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...

Read more

british accent coaching
Super Speaking Video Courses
Vocal Impact: Download Francesca's DVD and eBook
Let go off Anxiety for now
Let go off Anxiety for now

Positive Voice Blog

How diaphragmatic breathing can improve your British accent

Posted on Monday, November 06, 2017 by Positivevoice

There are several ways to project your voice:

1.       Use of your diaphragm

2.       Focus on the tooth ridge when speaking

3.       Focus on the middle of the palate

If you have any accent other than a standard British one, the chances are that option 2 and option 3 will strengthen your native accent taking you further away from a British accent. As you may know by now, A British accent resonates largely in the back of the mouth, around the soft palate and in the torso. Most other accents resonate much more in the mouth. So we will be focusing on diaphragmatic breathing.

Your diaphragm is located just below the ribcage, as indicted in the photo, below:

The diaphragm is a large dome shaped muscle located just below the lungs where the two sides of the ribcage meet. Technically, it contracts when we breathe in filling the lungs, but you will feel a sense of expansion in this area as the air fills the space just above the diaphragm. It is this sense of expansion that will help you to use your diaphragm.

Exercise: Lie down on a flat surface (floor or bed), place your hand just in between the two sides of the ribcage, and breathe in deeply. Maintaining the expansion created in this area, say a short phrase or sentence. As you run out of breath, you will feel the area mentioned contracting, simply pause and take in another breath. With practice, you will be able to use your diaphragm by just thinking about it. Wherever you focus goes, your voice will travel.

 


The British accent and common mistakes : Part 1

Posted on Wednesday, July 19, 2017 by Positivevoice

As helpful as it is to know what you should do in order to speak English well, it is also important to be aware of the common mistakes made by native, British speakers. Throughout the UK, there are a range of different dialects and regional accents. In areas such as Essex and London, many people confuse ‘l’ and ‘w’ in words such as still, middle and well, so don’t be surprised if you hear someone saying ‘I’m very wew, thank you’ when they mean ‘Very well’. This may sound unlikely to you, but it is becoming more and more prevalent. I have also worked with clients from the West country and Birmingham who make the same mistake.

Sometimes this mistake is just a habit that has been picked up, and other times it is due to a lack of strength in the tongue. If this is the case, there is a great exercise for strengthening the tongue. All you need to do is take a soft sweet, or something similar and hold it up against the middle of the palate with the tip of the tongue for as long as you can. Ideally, this should be repeated three times per day until you are able to make the movement without any difficulty.

So, now that you know what not to do when it comes to the pronunciation of the consonant sound ‘l’, here is what you should be doing :

In the photograph, below, i demonstrate the mouth positioning for 'l':

This sound differs slightly depending on where in the word it is positioned. It is a voiced sound, which means that air passes over the vocal chords creating a sound.

There is one IPA symbol for this sound, ‘l’, even though it varies slightly depending on whether it is positioned before or after the vowel (or diphthong): let vs tell, for instance. When the ‘l’ sound comes before the vowel, it is fairly straight forward: To produce this sound, maintain a neutral mouth positioning (the lips rest gently apart), place the tip of your tongue on the palate just before the front teeth, without actually touching the front teeth, create a little pressure as you begin the vowel that follows and then release to continue with your word. At this point, the middle of the tongue should be slightly raised. If you slow down the sound, you will notice there is a little extra sound that is not represented by an ipa symbol, it is similar to the vowel sound ʊ, as in the word ‘could’.

This extra sound is more apparent when the vowel or diphthong comes before the ‘l’, as in words such as ‘meal’. Even without slowing down my speech, that is to say, in normal speech, this extra sound is very much apparent and if you do not pronounce it, the word won’t sound the same. If you’re still a little confused, please do watch my video on this subject. This is an extract from my Digital course in British accent coaching.

This sound differs slightly depending on where in the word it is positioned. It is a voiced sound, which means that air passes over the vocal chords creating a sound.

There is one IPA symbol for this sound, ‘l’, even though it varies slightly depending on whether it is positioned before or after the vowel (or diphthong): let vs tell, for instance. When the ‘l’ sound comes before the vowel, it is fairly straight forward: To produce this sound, maintain a neutral mouth positioning (the lips rest gently apart), place the tip of your tongue on the palate just before the front teeth, without actually touching the front teeth, create a little pressure as you begin the vowel that follows and then release to continue with your word. At this point, the middle of the tongue should be slightly raised. If you slow down the sound, you will notice there is a little extra sound that is not represented by an ipa symbol, it is similar to the vowel sound ʊ, as in the word ‘could’.

This extra sound is more apparent when the vowel or diphthong comes before the ‘l’, as in words such as ‘meal’. Even without slowing down my speech, that is to say, in normal speech, this extra sound is very much apparent and if you do not pronounce it, the word won’t sound the same. If you’re still a little confused, please do watch my video on this subject. This is an extract from my Digital course in British accent coaching.

l from Francesca Gordon-Smith on Vimeo.



Less effort and more FOCUS

Posted on Monday, July 10, 2017 by Positivevoice

I talk a lot about RESONANCE when i teach my students how to develop a  British accent. Here's the challenge, initially you need to work the muscles in the mouth to access the spaces that you're not used to using. Once you have become more aware of the cavities in the back of your mouth and throat and the muscles in your lower jaw, your voice will naturally start to resonate further back in these cavities. It's not something that you can force. Being relaxed is really important, as tension can stop the voice from resonating fully.

I recommend a series of exercises. It is best to practice them all. However, some people focus more on some than others according to their specific needs. When i teach my students, i constantly vary my approach in order to fulfil different learning styles and needs.

