eɪ Vowel, as in ‘say, may, way’

Starting mouth position:

Final mouth position:

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.

ɪ and i: vowels
ɪ , as in ‘sit, lit, kit’

i: as in ‘seat, see, tea’

We look at these two sounds together as the mouth positioning is very similar. The positioning for i: is simply more exaggerated- The mouth is barely open for these two sounds; the lower jaw comes down very slightly and the corners of the mouth come back like a smile (i:) and a slight smile (ɪ). We lift the soft palate more for i:, as the sound resonates further back in the mouth. ɪ resonantes more in the middle of the mouth.
i: The mid to back of the tongue thickens and rises, so that it meets the mid to back top set of teeth (we have the sensation of biting down on the tongue). The back of the tongue rises towards the soft palate, which we, in turn lift in order to create more space for the sound to resonate.

ɪ The tongue movement is just less exaggerated here; the middle of the tongue rises up to meet the mid top set of teeth meaning that the vowel resonates more in the middle of the mouth. There is less expansion of the mouth for this vowel than there is for i:


“I'm delighted to say that my daughter's Wedding Day was an amazing day and everything went absolutely perfectly. I cannot thank you enough for all the help you gave in both boosting my confidence and with the preparation for my 'mother of the bride speech'. I felt completely calm and at ease on the day, remembered all the tips you have given me about presentation, voice projection, punctuation, posture etc., and didn't need to refer to any notes for my speech. I even felt confident enough to ad lib. I think this was one of my greatest achievements as I've always had a phobia about public speaking and had been terrified at the prospect of speaking in front of a group of people. Before starting the lessons, I could never have envisaged that I would stand up in front of 120 and have the confidence to give a speech. Throughout the afternoon and evening a number of guests congratulated me on an excellent speech; some said they were touched to tears and another that my speech was extremely polished and sincere.

I'm going to make sure I keep up my new skill and regularly participate in my club's poetry reading evenings.

Thank you so much Fran, I couldn't have done it without your help. ”

Anonymous, London

“I had been feeling quite stuck in a rut for a while and was having difficulty reaching my goals. I have to admit, I was a little bit sceptical at first. However Fran's kindness and understanding was something that really stood out in the sessions. I can't put my finger on it, but I did see a shift happen, accompanied by a rise in self esteem and perhaps the most profound thing that I took out of the sessions was the simplest: Love yourself first and everything else will slowly begin to fall into place. I realised how harsh I was being on myself, and as soon as I started to be kinder to myself, things became easier. There are still some things to work on, but I think Fran's coaching has definitely made me aware of the need to take more control of what is happening in my life! Fran's techniques are fast moving and if you aren't comfortable with certain techniques, she is really flexible about trying something new and unique to you. Fran is extremely supportive and definitely goes that extra mile to help those changes occur. Thanks for all your help, Fran. ”

Anonymous, London

“I have been meaning to thank you properly for all the help and support you gave me in the run up to Katie’s wedding, and to let you know how positively I felt about how it went. I found the whole process very insightful. Interesting and stimulating. One of the interesting things that came out of giving the speech is that my family just assumed I could give a speech, although they have never heard me give one, and assumed I do so all the time at work! My parents did come up to say they enjoyed it at the first opportunity, although in my visualisation I couldn’t see them doing so! I hope your courses are going well and if you ever need any help or support, I would be a willing helper for you! ”

Joanne Lane

“I spent 5 sessions with Fran to help me overcome my fear of public speaking and my forthcoming best mans speech. By helping me break down the negative thought patterns I had developed over the years combined with actual speaking exercises I was able to tackle the problem from both ends.
Fran is very passionate about what she does. It's nice to know that someone has a genuine interest in the behaviour of the human mind and it was interesting to unravel some of my insecurities that were holding me back in my everyday life. I now have a much healthier and realistic attitude towards towards the prospect of public speaking and thanks to Fran my best mans speech was a success.”

