My job has recently been transferred from the UK to an Asian country. With the move from my established position to a new challenging role in a new environment, I suddenly found myself lacking my usual level of confidence...

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Positive Voice Blog

Find Your English Voice: Vital Vocal Improvement Exercises

Posted on Monday, January 23, 2017 by Positivevoice

When it comes to improving language skills, many people are at a loss as to where to start. Having an understanding of your strengths and weaknesses is integral to your success. However, contrary to popular belief, not everyone improves as a direct result of their intellectual understanding of a language. Please remember that children in England learn the English language largely without theory and grammar and mostly through interaction with others, particularly their parents- this explains why we have so many regional accents throughout the UK. There is no denying that this method works, but it does take years for a child to gain a strong grasp of their native language. Additionally, a child's level of English is largely dependent on that of their parents; thus children with parents who have a strong command of the English language, also tend to speak and write better than those who do not have this advantage.

So, how can this process be improved upon and accelerated?

Back in 2012, i decided that i wanted to improve my French, as i was about to move to France. I decided to follow a method that i had heard about from a client. He had managed to take his English to a high level through this method alone. He quite simply listened to an audio book, whilst simultaneously reading the text. In this way, he replaced his voice in his head (that constantly confirmed his mistakes) with the voice of the narrator. This simple technique not only improved my pronunciation, but also the flow of my speech and my use of correct grammar when speaking in French.

In last week's blog, i mentioned a new programme that I have been working on to improve spoken English. The technique i just mentioned, very much forms the basis of this course.

If you would like to give it a go, simply download the audio and pdf in this blog and follow the steps, below. The more thoroughly you follow the process, the better the results will be.

If possible, please print off the following document before beginning this exercise (the audio can also be downloaded, if you wish):

Simple Past downloadSimple Past pdf

1. Read and listen at the same time the whole way through twice

2. Listen and read again, circling any words you don't understand

3. Look up any words you have circled and write their meanings in the margin of the text

4. Take out some coloured pens and highlight anything you consider to be important

5. Listen again, following the, now annotated, text simultaneously

Please do let me know how it goes. If you enjoy the process, i will post more blogs like this.



Find Your English Voice: Accelerated Learning

Posted on Monday, January 16, 2017 by Positivevoice

Having studied Neuro Linguistic Programming, i am very much aware that we all have different learning styles. It is for this reason that some people learn more easily than others. The truth is that not everyone has learned to learn in a way that suits their learning style. You see, we all have different ways of looking at the world. Life is easiest for those who learn through a combination of visual and audio stimuli because this is how we are taught in schools. However, we all learn differently. For an auditory person, it is all about audio books and listening to others speaking, for someone who needs to keep their hands busy, drawing diagrams or writing notes could be a winning way to learn. Additionally, a great deal of people learn best by doing or through interacting with others.

It is obvious to me that a thinking audience is a listening audience; it is for this reason that i always make my speeches, workshops and training as interactive as possible. I don't know what your specific learning style is (i wonder if you do), but i do know which styles should be avoided at all costs.

  • Please AVOID: Monologues and lecture style training where no questions are asked or feedback sought
Some people prefer working through things on their own (this is why i have created my Digital course in accent reduction) others require feedback and interaction, which is why i also offer one-to-one lessons. What seems evident to me is that i learn best when i do a little bit of everything: I listen, i read, i draw diagrams and i pass on my knowledge to other people who find it interesting. There is nothing quite like learning something with the knowledge that you will be able to help others by passing on your knowledge. It is with all of this in mind that i have started working on a new programme; one which is intended to accelerate the learning of languages and the development of a native accent. My focus is on English, but this methodology could be used to accelerate the uptake of any language.One of the principles taught in my upcoming course is the habit of 'listening and reading at the same time'. By this, i mean listening to an audiobook whilst reading the written text simultaneously. I have created a book based on English grammar and combined it with the audio book version. I have included several unusual yet highly effective exercises with the intention of giving you the best chance of assimilating the learnings and putting them into practice. Over the coming weeks, i will be publishing extracts from this new course: 'How to Find Your English Voice'.People often claim that they are not good at languages; it would be truer to say that they haven't yet found the best way for them to learn a language.


Improve Your Speech Dramatically

Posted on Wednesday, December 21, 2016 by Positivevoice

What 1 thing could you do to improve your speech?

Everyone has different needs when it comes to their speech. Without being aware of these needs there isn't much you can do to improve yourself. The very best thing you can do to boost your self awareness is to record your voice in as many different situations as possible and then to listen to yourself. Notice what you like about your speech and what you would like to improve upon.

