One challenge of accent reduction or accent modification for non-native speakers of English is the fact that vowels can be pronounced several ways. An example is the letter “a.”
When it stands alone the letter “a” is called an article. An article is an adjective that gives a small amount of information about the word that follows it. It can be pronounced as a long “a” as in ate or as “uh” in above. As a letter of the English alphabet, the “a” is a vowel that provides substance and definition to the words in which it occurs.
Pronouncing the Letter “A”
The letter “a” has seven different sounds. To master each of these, you must listen closely to experienced speakers of the English language and then practice articulating the words that contain “a” sounds. The underlined words in the following sentence demonstrate the seven different sounds for the letter “a.”
Jack was about to share his private yacht with his football coach when he received a cable informing him that the engine needed repair.
Of course, if a person who has mastered speaking English correctly did not read this to you, you may not be able to appreciate the variation in sound for the vowel “a” since some of the differences are fairly subtle. It is one of those instances where practice not only makes perfect but is vital to correct articulation.
Here are a few practice words for each of the seven “a” sounds:
Jack, exact, actually, apple
yacht, father, alms, barn
about, around, zebra
football, tall, calling, law
cable, stable, able, ate
share, careful, rare, air
private, climate, senate
Correct Pronunciation of Subtle Sounds Gives Polish to Your Spoken English
Whereas the consonants are robust, the vowels are generally soft. They are the glue that gives meaning to the consonants. Pronouncing vowel sounds properly adds refinement to your speech. When you speak to your audience with clarity and correctness, they tend to pay closer attention to what you have to say more than how you say it.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The best way to experience and recognize vowel sounds is to converse regularly with people who are proficient in the English language. Self-Expression Center offers you opportunities for guided practice. Call 281-293-7070 to request a free twenty-minute, accent-reduction consultation so that you can begin refining your verbal English skills. The following learning opportunities are offered:
Customized Accent Reduction Programs for Individuals
Individual coaching for accent reduction or accent modification often lasts for 8 one-hour private sessions. Sandra identifies 8 to 12 specific sounds of English that the foreign-born professional is not pronouncing correctly. For example Asians typically need to learn the consonant sounds of L, R, V, W, N, NG and TH and certain neutral vowels that Americanize their pronunciation. Sandra teaches participants to use their teeth, tongue and lips to form these sounds correctly. They practice in words, sentences and reading aloud. They also practice to integrate the sounds into their daily speech, including industry specific terms. Individual sessions may also be done by telephone or by Skype from anywhere in the world.
Customized Accent Reduction Programs for Small Groups.
Group classes for individuals are offered to small groups of 4 – 6 participants at Self-Expression Center. Participants learn to pronounce the sounds of English that help them be more easily understood when speaking English. Group classes are offered for 4 Fridays during lunch time.
If you would like to organize a small group of friends or colleagues, Sandra can tailor a program specifically customized for your group.
Group classes for corporate employees can be offered at your business location. Groups are most effective when limited to a maximum of 8 people. Industry specific terms are used for practicing correct pronunciation of the words used daily in business.