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The Difference between LEARNING and MASTERING a New Skill

Posted on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 by Positivevoice

Each week, i receive emails about British accent coaching from my YouTube followers. For many, videos seem to be the preferred medium for Learning a new skill. I Wonder how many of my blog followers learn from videos? If you do, how much are you really Learning?

Do you remember being tested at school, college or university? If you're anything like me, these moments when you were asked to demonstrate your knowledge were the most beneficial in terms of your journey towards mastering the subject. Don't get me wrong, i'm a huge fan of video Learning. I regularly follow YouTube tutorials and find it the best way to fit yoga into my Schedule. What i do miss, though, is the feedback and correcting i ued to get from my yoga teachers when i lived in London.

It is with this in mind that i have created a membership community. Follow this link to find out how to get a FREE 7 Day Trial to: Fran's British Accent Monthly Membership Community.

For just 49 Euros per month, you will receive:

  • Access to a growing Library of Videos (Get a FREE 7 Day trial)
  • Access to my closed Facebook Group: Fran's British Accent
  • An invitation to 2 Live Coaching Calls per month 
The Library of videos includes:
  • The 45 sounds in the International Phonetic Index
  • The melody and rhythm of British English
  • Warm up exercises to improve your pronunciation and to develop British resonance
  • Coaching on mindset
The Live Coaching Calls will provide you with FEEDBACK on your progress.The Facebook Group is the perfect forum for sharing, guiding and correction. There will be weekly challenges and this is where i will give additional feedback in between coaching calls.Are you in? Watch the video for further details or head over to Fran's British Accent to find out how you can sign up for a FREE 7 Day Trial.


British Accent Coaching "Luxury or Necessity"

Posted on Monday, February 19, 2018 by Positivevoice

If you were to call me saying that they would like to develop a British accent in order to boost your confidence when speaking in English. I would ask you two questions :

1.       Would you feel more confident if you spoke with a British accent ?

2.       If you felt more confident, would you care about your accent ?

The solution would vary depending on your answer: British accent coaching or Confidence coaching.

I once met an entrepreneur who wanted to change his accent and then he became really successful and decided he didn’t care anymore. In fact, he made his accent one of his greatest assets by serving fellow migrant entrepreneurs. Now his accent has become an integral part of his brand.

Most of my clients who follow British accent coaching just want to be understood. They are fed up with being asked to repeat themselves and just want people to focus on what they’re saying rather than how they sound when they put their point across. For some, however, it is about mastering the language and they do it purely for pleasure just as you might decide to learn how to paint or play the guitar; purely for the joy of it.

I spend most of my time in France, but because i work for myself in my native language, i’m not yet motivated enough to perfect my French accent. I would love to, but as it’s a luxury, i haven’t yet made them time to do it.

How about you ? Is it a luxury or a necessity ?

If it is more of a luxury, you can start slowly by following my one minute posts on Instagram. Here is my latest Instagram video; it only lasts a minute and i'm sure you can find that much time even if it is a luxury indulgence :)
 


How diaphragmatic breathing can improve your British accent

Posted on Monday, November 06, 2017 by Positivevoice

There are several ways to project your voice:

1.       Use of your diaphragm

2.       Focus on the tooth ridge when speaking

3.       Focus on the middle of the palate

If you have any accent other than a standard British one, the chances are that option 2 and option 3 will strengthen your native accent taking you further away from a British accent. As you may know by now, A British accent resonates largely in the back of the mouth, around the soft palate and in the torso. Most other accents resonate much more in the mouth. So we will be focusing on diaphragmatic breathing.

Your diaphragm is located just below the ribcage, as indicted in the photo, below:

The diaphragm is a large dome shaped muscle located just below the lungs where the two sides of the ribcage meet. Technically, it contracts when we breathe in filling the lungs, but you will feel a sense of expansion in this area as the air fills the space just above the diaphragm. It is this sense of expansion that will help you to use your diaphragm.

Exercise: Lie down on a flat surface (floor or bed), place your hand just in between the two sides of the ribcage, and breathe in deeply. Maintaining the expansion created in this area, say a short phrase or sentence. As you run out of breath, you will feel the area mentioned contracting, simply pause and take in another breath. With practice, you will be able to use your diaphragm by just thinking about it. Wherever you focus goes, your voice will travel.

