Your Speaking Speed, Rate & Volume in English

So, you’re wondering, how to control your rate of speaking when you speak English. 

I’m often asked by my students ‘How can I slow down when I speak?’. This all comes down to control. 

Most people can slow down when they try! The problem is that they forget. 

Watch the video lesson below on using a good speed of speaking in English.

Please excuse the old graphics and footage of this video. It is very old!

Find out more below if you need to work on controlling your rate or speed of speaking. 

If you know this is an area to improve for clearer English – start paying more attention to your rate today. Actively try to control it. Speaking quickly is a habit and it will take time to get control over your rate. It really helps to put up some reminders, for example ‘Post-it notes’ on your laptop or landline phone at work. Some people change their screen saver on their phone – so before they answer the phone, when they glance at the caller ID they are reminded to control their rate. 

You can also ask colleagues or friends to remind you. 

It takes time and effort but the most common feedback I hear from people who have successfully controlled their rate, and gone from very fast speech to a good speed is that things have really improved. They find their word choice has improved, their vocab, their grammar and pronunciation. It gives our brains more time to plan and this often results in more succinct spoken English. 

Why Is Speaking Fast A Problem? 

Think about most native English speakers. When a native English speaker speeds up, generally, their English is still clear to listeners. This is because they don’t change their pronunciation – their pronunciation of vowels, consonants and word stress stays the same – it stays clear – just faster.

The problem that non-native speakers face, is that when they speed up, their pronunciation often changes – in fact it gets worse! These changes make it more challenging for the listener. 

Do I Need To Slow Down My English? 

Many non-native English speakers speak English very fast. Speaking too fast in English is a problem if listeners don’t understand you easily. Pay attention over the next two weeks. Do people ever ask you to repeat? Do they ask you to slow down? Do you get the feeling they have missed a few words of what you’ve said. These are definitely a sign that you’re speaking too fast – but speaking very fast often leads to these things. 

Why Do I Speak English Quickly? 

The speed at which we speak is often a habit. This means that we don’t really think too much about it – it happens automatically. We need to make it more conscious – so you have more control over the speed that you’re speaking. 

Many people speak English fast because they speak fast in their first language. Our of my 15 years teaching in this area, most of my students who speak Spanish, Indian languages and Indian English, Vietnamese and Thai often need to work on controlling their rate. 

Some people speak fast when they’re nervous or tired or stressed or when they have ideas that they want to convey quickly. 

For non-native English speakers, who have clear pronunciation that is easy for listeners to understand then it’s not a problem when they speak more quickly. Provided their pronunciation doesn’t change because they have sped up. 

But when a person has some incorrect pronunciation of English vowel sounds, consonant sounds or word stress, then it can make their English very unclear to listeners. 

One of the most common problems that I see, as an English pronunciation trainer is non-native speakers speaking English too quickly. 

For many ESL speakers, when they speed up in English, it means that they are more likely to use flat word stress, make short vowels or drop consonants at the ends of words or in consonant clusters. 

Your speed and volume in English are SO important.

These affect how clear you are and how easily others understand you. 

 

 

As a non-native speaker your rate of speaking can really affect how well you pronounce words in English.

When a non-native speaker speaks English very fast, sometimes their pitch or word stress can become flatter, making their words more difficult for listeners to recognise. Their long vowels can become shorter. 

Even if your English is perfect – if you speak too quietly or too fast for people to catch what you are saying easily, it will cause problems. Particularly in noisy environments like offices and cafes. 

So, pay attention to your rate of speaking and volume of speak from today. Make sure you are using a good speed and volume in English. 

 

Georgie 

Speech Pathologist
 & Founder of Speech Active

 

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Your Speaking Speed, Rate & Volume in English

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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. 

Email: georgie@speechactive.com
Linkedin: Georgie Harding 
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