See the video of this here: https://youtu.be/HAlUpVoeCsg
You want to improve your American English pronunciation. So, you woke up this morning, went downstairs, looked at your desk and…went back to bed?
Wait, that wasn’t part of the plan.
But it happens. I get it. But we also want it to stop happening so we can start learning how to speak fluent American English, right? So, we need to begin by improving our consistency.
Consistency doesn’t have to mean studying for 2 or three hours a day. You can actually notice improvement by just studying 5 or 10 minutes a day. But it has to be every day.
Have you ever skipped a day or two of studying a language? When you speak again, you can feel a little slow. It’s more difficult. So this year, let’s not have this problem. 5 or 10 minutes a day, every day. And I have a way to do that more easily too which I’m going to share later.
But what exactly do we study?
In language learning, there’s a concept called the Zone of Proximal development. Don’t let those words scare you though. It basically means you need to use material that is a little more difficult than your current level. One way to check this? Find a show, movie clip, news story, whatever you want to use. Find a 3-4 line paragraph in the transcript. Read the transcript. If there are 3 or 4 words you don’t know, this might be a little too difficult for you. If there are 5 or more words, I’d recommend something easier OR just using a shorter section of it, like 2-3 lines instead.
Listen and shadow this short section as often as you can. Your goal: say these words just like the native speakers do. Here’s a bonus tip—don’t read the transcript as you practice. If you do, you might get distracted by the words.
So, this can be enough to get you started with pronunciation every day, but how do you know if you’re saying things right? Well, did you know we have a Telegram group where every single day of the week you can send audio files and I give feedback. Maybe that should be part of your routine; find more info at www.fluentamerican.com
Now the next step for speaking Fluent American English in 2023 is the hardest, even though it can be 100% free. I need you to take some classes or join some groups online (or in person if you can).
But Geoff, you said free. English classes cost money!
No. I don’t want you to join an English class. I want you to join a yoga class. A book club. A cooking class. Because when you join an English class, who are the students? Other English learners. What do you study? Conditionals and other parts of English grammar that most native speakers don’t even know, and may not even use.
When you join these yoga, cooking, and book classes online, though, who are the students? Native speakers, and they’re talking about specialized topics with new vocabulary for you to learn naturally. One last reason this works: have you ever taken an English class, and the teacher says “this is the floor, this is the ceiling” and you forgot the words by the time the lesson is over. But in a yoga class, the teacher says “look up at the ceiling”, and suddenly, you remember the word “ceiling” so much better because, well, you need it to survive the class!
Now how does someone find these free classes? I’d start with www.meetup.com Choose your city as New or Chicago. Look for this “online” sticker on the picture. Register, check to make sure it’s free, and make sure the time zone fits your schedule. This is also great because if you attend 3, 4, 5 times, you might start recognizing some of the people and developing a relationship with them. Wow, making friends with native speakers. That sounds pretty helpful.
But you need to track your progress to make sure it’s helping. And tracking should be quick and painless…otherwise, you won’t do it. So, I recommend using a square. Like the shape. Take a piece of paper or an index card. Put it on your desk in a place it never moves. Or, put it on top of your keyboard or cell phone before you go to bed—that way, you have to physically move it away if you want to do anything else. It just helps make sure you do the work. (side note—you should also set your homepage to a website you use to practice English so you get constant reminders to study. Maybe change your browser, cell phone, and social media pages to English, too. Anyways) in one corner of the square, write down the number of minutes you studied. In another corner, right down one new word you learned. In another corner, a word/phrase you want to practice tomorrow. Or whatever, you can decide what to put on the cards. Just something to watch your progress.
But if you REALLY want to challenge yourself and improve faster, then you should make a recording of yourself on your phone/computer. Save it. You can even ignore it for a day, a week, a year. But any time you aren’t sure if you’re progressing, listen to this file. Compare how you sound in the future to how you sound in the past.
OK, maybe you hate the sound of your voice, but you still want a way to track yourself. Well, we have a program called Mission: English. It’s a private Facebook group; every day, we do 2 livestreams. You can join me and others on screen, and we do exercises together. So, instead of listening to yourself, you can listen to your friends, hear my feedback, and then hear the adjustments, all without having to deal with the sound of your own voice. OR, when you’re ready, you can watch all the previous classes we’ve ever done in the group. There’s already pretty much 100 lessons there for you to watch. So what do you say, want to try it out? See what a Mission: English class is like here: www.fluentamerican.com/missionenglish