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  • When you're speaking a foreign language, you want  to be 100% understandable, right? No one wants to  

  • constantly hearwhat?” “Excuse me?” orwhat did  you say?” Today I'm going to show you how I work  

  • with my students who are speaking English asforeign language on how to be 100% understandable.

  • I'm going to show you a clip of me working  with a student. Working with him, I said,  

  • if you do this, you go from 85% understandable to  100% understandable. It has to do with linking,  

  • that's smoothness between words, and longer  stressed syllables with a bigger pitch change.

  • Okay. Uh, well, it's, it's very interestingBecause, uhm, I'm an accountant.

  • Okay, hold on. I didn't actually, it  took, I had to think. I had to say. Wait,  

  • what did he say? What you said was,  'It's very interesting,' is that right?

  • Ah, Yeah.

  • Okay. So, my mind did not hear 'very,' it  took me a second. I had to think. Wait,  

  • 'what did he say?' Oh, he said 'very.' Andthe reason for that was, it's very interesting.  

  • I need, it's ve-ry, not 'It's very,' it's  very, I need more of that clarity of your  

  • stressed syllables. That's how my mind goesoh, very, it's very, if I hear, it's very,  

  • it's very interesting. It's really hard for me  to get that. It's all too flat. I need those,  

  • boom, boom, boom. It's very interesting. Because  you know, even if all of your sounds were right,  

  • which they were. You had /v/, you had /ɛ/, you  had /r/, you had /i/. You had all the sounds.  

  • But I didn't have the rhythm that I needed  to immediately recognize the word. So,  

  • I had to think about it a little bit. I had  to sort it out. What did he say? He said,  

  • it's very interesting. And this is something  that I want all my students to know and I  

  • think you probably do. The sounds are only  part of it. You have to also give me the  

  • rhythm that I'm expecting or it gets harder to  understand. Okay, so, it's very. Just say that.

  • Okay. It's very interesting.

  • Okay, just it's very, not interesting. We're  going to, we'll deal with that later. it's very.

  • Okay, It's very.

  • M-hmm. Now, let me just hear you say ve.

  • Ve.

  • It's a v though...

  • Yeah.

  • I know, that's, the SpanishIt's like, it's all the same.

  • Yeah. It's, it's tricky.

  • It's Ve.

  • Ver.

  • Very.

  • Yes, exactly. I needed a little bit more opening  in your mouth. It was a little bit ver. Very.

  • Very.

  • Right. That, that's, those sounds arelittle bit more clear to me. It's very.

  • It's very.

  • Yes. Good. It's very.

  • It's very.

  • Yes. So, now I understand it right away. The  first time I didn't. It's very, it's very. Ohh,  

  • that's kind of hard. It's very. Okaynow we're going to take, interesting.

  • It's very interesting.

  • Okay, that's better. It's very interesting. So now  I have, uh-ahhh, and the first time it was sort of  

  • it's very interesting. I got a little bit on /ɛ/.  But now we're, we're, I'm getting more of that  

  • pitch modulation, that clarity and this is exactly  what I work on with Spanish speakers often,  

  • is give me more contrast. Stretch out your  long syllables. Give me that melody. Okay.

  • The first time I heard 'very', I had to try to  figure out what he was saying. But when he said  

  • it VER-y, with that clear, long stressed syllablethe up-down melody, I understood it right away  

  • without having to think. I want to show you  another time I didn't understand him, and we talk  

  • about a way to practice to help him naturally add  more smoothness and pitch change to his English.

  • We have deadlines for companies and then June.

  • Okay, deadlines was hard  for me to understand. I only  

  • understood after you said it and I figured  out what you must have said. Not because I  

  • understood it. Deadlines, deadlines...  That's easy for me to catch. Deadlines,  

  • that's easy for me to catch, right? So deadlinesit's a noun, it's the, the focus of what you're  

  • talking about. Businesses have deadlines  in March, right? What month did you say?

  • Deadlines?

  • What month do they have deadlines?

  • Ahh, Okay. Yeah, in March, in March.

  • Okay. So, businesses have deadlines in  March. If those are the most important  

  • things that you're trying to tell me, right? If  you just said business and March then I'm like,  

  • well, what happens in March, but if  you say deadline, then I get it. So,  

  • because that's one of, those most  important words that's why it needs  

  • that length. Businesses have deadlines  in March, let me hear you do that.

  • Business have deadlines in March.

  • Right? Exactly. And I can tell it feels  a little bit, like effort to do that and  

  • the more you do it, the easier I think it will  become. Businesses have deadlines in March. And,  

  • I have worked with so many students where they  actually use their arm when they're practicing,  

  • on their stressed syllables. It helps that body  connection, it helps them remember to go higher  

  • than they want to. And, it also helps them not be  choppy with it or with effort. Right? It's like,  

  • the hand kind of guides them. So, don't be  afraid, to use your hand, when you're practicing.

  • Okay, got you. Yeah, it's ah, it's,  it's more intonation is ah, intention.

  • Exactly.

  • Intention with the conversation? Yeah.

  • Right.

  • I love how he talks about the intention of  speaking with this new technique in mind. You  

  • may be wondering about this guy. He's a student  in my Academy and once a month I do live classes  

  • where I work with students, and record them with  their permission. Everyone else in the Academy can  

  • attend the live class, watch, and ask questionsAll classes are recorded and put in the Academy so  

  • when students join, right away they can go to that  course, search on their own native language, and  

  • watch all the clips of me working with students  from their same language background. It's really  

  • helpful for students on their journey towards  more natural and easy-to-understand English.  

