Many non-native speakers don’t move their mouth enough while speaking English. This includes not dropping the jaw enough and not rounding lips enough. In this video, you’ll see a lesson with a non-native speaker. Many of his vowel sounds improve when he starts dropping his jaw more to make them.
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This video is excerpts from a pronunciation lesson that I had with a friend from Turkey. In this particular video, I’ve chosen excerpts where we worked to break his habit of speaking with his jaw closed like this, which, as you can see, makes it difficult to understand. For whatever reason, many people, when they learn English, simply don’t open their mouth enough. This is especially problematic on vowels like ah as in father and eh as in bed where the jaw really needs to drop and the mouth needs to open. This is actually related to another blog I did in which I muted the sound and just spoke for a minute or so to draw attention and focus to the mouth so that people could observe just how much it really works in American English. So here are excerpts from that lesson.
Ceremony: I can see that your teeth are hardly leaving each other. C-eh. Eh, eh. Yeah, ce-re-mony. Good.
Across: Ok, uh – cross. Here’s what you’re doing: across. Cr-aw. How much space is between my teeth? Yeah, about like that. Across. That’s better, good.
Sound: The sound of a single… OK, sound. Sound. Yeah, perfect.
The cross: Cross. Cr-aw, cross. … cross marks…. One more time. The cross… Ok, your teeth are working, but they could come a little further apart. The cross… That’s better.
So the sounds we worked on there are the eh as in bed, the aw as in law, and the ow as in now. Ceremony. He wanted to say: ceremony. Eh, ceremony. Across. He wanted to say: across. Aw, across. Sound. He wanted to say: sound. Ow, sound.