 


Learn how to develop a British accent in 1 minute

Posted on Thursday, September 21, 2017 by Positivevoice

When teaching British accent coaching, i constantly re-iterate how important it is to PRACTICE. With this in mind, i have been creating regular, short, easy to digest video posts on Instagram. If you're not on Instagram, please don't fret because i have been sharing these videos all over the place. If you follow me on Facebook, you can find them on my Positive Voice page: https://www.facebook.com/fjgordonsmith/

Here is today's 1 minute post. Watch it and practice:



1 rule for better speech

Posted on Monday, September 18, 2017 by Positivevoice

Recently, i've been talking a lot about general technique because 4 of my clients have just finished my 12 week course in British accent coaching and the last few lessons are all about general technique. Three of these clients were native English speakers with regional accents and one was a non-native speaker with a Spanish accent. You may think that these would require very different techniques. In fact, the goal is the same for them all; the voice needs to resonate less in the mouth and more in the cavities in the back of the mouth and throat. Yes, they all have different strengths and weaknesses, but the Vocal Workout exercises are generally the same.

People with regional accents often under-use the muscles in the jaw and so do speakers with non-native accents. Both non-native and regional accents often resonate too strongly in the mouth, yet people with regional accents are often accused of mumbling; each individual has a slightly different challenge, but the solution is more or less the same.

For instance, each time the tip of the tongue comes forwards to touch the tooth ridge, this must be countered by tightening the corners of the mouth and bringing them in slightly (i often refer to this as 'stifling a smile').

Last week, i recorded an Instagram video on this topic; you may find it useful:

General technique #BritishAccentCoaching

A post shared by Francesca Gordon-Smith (@fgordonsmith) on



Positive Voice: Pronunciation Tricks

Posted on Monday, August 21, 2017 by Positivevoice

The above photograph demonstrates the mouth position for the consonant sound 'w'. It demonstrates very well how to position the lips to produce this sound. What it doesn't teach is what to do next and how to move from this consonant and through the rest of the word... All is revealed in my recent video for Instagram:

Pronunciation of the consonant sound 'w' #BritishAccentCoaching www.positivevoice.co.uk.

A post shared by Francesca Gordon-Smith (@fgordonsmith) on



Should the consonant sound t be pronounced

Posted on Wednesday, August 09, 2017 by Positivevoice

During last week's Facebook live, i talked about the consonant sound 't'.

One of the greatest mistakes that people make when it comes to the pronunciation of this one little consonant is over pronouncing it, the other is not pronouncing it at all!

The rules:

Pronounce t:

  • at the beginning of a word: teach.
  • in the middle of a word: butter.
  • at the end of a word when it's followed by a comma or a full stop: 'That's it.' "When i do it, she listens".
  • at the end of a word when the following word begins with a vowel- 'That-is interesting'. Here the 't' flows effortlessly into the vowel.
  • at the end of a word when the following word begins with a 'w': 'That-was interesting' (however, you don't strictly speaking, have to pronounce the 't' here, as it can flow into the 'w': 'tha-was'

Not Pronounced:

  • Words ending in a t, blend into words beginning with a consonant

'That thought you had about that theatre play... was it a positive thought?

The 't' at the end of the word 'that' blends into the 'th' in thought 'tha-thought'. There is a tiny pause that lengthens 'tha' slightly.
  • When one word ending in 't' is followed by another word beginning with 't', 'not to', we only pronounce the 't' once 'no-to' (unless, of course, there is a natural pause or the word requires emphasis).
An aside:
  • the 't' at the end of the word 'thought' can be pronounced as we emphasise this word, which gives us license to pause and when we pause after a word, we do not blend one sound into the next.
  • If you were to pronounce the 't' in 'that thought', you would need to emphasise both words, which can sound a little robotic.

On an entirely different note, a lot of people with regional accents, in the UK, only pronounce a 't' when it comes at the beginning of a word, the rest of the time they replace the 't' with a glottal stop- this is achieved by tightening the muscles in the throat, around the glottis. Although you won't find this in pronunciation books, it is becoming more and more prevalent, as it requires less effort to miss out this sound.

If you are someone who doesn't usually pronounce the consonant sound 't' at the end of a word and want to start doing so; be careful not to over pronounce it (remember the rules, above). You will find further tips in the following videos, uploaded to Facebook and Instagram recently:



British accent training and why little and often is best

Posted on Monday, July 31, 2017 by Positivevoice

In the photo above (taken today), i demonstrate one of the many vocal warm up exercises that i am currently using to help my clients speak with more clarity. If you would like to learn more, look no further than my recent videos (60 seconds long) posted on Instagram, and shared below.

You may be wondering whether 60 seconds is long enough to learn anything. Find out for yourself. Please remember that daily practice is key to your success when it comes to transforming your speech. In order to speak with clarity, you need to train the muscles in your mouth to do so, which requires repeated training. Even i benefit from these exercises (particularly first thing in the morning when i wake up with a croaky voice).

