If you’re a non-native English speaker just like me, and if you’re working on your English pronunciation (also – just like me!), your English speech may be prone to the following problem from time to time:
All words and sounds kind of BLUR together and your English speech becomes SLURRED.
Whenever it happens to me, for example, I also get the feeling as if I’m overdoing my English pronunciation; so I guess I wouldn’t be wrong in saying that whenever you experience this issue, there’s a chance you’re trying TOO HARD to sound like a native American or British English speaker.
Is there a way you can get your speech back on track and start pronouncing English words more clearly and focus on what to say rather than how you should say it?
Yeap, there is! 😀
To be more specific, there ARE many ways you can accomplish that goal (speaking with hard foreign accent, trying deliberately to make mistakes when speaking and others), but by far the simplest and the most effective one is…
Paying Attention to Consonants to Prevent Your Speech From Getting Slurred
Whenever I start experiencing the slurred kind of speech that people normally experience when they’re a bit tipsy, I’m immediately applying this simple strategy:
I’m pronouncing the letters ‘C’, ‘S’, ‘V’, ‘P’, ‘B’, ‘N’, ‘T’, ‘D’, ‘L’ and ‘M’ in a very distinct way.
Does it sound too simple?
Well, it doesn’t have to be very complicated in order to be really effective ❗
The most important thing is that it works every time I try it, and now it’s actually gotten to a stage where I don’t really experience the “slurred speech syndrome” because I immediately start paying attention to consonant sounds and making sure I’m pronouncing them in a distinct manner.
Why This Simple Technique Works?
Here’s why focusing on consonants works when you feel your attempts to get your English pronunciation right have quite the opposite effect:
- It FORCES you to speak clearly;
- It MAKES you slow your speech down a little.
Yes, this is all common sense, but so often in life we actually find it hard to apply common-sense things, and this focusing-on-consonants technique is a perfect example of it.
Yes, it’s common sense to speak more clearly in order not to get the speech slurred.
Yes, it’s common sense to slow down when you start feeling words blur together.
In real life, however, it’s not always easy to remember to heed to that good advice, and so you may spend days at a time trying to figure out what’s wrong with your English pronunciation!
It’s happened to me in the past, and I can tell you from my own experience that it can be really annoying and even depressing. I mean – you’re trying so hard to get your American or British pronunciation right, but it just doesn’t work and you just keep slurring your speech… WTF?!
Despair no more! 😉
Just pay that little bit more attention to pronouncing the consonants ‘C’, ‘S’, ‘V’, ‘P’, ‘B’, ‘N’, ‘T’, ‘D’, ‘L’ and ‘M’ distinctly, and you’ll feel your normal English pronunciation return to you in no time!
Why These Specific Consonants – ‘C’, ‘S’, ‘V’, ‘P’, ‘B’, ‘N’, ‘T’, ‘D’, ‘L’ and ‘M’?
There are way more consonants in the English language than just the ones I’m mentioning in this particular technique, so quite naturally you may have the following question:
Why am I focusing only on these consonants – ‘C’, ‘S’, ‘V’, ‘P’, ‘B’, ‘N’, ‘T’, ‘D’, ‘L’ and ‘M’?
Well, it’s quite simple in fact:
If I were to focus on each and every single one of them, my speech would become VERY slow and hard-to-understand!
Just try reading out some random sentence from this article by pronouncing EVERY consonant distinctly! See? It’s almost impossible to sound normal while doing that.
If, on the other hand, I just focus on SOME sounds, they still provide enough “anchoring”, so to speak, in order to get my speech together while at the same time it doesn’t make my English speech too robotic.
Does it HAVE to be All of These Specific Ones – ‘C’, ‘S’, ‘V’, ‘P’, ‘B’, ‘N’, ‘T’, ‘D’, ‘L’ and ‘M’?
Sometimes I just focus on the ‘S’ sound and it prevents words from blending together.
Sometimes it suffices if I focus on the ‘L’ sound which is a crucial sound in American English.
Basically you just have to play it by ear and see what works for you best!
And here’s a crucial piece of advice – don’t start trying to identify specific consonants while you speak and then pronounce them in a distinct way. If you start doing that, your English fluency will go out the window!
Simply speak by making sure you pronounce those consonants clearly and distinctly that mark word beginnings and word endings (of course this is not a rule, just a general guideline!) while at the same time experimenting and paying attention to a specific sound – ‘S’, ‘L’, ‘D’ etc. – to see if it makes a considerable difference to the way you sound in English.
Any questions about this technique?
Ask me in the comments section below!
To you English pronunciation development success,