My students always ask me if there is an effective way to learn English Pronunciation. And my answer is: Yes, there is. But, just don’t be like Ms. Sato.
Ms. Sato is a 34 year-old lady. She wants to improve her English Pronunciation, and in the future, she wants to be asked “What nationality are you?”. She believes this is the sign that she sounds very good in English.
So, she takes a pronunciation class for two hours every day. After her teacher discusses with her the speech organs (what parts of the body are working together to produce the right English sounds), their importance and the movements of the jaws, mouth and the lips, she raises several concerns regarding these things. The first one is the opening of the mouth. She insists that in Japan this is regarded impolite and uncharacteristic of a lady, besides her other personal issues such as The alignment of her teeth is not good, Her teeth is yellowish because she smokes, She has teeth fillings, to name a few. So, she can’t do it and doesn’t want to do it.
The second one is the jaw drop. It is hard for her to move her jaws up and especially harder to move it down. She’s also worried that the lower part of her face, the one around the jaw line might grow out of proportioned to the rest of her face. She certainly cannot let it happen. She also reiterates that in Japan they don’t use their jaws when they speak.
And the third one is this: she says that when she was a student her English teacher didn’t highlight the importance of jaw drop, the opening of the mouth and the use of other speech organs as her English Pronunciation teacher now does. She doesn’t think those movement would carry a great impact on improving her sounds. After all, she says that English teachers in Japan don’t do so. She prefers to learn English Pronunciation the way she is accustomed to.
But, her teacher believes that if Ms Sato really wants to improve the way she speak English by means of correcting her sounds, she must learn it the English way. After all, she wants to sound good when she speaks English.
In the end, Ms Sato decides to stop taking her teacher’s class, finds a replacement who agrees to her terms. She is very happy.
After two months of studying with the replacement, she decides it’s time to test her pronunciation skills. Anyway, her teacher often praises her that she indeed improves a lot. So, she goes to the US. Feeling so excited, she goes to the coffee shop near her hotel.
A conversation between Ms. Sato and the American Clerk
Clerk: How can I help you?
Ms. Sato: I’d like to oda (order) a cuppu (cup) of cohhee (coffee).
Ms. Sato: (red in the face) Wang (one) cohhee (coffee), please.
Clerk: I’m sorry we don’t serve that here.
Well, the point I would like to illustrate here is that when learning English Pronunciation, let’s learn it the English way. Don’t be like Ms. Sato if you don’t want to end up like her.
Thank you for reading!