When to pronounce the consonant sound 't':

Consonant sound 't' continued:

How to pronounce the 'L' sound:

HOW to pronounce L in British English in 60 seconds #BritishAccentCoaching

A post shared by Francesca Gordon-Smith (@fgordonsmith) on



The British accent and common mistakes : Part 1

Posted on Wednesday, July 19, 2017 by Positivevoice

As helpful as it is to know what you should do in order to speak English well, it is also important to be aware of the common mistakes made by native, British speakers. Throughout the UK, there are a range of different dialects and regional accents. In areas such as Essex and London, many people confuse ‘l’ and ‘w’ in words such as still, middle and well, so don’t be surprised if you hear someone saying ‘I’m very wew, thank you’ when they mean ‘Very well’. This may sound unlikely to you, but it is becoming more and more prevalent. I have also worked with clients from the West country and Birmingham who make the same mistake.

Sometimes this mistake is just a habit that has been picked up, and other times it is due to a lack of strength in the tongue. If this is the case, there is a great exercise for strengthening the tongue. All you need to do is take a soft sweet, or something similar and hold it up against the middle of the palate with the tip of the tongue for as long as you can. Ideally, this should be repeated three times per day until you are able to make the movement without any difficulty.

So, now that you know what not to do when it comes to the pronunciation of the consonant sound ‘l’, here is what you should be doing :

In the photograph, below, i demonstrate the mouth positioning for 'l':

This sound differs slightly depending on where in the word it is positioned. It is a voiced sound, which means that air passes over the vocal chords creating a sound.

There is one IPA symbol for this sound, ‘l’, even though it varies slightly depending on whether it is positioned before or after the vowel (or diphthong): let vs tell, for instance. When the ‘l’ sound comes before the vowel, it is fairly straight forward: To produce this sound, maintain a neutral mouth positioning (the lips rest gently apart), place the tip of your tongue on the palate just before the front teeth, without actually touching the front teeth, create a little pressure as you begin the vowel that follows and then release to continue with your word. At this point, the middle of the tongue should be slightly raised. If you slow down the sound, you will notice there is a little extra sound that is not represented by an ipa symbol, it is similar to the vowel sound ʊ, as in the word ‘could’.

This extra sound is more apparent when the vowel or diphthong comes before the ‘l’, as in words such as ‘meal’. Even without slowing down my speech, that is to say, in normal speech, this extra sound is very much apparent and if you do not pronounce it, the word won’t sound the same. If you’re still a little confused, please do watch my video on this subject. This is an extract from my Digital course in British accent coaching.

This sound differs slightly depending on where in the word it is positioned. It is a voiced sound, which means that air passes over the vocal chords creating a sound.

There is one IPA symbol for this sound, ‘l’, even though it varies slightly depending on whether it is positioned before or after the vowel (or diphthong): let vs tell, for instance. When the ‘l’ sound comes before the vowel, it is fairly straight forward: To produce this sound, maintain a neutral mouth positioning (the lips rest gently apart), place the tip of your tongue on the palate just before the front teeth, without actually touching the front teeth, create a little pressure as you begin the vowel that follows and then release to continue with your word. At this point, the middle of the tongue should be slightly raised. If you slow down the sound, you will notice there is a little extra sound that is not represented by an ipa symbol, it is similar to the vowel sound ʊ, as in the word ‘could’.

This extra sound is more apparent when the vowel or diphthong comes before the ‘l’, as in words such as ‘meal’. Even without slowing down my speech, that is to say, in normal speech, this extra sound is very much apparent and if you do not pronounce it, the word won’t sound the same. If you’re still a little confused, please do watch my video on this subject. This is an extract from my Digital course in British accent coaching.

l from Francesca Gordon-Smith on Vimeo.



Less effort and more FOCUS

Posted on Monday, July 10, 2017 by Positivevoice

I talk a lot about RESONANCE when i teach my students how to develop a  British accent. Here's the challenge, initially you need to work the muscles in the mouth to access the spaces that you're not used to using. Once you have become more aware of the cavities in the back of your mouth and throat and the muscles in your lower jaw, your voice will naturally start to resonate further back in these cavities. It's not something that you can force. Being relaxed is really important, as tension can stop the voice from resonating fully.

I recommend a series of exercises. It is best to practice them all. However, some people focus more on some than others according to their specific needs. When i teach my students, i constantly vary my approach in order to fulfil different learning styles and needs.

During my recent Facebook Live, i talked a lot about resonance. watching this video is a good place to start if you are interested in this topic:

Here are just a few of my recommendations. 

1. Follow my warm up exercises (visit my YouTube channel for further details): https://www.youtube.com/user/pvfran

2. Drink through a straw to work the muscles around the soft palate3. Read a book or magazine whilst simultaneously listening to an audio version of the text read by a narrator with a British accent that you would like to emulate: A list of books narrated by Stephen Fry A list of books narrated by Joanna LumleyA list of books narrated by Judi DenchA list of books narrated by Kate Winslet



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