Advanced Techniques To Fine-tune Your Spoken English

Last Updated on July 25, 2022 by Estrella

advanced techniques to fine-tune your spoken English

English learners often ask me how they can improve their spoken English by themselves. Especially with inflection, accent, and pronunciation. Actually, there is an enjoyable way to do this by using videos from YouTube. But not just any videos. These are speeches made by public figures to students on graduation day. They are transcribed, and you can find the text online. In this article, I will share with you two advanced techniques to fine-tune your spoken English.

This article has been updated on July 23, 2022.

How to fine-tune your English by yourself

First of all, the people who are asked to speak at graduations have most likely already made many speeches. Generally they speak clearly and slower than usual. One of the most famous ones is Steve Jobs’ Stanford commencement speeches. Others include Oprah Winfrey, Hilary Clinton, Ellen DeGeneres. Just type in your search box “best commencement speeches” and choose the one that interests you most.

Next, print out the text of that speech. With the YouTube video and the text in front of you, you are ready to improve certain aspects of English all by yourself.

Learn the inflection of a language

Learning the inflection of a language is one of the keys to improving your spoken English. Have you ever noticed that people from different countries can say the same words, but sound different? They may place the accent on different syllables. This is one of the reasons why native speakers may not recognize the words. Actually, it is the inflection. The music of the language. If you learn the inflection, the music of a language, you’ll go a long way in sounding like a native speaker. And you’ll notice fewer people ask you to repeat.

So, using the video of the commencement speech, listen to the inflection of the speaker. Where does her voice go up, and where does it drop? Spend time doing this until you can at least mentally imitate her while you are following the video. If you spend time on this skill alone, you’ll see a difference in your spoken English.

How long do you hold a syllable?

Yes, this question makes it sound like you are learning to sing, doesn’t it? Well, in a sense, learning a language is in part learning its music. Now that you have worked on the overall inflection of a sentence, you can take things further. You can now focus on the notes.

If you play the piano, you are familiar with the term staccato. It means to play each note separately and you let go of the note quickly. For our purpose, let’s just take the “separately” aspect of staccato. The next time you go to an event where you can hear different languages spoken, try this. Listen to the sound of the words (the music notes.) Do you hear more staccato? Or do you hear a flow? More melodic? Some languages have more staccato notes, and others, more melodic ones.

Do this to take your spoken English to the next level

Another key to taking your spoken English to the next level is to imitate the staccato or melodic notes. Some syllables will sound very short, and some you will hold longer.

So when you are using the commencement speech, listen for these short and long notes. Train your ear to listen for them. Imitate them at least mentally.

Then pick 1 or 2 sentences and practice the length of each of those syllables until you can match the speaker. Some people find that if they do this silently first and pretend they are the speaker in the video, they can imitate faster. Experiment to find out what works best for you.

If you practice these two techniques alone, you will notice a marked difference in your own English. And others will hear a difference in you too. Use commencement speeches that you enjoy listening to. Imitate the inflection of the speaker and the length of time they hold a syllable.

Please experiment with these, and share your results with me at estrellachan@gmail.com

If you find this article helpful, here is one on Learning New Sounds In A Foreign Language.

Estrella Chan coaches immigrants and international professionals in English fluency, interview skills, and public speaking.    To schedule a free demo session with her, please email estrellachan@gmail.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*