Listen to Me...

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Every person who studies English has said the same thing: "Why didn't they understand what I said?" 

Let's face it. You have an accent. You cannot avoid it.

You were born and raised speaking a different language. From a young age, your tongue and lips and mouth were taught to make sounds that fit that language more easily than English. (That's why we call it "your native tongue.") 

Many people who moved to America forty years ago still have an accent. An accent can be difficult to get rid of. 

Good news: You do not have to "lose" your accent. You just need to pronounce English more clearly. 

Many great techniques exist to help you to improve your pronunciation. Some involve listening to tapes, or practicing words and sounds in front of a mirror. All of these help. 

But one technique can help you right now. Today. Immediately. And it is not that hard. 

The secret: Speak more slowly, and with more volume. 

Many people try to hide their language mistakes by speaking softly, hoping no one will notice. Or they talk quickly to sound more like a native speaker. 

What happens?

People may not understand you. They ask you to repeat yourself. Or worse, they will ignore what you say and move onto other topics.

Neither option helps you. 

Slow down a little. Just a little. And speak a little louder. Just a little. Maybe ten percent for each. 

If you speak more slowly, each word will be more distinct and clear. And if you speak with more volume, people can hear you better. The less you have to repeat yourself, the more likely you will be understood. 

You will still make mistakes. No problem. At least the other person will hear all the words you said correctly and understand most of it. Which is better than none. 

This change will feel awkward and unnatural at first. In a conversation, you may forget to speak slowly and return to a more comfortable way of talking. That's fine. 

Practice speaking slower and louder as often as you can. Try to make it a habit. 

Soon you will find that this simple change can have a positive effect on your confidence.  

The better you are understood, the better you (and other people) will feel about what you have to say. 

Tom Penketh