Concerns about Accent Reduction and English Pronunciation Training

group rates for spanish course

Despite the fact that personalized Accent Reduction training is the best way to improve your English pronunciation, many people still have concerns about signing up, and most of those concerns are very valid. Let’s take a look at the top 5 concerns about enrolling in an Accent Reduction / English Pronunciation Training course.

I’m concerned that Accent Reduction won’t help me improve my English Pronunciation at all.

This is an incredibly important question to ask and consider, before you dedicate a lot of time and resources to a program. Will it work?

Perhaps you’ve already completed a DVD or CD course with little success. Maybe you know a friend who has spoken English twice as long as you, and still speaks with an accent. Or perhaps you think the claims just sound too good to be true. No matter what your reasons are, it’s important to choose a course that is research based and has a proven track record of success.

Fortunately, at Confidence Learning Services, we take your concerns about our Accent Reduction program seriously. We can tell you that most of our clients actually improve 50 to 80 percent after completing a 12 week course. Not only that, but we will give you a detailed analysis of your speech before and after the course, and a before and after recording as well. If you’re still concerned, we’ll be happy to provide you with a list of references to contact.

I’m concerned that Accent Reduction will help me improve my English Pronunciation – too much!

Perhaps you’re not concerned about being successful in an Accent Reduction course, but being too successful.

Many people tie their accents to their personal and cultural identity, and they don’t want to surrender that. It’s understandable. You may be concerned about what would happen if you opened your mouth and instead of your voice, you heard a voice that sounded like Matt Lauer or Gayle King.

Fortunately, there are many qualities that make up your voice besides your accent. Your tone of voice, and your rate of speech are just two factors that aren’t necessarily accent related. The specific words you use regularly also contribute to your individual speech style. Even if you change your accent completely, your voice will still be your own.

Let’s consider an example. Say you know someone who regularly mispronounces one word – they may say, “Leave” instead of “live”, as in, “I leave in Knoxville.” If they corrected that one mispronunciation, they wouldn’t be losing their identity, and you would still recognize their voice. This is what we are doing in Accent Reduction, but on a grander scale.

 I’m concerned that a personalized Accent Reduction course will take too much time

Accent Reduction Knoxville

These days, everyone’s calendar is filled and time is at a premium. Will you really have time to be successful at Accent Reduction?

At Confidence Learning Services, we recommend you plan to practice about 60 minutes a day during the 3 months that the course takes place. This, combined with your 60-90 minute weekly session, should be enough for you to see drastic improvement. If you skimp on practice, expect to see less impressive results. However, if you dedicate extra time to practice, you can hope for better progress.

After your 12 weeks, we recommend continued practice, but at a less intensive pace.

While 60 minutes a day is a serious commitment, you will be able to see results in as little as 12 weeks. The time commitment for improved English pronunciation is intensive, but short-term. We strongly recommend you take that into consideration before you sign up. However, if you’re serious about improving your accent, we hope you’ll find the time in your schedule.

I’m concerned that improving my English Pronunciation will cost too much.

Again, another valid concern. Some Accent Reduction courses run over $2000 for a 12-week course, and you may not even get one-on-one attention from an instructor.

Fortunately, there’s some good news. Confidence Learning Services’ Accent Reduction courses are more affordable than the industry average, and we offer convenient payment plans.

Although Accent Reduction is a short term expense, it’s important to weigh that against the longer term benefits. Improving your English Pronunciation may result in clearer communication with your co-workers, boss, clients, or potential employers. Investing in an Accent Reduction course now may pay off with promotions, new accounts, or new job opportunities in the future.

Additionally, many employers subsidize or pay entirely for their employees’ Accent Reduction training. You may wind up owing nothing for your course!

Free Seminar

You can get an in-depth evaluation for free.

 

Did we address your concerns? Or do you still have reservations about signing up for an Accent Reduction course? Give us a try by requesting your free, face-to-face pronunciation evaluation. There’s no obligation, we won’t ask you for any payment information, and you’ll get personalized attention from an accent coach. Contact us today at 1-865-226-9477 to learn more.

Chinese Speakers – Improve Your American English Accent

improve your american english accent

Is Chinese Your First Language? Common Pronunciation Problems You Might Face

When working to improve your English as a native Chinese speaker, one of the most challenging aspects is becoming comfortable using English pronunciation.

Words and sentences in most spoken Chinese dialects are approached differently than in English, requiring speakers to learn a new set of pronunciation rules in order to properly communicate using connecting sounds, intonation, and stress. Even if you have spoken English for decades, pronunciation can still be difficult, and you will likely benefit from trying to improve your American English accent.

When working to improve your English accent, it’s important to focus on using correct English pronunciation in order to avoid forming a habit of pronouncing words and sentences incorrectly. By overviewing the top three pronunciation problems native Chinese speakers face when learning English, you can evaluate your own English pronunciation and see how well you speak with an American accent.

