ENGLISH PRONUNCIATION COURSE FOR PROFESSIONALS
By Georgie Harding – Founder & Head Speech Pathologist
English Pronunciation Course for
Overseas Born Professionals
Are you a professional who is thinking “I want to improve my English Pronunciation” but I’m not sure what course to take or how to start?
This article will help you understand what to look when choosing an Advanced English Pronunciation Course for Overseas-born Professionals.
Because you’re already using English at a professional level you will need to choose a training that matches your high level skills.
Many English pronunciation courses are general and for beginners. There are fewer options for Professional English pronunciation lessons at the advanced level. There are quality options available though and I hope this article will help you research what’s available and help you choose a course that is the right fit for you.
The main goals I hear from Overseas-born Professionals for their English Pronunciation are:
1. to be easily understood by colleagues and friends
2. to feel more confident when speaking English
3. to sound more like a native English speaker
Which of the 3 goals above applies to you?
Let’s explore them in more detail.
Is your goal to be more easily understood by colleagues and friends?
This will be a goal for you if people sometimes ask you to repeat, or you get the feeling they’ve had to concentrate to understand you or they have missed some of what you’ve said. Maybe you are clear most of the time but sometimes your speech is unclear, like when you’re nervous or excited.
Not being easily understood at work is frustrating and tiring. The great news is that it’s something you can definitely work to improve.
Most people only need to change a few areas of their pronunciation to be clearer in English. An English Pronunciation teacher will be able to help you identify the reasons why people are sometimes missing what you’re saying.
Some common problems that the professionals I work with are:
– speaking too fast (when non-native speakers speak English fast, they often make vowels shorter, stress flatter and sometimes they drop endings! These things make their fast speech very hard for listeners to catch).
– mumbling! Some languages, like Mandarin, Japanese, Russian and many others are spoken with a mouth position that is quite closed. English has lots of open sounds, and we need to open our mouths to make these clearly.
– not using good word stress in English. This is the most common problem I see with Overseas-born Professionals. Often the ‘music’ of their English is too flat, or they are putting emphasis on the wrong parts of English words. Many people don’t realise that this makes their English unclear, especially when there is background noise like in a noisy office or on the phone.
A good advanced level English Pronunciation Course for Overseas-born Professionals will help you speak clearer English by:
– identifying the areas that are causing problems being understood by others
– systematically helping you correct them
– showing you clearly exactly what not to do and exactly what to do.
Is your goal to feel more confident when speaking English?
Many overseas-born professionals lack confidence with their English pronunciation. This is often simply because English pronunciation is a very challenging area. English is not a phonetic language – this means we can’t know by looking at a word how to pronounce it. This makes it difficult for people to learn as there are very few rules that can help learners!
Another issue is that many people were taught in their home countries by teachers who were actually non-native speakers themselves. As a result, pronunciation wasn’t taught or wasn’t taught very well as the teachers didn’t know the International Phonetic Alphabet and had pronunciation errors themselves.
A quality advanced English Pronunciation Course for Overseas-born Professionals will help you speak English with more confidence through:
– guiding you through the stages of learning up to the advanced level
– providing the right amount of training for each area (many courses provide only 20 – 30 minutes on one sound or area. This is no where near enough to master a new speech skill and successfully use it in conversation)
– give you clear actions (homework) to help you transfer your new speaking skills to your everyday conversations at work.
96% of our students reported their confidence when speaking English
as ‘much improved’ or ‘very much improved’
after their Speech Active training.
Is your goal to sound more like a native English speaker?
Many professionals that I work with are clear to their listeners but for personal reasons they want to sound like a native English speaker. In my experience, many people who have this goal have lived in an English speaking country for many years and they feel like a local. They want their spoken English and English pronunciation to reflect that they feel like a local.
Other professionals who have this goal are often perfectionists and strive to become the best that they can be in all areas. So for them, it’s just about pushing themselves to achieve the best possible outcome.
For working at this level you need to find a teacher or course provider that is experienced. You need a professional accent trainer or a Speech Therapist / Pathologist who specialises in ‘accent modification’.
Many people call this type of training “accent reduction training for professionals”. I prefer not to use the term ‘accent reduction’ because it makes it sound an accent is a negative thing. It’s also referred to as ‘accent modification’ or ‘accent training’. I prefer the term English Pronunciation Training : )
At an advanced level of English Pronunciation you will be working on areas such as:
– weak vowels. In English we have stressed syllables and unstressed syllables. Many (but not all) unstressed syllables become weak. Often they become the weak vowel schwa, which is written like this in the IPA /ə/. Say the word ‘complete’. Do we pronounce the ‘o’ in the first syllable? A native speaker doesn’t. We weaken the ‘o’ vowel to /ə/ which sounds more like ‘uh’. /kəmˈpliːt/. There are so many words like this, in fact the vowel /ə/ is the most common vowel in English. Today /təˈdeɪ/ and purchase /ˈpɜː.tʃəs/ for example. This is often one of the biggest differences between non-native speakers and native speakers pronunciation. So to sound more like a native speaker you should be focusing on this!
