Do you get tired speaking English?

Sep 9, 2018 | Blog

Georgie Taylor

Speech Pathologist

 

Help! I get tired when I speak English!

Does this sound familiar? 

Students often say to me “After a few hours of speaking English my mouth gets very tired and I feel exhausted!”.

Did you know if your mouth gets tired when you speak English that’s actually a good sign.

It tells me that you are moving and opening your mouth when you speak English, which is great. What you need now is more practise. Speak English as often as you can and for longer!

Think of it as exercise for your mouth. It’s just like playing sport.

There are many reasons why you get tired when you’re speaking English. 

Your brain gets tired because it’s doing SO much extra work – translating, accessing vocabulary and forming sentences. 

Why your mouth gets tired when you speak English. 

Your mouth gets tired because it isn’t used to making the sounds that we use in English. There will be some sounds in English that you don’t have in your first language. Each time you use these sounds you are using muscles that aren’t used to being used for forming these sounds! Here are the main reasons why your mouth is getting tired when you speak English. 

  • Open Vowel Sounds: English has quite a few vowel sounds that require movement open mouth position such as /a:/ in ‘part’, // in ‘hope’ and /ɔː/ in ‘short’. Some non-native speakers use a mouth position that is too closed when they speak English. This is because they don’t have open sounds like this in their first language. Are you opening and moving your mouth enough for clear English? See this video to check you aren’t mumbling in English. 
  • Lots of Consonant Clusters. A consonant cluster is 2 or 3 consonant sounds in a row. for example the /sks/ sound in ‘desks’ or the /kt/ sounds in ‘picked’. Making consonants in a row like this can be physically challenging and tiring for many non-native speakers because they aren’t used to making consonants in a row in their first language. 
  • Lots of Consonant Endings. In some other languages most words end in vowel sounds or only a few consonant sounds. English words end with a wide range of consonant sounds and often those consonant sounds are ‘popped’ sounds. This means we release a little puff of air when we make them. Popped sound are /p/, /b/, /t/, /d/, /k/ and /g/. 
  • Lots of Lip Sounds! For example, when making sounds like ‘sh’ and ‘ch’ we extend the lips slightly outwards. Some languages do not have this much lip movement! 
  • The dreaded ‘th’! ‘th’ is a new and very challenging sound for most non-native speakers. In fact there are only a few other languages that have a sound similar to ‘th’! Sorry about that ; ) Putting your tongue slightly between your teeth is a very unnatural position for many people. See more on pronouncing the ‘th’ sound in English here. 

 

Here are our top tips for more English speaking stamina – so you don’t get as tired when you speak English. 

 

Practise, practise, practise is the key here! Complete the 3 suggestions below and you’ll be speaking English with more energy and improved general clarity. After 2 weeks your mouth will no longer fatigue and get tired from speaking English.  

1. A Daily English Pronunciation Warm Up

Say the phrase “I saw 66 farmers laughing on the phone”  10 times every morning. This warm up exercise will help you get your mouth moving for great English pronunciation every morning.

As you say the phrase “I saw 66 farmers laughing on the phone”:

  • Make sure you are opening and moving your jaw as you say it. NO MUMBLING!
  • Make sure you make good consonant clusters for example the /ks/ sounds in sixty six – /ˈsɪk.sti ˈsɪks/. 

 2. Speak as much English as you can, as often as you can.

Speak English to others but also speak English out loud to yourself. Did you know that speaking out loud to yourself is a proven way to improve your fluency and get excellent speaking practise? See our video: 1 Daily Habit for Fantastic Fluency for more on this.  

Reading out loud is also excellent practise for your mouth! Read out loud as exercise – as you read, make sure you’re pronouncing word endings and consonant clusters well. 

3. Sign up to our free 5 day pronunciation video course. 

Join our 5 day free English Pronunciation Starter Course. This will get you started with 5 days of excellent videos delivered to your email inbox for improving your English pronunciation and spoken English. Think of these videos as essential exercise for your mouth and brain!

The more you do it, the more used to it your brain, mouth and muscles will become.

It will get easier and easier. Each day your muscles will get more and more used to English.

The more you speak it, the easier it will get. AND the excellent thing is, you’ll be improving your pronunciation skills, vocabulary and fluency as well.   

Good luck and let me know how you go.

 

Georgie

and the Speech Active Team – James, Lorelie, Laura and Antony. 

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