To improve your American English accent, learn about linking!

Chinese speakers who have learned English often fail to link words. They tend to separate words through the use of pauses or the insertion of additional sounds at the ends of words. This makes their speech sound very “disconnected” or “choppy.”

To see if you’re linking correctly: Read the following two sentences aloud, and record them.

            All of her barns fell down.

            Oliver Barnes fell down.

Now listen to the sentences you just recorded. They should sound exactly the same! We reduce and link the words “All of her” to sound like one word, just like the name “Oliver”.

To improve your american English accent linking skills, you have to be aware of the main ways in which English speakers link words together. The three main categories of linking are “Consonant to Consonant”(C->C) “Consonant to Vowel”(C->V) and “Vowel to Vowel”(V->V).

Try printing off a paragraph and circling all of the (C->C) links between words, underlining all of the (C->V) links, and highlighting all of the (V->V) links. Then read the paragraph and focus on the links you’ve just identified. Remember, not all words are linked together! Natural pauses occur between phrases, and are often (but not always!) marked by periods, commas, semicolons, or other punctuation.

Improve your American English accent by pronouncing the “th” sounds /ð/ /θ/

The fact that the English letter combination can be pronounced two ways, voiced (with vibration in the throat and vocal chords) and unvoiced (with no vocal chord vibration) doesn’t help that it is an already difficult sound.

Both of these sounds involve the tongue coming out between the teeth and making a continuous sound that can be held out for several seconds if necessary. The air should not be completely stopped, but there should be constant friction between the tongue and the teeth. Chinese speakers often substitute /t/, /d/, or /f/ for these sounds.

To see if you’re pronouncing the English “th” sound correctly, it’s best to look at yourself in the mirror as you pronounce words like “that” “other” “three” and “thing”. If you can see the tongue coming out between the teeth, you know you are probably pronouncing those sounds correctly. Additionally, you should feel some friction, vibration, or tingling in the tongue as you say these sounds.

It’s not enough to say these sounds correctly in front of a mirror by yourself. If you really want to improve your American English accent, correct pronunciation must be used in your regular speech. Try saying the sentence, “Get those other three things, please.” Focus on using correct pronunciation as you pronounce this sentence. Then, you can focus on pronouncing this sound clearly in your regular speech.

Pronounce /r/, /w/, and /l/ clearly and distinctly to improve your American English accent

If you want to improve your American English accent, it’s important to differentiate between these sounds. Chinese speakers often pronounce word-initial /r/ and /w/. This can lead to confusion between words like “right” and “white.” Chinese speakers may also substitute /l/ for /r/, particularly in consonant clusters.

To see if you’re pronouncing /r/, /w/, and /l/ clearly and distinctly, record yourself pronouncing these sets of words:

1 Lane Rain Wayne
2 Led Red Wed
3 Leader Reader Weeder

 

Listen to the recording you just made. Did each word sound distinct, or did two or more words sound the same?

In order to pronounce /r/, the tongue must be raised very high in the back of the mouth, almost like swallowing. The tip of the tongue is relaxed and not working or touching anything to produce the /r/ sound.

In pronouncing the /l/ sound, the tip of the tongue must touch the tooth ridge.

In pronouncing the /w/ sound, the lips do all of the work by tightly rounding before the next sound.

If you work on these three aspects of English pronunciation daily for 2-3 weeks, you should notice a significant improvement in your American English accent.

improve your american english accent

Due to the varying pronunciation problems that exist when learning English as a Chinese speaker, and the small differences that differentiate letters, working with an online Accent coach is one of the easiest ways to ensure you learn English pronunciation correctly. Participating in an online educational setting, native Chinese speakers can work one-on-one with a certified instructor to receive a personalized accent assessment and pinpoint specific pronunciation areas that need improvement.

You can improve your American English accent and fluency between 50-80% in just 12-weeks! Sign up today for a free evaluation to see how Confidence Accent Reduction can work for you. 

English, Spanish, Accent Reduction/Pronunciation training – Referral Bonus!

Spanish English Accent Reduction Knoxville

Help your friends and earn $25!

Do you know someone who always says that they want to learn Spanish? Or maybe you have a friend or family member who could benefit from clearer English pronunciation? Could you use some extra spending money? Well, you’re in the right place.

Confidence Learning Services offers a referral bonus to anyone who recommends our services to a client who enrolls in one of our classes. You don’t even have to be a client or former client of ours, our referral program is open to anyone.

Here’s How It Works:

Simply share our information with your friend, family member or acquaintance who could use one of our services. When they enroll in one of our Spanish, English, or Accent Reduction courses and mention you as a reference, we’ll send you a $25 Visa Gift Card.

