It’s not YOU! It’s the LANGUAGE!: The subtleties of accent modification

Oh_My_English_logoEveryone learning something new wonders, deep down, “What am I doing wrong? Why can’t I GET this?” One of the most important aspects of teaching accent modification is helping every student understand that whatever they have not been “getting” – whether for months, years, or decades – is always something tricky about English pronunciation. Something subtle that they just need explained to them in detail. With that explanation, the “Ah hah!” arises, and they move forward.

One common example of the many pronunciation subtleties that snag non-native English speakers is any word shown in the dictionary as having one syllable, but, functionally, has two syllables. And, if the student has been trying FOR YEARS to pronounce that word as one syllable, they are trying the impossible. Honestly. An example? “World.” A simple, commonly used word, the dread of many non-native English speakers,  needs to be pronounced as two syllables: As in “were-[schwa] ld.” When I teach this word, I delve into why “world,” and so many other words, functions as two syllables. The parsing out of the reason for the challenge helps students through the struggle. To the other side of the “world,” so to speak.

So here’s what I want every student to know: When you’re struggling with a word, when you’re avoiding using it, we just need to parse it out. Then it will be yours to use easily, comfortably, freely. It’s not you! It’s the language!

I look forward to helping you be understood…..ALL THE TIME!