QW 082012 “A new orientation”

It’s been three weeks since my previous pronunciation teacher, seemingly, left the school. During those weeks, once again, I kept realizing that I might sound a bit better with other teachers than with him. I’m basing this statement on numerous recorded files of the lessons, so it might be legitimate. My pronunciation teacher used to say that I would sound better when I’m unconscious than I’m conscious and focused on pronunciation. Isn’t that kind of a discouraging comment to hear? Well, in fact, I must admit that it represents the reality. I can tell. While being with my pronunciation teacher, I used to be careful and conscious about how I pronounce each word, each phrase, and each sentence; always on the watch, so to speak. In fact, it’s not at all a bad thing for a devoted English learner to try doing. I can be more confident with the way I speak the language with others instead. The thing is, I’ve already graduated, or had to graduate, the intensive pronunciation sessions that I had been engaged since the beginning of May.

It might not be just a coincidence that two people gave me the similar comment on my pronunciation last week; I have a tendency to have rising intonations at the end of certain mid-sentence words or the end of sentences. It could be either the result of my L1 interference or just the habit that I’ve oddly developed, or both. Anyway, it seems that I’ll need to work more on the intonation and melody to make me sound more smooth and natural. Okay, “natural” is a tricky word. You can define “natural” in any possible ways. For me, being natural in terms of English pronunciation is; 1) being free from the L1 influence, 2) being intelligible to both L1 and L2 speakers of English, 3) speaking with the standard American accent, and 4) at the same time, sounding spontaneous and not contrived. I want my speech sound clear and understandable, but I don’t want to sound mechanic, contrived or even “bookish”. The biggest disadvantage that I have is that I basically self-taught myself how to speak English within the country, not in English speaking countries. I’m neither complaining nor whining. I’m just stating the fact that I need to do a lot more to my English pronunciation availing myself of whatever effective to make me sound more natural, spontaneous, and still intelligible. In order to do so, my focus should shift to more global elements, such as intonation, rhythm, melody, and “the vibe”.

These days, I observe noticeable improvement of my speech while I read aloud three or four pages of a paperback every morning. I’ve been doing this practice for more than six months. It was three months before I started my pronunciation project that the Ondoku Practice had started. Initially, I was dissatisfied with every aspect of my speech. Now I can give okay to some of the aspects that I think need to be worked on. Remember, it was not until I worked on my pronunciation for as long as three months. Well, well, anything takes just “three months” to see improvement; that’s what my friend said. For the next three months, I mean until the end of November, I’ll be focusing on my intonation, rhythm, melody, and “the vibe” to realize “naturalness” I’m pursuing.

(60 minutes / 559 words)

This Web site might be helpful to some; AT&T Natural Voices® Text-to-Speech Demo




English learner


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