Spanish English Accent Reduction Knoxville

It’s that simple. Your friend gets to prepare for their upcoming trip to Peru, your coworker can brush up their English grammar in their e-mails, or your professor can speak more confidently with an American accent when she lectures. And you get some extra spending money.

Because we provide services worldwide via Skype, it doesn’t matter where your friends or family live. Whether they are in Singapore, India, or Knoxville, TN, we can set up a personalized course for anyone, anywhere. And since our courses are personalized, you can recommend our services to anyone, no matter their language background, experiences, or current abilities.

There is no limit on how many gift cards you can earn. So go ahead, share our information with your co-workers, classmates, professors, friends, aunts and uncles – anyone who wants to improve their Spanish or English, or speak with a clearer American Accent. And start thinking about how you would spend those $25 Visa gift cards – a trip to your favorite restaurant, online shopping spree, or movie tickets, it’s up to you!

Get sharing! Follow us on twitter, like us on facebook, add us on Google +, bookmark our website, or write down our phone number (1-865-226-9477), and then pass our information along!

6 Steps to Better English Pronunciation

improve your american english accent

Is learning pronunciation just like learning new vocabulary?

A lot of people want to improve their English pronunciation, but they don’t understand that improving their pronunciation is very different from learning new vocabulary. When you learn a new vocabulary word, you just memorize it and you’re done. You learn that “table” is the furniture that you serve dinner on. That’s it. Just remember it and you’re done.

But even if you memorize exactly where to place your tongue to pronounce “th” or “r” correctly, you won’t necessarily walk away pronouncing that sound correctly 100% of the time.

Why? Because pronunciation is a result of muscle memory. It’s much more like learning how to play a sport, or learning a new musical instrument, than learning a new word. How do you learn to play the piano? Or become a start soccer place?  Practice, practice, and practice some more.

Great! But perhaps you’ve been listening to the same pronunciation CD for the past 5 years, and people still ask you to repeat yourself. You might not be practicing correctly. At Confidence Learning Services, we go through certain steps in order to help you improve your pronunciation. In order to learn any new pronunciation sound, you have to complete the following process:

Step 1 to better English Pronunciation: Listen.

American English Pronunciation Knoxville

Can you tell the difference between “leave” and “live”? “Bit” and “bet”? Which word has the “short i” sound? If you cannot identify the sound when you hear it, you will struggle to pronounce it.

Step 2 to better English Pronunciation: Make the sound.

You must be able to pronounce a difficult sound by itself, before you pronounce it within a word. You will find some sounds easy to pronounce, as soon you realize what you’re doing incorrectly. It can be helpful to get an in-depth Pronunciation Evaluation, in order to identify those problem sounds. Other sounds might be more difficult, even when you know what you’re doing wrong. This is where a trained Accent and Pronunciation professional can be helpful in guiding you to correct pronunciation.

Step 3 to better English Pronunciation: Single Words.

If you can say the sound correctly, now try it in different words and contexts. Pronounce, “little” “love” and “life” if you’re working on /l/, for example.

Step 4 to better English Pronunciation: Sentences and Paragraphs

Now let’s put those tricky words into sentences, and then move to paragraphs. You can look for specific paragraphs written to pronounce a single sound, or you can even practice with paragraphs from news articles that will probably contain the sounds that you’re practicing.

Step 5 to better English Pronunciation: Regular Conversation

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Great! You can read sentences and paragraphs that contain your problem sound, pronouncing it correctly most of the time. Now you need to use these new skills in conversation, which can be difficult, since you are typically focused on what you are saying when you are having a conversation, rather than pronunciation.

Putting these skills into practice is like playing your first soccer game. You’ve practice running, and kicking, and can shoot penalty kicks, but putting all these together in the chaos of a game is difficult.

Managing all of your new pronunciation skills takes a lot of focus. Don’t be dismayed if you make mistakes at first.  The more you practice, the more automatic your skills become.

Step 6 to better English Pronunciation: Repeat

You likely won’t master a new sound in the first day of practice, or on your first try. Even if you can say the sound correctly during your practice, chances are the next day you will revert to your old habits without practice. This is because changing your pronunciation is a habit that takes time. So each day, repeat these same steps. It will take a week or two to master each new sound.

If you are serious about improving your communication and English Pronunciation, contact us today at 1-865-226-9477 to schedule your free Skype or in-person English Pronunciation Evaluation. We’ll complete an in-depth analysis of your pronunciation of all sounds of the English language, identify which sounds you need to improve, and use that information to design a personalized, 12-week course just for you.

Improving your English as a Native Spanish Speaker

Is Spanish Your First Language? Common Pronunciation Problems You Might Face

When working to improve your English as a native Spanish speaker, one of the most challenging aspects is becoming comfortable using English pronunciation.

accent reduction in knoxville

Words and sentences in Spanish are approached differently than in English, requiring speakers to learn a new set of pronunciation rules in order to properly communicate using connecting sounds, intonation, and stress. Even if you have spoken English for decades, pronunciation can still be difficult.

