Practice relaxing the tongue when saying words and phrases with N. Tom teaches you to train yourself to use the tongue and not the jaw when working with words and phrases with the N for more natural speech.
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In this American English pronunciation video, we’re going to invite Tom to give you a practice tip on tongue flexibility.
Tom and I have been working together on Rachel’s English since 2012. He is a fantastic teacher and pronunciation coach. And I’ve invited him here today to give you a practice tip. Take it away, Tom!
Tongue flexibility is at the core of speaking English as clearly as possible. I notice with many of my students that when they need to use the N consonant, they will often use tension in the jaw to help out. Native speakers of English do not use tension to create these sounds – so, of course, using tension does create an “accent”.
This is an exercise I use in my lessons to practice tongue flexibility. Drop your jaw to an easy open position so that you can see clearly into your mouth when looking into a mirror or the camera on your laptop or phone. Then, reaching up just with the tip of the tongue, make the N consonant sound, nn, and drop the tongue back into a lower position in the mouth for an AH vowel, nah, nah. Do this three times slowly, nah, nah, nah. Now, try and speed up a little, without letting the jaw start moving up and down, keep the jaw relaxed and open. Nah, nah, nah. Then speed up and see how fast you can go. Nah, nah, nah, nahnahnah, etc.
We use this tongue flexibility in words like ‘another’ or ‘banana’. If I say those words with a tense jaw that has to move with my N consonant – the rhythm of my speech gets a little choppy. Instead, keep the jaw relaxed and let the tongue do the work. ‘Another’ ‘banana’, banana, another. This also helps the rhythm of your speech in phrases: ‘He’s on a TV show’, on a, He’s on a TV show. ‘a ton of fun’, a ton of, ton of, a ton of fun.
Notice, even at the end of the word ‘fun’, you can still let the tongue do the work and leave the jaw a bit more relaxed. Fun, -un, fun. Using your tongue in this more flexible way, and letting the jaw stay more relaxed as you speak, does great things for the rhythm of your speech, and, eventually, should lead to a more effortless way of speaking English.
Practice on your own with that lowered and relaxed jaw and begin building your tongue flexibility.
Tom, thank you so much. That was great. If you’re interested in working 1-on-1, I cannot recommend Tom enough. He is a world-class pronunciation coach. And, he still has room in his schedule for a few more students. So, if you’re interested, check out this page.
That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.