Accent Reduction and Elocution Lessons for Chinese Speakers

Copyright (c) 2010 The College Of Public Speaking

Do you want to know what makes me work in vocal development? Well it’s the people, the challenge and the achievement. Recently, working with students of Chinese, Taiwanese, Malaysian and Singaporean origin, I had the marvellous opportunity to identify some interesting characteristics from this group. They often have problems with these sounds taken from the international phonetic alphabet: Θ – the th sound as in maths, ɖ – the th sound as in writhed, as well as the r sound.

Starting with some breathing exercises to ensure that the voice is adequately supported by the diaphragm, we then move on to some relaxation techniques to ensure there is no tension in the jaw, neck, shoulders, chest or rib cage.

Almost every word has one of the five English vowel sounds. Vowel sounds are ever present so it’s vital that those all important sounds are produced accurately and with clarity. Producing the correct sound does not just happen – it has to be worked upon. We call it muscle memory and I’ll talk more about that later on when we look at specific exercises for speakers from South East Asia.

We then work on the tone of the voice to introduce colour and warmth. Most people have a pathological antipathy to their own voice. The general comment is that it’s harsh, it’s unpleasant to the audience, it’s weak, and it lacks vocal variety. Again, there are many useful exercises which can be utilised to change the vocal dynamic. Effecting change is easily achieved by asking the student to open their mouth more widely, therefore allowing more breath to escape from the mouth. Secondly, while retaining the wider mouth position, exaggerate the lips movements when speaking. This has a two fold effect: it slows the speaker down allowing greater use of intonation and rather curiously makes native English speakers sound more posh than usual.

We are now ready to try some specific exercises at improving the : Θ – the ‘th’ sound as in maths, ɖ – the ‘th’ sound as in writhed, as well as the ‘r’ sound. I mentioned muscle memory earlier. When you first started driving, did you find changing gears difficult? Most people do, and once you have grasped the skill, it begins to happen – basically, it happens automatically. Similarly, if you could ride a bicycle as a 10 year old and you haven’t ridden a bicycle for 40 years, you would still be able to ride a bicycle today. The first 10 yards might be a bit wobbly, but because your mind and body are so well integrated, you’ll have no problem whatsoever. Muscle memory is all important in positioning the tongue in the correct place to produce the correct sound.

Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. There are a number of files for download on our web site which will help you achieve mastery of these vital exercises. Good luck!

Below are a number of vocal exercises which ensure that those key sounds are repeated regularly for Chinese, Malaysian, Taiwanese and Singaporean students.

Theodora’s mathematical theories were rigorously misrepresented by insincere scholars.

Thanet dwellers raised eyebrows with the thought that Theo could run the marathon.

Thoughtless thinkers with their trite timelines enthused turtles, toys and toddlers.

I thought I would rather wake up in Reading if I fell asleep on the Thames.

Round and round the racetrack, Cuthbert cuddled a crusty rusty rag.

Thor threatened to throw a thunderous thunder bolt.

Thumping his thumb with a thud, the thug hurt his threadbare glove.

Throughout the threadbare throng the thorny thong wore thin.

Thereafter, the thesis for thieving thugs was more theory than therapeutic.

Repetitious Robert’s rakish ram rarely remained home.

Over railroads, streets and roads, residents retained the ramblers’ ransom.

Ricky retained reproducing reptiles unreasonably.

Regretfully, Rowena’s royal blood wore thin and red, not blue.

A remarkable rhino recklessly yet thoughtfully rang Rita and Renata in Reading.

The College of Public Speaking offers a variety of personal development courses and workshops to deliver personal impact. Based in London, England hundreds of students each year benefit from our diverse sessions. For more information on voice coaching, elocution and accent softening and reduction, please visit ==>

Article Source: Accent Reduction and Elocution Lessons for Chinese Speakers