– Word stress and sentence stress. It’s challenging to get the ‘music’ of English like a native speaker. Every language has it’s own stress and rhythm and non-native speakers often bring the ‘music’ of their first language into their English! An Advanced English Pronunciation course should help you improve the word stress, emphasis and rhythm of your English. Many overseas-born Professionals use word stress that is flatter than a native English speaker (so they aren’t using enough stress) and they often don’t emphasie the key words like native speakers do.
– Linking. In English, we often link words together. If someone who is at a beginner or intermediate level tries to do this, it will often make their English unclear. For advanced level English pronunciation training this is often an area that is worked on as it’s what makes English sound smooth and fluent. BUT it can go very wrong and result in unclear speech if there are other pronunciation errors present. This is one of the reasons why its important to have an experienced English pronunciation teacher who knows what areas to work on when!
So, in summary, to help you sound like a native English speaker, an advanced English Pronunciation Course for Overseas-born Professionals will target areas such as:
– Weak vowels
– Word stress and sentence stress (ie the music of English)
– Linking in English (BUT only if other areas are all good)
Identifying your goals will give you a clearer picture of what kind of training you need.
This will help guide your research and help you ask the right questions!
Spend some time identifying your goals before you research courses.
This will give you a clearer picture of what kind of training you want.
It will help guide your research and help you ask the right questions.
Here are my answers to some questions that are commonly asked by professionals who are looking for English Pronunciation Training at an advanced level.
Do I need an advanced English pronunciation course or will any course do?
Most English Pronunciation courses available are for beginners or group courses. Here’s why these may not be the best option for advanced level professionals.
Basic courses usually cover all areas of English pronunciation. They are 1-size-fits-all courses that work through every sound in English. They usually have only about 20 minutes of practise for each sound. There are two reasons why this isn’t a good option.
You don’t need to work on every sound in English. You need to work on only the areas you are mispronouncing! Most of your consonant and vowel sounds will be correct. In fact it’s likely you will need to improve only about 5 of them. Your time should be spent targeting these, not every sound.
Also, as I mentioned before, 20 minutes is not enough time on each area. You’ll need a variety of high quality practice resources that you can access to practise with whenever you can!
So, an advanced English pronunciation course is required because it should be more targeted and focused on correcting the areas you need to and it should provide enough practise resources
An advanced course should also have English speaking exercises that are relevant for professionals. So language that is used in every professional English speaking workplace, for example, English for meetings, English for phone calls, English for networking, English for interviews and so on. This way relevant and high frequency vocabulary can be worked on and students will improve their understanding of English idioms and expressions used as well.
What do professionals look for in an advanced English Pronunciation Course?
Here are some things to look out for when you are choosing an Advanced English Pronunciation Course for Overseas-born Professionals. Your advanced English Pronunciation training should be:
Tailored – the course should be tailored for speakers of your first language. Make sure the teacher or provider has had experience working with people from your language background before. They should be able to tell you common problems for speakers of your first language and they should provide some information on the sorts of techniques they use to help you master new skills.
Flexible – as a busy professional it is crucial you have good audio and video training resources available for you to use when it suits you. You should be able to do your training when it suits you so you can work around your busy schedule.
Our clients often fit in practise while they are walking to the train station, on the train, in their lunch break, at the gym or waiting for a meeting to start!
The more easily accessible your practise materials are, the more engaged you will be with your training and therefore the more you will improve.
Experienced and Proven – do some research to make sure the course or teacher you are looking to engage with is a quality provider. Anyone can advertise a course and tutoring so you need to do your research and check they have the experience and reputation of a quality provider. Check them out on LinkedIn, Youtube and Facebook, read their reviews and most importantly call them to speak to them about your goals and their course.
Combined Services with Assessments & Skype training – As you are at the advanced level you would benefit from an English Pronunciation evaluation or assessment. All Speech Active courses include guided self assessments so students can evaluate what areas they need to prioritise. For people looking for more detailed input and support from a Speech Therapist / Pathologist we also offer a full English Pronunciation Evaluation which includes audio feedback recorded specifically for you and a full written report. This English Pronunciation Evaluation provides details on your strengths and weaknesses and helps you identify high and low priority areas.
We also provide the option of phone and skype English pronunciation training. This is for people who want extra 1:1 input and feedback. Many people choose this option if they have an important presentation coming up or an interview that they need to blitz! Our online courses are designed for the learner to succeed without any 1:1 support, but if you have the budget it can be a fantastic way to stay motivated and on track and cover vocabulary that you need to use at work.