  • If you have any questions about the Academy  please post them here or shoot us an email,  

  • or simply visit RachelsEnglishAcademy.com. Now  here we talk about this change in the voice,  

  • these characteristics about English that make English clear and natural,  

  • but might feel strange if your  native language isn't English.

  • Yesterday was one of those daysthat I have to, sort things out.

  • Okay, hold on. And yesterday, I needed  a little bit more there. And yesterday,  

  • was one of those days. The one was  good. Yes-- I need a little bit  

  • more length there. And yesterday was  one of those days. Let me hear that.

  • And yesterday, one, yesterday...

  • So, let's hear the whole phraseand yesterday was one of those days.

  • And yesterday, uh one. And  yesterday was one of those days.

  • Right, exactly, one of those daysOkay, what? What happened yesterday?

  • Well, it was one of those days that  all my clients called me and try to  

  • get their results as soon as  possible. So, yeah, it was...

  • Okay, that was pretty good.

  • It was very busy.

  • It's very busy. Okay, so, all my clients called  me. A little bit more, So, where all my clients  

  • called me-- That's a little unclear. Where all  my clients called me. That's more clear. So,  

  • you can have the one up and then  everything come down. But I, I just,  

  • I want that up to be higherAnd all my clients called me.

  • Okay, and all my clients called me.

  • Yeah, I totally get it. That's very clear to meSo, it's sort of just freeing yourself up. To  

  • like, take your range and make it bigger. You  know, we want you maxing that out because it,  

  • just for a native speaker listening, it makes  it so much clearer. Now, I think if you and I  

  • were talking, and I was not an accent teacher and  I was just listening to what you were saying? I  

  • would understand most of what you were saying.  I might have to ask you a couple of times.  

  • Uhm, but if you just make  your pitch modulations higher,  

  • I would probably always understandEverything you were saying.

  • Your way is clear, okay thank you, yeah.

  • And that's a big difference guys. If all he has  to do is make his high syllables higher. Which,  

  • will in turn make them a little bit longerThat's the only change he has to do.  

  • To go from being like eighty-five percent  understandable to probably a hundred  

  • percent understandable. And, it feels weird  because your language doesn't have that. So,  

  • it feels uncomfortable to do this. It's like if  this is my language and all of a sudden I had to  

  • do this. This would feel very uncomfortable to  me. So, I understand. But we just have to give  

  • ourselves that mental permission. You don't  sound weird, you know, you sound clearer.

  • Okay, thank you. Yeah.

  • So, all your clients called you? Now, I  want you to really exaggerate, do something.

  • Exaggerate, yeah.

  • Make it too much. I'll tell you if it's too much.

  • Yeah, becau-- because you know, this is,  

  • this is the thing. Sometimes for some reason,  I don't want to tell you alright? Because,  

  • I don't want to sound weird. But at the  same time now, we realize that I need it.

  • Exactly, and I think that's such a good  lesson for everyone. It sounds weird,  

  • because we don't use, we're not used to doing itSo, we kind of shy away from it. Right? But it's,  

  • it's actually what would be clearer. So, even  though it's not your habit, breaking that habit  

  • can feel strange. Which is what holds some  people back from doing it, right? So, I'm here  

  • to give you the feedback, that it doesn't sound  strange. And, that I want you to do it. Okay.

  • Yeah, for sure, yeah, thank you.

  • For sure, did you guys hear that? For sure, for  sure. Exactly. Give me some more of that height.

  • He doesn't want to sound weird. And for some  students, this is the number one reason they're  

  • hard to understand. Because they want to be  comfortable, they speak English with the habits  

  • of their own native language rather than really  embracing the characteristics of English. And  

  • I get that. It's like trying on and developing  a completely different voice. And it's hard to  

  • break habits. Even though this student gets itand wants to do it, it just takes some reminding.

  • let's take that phrase, 'It isn't clear,'  and I want to hear. 'It isn't clear.'  

  • So, I want to hear even more pitch changeNot clear, but clear, it isn't clear.

  • It isn't clear.

  • Right? Exactly. We want that kind of pitch  change on, not every stressed syllable. But,  

  • to emphasize, if it's, if it's, all  too much the same. It becomes kind  

  • of flat and it's a little bit hard to  pick out those stressed words and to  

  • get that clarity. I just said to get that  clarity. So, my voice went geeet. It wasn't  

  • ge, but get. More of that pitch change from  eve... to go, even higher and then even lower.

  • This student's native language is Spanishbut really the smoothness, the pitch change,  

  • and the rhythm is something that I work  on with every single one of my students.

  • and I've noticed that my Spanish speakerssometimes it's all ta, ta, ta, ta, ta, ta,  

  • ta. It's really fast and staccato, and I have to  get them to stretch out the stressed syllables a  

  • little bit. And, on the phrase, 'I'm not sure,'  I heard from you a little bit, 'I'm not sure,'  

  • sure. But I would definitely want, 'I'm not sure.'  'I'm not sure.' Like it's all part of this wave.  

  • I'm not sure. Versus, I'm not sure. Uh-uhhh-uhThat constant flow of sound with nothing breaking  

  • it up. And, a little bit more length on the  stressed word. So, can I hear you just say 'Sure?'

  • Sure.

  • Sure.

  • Right, I want to get you to even exaggerate  your melody change a little bit more. Sure.

  • Sure.

  • Right, I think bring your tongue  a little bit more forward. Sure.

  • Sure.

  • Good, does that feel weird?

  • Uhm, a little bit, yeah.

  • A little bit. Yeah, when people, whenask people to change their pitch more,