When you speak English as a second language, your level of pronunciation is the first thing that native speakers notice. Your ability to follow the rules of grammar and use an expanded vocabulary do not matter if you are unable to fluently pronounce them clearly and correctly.
There are three levels of English pronunciation:
- Level 1: People do not understand what you are saying even though you have studied English, which is terribly frustrating and discouraging.
- Level 2: You have to repeat yourself several times to clarify what you are saying for people to understand, which is also terribly frustrating and discouraging.
- Level 3: People consistently understand what you are saying the first time you speak, which is completely satisfying and confidence building.
The goal I help all of my clients achieve is to be clearly understood the first time.
Many Americans who are native English speakers, but do not themselves speak a second or third language as many of my clients do, are easily agitated and impatient when they cannot quickly understand what a non-native speaker is saying. Especially in a fast-paced work environment, when there is a barrier to easy communication between co-workers often the response from the native speaker is, “Forget it! I don’t have time to try and translate what you are saying. Send me an email.” Even when the simplest words are misspoken, your credibility will be jeopardized. Plus, native speakers are much more likely to understand you and forgive you for grammatical errors, than they are for pronunciation errors. For anyone who is speaking English as a second language, the inability to achieve a level of clear and consistent communication is a damaging career blockade.
The importance of pronunciation cannot be understated. It is also one of the most difficult problems to solve on your own. Practicing English with friends from the same country as you is a great start, but you will not be able to overcome pronunciation problems because they are likely making the same mistakes and cannot accurately judge your speaking abilities. Reading about pronunciation and watching generic videos may seem like a good idea, but ultimately they will prove frustrating because you will not be able to self-correct effectively. It takes working with a native English speaker who is professionally trained to specifically reduce accents by neutralizing distracting sounds to achieve your goal of fluency.
As a certified Accent Modification Specialist from the Institute of Language and Phonology in San Francisco and a native English speaker, I personally work with individuals from all over the world who speak many different languages to help them break through their pronunciation barriers so they can achieve their goal to speak English clearly and consistently in both professional and social settings. Many of my clients have studied grammar rules and have practiced vocabulary, but after their ESL classes ended they plateaued at Level 1 or 2. Having to respond to questions of, “What did you say?”, “Repeat that.”, “Huh?” is a challenging and uncomfortable level to maintain. Using systematically researched techniques, I will coach you to the top level of English pronunciation by making small changes in your habitual speech patterns to improve the overall understanding of your message and make your distinct voice a personal strength and valuable asset that you can carry forward in your professional career.
Learn more about achieving your goal to speak English fluently at www.AtlasSpeech.com. Your path to better pronunciation starts here.
Director of Atlas Speech Coaching