When learning English, it’s important to focus on using correct English pronunciation in order to avoid forming a habit of pronouncing words and sentences incorrectly. By overviewing the top three pronunciation problems native Spanish speakers face when learning English, you can evaluate your own English pronunciation and see how well you speak with an American accent.

Pronouncing the “th” sounds /ð/ /θ/

The fact that the English letter combination can be pronounced two ways, voiced (with vibration in the throat and vocal chords) and unvoiced (with no vocal chord vibration) doesn’t help that it is an already difficult sound.

Both of these sounds involve the tongue coming out between the teeth and making a continuous sound that can be held out for several seconds if necessary. The air should not be completely stopped, but there should be constant friction between the tongue and the teeth.

Because this is an awkward sound to make (sticking the tongue out of the mouth feels a little weird!), Spanish speakers often substitute /t/ for the unvoiced “th” /θ/ sound and a /d/ for the voiced “th” /ð/ sound. Thus, the English words “that” and “other” are often pronounced as “dat” and “oder” and the English words “three” and “thing” are pronounced as “tree” and “ting.

To see if you’re pronouncing the English “th” sound correctly, it’s best to look at yourself in the mirror as you pronounce words like “that” “other” “three” and “thing”. If you can see the tongue coming out between the teeth, you know you are probably pronouncing those sounds correctly. Additionally, you should feel some friction, vibration, or tingling in the tongue as you say these sounds.

It’s not enough to say these sounds correctly in front of a mirror by yourself. Your correct pronunciation must be used in your speech. Try saying the sentence, “Get those other three things, please.” Focus on using correct pronunciation as you pronounce this sentence. Then, you can focus on pronouncing this sound clearly in your regular speech.

S-blend Pronunciation

In English, we often pronounce many consonants together at once, which is different from Spanish pronunciation. As a result, Spanish speakers tend to insert extra vowel sounds in their words. This is especially problematic for words that begin with “s” followed by another consonant (sp-, sl-, st-, sk-, sp-, etc.).

As a result, Spanish speakers usually pronounce words like “spit” as “espit” or “slide” as “eslide.”

English pronunciation

To see if you’re pronouncing these words correctly, try saying the word “stop.” Place your hand on your neck, and pay close attention to the vibration that you feel, repeating the word several times. If you feel vibration at the beginning of the word, or if you feel your vibration turning off and on again within the word, you know that you are not pronouncing the word correctly. You should not feel any vibration in the neck until you say the “o” sound.

To practice this sound in context, practice saying the sentence, “Please speak to your son about screaming and slapping the other students.”

Pronunciation of Final Consonant Blends

Similarly, English combines many consonants at the end of words, and this can be difficult as well.

Thus, words like “tired” may be pronounced “tire”, “hold” is pronounced “hole” and “last” is pronounced “last.”

To see if you’re pronouncing these sounds clearly, record yourself saying the following sentence combinations:

“I watched a lot of TV/ I watch a lot of TV”

“I cleaned the house/I clean the house”

“You added an extra sound/You add an extra sound.”

Can you hear a clear difference between the first sentence and second sentence in each pair? If not, you’re not pronouncing those consonant blends correctly.

To practice these sounds, try saying two words together, like “feel down”, and then gradually eliminate more and more of the word “down” so you are saying “field”, still retaining a clear /d/ sound.

Due to the varying pronunciation problems that exist when learning English as a Spanish speaker, and the small differences that differentiate letters, working with an online Accent coach is one of the easiest ways to ensure you learn English pronunciation correctly. Participating in an online educational setting, native Spanish speakers can work one-on-one with a certified instructor to receive a personalized accent assessment and pinpoint specific pronunciation areas that need improvement.

You can improve your American English pronunciation and fluency between 50-80% in just 12-weeks! Sign up today for a free evaluation to see how Confidence Accent Reduction can work for you. 

English Mispronunciation – Which Words Aren’t You Getting Right?

English Mispronunciation

Chances are, if you’re speaking English, it’s not your first language.

That’s right, English has around 400 million native speakers, but a whopping 1.5 billion people speak English as a second language.

English Mispronunciation

Percentage English Speakers by Country. You’re probably not facebook friends with all of them, though.

 

Which means, chances are, if you’re speaking English, there are some words that you may be mispronouncing. And in fact, you probably don’t even notice that you are mispronouncing these words, because you use them dozens of times a day. No, we’re not talking about words like “pusillanimous” or even “Chthonian“.

We’re talking about the most commonly mispronounced words found in the top 100 words in the English language. Here at Confidence Learning Services, we find that most people think that these words are easy, because they’re only 3-5 letters long. But in reality, you may be saying these words incorrectly ten, twenty, even fifty times a day. Let’s take a look.

