Thursday, September 5, 2013

Body Language

Here we speak about communication most often in how a foreign accent affects others ability to understand and relate to you in the professional and social realms.  But today lets look at body language.  I came across this interesting article  in the Harvard Business School website on how your body language affects you.   Not on how it effects others.

Did you know that your body language sends messages to you?  In real and measurable ways.  When you have a bold pose such as hands behind your head, with your feet on your desk, or with both hands on your desk leaning over the desk, actually increasing testosterone while lowering cortisol numbers. Body language changes physical activity in your body and can change your perception of yourself. 

The author does point out however that even more important than body language is the warmth that you communicate with.  Having a good idea or being an expert in a field only gets you so far.  Communicating your ideas and knowledge with warmth is what helps you bring people in, so they can hear you and understand your point of view.  

The take-away is to meet people where they are, stay calm and patient and really listen to them even when it is your idea or expertise that you would like to share.  People in general want to be understood not lectured to. 

Lynn Founder of Accent Master

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Foreign Accents

I was reading on an anonymous board the other day and saw this "conversation" on accents.  The original question was: "do you look down on people with accents?"  Overall the responders say no, they don't look down on those with accents, regional or foreign. However some did say that they found foreign accent's "frustrating"  and that the grammar mistakes make them "so impatient".

As an ESL speaker do you find other foreign accents in the workplace frustrating?   Do you think two people communicating with different language backgrounds tend to have more difficulty or do you think that there understanding of the challenges of speaking English help them be more patient and therefore better at understanding. other ESL speakers?

Lynn Founder of Accent Master

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

5 Bad Words

Looking around the internet for some marketing insight I came across this great article  by Ivana Taylor, a marketing expert.  I felt that it wasn't just great for me, but also for my accent reduction clients.  As ESL speakers there is a tendency to stick with tried and true vocabulary words, the "safe bet".  It maybe time to take a look at some of these habitual phrases and words to consider their impact on your image, mindset and meaning.

Do you recognize certain catch phrases or words popping up in your speech often?  Do you say "awesome" automatically for any good news?  How about "excellent".  Could you shake it up a bit?  This can be especially necessary if you find yourself using trendy slang words like "dude", "bummer", "what the"  These phrases can definitely downgrade your image in the workplace.

Perhaps you need to consider the words that Ivana brings to light, such as "try", "should", "want to".  You will set up that meeting or make that call, you won't "try to".  It sets up a wishy washy image and sends your own subconscious the message  that it has wiggle room to get out of it. You will do what you say, you will not merely "try to" .

What are your 5 bad words?

Lynn Founder of Accent Master

Thursday, August 15, 2013

What's in a Name

I came across this interesting article at the website Freakanomics here.  All in all it says that in 5 independent studies the easier one's name is to pronounce the greater success a person experiences.  This article did not imply that unfamiliar or foreign names were necessarily a problem, the name it seems just must be easy for people to say.

It is an interesting concept. Do you feel that presenting with an "Americanized" version of your given name is a good idea or do you think it misrepresents you?   Would you find an American living in your country  who  gives a name easier for the people of your country to understand or pronounce as being considerate or dishonest?

Additionally do you think it is the responsibility of the people in America to try a bit harder to understand and pronounce a greater variety of names, or is the responsibility to the new American to fit in by choosing a variety of their name that American's can pronounce easily?

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment.

Lynn founder of Accent Master

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Accent Master Software

Here it is the only software available that is interactive and focuses on only the sounds that your need to work on.  How does Accent Master do this?  For each language there is a sound patterns.    Some sounds in English are simply not in your first language.  These will be your challenging sounds.  These are the sounds you will need to focus on.  Each software program which are a very affordable  at 89.00 for a download, was developed for each language.  We currently have 21 language backgrounds to choose from.

Accent Master was one of the first companies to offer accent reduction training and the first to offer long distance training via WebEx and customized software.  We are found in universities across the country and have trained many trainers to work both privately and within companies. Our expertise and experience, along with our understanding of technology's role in professional development , make Accent Master the one all other companies compare themselves to.  There is really no reason to look for other solutions for your communication needs when our classes are taught by the highest qualified faculty and we are the only one that uses software in our courses, especially  when our prices are competitive and our delivery is considered the industry standard to be met.

