Improve Your Pronunciation By Taking Selfie Videos
English learners can improve their pronunciation skills with training exercises used by singers. A smartphone with a camera can help, too.
These suggestions come from Michael Berman. He works in the Reading, English as a Second Language (ESL) and Linguistics Department at Montgomery College in the American state of Maryland.
Many students of a foreign language have trouble with word stress and intonation – raising and lowering the sound of your voice when you speak.
Michael Berman believes that such problems are not as serious as some people might think. Up to a third of his students, he says, have increased their ability to be understood by using two simple actions: slowing down and speaking up.
VOA Learning English's video series Let's Learn English tells about a situation that many English learners have probably experienced:
Anna: So, what's wrong? You look sad.
Pete: I don't have a job.
Anna: Sorry, I can't hear you.
Pete: I do not have a job.
In the video, Anna asks Pete to repeat his sentence because she did not understand him.
And like many English learners, pronouncing words correctly is not Pete's problem.
The reason Anna does not understand Pete is because he is not speaking loudly.
In Pete's case, he is not raising his voice because he is sad about not having a job.
For some English learners, the problem of speaking softly is that the speaker appears to be showing weakness, says Berman. English learners may want to hide their mistakes by speaking quickly or softly. Or, Berman adds, they are bringing customs from their native language.
Whatever the reason, the result is this: English learners might not be understandable to a native speaker.
Berman says there are several different ways to successfully deal with these problems.
Tip #1 Use strategies that come from vocal music training
The first is simple: focus on the speed and volume levels of one's voice.
By thinking about slowing down and speaking louder, you can slowly change your speech over time.
In addition to thinking about how you speak, you can also use strategies from the music industry. In voice training, Berman says, singers will often train by opening their mouth wider than they usually do. This enables them to get a better tone and a better pitch when they perform.
Singers will often imagine their voice coming up on a string to a target 3 to 5 meters away. When English learners imagine their voices hitting a target at a distance, Berman says, they often improve their ability to speak louder.
Tip #2 Use Selfie Videos
In an earlier Education story, we discussed the value of self-testing.
Educational consultant Sarah Lynn said that testing yourself often is one of the best ways to learn. Lynn teaches at Harvard University's Bridge Program in Massachusetts.
So, how can you take this idea and use it to improve your pronunciation?
One way is by taking a selfie video, says Michael Berman.
All you need to do is place the electronic device 1-2 meters from where you stand. Then, record yourself speaking.
When you listen back to the recording, you can get valuable information about how you sound when you speak. You can share the videos with friends or your teachers. They can give you advice, too.
The value of this practice, adds Berman, increases because young people – often called "millennials – place a high value on the idea of posting videos on social media.
When millennials know their video will appear on social media, he explains, they are likely to repeat the performance many times before filming. "If you're talking about English intelligibility issues, that kind of repetition and practice and focus is amazing", Berman says.
So, give the vocal music and selfie video tips a try, and let us know how they work for you!
I'm John Russell.
1.speak up 大声讲话
If you thought that wasn't fair, why didn't you speak up?
2.slow down 放缓
You will need to slow down for a while.
3.native speaker 说母语的人
Maybe you could make friends with a native speaker of english.
When it comes to memory retrieval, self-testing can be beneficial.
1.Berman says there are several different ways to successfully deal with these problems.
deal with 处理
He's a hard man to deal with.
They have not finalized the deal with the government.
2.When millennials know their video will appear on social media, he explains, they are likely to repeat the performance many times before filming.
social media 社交媒体
Look at how social media and social networking have permeated business.
We have all witnessed the power of social media.
英语学习者可通过歌手常用的训练方法来提升发音技巧 。带有相机功能的智能手机也可以做到 。
以上建议出自迈克尔·伯曼（Michael Berman） 。他在美国马里兰州蒙哥马利学院阅读、英语第二语言和语言学系任职 。
伯曼认为，这种问题没有人们想象的那么严重 。他说，班上三分之一的学生通过放慢语速和大声讲话这两种方法提高了自我表达能力 。
美国之音英语学习视频系列栏目 Let's Learn English提及多数英语学习者都经历过的一种情形：
伯曼称，对一些英语学习者来说，轻声说话意味着露怯 。英语学习者可能是想通过快速或低声来隐藏自己的错误 。或者他们说英语时带有母语的习惯 。
除了想着如何说话，你还可以采用音乐行业的策略 。伯曼表示，在声乐训练中，歌手经常被要求将嘴巴张大，这样能保证在表演时发挥更佳的声调和音高 。
歌手常会想象将声音朝着至三五米开外的目标发射 。当英语学习者想象自己的声音击中远处的目标时，他们就可以提高大声说话的能力 。
教育顾问萨拉·林恩（Sarah Lynn）表示，经常自我测试是最佳的学习途径之一 。林恩在哈佛大学教授衔接课程 。
你需要把电子设备放在一两米之外的地方 。然后记录下自己说话的声音 。
当播放视频时，你就能总结出一些说话时如何发音的有用信息 。你可以将视频分享给朋友或老师，他们也会给你一些建议 。
伯曼解释称，当年轻人知道视频将发布在社交媒体上时，他们很可能会在录制前重复练习 。伯曼说，“说到英语的清晰度的问题，这种重复并专注练习的效果是很惊人的 。”