English Mispronunciation – work

– There’s no /o/ sound in the word, despite the misleading “or” spelling.

-“Work” has the same sound as “were” “sure” “her” or “word” (another one you’re probably mispronouncing).

Pronunciation Tip: Tighten the lips for the /w/ sound, and immediately place your tongue in the high, back position necessary for an /r/ sound. It may be easier to imagine it spelled like, “wrk” since there is nothing between the /w/ and /r/ sounds.

English Mispronunciation – come

– The vowel represented by the letter “o” is actually /ʌ/, usually seen written with an English letter “u” (like the word “up).

– Rhymes with “some” (another tricky word) but not with “home.”

Pronunciation Tip: Keep the tip of the tongue touching the back of the bottom-front teeth, and keep the tongue as flat as possible, even pushing the back of the tongue down into the throat to make it flatter.

English Mispronunciation – other

– The vowel represented by the letter “o” is actually /ʌ/, usually seen written with an English letter “u” (like the word “up).

– The “th”, is voiced /ð/ (meaning that there will be vibration in the throat). Be careful not to replace this sound with a /d/ /v/ or /z/ sound.

Pronunciation Tip: Pronounce a flat /ʌ/ vowel, then place the tongue between the teeth and vibrate continuously to make the /ð/ sound. Last, go right back into that “r” sound, bunching the back of the tongue very high and tight in the back of the mouth.

English Mispronunciation – what

– The /h/ sound in this word is unnecessary. Some American speakers (including me!) include the /h/ sound in “wh-” words, but most do not.

English Mispronunciation

But I’ve been carrying around this extra “h” all day!

– The vowel represented by the letter “a” is actually /ʌ/, usually seen written with an English letter “u” (like the word “up).

Pronunciation Tip: To make the vowel sound correctly, keep the tip of the tongue touching the back of the bottom-front teeth, and keep the tongue as flat as possible, even pushing the back of the tongue down into the throat to make it flatter.

English Mispronunciation – with

– The letter “i” in “with” represents the relaxed /I/ sound in “it” and “if”, not the higher, more tense /i/ sound in “eat” and “sheep”.

– The unvoiced “th” /θ/ sound at the end of this word can be difficult. Practice saying the word in a sentence, like “Come with me” to make sure that you are not replacing this sound with an /s/, /t/, /f/, or removing it entirely.

Pronunciation Tip: The /I/ vowel is one of our most difficult sounds to make in the English language, but you can do it. Start with the tongue high in the mouth, to make the /i/ sound in “eat.” Then, relax the tongue completely and let it drop about half a centimeter to make the more relaxed /I/ sound, before you place the tongue between the teeth to make the /θ/ sound.

English Mispronunciation – this

– The “th”, is voiced /ð/ (meaning that there will be vibration in the throat). Be careful not to replace this sound with a /d/ /v/ or /z/ sound.

– The letter “i” in “this” represents the relaxed /I/ sound in “it” and “if”, not the higher, more tense /i/ sound in “eat” and “sheep”.

Pronunciation tip: Make sure that you voice the “th” sound, which you can check by placing your hand on your neck as you pronounce the word. You should feel vibrations in your neck as you say the /I/ sound. Focus on relaxing the tongue completely and letting it drop about half a centimeter to make the more relaxed /I/ sound.

Last, we have our unvoiced /s/ sound which is usually pretty simple.

English Mispronunciation – was

–  The letter “a” represents the /ʌ/ vowel that is the same as the “u” in “up.”

– The letter “s” represents a voiced /z/ sound.

Pronunciation Tip: It’s better to think of this word as being spelled “wuz,” which is how our grade school students often misspell it! Just like in the word “what,” keep the tip of the tongue touching the back of the bottom-front teeth, and keep the tongue as flat as possible, even pushing the back of the tongue down into the throat to make it flatter to pronounce the /ʌ/ vowel. Check to make sure you are making a voiced /z/ sound by holding your hand against your neck as you say this word.

English Mispronunciation – to

You’ve probably heard that “two” “too” and “to” are all pronounced the same, and it’s true – sort of. The word “to” by itself, or if it is being emphasized in a sentence, is pronounced with the /u/ vowel made by rounding your lips and raising your tongue high in the mouth.

However, most of the time, when this word is used in a sentence, we instead simply say “t” /t/, with very little vowel sound following the /t/ sound. No round lips, no tongue raised in the back.

Pronunciation Tip: Try it in this sentence, “We have to go to the store to pick up some food.” Each time you say the word “to”, your lips should not round- you can check this in the mirror.

English Mispronunciation – of

Probably the word I hear most frequently mispronounced by non-native English speakers! Many people mispronounce this word to sound like the word “off,” but actually:

– The vowel represented by the letter “o” is actually /ʌ/, usually seen written with an English letter “u” (like the word “up).

