I recently ran a program for a group of 18 adults from China over this past month. All of them had studied English for a number of years. They were fairly fluent and had a pretty good range of vocabulary under their belts. They are here in Chicago for a 3-month delegation program. Working with me on their spoken English was the first leg of their overseas training journey.

Hands down, the intensive vocal humming exercise that we did on day 1 reaped the most benefits. I heard an immediate vocal shift connectedness that carried them steady throughout this speech program. Not only did I hear a stronger sound, that which in the U.S. typically translates as “confident,” but a couple of participants came up to me at the end of the day and expressed feeling more confident to speak in English. They explained that humming helped them to break through a discomfort they felt due to being displaced from the familiar. Concentrating simply on producing a steady humming sound from word to word helped them to focus on their voices, and not on their new surroundings.

H(u)mm, let me give you a demo and talk you through this a bit

Look at the text below as you listen to my audio recording.  Can you hear the “humming in the background” sound that I demonstrate? If you can’t hear this, feel free to send me a note. I’m always interested in hearing how people hear sound produced in language.

Can you produce this humming in the background sound between words? Again, feel free to send me a note.


  • Hello.
  • Hello Bob. How are you?
  • Hello Bob. How are you? Are you in Chicago?
  • Hello Bob. How are you? Are you in Chicago? Yes I (y)am.

Audio recording

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