The Unexpected Benefits of Improving your English Speaking Pronunciation
Learn about why improving your English Speaking pronunciation will benefit you in many ways.
When we set out to improve our English speaking pronunciation, we expect the main benefit to be precisely that: clearer speech. While this is technically true, it paints a narrow picture of the far-reaching benefits of structured pronunciation training.
When clients approach us at Voice Science, no matter their native language, their reasons for reaching out to us are often quite similar: they’re tired of being misunderstood, repeating themselves, and feeling like their speech is getting in the way of their career and social life. Can you relate?
Pronunciation training can help with all of that but also so much more! Would you like to:
- contribute more humour to English conversations?
- stop replacing hard words?
- repair misunderstandings instead of just repeating yourself?
- have more brain power for your ideas rather than sounds?
- demystify the link between grammar and pronunciation?
- feel empowered by self-advocacy tools and pronunciation facts?
This list could run off the page. The unexpected benefits of working on your English speaking pronunciation are countless!
Pack a PUNch with your English Speaking Pronunciation
Humour is one of the final frontiers of learning a second language and helps us to truly feel part of a language community. For jokes to land, they use cultural references, the element of surprise and, you guessed it, pronunciation!
Consider a made-up word like ‘hangry’, coined to comically describe being angry because you’re hungry. It seems to be a simple play on words, but its creation completely depends on a balance of pronunciation factors from the original words:
Without the diagonal symmetry in the above table, this joke simply wouldn’t work. For example:
- If you can’t produce /h/ at the beginning of words, hangry will sound like angry
- If you haven’t mastered the /æ/ sound, hangry will sound like hungry
This is only one example! Clear English pronunciation unlocks an entire world of word play, colloquial vocabulary, and both spoken and written humour. If an English meme on social media doesn’t make sense, reading it out loud with accurate speech sounds will reveal the punchline!
These skills are also very useful professionally. Have you ever needed a pun for a slogan, title or marketing campaign? Pronunciation training unlocks the door to advanced English.
Why repeat when you could repair?
If native English speakers used a word you didn’t understand and you asked them to repeat, you’d expect them to say it more clearly or reword the phrase to repair the communication breakdown. In our native language we instinctively know how to make things clearer.
Now imagine they just repeated it exactly the same. This wouldn’t be much help and you might end up pretending to understand just to move on. Not fun!
When we’re speaking a non-native language, this is often what we do, despite our best intentions. We might not even know what isn’t clear, let alone how to fix it! Instead of simply repeating, we need to learn what physical adjustments we need to make in our mouths. Just like in sport, this physicality means that the expertise of a coach is just as crucial.
If you’re looking for a team of pronunciation coaches with both expertise and experience, look no further than the speech pathologists at Voice Science. When you complete a Personalised Pronunciation Audit, one of our skilled clinicians meticulously transcribes your speech sound patterns, meaning that your one-on-one pronunciation program will be specific to you. Talk about personal training!
Increase your awareness of English speaking pronunciation: learn how to learn more!
Science is often hiding in plain sight. Just think, we can drive a car without knowing how to build its engine! Pronouncing sounds in our native language tends to come naturally, but with a foreign language, we need to understand the science at play to continue learning. Enter phonetics!
After a Voice Science pronunciation program, we’re sure you and phonetics will be great friends! It’s fundamental for speech-sound production, but also helps with self-awareness too, so that you can hear subtleties of English pronunciation in a brand new, enlightened way. Check out another blog of ours to understand how phonetics can be used to enhance your pronunciation!
Minimise English Speaking pronunciation challenges
Difficult words can lead to unpleasant experiences. Try as we might to pinpoint the problem, an untrained ear can only get us so far.
Here are some common experiences:
- A word doesn’t sound right, but you don’t know which part to fix.
- You’ve tried multiple different ways to pronounce with no luck.
- You know which sound needs adjustment but you don’t know how to change it.
At Voice Science, we love specifics: your specific target sounds, your specific contexts and the specific adjustments we teach you. We identify the challenging parts for you, so the difficulty seems much smaller.
We teach our clients why their most hated words are hard to pronounce and, more importantly, how to master them, turning pronunciation mountains into small bumps in the road.
Avoid avoiding words: express expressively!
When you complete a Personalised Pronunciation Audit and Strategy Session with the Voice Science team, we learn about your goals, concerns, and any strategies you’re already using. We also point out which strategies are actually decreasing your confidence!
Almost all of our clients mention they swap out difficult English words. The whole Voice Science team has lived overseas, we get it! Unfortunately, there are some negative side effects.
Can you relate to the following?
- The new word doesn’t capture the same meaning.