Ben Johnson, London

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“The Smiths English promise of delivering high quality lessons ''Anywhere, Anytime'' sits very true with my experience of taking lessons with Francesca via Skype. I am a professional woman living in the States who speaks English as a second language. Although I speak English with much clarity and fluency, I have always wished to discover my ''English voice'' and have always wondered how I would have sounded with a true British accent had I been living in England from an early age. Through much research, I discovered Francesca's site and after having viewed some of her video lessons, I became convinced that she would be the perfect elocution teacher for me. However I was not quite sure whether taking lessons via Skype would be just as useful as having lessons in person. My concerns proved to be completely unfounded as I have benefited greatly from my online Skype sessions with Francesca. She has the keenest hearing and a superbly-trained ear for picking up the sound and voice issues in her student's speech. From the very first words you speak with Francesca she gets busy on identifying the sounds which need polishing and improvement and prepares a study plan to meet your specific needs. The clarity and the ease at which my lessons have been conducted, makes me almost forget that during the lessons we are in two different continents. Francesca is the ultimate professional with such a delightful personality that makes taking lessons with her an enjoyable, fun and interesting experience with true results even after the first session. I thoroughly recommend taking online lessons via Skype with Francesca.


Thank you for great sessions over Skype. I liked your professionalism and you are a great enthusiast. I have noticed significant improvements in my speech clarity, pausing between speeches and stressing words. The exercises you taught are highly beneficial and did help in a great way in the betterment of my voice.”

DP, India

"I had been asked last minute to speak before a group of extremely inspiring people, and was slightly overwhelmed and excited for the opportunity. As destiny had it, I met Fran, a speech expert 2 days before, and booked in ASAP to get her advice, tips and knowledge. Not only did she help me with the practical side of conveying a message, but the relaxing atmosphere plus the other techniques she used such as the coaching meant me leaving the session a different person! The presentation went very well, and Fran had a lot to do with its success! Thank you"


“From a personal point of view, I have to say that you are possibly one of the most inspiring people I have ever been around.  You give off this positive vibe that cannot be coached or taught, you are just born with it.  It is a unique gift, a talent.

I know you told me you trained to be an actress… Personally, I feel you would be wasted acting, not because you wouldn’t be good at it, but more because so many of your talents would be wasted.  You have this ability to make people feel good about themselves & come away feeling like they have learnt something or added something.

For anyone who has any fear of public speaking & wants help in overcoming that fear I can’t recommend Positive Voice enough.  The thought of being best man actually made me feel sick when I first started, but Francesca gives you help & support in a very unique way – it’s very personal, she allows you to make mistakes & feel good about them so that you learn from them.  She gives you hints & tips, little tricks to help you overcome any hurdles, you can work as slowly or as quickly as you like.  The sessions are planned out so you know what you’re working towards.

I always felt that if I could write, deliver & perform a best man speech then I would be able to do ANY speech…and I mean ANY speech. Working with Francesca has given me the tools I need to have a much better understanding of public speaking, how to handle my emotions & how to present myself.  I know that in the years to come I will use Francesca to brush up on my skills.

Had I not got in touch with Francesca, I would have hated the whole day; it would have been very unpleasant.  As it was, I was actually EXCITED getting up to address the 70 people at my best friend’s wedding.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much… I will actually miss our sessions.

I feel that I should wish you luck here but if I’m honest, you don’t need it.  You will go on to achieve great things & I know you will pop up in the next few years on TV & in Newspapers & I will tell everyone that this was the person who helped me overcome my fear!“


“We organised a session with Positive Voice because we wanted to empower female students with the confidence to achieve what they want to do and the session most definitely fulfilled that! Fran's variety of techniques offered support for everyone who attended and feedback after the event has been really positive, with all the women who participated having benefited in some way. It's most definitely a session we will look to run again in future years. ”

University of Nottingham Women's Network

“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. I was often put in situations where I needed to present, often at a very short or no notice. The fear inside me gradually grew greater and greater. I knew I had to do something about it before it paralysed me completely! Then one day I happened to receive a newsletter from Positive Voice, offering confidence boosting courses. I had known (and had a very good experience with) Francesca as I had taken elocution lessons with her. Francesca was able to accommodate a session at short notice and we used Skype to overcome the geographical distance. During the session, Francesca asked me good questions about the things that scared me and why it was so; and somehow helped me make them work towards my advantage. Thanks to Francesca, I now even see the boss I used to be afraid of as my greatest teacher! Francesca and I discussed running a follow up session if that was needed but I am pleased to say Francesca managed to disperse my fears during our first lesson. On top of that she provided some very useful presentation tips, which have helped me feel much more confident about the presentations I prepare and conduct. Overall, I would recommend Positive Voice to anyone who feels their confidence could do with a boost!”

Manager, Big 4 firm

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