English Pronunciation Practice Priorities

Are you a non-native English speaking professional who needs to communicate in spoken English with more clarity, ease, and efficiency? Think back to your last couple of presentations, webcasts, and client/in-house meetings.

Like with any professional skill, it’s best to ask yourself: What’s the most efficient and engaging way that I can improve my English pronunciation so that I can accomplish my goals? In this case, as a minimum, to be better understood.

Before you head to an accent reduction book or to YouTube, let me help you a bit.

Establish Your English Pronunciation Priorities

Knowing what to prioritize with your English pronunciation is a great place to start. At the beginning of any speech-training program, for individuals and groups alike, I conduct an initial assessment for each participant. This informs the structured, dig-deep plan that follows.

Typical English Pronunciation Priorities for Speakers of 15 Language Groups

Below, I’ve listed one or two “start” speech features for 15 language groups. These are my typical recommendations at the start of any program:

  • Spanish: Articulate and voice the voiced consonant sounds at the ends of words. Also, make sure to articulate the voiced consonant stops (/b/, /d/, and /g/) in the middle of words. The consonants are the spine of spoken English.
  • Chinese: Open your mouth more to enunciate the clear vowel sounds in words and make sure to articulate your word endings.
  • Thai: Articulate the final consonants so that the listener knows where one word finishes and another begins.
  • Russian: Enunciate the clear vowel sounds in the key words of information (e.g., nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs) with a little more pitch variation. Also, concentrate on producing the short vowel sounds with a lax tongue, and the long vowels & diphthongs with a tense tongue.
  • Vietnamese: Articulate the final consonant sounds so that the listener knows where one word finishes and another begins.
  • Turkish: Enunciate the clear vowel sounds in the key words of information (e.g., nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs) with a little more pitch variation. Also, produce an initial consonant cluster (e.g., spring or spiritual) as one sound. Make sure to avoid adding an extra syllable between each consonant. E.g. where spring becomes sepering or spiritual becomes sepiritual.
  • French: Concentrate on shortening the /ə/ sounds in words more. The alternation between the stressed and unstressed syllables in words (and sounds in phrases and sentences) is critical in English rhythm.
  • Italian: Concentrate on shortening the /ə/ sounds in words more. The alternation between the stressed and unstressed syllables in words (and sounds in phrases and sentences) is critical in English rhythm.
  • Japanese: Concentrate on how you are articulating the /r/ and /l/ sounds. They should not be pronounced as a soft /d/ where you tongue flaps against the ridge of your mouth. Also, pay careful attention to how you’re producing the /t/, /d/, /s/, and /z/ sounds before the /I/ and /i:/ sounds. /t/eam should not sound as /tʃ/eam, /d/eep as /dʒ/eep, /s/ee as /ʃ/ee, and /z/ip as /dʒ/ip.
  • Korean: In addition to the /r/ and /l/ sounds, concentrate on enunciating the clear vowel sounds of the stressed syllables. That is, make sure to move your mouth and incorporate small pitch changes into the stressed vowel sounds.
  • Tamil: Slow down. Tamil is one of the fastest spoken languages. Slow down!
  • Polish: Concentrate on shortening the /ə/ sounds in words more. The alternation between the stressed and unstressed syllables in words (and sounds in phrases and sentences) is critical in English rhythm. Also, incorporate a little more pitch change to produce the stressed sounds.
  • Czech: Concentrate on shortening the /ə/ sounds in words more. The alternation between the stressed and unstressed syllables in words (and sounds in phrases and sentences) is critical in English rhythm. Also, incorporate a little more pitch change to produce the stressed sounds.
  • Arabic: Concentrate on enunciating and stretching the stressed vowel sounds in the key words of information a little more. Also, make sure to produce both the short vowel sounds (e.g., /e/, /ʌ/, /ɔ/, and /ɑ/) AND long vowel sounds (e.g., /i/, /u/, /aɪ/, /ɔɪ/)
  • Brazilian-Portuguese: Concentrate on shortening the /ə/ sounds in words more. The alternation between the stressed and unstressed syllables in words (and sounds in phrases and sentences) is critical in English rhythm.

Want A Little Insight Into Your English Pronunciation Priorities?

While there’s a science to the English sound system, there are also a number of factors that play into what one needs to prioritize to improve his or her spoken English. Such factors include:

  • One’s length of time living in a native-English speaking environment,
  • One’s past language training education,
  • One’s “musical” ear.

If you’d like a little help in pinpointing your top 2-3 pronunciation priorities, lets schedule a 10-15 minute call. I’m happy to help.

Simply fill out the form below so that you and I, Sarah Gallant, can schedule a time to talk.

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