– The letter “f” represents a voiced /v/ sound.

English Mispronunciation

Don’t risk sounding like this cartoon character when what you mean to say is “of.”

Pronunciation Tip: Think of this word as spelled “uv” instead. Focus on making a flat /ʌ/ vowel, followed by a voiced /v/. You should feel vibration in your neck as you pronounce both sounds.

For more help with English pronunciation, contact us today at 1-865-226-9477 and we will schedule a free pronunciation evaluation for you via Skype – no obligation, and no payment information needed.

Are there any other words that you hear mispronounced, or that you have trouble pronouncing? Let us know in the comments!

Benefits of Raising Bilingual Children in Tennessee

learning english in knoxville

Tennessee children deserve the bilingual advantage

At Confidence Learning Services, we always talk about the advantages for children of being bilingual, but it seems that many Tennessee parents are more concerned about dance lessons, soccer practice, scouts, or any number of other activities. And why shouldn’t they be? All of those activities have great advantages as well, so what are the specific advantages to childhood bilingualism?

Children Spanish classes

Not only is being bilingual more likely to be useful in your child’s future career than being able to pirouette or knowing off sides rules, it gives them plenty of other advantages as well. Here are just a few:

 1.     Bilingual Children in Tennessee can focus better.

Bilingual children have better focus and disregard distractions in the environment. The part of the brain called the executive function, used for planning, judgment, working memory, problem solving and staying focused on what’s relevant is stronger in bilinguals. Every time you speak, both languages are actually active, and the brain has to work to suppress one language while the other is being used. That mechanism employs the executive function of the brain more regularly in bilinguals and therefore it becomes more efficient. This ability starts very young in bilingual babies.

 

2.     Multitasking is better if you’re bilingual.

Turns out, bilingual kids can switch from one activity to another faster and are better at multitasking than monolinguals. Again, that’s related to the executive function of the brain, which gives bilinguals better cognitive control over information that allows them to switch tasks.

 

3.    Bilingual children in Tennessee are more flexible and creative.

Studies show that bilinguals have increased mental flexibility and creativity. When you learn there is more than one word for an object, it stretches the mind in new ways and gives children greater mental flexibility and creativity as they have two windows through which they view the world. Russian psychologist Vygotsky stated that “bilingualism frees the mind from the prison of concrete language and phenomena” (Hakuta, 1985).

 

4.     What about tests in English? Bilingual children score better.

bilingual children

Bilingual children in dual-immersion schools have been shown in one study to score higher on both verbal and math standardized tests conducted in English.

One study in Florida on students from 16 elementary schools showed that bilingual students scored significantly higher in both the math and verbal sections of the Florida standardized test than monolinguals, an average of 23-34 points higher than their monolingual classmates.

 

5.    Tennessee parents, ever wish your kids were more logical?

Bilingual children display stronger logic skills and are better equipped than monolinguals at solving certain mental puzzles.

In a 2004 study , bilingual and monolingual preschoolers were asked to sort blue circles and red squares into two bins on their computer, one with a blue square and the other marked with a red circle. Children were first asked to sort by color, placing blue circles in the bin for blue squares and red squares in the bin for red circles. Both groups performed this task equally well. But when the children were asked to sort by shape, not color, the bilinguals performed the task with greater ease than monolinguals. It’s executive function once again – bilingual children can more easily suppress learning an old rule in favor of a new one.

bilingual kid

When they’re not studying loopholes in your rules, that is.

6.  Just bilingual? Not for long.

Scientific research, demonstrates that after conquering two languages, adding a third, fourth, and fifth language aren’t nearly as difficult. Just ask any language teacher who has taught Tennessee students who are already bilingual a third language, vs. their monolingual peers.

 

7.  Catch you later, Alzheimer’s.

The advantages of being bilingual carry over throughout your life, whether you stay in Tennessee or move to another state or country. That’s because bilingualism alters your brain chemistry, which has been linked to staving off the onset of alzheimer’s.

 

Of course, these benefits only come with true bilingualism. Exposing your child to a second language by watching TV shows and movies in another language or going to class for 30 minutes a week won’t result in your child being bilingual without lots of support on your part. But it can be done! I’ll discuss raising bilingual children – including a guide for monolingual parents – in my next blog.

Are you ready to give your children the bilingual advantage? We have years of experience working with children of all ages and backgrounds, and we can’t wait to help your child learn too. Contact Confidence Learning Services today for a free consultation. 1-865-226-9477

Scare, Scary, or Scared? Pronouncing English Word Endings

Pronouncing English

Pronouncing English can be tough. Did you mean to say scare, scary, or scared?

 

Scared

Scare

Scary

 Pronouncing English  Pronouncing English  Pronouncing English

They are scared.

