Speaking fluently is like walking smoothly along flat sidewalks.
However, as the walkway or speech-way, becomes broken and bumpy with new sounds of a new language, what happens to your pace? Your steps become irregular and you may even stumble.
The ease of speaking quickly and smoothly in your native language is replaced by stumbles of mispronunciations and incorrect links between words. English is taught through reading and memorization – visual activities. Speaking, however, is a physical activity inside the mouth that you cannot see.
In your birth language, the tongue does its magical well-coordinated dance with the facial and other muscles without any great effort. What happens inside the mouth when speaking techniques for English are not taught? The student uses the tools he/she has – the birth language movements and positions of the tongue, etc. The dance in the mouth of the foreign speaker of English will have several miss-steps when speaking which are borrowed from his/her native language. These miss-steps help the person to speak comfortably but to the Canadian ear, they are mistakes.
Another skill that is often transferred into English is the childhood rhythm patterns from the mother language. This often links words together too fast and gives the impression of sounding controlling, impolite, or not willing to listen. Using the rhythms of English while speaking English enhances and clarifies what a person is saying. In any language, using the correct speed for certain words and phrases makes the conversation more meaningful, sympathetic, convincing, and professional. Too fast in English is usually a negative way of speaking. Too slow without the fast phrase put people ‘to sleep’. Too fast or too slow in the wrong place is confusing.
Which miss-steps are you using without even knowing it? Are people polite but not buying your product or discarding your job application for a person with clearer speech?
Peggy Kayne can teach you all these little secrets to speaking English as if you were Canadian born.
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