Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A comment on 10 Tips on English pronunciation and accent improvement!

1.Focusing on individual sounds (allophones of a phoneme) would not help much. The way Indians syllabify English words is the basis of what is grating to Native speakers. English syllabication is dictated by stress, which changes the quality of the underlying vowel.
Learning stress patterns is of certain help: these exercises don’t explain the basics of syllabication.

2. The other problem is pitch. The vocal range of Indian speakers is another source of accent. Indian speakers have less pitch range when compared to native speakers. Going higher/lower is not same as louder/softer, even though pitch and loudness are related. Emphasizing a syllable in English is all about pitch variation: Indians associate emphasis with loudness.

3. The so-called accent reduction coaches and books don’t pay much attention to the above two. Of course, they talk about intonation of questions, statements, tags, etc: these exercises don’t help much. What is needed: awareness of pitch variation and how to produce that pitch variation.
For instance, take the word “John”, emphasize that word using pitch in many ways: long rise; short rise; long fall; short fall; rise fall; fall rise; etc.

Then apply that on both English and un-English words. Of course, what I am advising is familiar to the students of singing.


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