As you may know, one of my greatest creations this year is the digital version of my British Accent Coaching course.

For the next 2 days, i am running a 25% discount on ALL of my courses.

Here is one more extract from the digital course:

IPA Symbol

Sound

‘ay’

Spelling

Variations

ay day

a table

ai rain

a-e game

ea great

ey they

ei vein

aight straight

eigh eight

As with all diphthongs, there are two different mouth positions here. The transition is very simple. If you take the two sounds individually and say one followed by the other, you will notice the main difference is the tongue positioning; the mid-to-back of the tongue widens and moves up to touch the mid to back teeth. The corners of the mouth are moderately back (in smile position- think Mona Lisa rather than a big, full on smile) and the soft palate lifts to accommodate the rising sound as the tongue moves up.


Purchase the digital course before 00.00 on 24th December 2016 and receive a 25% discount:

This offer also applies to the Skype Course, The Combined Course and the Jetsetters Course. Please contact Francesca for a full price list: fran@positivevoice.co.uk/ 07903 954 550



Confidence Boosting Hpnotherapy

Posted on Friday, December 09, 2016 by Positivevoice

I first experienced the power of hypnotherapy just after graduating when i took a job in public relations. I was feeling the pressure and it was having a negative impact on my health. I took a train from Victoria to a little town south of London. I went with an open mind; i was optimistic and ready; the perfect mindset for a successful outcome.

After the first session, i returned home feeling calmer already. I was getting ready for bed when i discovered the first shift. For two years or more, i had had a red mark on my shin the size of a 50 pence piece; it looked a little like a cross between eczema and a blood blister- it didn't hurt or itch, but i had visited the doctor to see if i could remedy it, in vain. To my great surprise and utter disbelief, it had vanished completely! I stared at the place it had been, i even checked the other leg to make sure i wasn't mistaken; nothing; it had healed. Not once had i mentioned this to the hypnotherapist; it wasn't something that i considered to have been a product of my mind. I had suffered from eczema as a child and had just accepted it.

At this stage, i didn't entertain the idea of becoming a hypnotherapist, but the experience did open my mind to the power of our thoughts and i began reading about the unconscious. A few years later when i began offering lessons in spoken communication, i recognised that a therapeutic offering would really complement the practical training that i was already providing. I chose Neuro Linguistic Programming and Hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy is great if you are someone who wants to surrender to a process and not become too involved yourself. Conversely, Neuro linguistic programming is perfect for those who prefer to participate actively in the session. I like both as they are very solution focused and only require a brief explanation of the problem before moving away from it; most people find this to be a great relief.

If you are interested in experiencing hypnotherapy or sharing this wonderful tool with friends and family over Christmas; i have just released my first hypnotherapy audio on iTunes and Amazon.

If you like it, please do leave me a review and share the link with friends and family.



British Accent and English Grammar

Posted on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 by Positivevoice

Today's blog features another extract from my new digital course 'How to Develop a British Accent'.

Have you ever noticed that there are three different ways to pronounce -ed endings when using verbs in the simple past? The word played is pronounced -d, the word wanted is pronounced -id and the word walked is pronounced -t. Check out this week's video if you would like to better understand the rules here:

Simple Past from Francesca Gordon-Smith on Vimeo.

Followers of the digital course will soon have logins to a password protected area, so the videos, manual and hypnotherapy audio can all be found in one place! It's been a long time in the making due to a lack of internet at our new base here in France. Thank you for your patience :)

For those of you who are seeking to develop a British Accent:

There are huge benefits in following the video course using the manual, as we do not speak using individual sounds but by using combinations of sounds, words and sentences. It is only by working through all the sounds and exercises systematically that you will succeed in reducing your accent and developing one that is more British.

Contact Francesca for further details if you are interested in developing a British accent or working on your communication skills and confidence: fran@positivevoice.co.uk. 07903 954 550 (Country code: 0044)



25 Percent Off British Accent Coaching

Posted on Thursday, November 17, 2016 by Positivevoice

I am now taking on new clients for 2017. If you have been thinking about developing a British Accent, there are now 4 ways to do this!

The Digital Course

The course is made up of 40 videos, a hypnotherapy audio and a manual (over 6 hours of content) and mirrors a 1-1 course that Francesca delivers via Skype. The course includes a review video, so that you can assess your progress and a hypnotherapy audio to keep you motivated and emotionally balanced.

Once you have started this course, you are welcome to book some lessons with Francesca if you would like her feedback on your progress.

