How to improve your English pronunciation: Speak loudly

shoutingMany of you (especially those in China) will have heard of Li Yang the ‘shouting’ English teacher. He hosts workshops for hundreds of people (paying hundreds of dollars per ticket) where he and the audience shout phrases over and over again.

Li Yang’s system seems like a good way to improve your English pronunciation but there are some problems with it.

I can see how this would be good for helping people who are not naturally confident. Being part of a group can be very inspirational and I’m sure shouting together helps them overcome their inhibitions. This may or may not have an impact on people’s confidence in real-life situations.

Li Yang also claims that his shouting sessions help people develop their ‘tongue muscles’ and impoves their English pronunciation. I’m sure this must be true, too. Doing any activity at a higher-than-normal intensity will develop the muscles we need to do that particular activity.

The problem is, though, speaking actually uses different muscles from shouting. Our throats are wider and we usually adopt a different position when we shout. Practising shouting is great if you want to end up sounding like an action movie star – Vin Diesel and Sylvester Stallone (in his early moves) are good examples of this – but for normal people, it would just make us sound too aggressive all the time.

The best way to improve English pronunciation, and build your confidence at the same time is to speak in a loud but controlled manner. That way, you will be building up the muscles in your mouth you need for good English pronunciation, developing breath-control and building your confidence to speak up in real life.

Want to give it a try? Here’s how to do it:

  1. Make sure you are in a place where you feel comfortable and aren’t going to disturb anyone.
  2. Take a deep breath. Suck the air into your lungs by pushing your stomach forward rather than lifting your shoulders.
  3. Say “I am fantastic at speaking English” as loudly as you can without shouting.
  4. Now, say it again. At the same time, squeeze your stomach muscles while you are speaking as if you were doing a sit-up.
  5. Now, say it again, trying to sound like Barack Obama
  6. Now, say it like an actor in a Shakespeare play.
  7. Now, say it really quietly, still remembering to squeeze your stomach muscles.
  8. Now, say it loudly again in your own voice.

How do you feel? Pretty good, yeah?

Remember, you can use any phrase to practise this way. Try starting with a positive one each time then move on to a phrase using a sound you have difficulty with.

You don’t need to speak loudly in real life but practising it in private will help your pronunciation a lot more than shouting ever would.

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Today’s image is by Tatlin.

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