- Swapping out technical vocabulary makes us seem less proficient.
- The more we avoid words, the more they make us anxious.
- Searching for another word interrupts our own natural speaking flow.
Jumping through mental hoops
Swapping out words takes mental gymnastics!
Step 1: We think of the word and remember it’s difficult to pronounce.
Step 2: We scan our vocabulary for a synonym.
Step 3: We check if the new word is easier. If not, we return to Step 2.
Talk about brain acrobatics, and all in a foreign language!
The Silver Lining
If you can coordinate all of that brainpower, you have so much potential to focus on speech sounds instead. Our pronunciation sessions teach you where to direct your brainpower. And we’ll demystify your challenging words on the spot!
If you’re tired of doing mental acrobatics to dodge difficult words in English, a Personalised Pronunciation Audit will show the Voice Science team exactly where your brain power would be better directed. This means your pronunciation program will be a step in the direction of mental efficiency on top of English speaking pronunciation clarity.
Feel empowered in your English Speaking Pronunciation
At Voice Science, advocacy is everything. The evidence we share with you means you’ll finally have the facts to answer the (often unwelcome) questions people ask about your accent.
Did you know that hearing and learning speech sounds change between infancy, childhood and adulthood? If your answer is no, you’ll find our pronunciation programs fascinating and empowering.
You’ll also become less self-critical when you see that all your pronunciation needed was an evidence-based approach. You’re only human if you find English speaking pronunciation difficult!
Eliminate distractions for your listeners
In our native language, we expect to produce and hear sounds in a certain way. When sounds are familiar, our brains process them faster.
Imagine accents are different styles of handwriting. A different culture’s cursive can look like a secret code! It takes much longer to decipher and solving the puzzle distracts from the message itself.
At Voice Science, we believe that listeners should make just as much effort as speakers, but it still remains true that listeners can focus more on your message when presented with familiar speech sounds. Through instruction and practice, you can choose your English speaking font!
Learn to establish habits (for real!)
We’re sure you’re no stranger to setting goals, but have you thought much about your habits? There’s no New Year’s resolution that can improve English speaking pronunciation without habitual practice.
Pronunciation clarification sessions with the Voice Science team also teach you to fuel productive practice habits. You can use this knowledge on any area of life needing some structure!
Speaking of making progress, if you’ve already been working on your English Speaking pronunciation but have hit a wall, read how to revamp your pronunciation!
Make your spoken grammar match your written
Learning English, it’s common to feel comfortable on paper, but out of depth when speaking, because English spelling often doesn’t show exactly what to pronounce. The pronunciation rules behind English grammar boosts proficiency, because our spoken grammar becomes as accurate our writing.
Fish and chips.
A big piece of cake.
Go to bed.
We promise that wasn’t a Haiku, but examples of how pronunciation and grammar are intertwined. Let’s see how the words in bold are pronounced in isolation:
You’re probably thinking: I’ve never heard a native speaker say ‘fish AND chips’! And you’re right.
Function words in English, like and, a, of, and to reduce down to the short, relaxed schwa /ə/ sound, which is grammatically correct. Emphasis on function words changes the meaning! You can find some extra pointers on this in our blog about linking in connected speech.
Related Read 🔗
Now consider the simple past tense for regular verbs. Just add ‘-ed’, right? In terms of spelling, yes, but what about pronunciation? Take a look at these words (we’ve transcribed the pronunciation of ‘-ed’):
- started /əd/
- continued /d/
- stopped /t/
They’re all different! Can you figure out what the pattern is?
English speaking pronunciation is right up your alley
Everyone loves transferable skills. Pronunciation combines so many areas of expertise, so you’ve definitely already got some skills up your sleeve. For example:
- Play sport or a musical instrument? You already understand how to train new muscle movements.
- Know about physics or engineering? Airflow dynamics are right up your alley!
- Do you work with elderly Australians (e.g. in aged care)? It’s likely you’ve heard ways to produce more formal English sounds.
- Language teacher? You’ll bring so many strategies to the process.
- Do you believe knowledge is power? Just wait till you’ve got all the facts!
At Voice Science we get to know you so we can channel your skills and interests into pronunciation success!
Have your mind blown on a regular basis
There’s not much we need to say about this one; English speaking pronunciation is utterly fascinating! If you’d like to see how pronunciation combines anatomy, physics, language, culture, identity and more, come along for the ride!
If you’re tired of feeling like your English speaking pronunciation is holding you back, a Personalised Pronunciation Audit is the perfect first step on your journey towards clearer English pronunciation. Voice Science is a completely multilingual team with all the experience, expertise and empathy that you need to reach your English speaking pronunciation goals.