Here is an extract from the manual and a video lesson on the following IPA vowel:

IPA Symbol

ə

Sound

Weak vowel. Short version of ‘er’

Spelling

Variations

a away

our colour

ar collar

re centre

er water

e garden


The mouth and tongue are relaxed for this sound. The mouth opens slightly and the focus is on the throat. A little support (so slight that you may not even notice the muscles here) is required in the lower jaw in order to bring clarity to your voice- without this, the sound might lack strength; however, the focus should be on the throat cavity, which should expand slightly to create the sound.

Contact Francesca for further details by replying to this email or call her directly: 07903 954 550

The Combined Course (Part Digital, Part 1-1)

This course is perfect for you if you are self-motivated enough to work through the digital course, but also work well 1-1. This course is made up of 135 hours via Skype and 6+ hours in the form of video lessons and includes a manual and hypnotherapy audio.

It follows the same lessons covered in the Skype Course over the same timeframe. The main difference is that you take 1 lesson of 1 hour per week, rather than the two hours required for the 25.5 hr course via Skype.

The Skype Course

25.5 hours one-to-one, via Skype over a 6 month period.

The reason this course lasts 25.5 hours and not a year is because an intensive course with daily practice is the most effective way to transform your spoken communication. After an initial assessment lesson, a plan is made, which may include the following:

  • Pronunciation of individual sounds (in the IPA index)
  • Resonance
  • Vocal Strength
  • Vocal Clarity
  • Clear Pronunciation
  • Vocal Variety
  • Vocal Tone
  • Fluid Speech
  • Rhythm
  • Word Stress
  • Sentence Stress
  • Vocal Projection
  • Sentence Structure
  • Grammar
  • Understanding muscles in the mouth
  • Daily exercises derived from speech therapy
  • Thinking on your feet
  • Impromptu Speaking
  • Mindset and Motivation
After 12 weeks of  lessons twice per week, you will take a 3 month break to practice all that we have studied. I highly recommend using the digital course during this period. At the end of the self-study period, we have a final 1.5 hour catch up, so that we can have a final assessment and you can receive feedback and guidance. At this point, i would recommend continuing with some lighter practice of your own. You may wish to refer to the digital programme from time to time or re-listen to audios made during lessons.

The Jetsetters Course

This course is specifically designed for people who want exceptional results in a short space of time. Everything about this course can be tailor made to suit individual needs- location, time frame and course contents.

What makes Francesca's courses so much better than most other courses on the market is the sheer variety of methods used:

  • Guidance on the pronunciation of individual sounds
  • Warm up exercises to work on resonance
  • Warm up exercises to work out the muscles in the mouth and tongue
  • Exercises to change the voice in your head
  • Hypnotherapy, Neuro Linguistic Programming and coaching
  • Pictures and videos to make it visual
  • Listening exercises to work on your ear
  • Exercises on vocal variety and vocal tone to help you feel what you say and say what you feel.
"A British accent is something that you need to see, hear and feel" Francesca Gordon-Smith

To see further examples of my teaching, visit pvfran on YouTube

 fran@positivevoice.co.uk

+44 (0)7903 954 550



The Confidence Secret

Posted on Thursday, November 17, 2016 by Positivevoice


When someone comes to me saying they lack confidence, have low self-esteem, anxiety about socialising, fear of public speaking or any similar challenge regarding communicating in everyday life situations, I ask a LOT of questions.

There is not one solution to suit everyone, as we are all individuals who have different life experiences. This is not to say that you shouldn't read books, listen to audios or watch videos on the subject. You will find help and comfort in all these things, but please do not expect one solution to work for everyone.

It is for this reason that we all need to connect to our intuition and become our own coach. It can be as simple as asking yourself several questions:

How do i feel?

What does this mean?

What can i do to change this?

The above questions are the ones i routinely recommend, but you can use your intuition and knowledge about yourself to personalise these questions.

Any negative emotions that come up for you are simply your body's way of sending you a sign; it is up to you to interpret these signs in the most positive and empowering way possible and then take action to find solutions. When you stop receiving the sign, you have succeeded.

Example Scenario
"I find certain people really grumpy and rude around me and this knocks my confidence and makes me feel rubbish when i am around them. They don't like me or respect me and this is why i have no confidence..."

This is just one possible story that someone could be running in their head.

Let's confront and analyse the above statements:

No one can make you feel something, you choose to feel it. What encouraged you to choose 'feeling rubbish', as a response? Some people would have chosen humour, others would feel anger and others wouldn't notice. Did they 'make you feel rubbish' or did the feeling rubbish come before? I wonder what would happen if you chose a different approach? Perhaps they would feel better too. Have you ever noticed how infectious happiness can be?

