Someone recently showed me an app where you can play a scene from a movie. A character says one or two lines and you can then click the record button and copy what the character said, to then hear what you recorded. The one problem with this app—and others I’ve seen on the market—is that they offer a variety of cool things you can do in English but they simply go horizontal.

  • Drag the correct article (a, an, the) into the sentence.
  • Choose the best synonym for a word in the sentence.
  • Choose whether you hear rice, lice, or nice.

These identify this tasks help keep your English speaking brain active and they’re great to help kill time when waiting for the metro or plane, or minutes before (or during) a meeting. But there’s a limited level of engagement with what’s before you. Your attention is sort of going horizontal. Can I get the next article in the next sentence? What does this one word in the list of synonyms mean? Let me see if I can distinguish between the /r/, /l/, and /n/ in the next set of words. Some of this may push you to dip a little to get a better understanding about some word or grammar/pronunciation point, but then you’re onto the next thing. Going horizontal.

Add vertical to your horizontal

To steadily work towards adjusting your spoken English for real-time, spontaneous situations—like a presentation, interview, or holiday party just around the corner—I suggest also going vertical. Vertical is where the human comes in. A process of depth is added to the equation. Any human trainer or instructor is going to have his or her approach but it will be—or should be—one they’ve carefully thought through, experimented with, and worked out. They’ve worked through what makes sense and works for them–and the people they help. In my world: Vertical =

  • Reflecting on & getting feedback on how one produces sound (e.g., How does your voice sound in your first language compared to in English?) +
  • Understanding how the English sound system is different from that of your first or second language +
  • Integrating the individual sounds to help produce the rhythm (or music) of spoken English +
  • Learning specific kinesthetic techniques to work with the levels of stress & variations of intonation that go into all varieties of spoken English (Note: You can read about these techniques, but practicing with a live human will more than likely get you to where you want to go faster) +
  • Thinking about all of this in terms of the processing attention of the listener.

Need a little help?

Yes, I’m human. I provide customized 1-on-1 programs for professionals who ultimately want to be better understood in spoken English. They want to share their ideas and engage with the people they need to reach for their professional success. I’m also offering a 6-week English pronunciation skills for professionals program, starting this Thursday, November 16th.

Shoot me a note below or email me to let me know how I can help you.

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