So if you are tired of piecing together a solution to your communication goals Accent Master software and classes are the unquestionable way to go.

Enjoy the informative posts on our blog!

Lynn Founder of Accent Master

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Win Accent Master Software!

At Accent Master we know all of our fans, subscribers and clients are winners.  Winners are always looking for way to improve their performance and rise to the top.  They don't sit around waiting for success to happen, but go out and make success happen. 

We are offering our subscribers a chance to win their own complete Accent Master software download!  The winner will be notified on August 16 via email.  You must subscribe to this blog to win.  The winner will be able to choose from any of  Accent Master's 21 software programs.

Good luck to you!

Lynn, founder of Accent Master

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Rhythym of Spoken English


The third feature of rhythm that we teach at Accent Master is linking.  This is how words flow together so that you don’t have a halting sound to your speech.  Many words can be linked together not just making you sound smoother but saving even more time in pronouncing words that are unstressed, an important skill for the ESL speaker
Let’s get started with our first example of linking:

 When saying: “An easy test” you will actually say
“aneasy test” It may sound like “akneesE test”
We don’t’ say “An   Easy   Test” This can sound stiff and formal.

In this example “It’s like ashes”
Do you hear cashes when you flow the words together?

These are examples of a final consonant sound (not letter) linking to the word following that begins with the vowel.
Say these phrases using smooth linking between the consonants and the vowels
Try these:

  The speaker’s attitude
  To check in
   Some other ones 
   Homework assignments
  Writing essays
   One example
   In October

You can also link a final vowel to a word that begins with a vowel. Sometimes this requires that you insert a w or y sound between

Try these:
  As in    
 Go on 
  Carry out
Two algorithms    
Knew about it
 Now it’s over
Three offices


Another situation in which linking works is when a word ends with a stop consonant ( stop consonant is one that is made by stopping the airflow and then releasing it as in /p/,/d/, /t/, /k/, /g/, and  /b/) and the next word begins with a stop.  In these cases we stop the airflow and change the place of articulation without releasing the air in between

 For example: “Like music”
Don’t release the air after the /k/ just flow right into music “likmusic”

Try these:
  A hard night
 A good memory 
 The right moment
Stick together
Keep notes
Stop trying
 Pop quiz


So the three rules for linking are:
  1. Final consonant sound (not letter)  linking to the word following that begins with the vowel

  1. Final vowel to a word that begins with a vowel. Sometimes this requires that you insert a w or y sound between

  1. A word ending with a stop and the next word begins with a stop. 

It is a lot of rules our Accent Master’s software has great videos, lessons and practice so you can really master this part of the American Accent.

Lynn founder of

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Part 2 for Learning the Rhythym of American English


Advanced  ESL students  working on accent reduction or as I prefer to think of it; learning an American accent is rhythm.  This is part two of a 3 part blogging series

Another feature of rhythm is trimming.  This means using standard reductions in your speech.  This does not cause you to sound uneducated or sloppy, but rather fluent and smooth  Trimming also includes some of the third feature of rhythm, linking.  Linking is the running together of two words when speaking.  We will discuss linking  in greater detail in part 2, but we will hear a bit about this in this lesson as well.

Contractions are a good way to trim extra sounds from your speech.  Many ESL speakers do not feel comfortable using contractions but they are necessary in spoken English to keep the flow, often what happens is instead of using these shortcuts, word endings such as –ed or articles such as a or the or dropped to maintain the correct rhythm.  This is not ideal as word endings and articles carry important information for the listener.    

Here is a list of some common contractions, there are many more.  Choose one contraction to incorporate into your speech each day.  Use them to become more comfortable with them. 

Is          becomes      "s

have      becomes   've


Had    becomes   'd

not    becomes   'n't


Now in American English using reductions when combing words is a familiar way of speaking.  In most professional fields using these reductions is accepted and expected.  Speaking in an overly enunciated way can feel stuffy or stand offish to the listener.  Having a friendly and casual demeanor in speech is attractive and puts people at ease. 