How do you know that they don't like or respect you? Do you have any proof? Do you like and respect them? Would you like to be like them? You can either model their behavior (if you like it) or create a behavior that allows you to lead by example. I encourage my daughter to do just this for her baby brother.

You can choose to consider people like this to be your greatest teachers; they demonstrate how not to behave and through challenging you can act as a catalyst for you to become stronger and wiser. Perhaps, for instance, they are the reason that you are reading this post right now and thinking about how you can become more confident.

The above scenario might not be exactly what is occurring for you right now, but take my responses and see if you can do this for yourself. Take a notebook and write down how you are feeling. Question it and turn it on it's head. Find positives and solutions. If you can do this, you can be your own coach.

Whilst confidence is far from being skin deep, self care and self-love play a big part. If you look good, you will feel better and if you feel better, you will look good, so look after your looks and your health.

One for the women: I'm a big fan of this new Vegan brand: Maelle (paraben free, sls free, phthalates free, fragrance free, dermatalogically tested, cruelty free, peta approved, Leaping bunny certified and vegan).



So much so, in fact, that i am going to start giving their products away at my events next year and generally recommend them to everyone i meet. You can get yours here: Maelle Beauty Products. I find the products pictured above save the day when my baby has kept me up all night and my sister is raving about the mascara! Look out for: My new YouTube channel for all women looking to be more confident and my hypnotherapy downloads soon to go on sale on iTunes and Amazon!





How to Develop a British Accent: Part 2

Posted on Tuesday, November 08, 2016 by Positivevoice


Today's lesson is all about British pronunciation and how to produce the vowel sound ɑ:

IPA Symbol

ɑ:

Sound

‘ar’

Spelling

Variations

a staff

al balm

ar car

er clerk

ear heart

This is a long vowel; by this i quite simply mean that it sounds long. (if you are able to chant a sound it means that it is long). As with all long vowels, the tip of the tongue rests against the inside of the bottom teeth- where the teeth meet the gums. As you lower the bottom jaw, the mid to back of the tongue will rise up towards the soft palate (the soft part of the roof of your mouth at the very back). In order to create more space, you will need to lift your soft palate (you may not be able to feel this, but set the intention for the sound to travel there). If you have any difficulties with this, just do the 'stretch' exercise or yawn; you will then feel your soft palate lifting. Once you become aware of the spaces in your mouth, you will be able to use them more easily. The picture, below, demonstrates the mouth positioning for this sound.

ah from Francesca Gordon-Smith on Vimeo.



How to Develop a British Accent

Posted on Monday, October 31, 2016 by Positivevoice

Between now and Christmas, I will be posting a series of blogs on 'How to Develop a British Accent'.

Here is today's sound:

IPA Symbol

Sound

‘oe’

Spelling

Variations

oe toe

o most

o-e note

oa toast

ow grow

ough though

ew sew

 

This sound is a diphthong, which means a starting mouth position transitioning into a final mouth position. The first position is much like that of the sound ɒ (as in 'lot'); the lips are almost rounded whilst being slightly open, the cheeks are pulled in, the lower jaw is down and the tip of the tongue touches the inside of the bottom teeth:

The second position sees the lips coming closer together and moving forwards, whilst the lower jaw rises up. All this time, we lift the soft palate slightly to draw the sound into the cavities in the head:



A FREE Assessment Lesson

Posted on Wednesday, September 07, 2016 by Positivevoice

This September, i find myself with a great deal to be thankful for. This month, I celebrate 10 years in business (I started working with my first client in September 2006) AND today my little boy, Ruben, celebrates his first birthday!

As you may know, I've spent the last month working on A Digital Course in Accent Reduction. The course is made up of 40 videos, a hypnotherapy audio, and a manual (over 6 hours of content) and mirrors a 1-1 course that i deliver via Skype. There is a review video to enable you to assess your progress at regular intervals throughout the course. I share my most effective strategies, and all you have to do is follow them. If motivation or emotions get in the way, there is a hypnotherapy audio; especially designed to help you overcome any emotional challenges that you may come up against. The course will be ready for download from my site Positive Voice in 2 weeks.

I haven't finished my trailer video yet, so you will have to content yourselves with a few videos from the course- lucky you! For those of you who like what you see, you may be interested in a special early bird offer that is available for the next week:

Purchase the video course and get a FREE assessment lesson and a FREE review session! That is 3 hours with me via Skype for FREE.

Price: £240 (saving £280) *Offer available until 7.30pm on Wednesday 14th September.




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