The bear will scare her. This house is scary.

Adding a “y” to the end of a word changes a noun or verb into an adjective.How you pronounce each one of those words changes the meaning of your sentence dramatically. In pronouncing English, it is important to pronounce the word ending clearly, which is why Confidence Learning Services often focuses on pronunciation even in our standard English courses. Changing the word ending usually changes its meaning.

So in saying “There is a lot of noise downstairs,” noise is a noun. I could switch it out with another noun I’m more familiar with just to check if it still works. If I say, “There is a lot of cake downstairs,” that sentence still works.

I could also say, “It is very noisy downstairs.” Now that I have added the y to the base form, noisy becomes an adjective. But just to double check, I can switch out that word with another adjective I’m more familiar with to see if that sentence still works. If I say, “It is very nice downstairs,” that sentence still works.

I cannot say “There is a lot of noisy downstairs” because that’s an adjective, not a noun. Just like I could not say “There is a lot of nice downstairs.” I also cannot say “It is very noise downstairs” because that is a noun, just like I could not say “It is very cake downstairs.”

Pronouncing English Word Endings in Sentences

Let’s look at those example sentences again:

Correct Double Check WRONG
Noun There is a lot of noise downstairs. There is a lot of cake downstairs. There is a lot of noisy downstairs.
Adjective It is very noisy downstairs. It is very nice downstairs. It is very noise downstairs.

 

Pronouncing English word endings is just as important as knowing which ones to use. Even if you are thinking of saying the correct sentence, if you don’t pronounce the end clearly, a listener could hear an incorrect statement that doesn’t make sense.

So let’s go over the pronunciation of some commonly confused words. Each word that ends in a “y” should be pronounced with a clear, high, /i/ vowel sound, adding an extra syllable to the base form of the word.

Pronouncing English Word Endings – Examples

If you’re unsure of the pronunciation of a word, click on it to listen to the recording of that word at Dictionary.com

Noise Noisy
Fog Foggy
Cloud Cloudy
Gloom Gloomy
Dirt Dirty
Show Showy
Gloss Glossy
Grease Greasy
Snow Snowy
Mood Moody
Ice Icy
Scare Scary
Chew Chewy
Juice Juicy
Rock Rocky
Taste Tasty
Sun Sunny
Fun Funny
Curl Curly
Luck Lucky
Push Pushy
Mess Messy
Bump Bumpy
Salt Salty

 

Of course, these are not all of the examples from the English language, but it’s a good start.

If you find that people often ask you to repeat yourself, of if you are nervous about talking on the phone or giving presentations in English, you may benefit from English Pronunciation Training/Accent Reduction. Contact us today at 1-865-226-9477 to learn more about getting a free Accent evaluation and get started with your course today.

I don’t have an accent – or do I?

American English Pronunciation Knoxville

Every week at Confidence Learning Services, I interact with people who have various accents, either from different regions of the country, other English speaking countries, or other language backgrounds. And yet it always seems that the majority of people think they do not have an accent.

I’ve encountered one professional from another country with a particularly strong accent that impacts how others understand him. He insisted that he did not have a foreign accent, and that he had even successfully learned to speak with an American Southern accent.

Another speaker with an accent that causes her to regularly repeat herself believes that she does not have an accent, because others from her same language background have told her she does not – meaning at least that her pronunciation is better than theirs.

Then there’s always the story of the old, Southern lady speaking with a strong drawl, expressing how much she wishes she had an accent when meeting someone from another country.

And my husband’s family from Ohio would probably suggest that their entire state is devoid of any accent!

So, do you have an accent? And if so, why can’t you hear it?

Accent Reduction Rule #1 – Everyone has an accent

group rates for spanish course

Yes everyone. Even the President of the United States, the Queen of England, and myself. Everyone speaks with an accent, rules governing their pronunciation of different vowels and consonants. Accents that sound “stronger” or “heavier” than others are simply further from your own pronunciation.When you learn to speak with a “Standard American Accent”, like we teach in our Accent Reduction courses, people will likely understand you better. You’ll repeat yourself less, and you might get people to focus on what you have to say, instead of how you say it. But you will still have an accent – just a Standard American Accent, which will allow you to be better understood throughout North America, but might not improve your communications in other English Speaking Countries.

Accent Reduction Rule #2 – You probably can’t hear your own accent

American English Pronunciation Knoxville

Unless you spend a lot of time thinking about your accent or others’, you probably don’t notice your own accent. Why is that? Surely, we think people like Arnold Schwarzenegger would notice their own accent. But that may not be the case. Often, we don’t notice aspects of ourselves that we live with day in and day out. You may not notice, for instance, how long your hair has grown until someone comments on it, or that you have gained or lost a little weight, or gotten a tan. And you might not even think about your tattoo or nose ring throughout the day, until someone points those things out. That’s because we’re focused on other things – what to eat for dinner, highway traffic, or our big presentation coming up next week.

