken English, do your listeners frequently indicate that they can’t understand you? I mean you are fluent and completely at ease when explaining information or sharing an idea. However, your listeners repeatedly as you to repeat what you just said. If so, you might need to articulate your consonant sounds more crisply.
Consonants are the Spine of Spoken English
According to Arthur Lessac’s The Use and Training of the Human Voice: A Bio-Dynamic Approach to Vocal Life,“… the consonant articulatory skills… provide us with crisper and clearer intelligibility” and they “may be considered the ‘spine’ of speech communication….” (p. 10). They help allow the listener to parse out the words in a stream of speech.
Stand Tall & Articulate the Consonant Sounds
It’s extremely important to articulate your medial and final consonant sounds. They help the listener to perceive the words in your steady stream of speech. If you swallow or simply don’t articulate these sounds, the vowels may blend together so that processing what you’re saying either becomes impossible or a lot of work for the listener.
The reality is that if it takes a lot of effort for your listener to follow you, what you’re saying might get lost. Or if not lost, then compromised. The listener ends up expending more energy trying to understand you and as a result, processes and retains much less of the information you just shared.
Is this what you want?
Consonant Practice Tips
It can take time to get in the habit of articulating the consonant sounds in the middle and at the ends of our words. Below are a few tips that I want to share with you.
- Every day, go through a small warm-up practice:
- /p/, /p/, /p/
- /t/, /t/, /t/
- /k/, /k/, /k/
- /b/, /b/, /b/
- /d/, /d/, /d/
- /g/, /g/, /g/
- /n/, /n/, /n/
- /ŋ/, /ŋ/ , /ŋ/
- /f/, /f/, /f/
- /v/, v/, /v/
- /z/, /z/, /z/
- /ʃ/, /ʃ/, /ʃ/
- /tʃ/, /tʃ/, /tʃ/
- /ʒ/, /ʒ/, /ʒ/
- /dʒ/, /dʒ/, /dʒ/
- Find a reading passage. An advertisement. A food package. A work brochure. Presentation slides. Highlight the final consonant sounds. Then, practice reading out the passage and OVER articulate the highlighted sounds.
- Repeat the above tip and highlight the medial consonant sounds.
- Spend ten minutes per day recording and monitoring one sound for a week. It may not sound efficient but keep in mind that regular practice is key for this sound to become automatic in spontaneous speech.
Have any questions? Want to talk more?
I’m human. Just send me, Sarah, a note at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a time to talk.