Facing up to your fears

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As a non-native, British English speaker, an expert in your subject, it can be a challenge to get your ideas across to the rest of your team. You may have anxiety about whether the others can understand your accent, are you pronouncing your words correctly and are you being judged unfairly because of the way you speak.

You may be reassured that many people are more relaxed about accents as we have many variations in UK British English. However, you might still want to know whether you are pronouncing your words correctly?

Most importantly are you enjoying your presentations or the process of getting your thoughts heard? And if not, what can you do to improve your accent along with improving your self-esteem?

One of the key differences between English spoken by a native and that spoken by someone who speaks English as a second or third language, is the rhythm of the speech. UK English is a stress-timed language, which means that we emphasise words or parts of words within a sentence and this creates the ‘tune’ of the accent.

Finding the stress sounds in a word or sentence on your own can be a bit of a challenge. It is perfectly possible to check the dictionary and if you are familiar with phonetics, you will be able to work out where the emphasis falls. But sometimes, you also need to know where the long vowels occur, or use the sound of the diphthongs, ensuring they are honoured with your voice.

Although this might sound tricky, it can be enormous fun to learn and discover.

Many clients of Voice Synergy enjoy the benefits of learning not only accent improvement through accent reduction, but they also gain much more clarity and confidence in the way they speak. By understanding the rhythm of the sentences and how the vowels (and consonants) should be used, they greatly improve their spoken skills though gaining confidence to speak clearly.

Quite often, as a result of voice and accent coaching, clients are immersed in a wider vocabulary through exercises that use passages of classic text or poetry.

Over the years it has been a privilege to coach professionals who speak English as a second language and to help them move from a feeling of helplessness and frustration to gaining the skills and confidence to become a strong communicator, a valued and esteemed member of their team.

One client recently commented, “You are a fantastic teacher, Debbie. I’m really enjoying it. You make it technical but interesting. I’d love to carry on (with more sessions).” This particular professional has a mixture of accents from three continents and is successfully unlocking her potential to achieve even more in her career, thanks to her confident and engaging voice and accent, which she is learning to use much more effectively.

If any of this resonates with you, or if you have a member of staff that would benefit from voice and accent coaching, please get in touch. We’ll help you face your fears, get the best from your voice and give you the freedom to speak with confidence.

Merry Christmas!