Will My Employer Pay For My English Pronunciation Training?
Many Employers will fund or part fund an advanced English Pronunciation Course for Overseas-born Professionals.
See our Article on Asking My Employer to Fund My English Pronunciation Training. This page has a .pdf download that you can provide to your employer to introduce them to the possibility of funding or part funding training for you.
Many employers are very supportive of this. Many want to support their staff with improving their communication skills.
As the old saying goes “If you don’t ask, you don’t get”! So I encourage you to ask your employer. Many employers will provide some financial support for English Pronunciation training.
How long will it take me to see improvements in my English pronunciation and speaking?
This varies widely from person to person. It depends on the what skills level and what awareness and control you have over your speech before you start your course.
It often takes a few weeks for people to start to noticing changes. Why? Because it usually takes this time to build awareness and listening skills.
People in the first few weeks of a course often say to me “I don’t feel like much is happening”. This is because their listening skills are developing and their self awareness is developing. It takes them a while to be able to hear their problems areas. Once people can hear their problem areas and they understand exactly how to change it, it’s just good practise exercises that they need to then master these skills.
How much you improve and how quickly you do it largely depends on how much you practise and how much time you spend focusing on it.
Improving your English pronunciation is similar to learning a new sport like tennis, or learning an instrument like the guitar or piano. It takes time and effort and the guidance of a good course can make the world of difference.
I’ve been here for 10 years. Why do people ask me if I’ve just arrived?
Many of my students find that their pronunciation and English accent changed a lot in the first 6 months after arriving in an English speaking country, but after that it has stayed pretty much the same.
This happens because for many people their English pronunciation skills and ‘English accent’ don’t change much unless they actively work on it directly.
In other words, your accent often doesn’t change much just from being in an English speaking country. Many people need focused training to develop and change their pronunciation.
Areas like word stress are really very challenging for many overseas born professionals so getting clear training at an advanced level is key. If someone has a very good ear they often pick up pronunciation easily – but for most of us who are visual learners, this can be difficult with extra help and training.
I want to speak English with more confidence at work.
I hear this so often from professionals. When someone gets help with their English pronunciation it does wonders for improving English speaking confidence.
Sometimes, they get enormous confidence from finding out their strengths! Many people think they are pronouncing some things incorrectly when really, they aren’t. So finding out strengths and weaknesses and gaining a clear understanding of what to work on to progress and improve is really important and beneficial.
Many professionals working in English speaking countries find that while areas of their English such as listening and fluency have improved over time, they still lack confidence with their pronunciation. They want to bring their pronunciation skills up to match and be in line with their other English skills.
I hope this article has helped you set clearer goals for improving your English speaking skills and gives you a better idea of what English Pronunciation Training can provide for overseas born professionals from all industries.
Speech Active provides award winning English pronunciation for professionals living in English speaking countries.
These courses were created by Georgie Harding, Speech Pathologist with a team of ESL tutors and e-learning specialists.
More on Speech Active Courses and how they help advanced English Language Speakers.
Speech Active courses are the chosen provider for English Pronunciation Training of:
- GP Training Providers to assist their overseas trained doctors with improving their pronunciation skills
- Leading universities to assist their international students with developing clear and confident English for interviews in English speaking countries.
- English speaking global countries who want to support their staff with speaking clearer English.
Our courses are specifically created for professionals who are living in English speaking countries such as the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
These courses were developed by a team of Speech Pathologists, ESL tutors and e-learning specialists.
Over the past 15 years Georgie has worked with professionals from hundreds of different nationalities and across all industries.
Each person brings their own approach and ideas of what they want to achieve.
She understands the effort people have put in to mastering English and the challenges and frustrations that they face on a daily basis.
Georgie would be delighted to talk to you about Speech Active’s award winning advanced level English Pronunciation training and how we can help you achieve your English speaking goals.
Feel free to call Georgie and the team on +61 411 295 828. Alternatively you can chat with us on our website or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re looking for an advanced English Pronunciation Course for Overseas-born Professionals, We can help you take your English pronunciation and English accent to the next level.
Speech Active Founder
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English Pronunciation Course for Overseas-born Professionals
Georgie Harding has assisted thousands of people from all over the world with improving their clarity and spoken English skills. A Speech Pathology degree (BAppSc(SpPath) and CELTA qualifications and over 15 years of experience providing 1:1, group and online training make Georgie a leader in her field.
Georgie is the creator the world’s leading English Pronunciation online courses that are tailored to the language background of the student and presents regularly at Universities.
If you’ve ever met Georgie or completed her award winning courses you’ll know how passionate she is about helping people move forward with better spoken English and more confidence.
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