This list will show you how some common phrases are produced.  This helps with the alternation of stress as these words are of low content or meaning, but are needed to glue the sentence together.

got to                                                gotta
have to                                              haveta
has to                                                hasta
want to                                             wanna
going to                                            gonna
don't know                                       dunno
should have                                      shoulda
would have                                      woulda
could have                                       coulda
may have                                         mayave
might have                                      mighta
used to                                             useda
shouldn't have                                 shoudn't've
wouldn't have                                  wouldn't/ve

The second list is an approximation of how the words sound in connected speech.  If possible you should record yourself (many computers have recording capabilities if you have a microphone) using both the separated words in a sentence and the connected words.  This should help you maintain the alternating stress pattern in your speech as you will "save time" by reducing these low content words and use that time to stress the high content words. 

Remember knowing what to differently is very important, but using what you know is key.  Good luck and look for part 3!

Lynn Founder of:
Accent Master

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Part 1: Learning the American Speech Rythym

One of the issues I find when working with ESL clients learning accent reduction at Accent Master is the tendency to bring in the rhythm of their first language when speaking American English.  Changing the rhythm is challenging but not impossible.  So follow this 3 part series on rhythym in American English.

Rhythm the beat or prosody of speech.  The way you sound when you imitate an American's speech in your own language.  Each language has there own sound or rhythm.  To speak with the American rhythm their are 3 features to consider:

1.      Alternation 
2.      Linking
3.     Trimming

Here we will look at alternation of stress in sentences.  


Alternation simply means to alternate between stressed and unstressed words or syllables. Heavier stress occurs at approximately regular intervals of time.  With the weaker words syllables squeezed in between.  It important to realize that one vowel carries the stress for the word, so the whole word is not longer and louder but the stressed vowel or syllable does.  For more information word stress please go to that post: word stress video.

 Words that will carry more stress will be longer, louder and with a fully produced vowel sound.  The stress in a message unit is generally found on content words or loud function words.

Content words include

  • ·         Nouns
  • ·         Verbs
  • ·         Adjectives
  • ·         Adverbs

Loud function words are words that carry important grammatical meaning such as

  •    Question words
Who, what when where why
  • ·         Demonstrative pronouns: demonstrate thing or things  this, those, that
  • ·         And negatives: no, not

While our soft function words that do not receive stress are

  • ·         Is, are
  • ·         Pronouns: he , she, they, them etc..
  • ·         Articles a, the
  • ·         Prepositions: in, on, under etc
  • ·         Conjunctions and, but , also,

Not that they can be left off!  Just because they are not stressed does not mean that they do not serve a great informational purpose.

Say the following sentences stress the words bolded:

Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy wealthy and wise

Hope of gain  lessons pain

In the following sentences I put  first just the stressed words then added soft function words.  Adding on the soft function words barely changes the amount of time it takes to say the sentences.

   Friends             need              help
My friends have needed help
My friends have been needing some help

2.      Proposals due Friday
Our proposal’s due Friday
Our proposal’s due on Friday
Our proposal should have been due Friday

 Here I put the stress mark as close to the stressed vowel of the stressed words as possible.  Try to copy the pattern.  American English does have an up and down flow to it.

Immigration to the United States has been a major source of population growth and cultural change
throughout much of the history of the United States.. In 2006 the United States accepted more legal   
immigrants as permanent residents than all other countries in the world combined. After ethnic quotas
on immigration were removed in 1965 the number of actual (first-generation) immigrants living in  
the United States quadrupled, from 9.6 million in 1970 to about 38 million in 2007. Over one million
people were naturalized as U.S. citizens in 2008. The leading countries of origin of immigrants to
the United States were Mexico, India, the Philippines, and China. Nearly 14 million immigrants
entered the United States from 2000 to 2010.

It is challenging to alternate the stress.  The benefits though are real.  The American ear is trained to hear this pattern so when English is produced with an accented rhythm it does cause a delay in understanding what is being said. Important information maybe missed. 

Accent Master