In my last post, I wrote about How To Be Bilingual. If you have been speaking or trying to speak two languages, you may not feel confident enough because people comment on your heavy foreign accent. Here are some basic rules you can follow once you feel ready to speak a second or third language and perhaps practice reducing your accent.
First you need to exercise, your mouth. Relax your muscles around and inside your mouth by rolling your tongue, pucker your lips (wrinkle them), and blowing air in and out through different parts of your bodies (lungs, diaphragm, sides of your ribs, back of shoulders). Exercise regularly like you would if you go to the gym to have a full body workout. Focus on the small muscles around and inside your mouth that help you produce sounds people can hear. Stand up comedians, singers, actors and newsreaders get tired not because they have to use their hands and legs when they perform. They can tire because of using the muscles that produce speech.
Secondly, every language has a set of vowel and consonant sounds or beginning and final sounds (in Mandarin). If you fail to plan ahead before you speak, it can be quite damaging to your speech skills. Keeping in mind the intonation and phonetic rules, you may have to pause several times in between words in a sentence to hear yourself speak. The alphabets (huruf in Arabic), are the most important and a good grasp of how the sounds of each alphabet is made is very crucial to developing your fluency in speech.
Thirdly, master how to produce blending sounds in a word. For instance, “black” will blend “b and l” and “c and k”. If you speak too fast, you may not have pronounced the ending sound ‘k’ correctly and it’ll sound like blag. In Mandarin, you can find only a few consonants that make the final sounds of characters. Words like “bang1” 帮 (help) with “ng” as final, “er” 二，而，耳, and “shan” 山，闪 are fairly simple to pronounce but can be tricky when you start to use the intonation sounds (1,2,3 or 4). Practise Translating Now. In Spanish, you may also encounter different ways to say the vowel ‘a’ in nada and cama, the first ‘a’ is longer and the second ‘a’ short and sharp. Whether you are trying to speak Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin or English, blending the sounds of alphabets in a word make your speech clearer.
Remember these 4 key points:
2. Alphabets and the sounds of the alpabets
3. Blending sounds
4. Beginning and final sounds (consonant and vowel sounds)
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