During my recent Facebook Live, i talked a lot about resonance. watching this video is a good place to start if you are interested in this topic:

Here are just a few of my recommendations. 

1. Follow my warm up exercises (visit my YouTube channel for further details): https://www.youtube.com/user/pvfran

2. Drink through a straw to work the muscles around the soft palate3. Read a book or magazine whilst simultaneously listening to an audio version of the text read by a narrator with a British accent that you would like to emulate: A list of books narrated by Stephen Fry A list of books narrated by Joanna LumleyA list of books narrated by Judi DenchA list of books narrated by Kate Winslet


The British accent and pronunciation

Posted on Wednesday, June 21, 2017 by Positivevoice

Today's post is an extract from my digital course on the pronunciation of the diphthong ɪə, pronounced like 'ear'.


20

 

IPA Symbol

ɪə

Sound

‘ear’

Spelling

Variations

ear near

ier pier

eer steer

ere mere

This diphthong combines the mouth positioning for the vowel sounds ɪ and ə. The main difference between these two mouth positions is the positioning of the tongue; for the first part of the sound? the mid to back of the tongue widens and thickens as it comes up to touch the mid to back top teeth, whilst the tip of the tongue comes down slightly and rests in the middle of the mouth. The corners of the mouth come back (like the exercise stifling a smile). For the second part of the sound, the tongue relaxes into the mouth. The lower jaw simultaneously relaxes into neutral position, as the mouth becomes more relaxed, in order to transition into the second position. The final mouth position requires the lips to rest very slightly open, in neutral position. The following photographs demonstrate the two mouth positions for this sound.

The first mouth position, 'ɪ':

The second mouth position 'ə':

Common Mistake:

In the England, we don't speak as we spell, which means that we don't pronounce the 'r' consonant that you see in words such as: ear, near, mere, steer and rear. There is a rule that works most of the time: we only pronounce an 'r' consonant when it comes before a vowel sound. This means that we don't pronounce the 'r' in the word 'ear', but we do pronounce it in the word 'earring'.However, you will notice that we don't pronounce the consonant 'r' in shorter words such as 'here' and 'mere'. In general, when the only letter that follows the 'r' is an 'e', the rule i mentioned above does not apply.

The video lesson:


Vowel from Francesca Gordon-Smith on Vimeo.

For further details about the digital course, visit: http://www.positivevoice.co.uk/britishaccentcoaching or contact Francesca directly: 0044 (0)7903 954 550 or fran@positivevoice.co.uk.



British Accent Coaching and Consonant Pairs

Posted on Thursday, April 06, 2017 by Positivevoice

Today's blog post is an extract from my digital course in British accent coaching.

33

 

IPA Symbol

ʃ (aspirated)

ʒ (voiced)

Sound

‘sh’ ‘zh’

Spelling

Variations

sh shout

s sugar

ch machine

 

sure pleasure

ge prestige

zure seizure

These two sounds are studied as a pair, as they take the same mouth movements. The lips are pushed forwards in a rounded, flared shape. The edges of the tongue (from mid-back) widen, touching both the top and bottom set of teeth. The tip of the tongue comes down, touching the inside of the bottom teeth.

The differences between these two sounds are as follows:

ʃ: The air passes between the palate and tongue (the mouth positioning forms a tunnel) creating an aspirated sound (we often use this sound to tell people to be quite or to comfort a baby).

ʒ the air passes over the vocal chords creating a voiced sound (this sound is like a vibration).


There are 8 other pairs of sounds in the International Phonetic Index for British English. Each pair is comprised of one voiced sound and one unvoiced, or aspirated sound. For instance, b (voiced) is paired with p (aspirated), d (voiced) is paired with t (aspirated) etc. You will be able to tell if a sound is voiced or aspirated by placing your hand in front of your mouth; the aspirated sounds create a slight rush of air that can be felt on your hand.

voiced

b

d

v

g

z

ʒ

ð

example

be

do

vet

got

is

pleasure

journey

this

aspirated

p

t

f

k

s

ʃ

θ

example

pea

too

fetch

cot

hiss

push

church

thought



What is stopping you from developing a British accent?

Posted on Friday, January 27, 2017 by Positivevoice


People often come to me saying that they are keen to develop a British accent and from time to time, these same people seem to run out of enthusiasm and stop practicing. 

Is this because they are not motivated?

Actually, the answer is different for everyone, but often they really do want to develop a British accent, but there is something holding them back. For instance, a client i worked with this week isn't managing to fully resonate her voice in her throat and all the cavities in her head and chest. The result is that her voice resonates in her mouth, which stops her from having a polished, British accent. What is causing this, you may wonder? Well, this week she mentioned that she is scared of sounding too loud. So, here we see two conflicting desires.

There is an interesting link between our emotions and our voice. We often show others how we feel through our vocal tone. In fact, if you fully connect with your emotions, others will see exactly how you feel just by looking at your physiology and listening to your voice. Fear isn't a huge problem if the individual is aware of it, as we can quite easily overcome irrational fears, can't we? I often find the best way to overcome low level fears is to question them and turn them on their head:

I asked her if i spoke too loudly? She said 'no'. I then said, well what makes you think you will speak too loudly if you follow the same steps that i follow to achieve a clear voice?

"Many of our fears are tissue paper thin and a single courageous step would carry us clear through them." Brendan Francis (Behan)Need a little guidance and motivation, try my digital course in British Accent Coaching. Be sure to listen to the hypnotherapy audio.


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.


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




public speaking RSS public speaking twitter public speaking facebook
public speaking blog

Recent Posts


Tags


Archive

© all rights reserved Positive Voice
Web by VMF