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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pronunciation Advice

One of the people on the wait list recently expressed surprise and disappointment that I am not focusing on pronunciation. I certainly can teach pronunciation. I'm not a speech pathologist, but I do know some of the techniques used to teach English vowels, and r-l, s-th, and b-v are not that hard to teach.

However, almost all my students right now have pretty good pronunciation, and when I surveyed them in mid-May, almost everyone said that they prefer more intensive practice instead of pronunciation practice.

Here's my advice: keep working on English speaking, especially your mouth movement. Too many Japanese men try to speak English without moving their mouth (women usually don't have the same problem). You have to move your mouth more when you speak English than when you speak Japanese because there are more English vowels. So you need to create vowel space so that the vowels are distinct from each other.

Here's a video explaining how much you want to move your mouth. Training yourself to move your mouth more actively is simply a matter of awareness and practice.

Above all: don't get discouraged. I have had students with pronunciation issues score as high as SP24 on the TOEFL test. It just takes a lot of practice.

Good luck!