Accent Reduction Rule #3 – Your brain is working against you

accent reduction brain

The language center of the brain.

When we are infants, we can hear every sound in every human language and differentiate all of them. The difference between the vowels in “beat” and “bit”, the difference between /r/ and /l/, or the difference between the two Arabic “s” sounds are all very clear to us. But as we grow, our brain starts narrowing down to focus only on the sounds that are present and meaningful in the language we are exposed to. Meaning that if you are exposed to Mandarin as an infant, you notice tonal differences, but your brain throws out the difference between English /r/ and /l/ since that’s not useful. If you’re exposed to English, you can hear all 11 vowel sounds, but your brain learns to ignore any difference between different “s” sounds.

By the time we reach puberty, the language section of our brains changes significantly. The languages we were exposed to as children solidify, but those we weren’t exposed to become harder to learn. So if you are reading this as an adult, you likely can’t hear all of the sounds in your new language clearly, meaning you don’t notice when you pronounce “beat” and “bit” the same, because you can’t hear the difference between those vowels, while native speakers can.

Accent Reduction Rule #4 – Your social group matters

learn english in Knoxville

Most of the speakers I encounter who recognize they have an accent and are seeking Accent Reduction services, spend a lot of time among native English speakers. By comparison, they realize their accent is different from their peers, and they may hear comments on their accent, or be asked to repeat themselves regularly. Many who recognize their own accent actually have a relatively “mild” accent, compared to other non-native speakers, but their desire is to learn the Standard American Accent.

Most of the non-native speakers I encounter who do not recognize their own accent, spend more time among non-native English speakers. Compared to other speakers who are still struggling to speak English, they think their English sounds great. In fact, other non-native speakers may ask them for help or compliment them on their English. This gives them confidence in their speech, and when they encounter native speakers who regularly ask them to repeat themselves, they make excuses in their mind for the lack of understanding. “It must have been a poor phone connection, or perhaps they don’t understand my word choice, because I definitely don’t have an accent.” Typically, these speakers have a stronger or heavier accent than those belonging to the first group.

The same rule applies to regional accents as well. Those who spend their time primarily interacting with others from their same accent group or local area are less likely to notice their own accent, but those who travel throughout the country regularly or who have a more diverse group of friends will likely recognize their own accent and others’.

Accent Reduction Rule #5 – You can know for sure!

If you want to know more about your own accent, there’s great news. You can get a detailed, technical analysis of your own accent. At Confidence Learning Services, we provide an assessment that tests your pronunciation of each consonant and vowel sound in the English language as well as factors like stress, linking and intonation. Most people who get the results from this assessment are reassured – they knew there was “something” they couldn’t put their finger on, and the assessment gives them specifics that they can act on.

Ready to learn more about your own accent? Contact us today at 1-865-226-9477 to set up your free assessment.

Language Games – Knoxville Asian Festival

Knoxville Asian Festival

Shall we play a game?

Knoxville

Confidence Learning Services is excited to be a sponsor at the Knox Asian Festival. Knoxville’s first Asian festival will take place at Krutch Park in downtown Knoxville tomorrow, Saturday September 20th. Confidence Learning Services will be hosting two games at the Asian Festival.

Knoxville Asian Festival Game #1: Guess The Language

Can you identify these Asian languages just by listening to them? It’s harder than you think. Click below to listen to 5 different Asian languages and guess which languages are being spoken.

Need some help? Choose from the following language options,

  • Japanese
  • Mandarin
  • Vietnamese
  • Korean
  • Lao
  • Thai
  • Burmese
  • Cantonese 
  • Nepali
  • Malay
  • Tagalog
  • Khmer

and post your guesses in the comments. If you come out to Knoxville’s First Asian Festival tomorrow and guess all 5 languages correctly, you’ll win a prize! Even if you don’t get them all, we’ll give you a prize just for playing.

Knoxville Asian Festival Game #2: Test your English Knowledge!

If you’ve ever visited the website “Free Rice“, then you will have an idea of how this game works. We’ll be giving you a tough English word, and you choose the correct definition. For example:

Peregrination:
  1. Journey
  2. Challenge
  3. Story
  4. Experiment

Give it a try, post your guess in the comments! If you come by tomorrow and get 10 vocabulary words correct, you’ll get a prize. And even if you don’t get each one correct, we’ll give you a prize just for playing. So come on out and give our games a try! Confidence Learning Services will also be sharing information about our English and Accent Reduction courses, but there will be lots more to do at the festival.

Knoxville Asian Festival

Thai Dance

Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese and Japanese food will be available. Plus, there will be an origami folding station, several martial arts groups will be present, and dance and music performances representing various countries will be featured on stage. Don’t miss it!