Are you ‘mumbling’? Opening and moving your mouth.


Are you mumbling in English?

Many non-native speakers could improve the sound of their English by opening and moving their mouths more.

Watch the video above (excuse the old footage and graphics!) to avoid this common problem. You’ll get a daily warm up for clear English pronunciation and lots of great tips and insights into why we need to open and move our mouth for clear English. 

Some students have said to me – ‘But I can’t see native speakers opening and moving their mouths much, why should I if they aren’t’.

Great question. Thank you for asking!

There are a few things to take into consideration here:

1. Native speakers know how to move their mouths the least AND still be clear. In other words, when a native speaker speaks we move our mouths in the most efficient way we can. And because we have been doing it since 1 year of age – we are pretty good at it. This means that most of us move our mouths as little as possible BUT not so little that it would make our speech unclear. Unfortunately, non-native speakers don’t have this automatic ability to move in a way that is both efficient but does not reduce clarity. So when they reduce their movement, the sounds do not come out clearly.

2. Who are you watching? There are many native English speakers who mumble. They are often asked to repeat themselves, people have to concentrate more carefully to understand them and it is frustrating for their listeners. They certainly wouldn’t be getting a job on TV or the radio. They often don’t make very interesting presenters. Not many managers and successful people mumble when they speak English. So, which speakers do you want to be like? The mumblers or the people with excellent, clear communication?

Choose a native speaker who you think has excellent English. I would bet $100 that that person opens and moves their mouth well when they speak.

3. Moving your mouth more when you speak will feel strange at first. But, just because it feels strange to you, doesn’t mean it looks strange to us. The more you do it, the better you will get at it, the less strange it will feel.

Remember, your listener isn’t focusing on what positions your mouth is making. They are listening to your message. All they notice is whether you are CLEAR or UNCLEAR.

Many employers ring me to talk about enrolling their staff in our courses and one thing that they often say is ‘Jack mumbles. He doesn’t open his mouth when he speaks’.

Combine mumbling with difficulty pronouncing some English sounds and using pitch and rhythm correctly and it can make someone’s speech very unclear.

Combine mumbling with fast speech and it can make things very unclear!

We need to check you are not mumbling in English and that you are moving your mouth enough. 

So, I hope I have convinced you that opening and moving your mouth for clear English is important.

Good luck.

Thanks for reading!


Are you ‘mumbling’? Opening and moving your mouth.


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(SpPathand 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. 

Linkedin: Georgie Harding 
Facebook: Speech Active 

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