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Have Mastery in Diction: Effective Way to Speak English

 Undoubtedly, learning English is important to be a good speaker but how you speak and present it to the world is also a vital aspect of the process. We need to have clarity of speech to improve our English speaking skills whether it is to give a speech in the public, sit for a job interview or simply speak to other people, friends, and family. Mumbling on words and sentences will show our lack of confidence and will not allow us to communicate effectively.

Now the most important question is ‘How to work on clarity of speech to speak fluently?’ 

Need not worry, it is not a difficult task to start with. Practicing with methods to improve your diction is the easiest way to converse fluently. 

What is diction?

Diction is the appropriateness, correctness, and accuracy of speech while communicating. Your content may be fantastic but unless the audience or the other people can hear you clearly and effectively you are not a good speaker.  Though it is never too late to learn and start anything from the scratch. Below are some of the tips to have mastery in diction and speak correctly:

  • Read aloud

Practicing reading aloud whenever you are reading a book, a magazine or a newspaper will help listen to yourself and become familiar with your sound when you speak. Most of the time when you are speaking to someone else you cannot hear your sound but by reading loudly at home in your comfort zone you can listen to yourself and point out the areas you need to improve. Recording yourself while talking can also be an option to listen to your sound and practice the areas you lack later.

  • Tongue Twisters

Want to speak confidently and without stopping or mumbling the best way is to practice tongue twisters at home. A lot of public speakers warm up their voice with tongue twisters before entering the stage to have clarity in their voices and to make sure the audience understand what they are speaking.  Following are certain ways to get hold of tongue twisters:

  1. Start slowly and eventually until you build up and say them at normal speed. When practicing them make your tongue, jaw and lips work hard, and as you keep on grasping them twist the words more and speak loudly. This entire process will strengthen your muscles for a clear and good speech.
  2. Try some of these tongue twisters below to improve speech clarity :
  • Red leather, yellow leather
  • She sells seashells by the seashore
  • Four fine fresh fish for you
  • We surely shall see the sunshine soon

 

  • Attention to tone

Tone plays a significant role in speech clarity and diction as it surely affects the way you speak and pronounce certain words.   If you are giving an exciting speech where your tone is disinterested or boring people might not relate to you and find it hard to understand what you are speaking.  Your tone whether informative, exciting, or conversational affects the way you portray what you say and connect you to people as they pay attention to your speech. 

  • Emphasize mouth movements

Sometimes it is hard for people to find out the exact issue while struggling with articulation that is speaking clearly. But the idea is not to give up but to find out ways to improve your speech.  Speak aloud several sentences in front of the mirror and focus on the different movements of the mouth made in the process of creating certain sounds. Focusing on clear mouth movements will help you to build proper diction.

  • Imitate good public speakers

Articulation is art so imitating good public speakers such as celebrities, television anchors, radio hosts who are trained in this field is a great way to improve diction. If you notice the way they create sounds in some words you can practice speaking like them and use the strategy while you give a speech. Playing a recording of a speaker giving a speech in public and repeating it with him while paying attention to his diction carefully is an easy process. 

  • Be slow and steady

Many people have the habit of speaking fast which makes your speech sound unclear and not sure to understand what you are speaking. Diction can be improved only when you speak slowly and clearly without stammering or using mumbled words. Speaking slowly has the added advantage of giving away the message of thoughtfulness but always remember to speak not too slowly.

  • Break it down

When you are focusing on enunciation that is pronouncing words rightfully as it is the most useful thing to do is to break down the words. Start slowly while trying to separate the different words and sounds accordingly including the consonants and vowels and also writing them down and noting the changes they create. Now speak making sure every sound is distinct and clear and trying to articulate your sentences with each turn gradually speeding up but not too fast and keeping the speech clear and understandable. 

  • Don’t speak a local dialect more than English

 

If you speak your local dialect more than English then the tendency of having mother tongue issues while speaking and pronouncing certain words might occur. The way you pronounce the words in your dialect you tend to have transferred the same thing while speaking in English so it is necessary to focus more on improving diction to speak English effectively.

  • Focus on what you speak

Most of the times people focus on how other people pronounce certain words differently rather than focusing on how to improve one’s pronunciation.  To get a hold of good diction it is important to practice words and sentences at home yourself and try to work on the areas you lack.

  • Use pronunciation dictionary

Want to pronounce words correctly? Always keep a pronunciation dictionary handy which can help you to look up to words and the way they are pronounced. If you get habituated with using a dictionary then the flow gets easier to pronounce some words with the correct stress pattern. 

  • Rise and fall of intonation

Intonation is termed as the expression of your voice which is an essential part of speaking. Voice modulation helps in speaking a sentence rightfully with the correct tone and clarity and sending the right message to the people.

  • Attend training and seminars

Training and seminars are a necessity to learn the fundamentals of being a good speaker. From consonants to vowels, place, and manner of articulation of specific sounds, letters, and alphabets training provides the foundation for diction. At a seminar or training, you have an opportunity to listen to good speakers and learn different ways to speak effectively.

  • Picture it

Visualize the position of your mouth and tongue. Try to close your eyes and think about the type of sound it will create before saying it. A useful way is also to keep diagrams of your face and tongue to think about the shape you will have to make inside your mouth to pronounce the word correctly.

  • Sing a song

Singing some popular English songs after learning the lyrics can be helpful to speak words with correct stress and also useful in getting the right rhythm and intonation.  When you sing a song the concentration has only to be put on pronunciation and not forming sentences which will easily help in the improvement of diction. 

  • Get someone to give feedback

Practicing alone gives you time of your own but doing it in front of a good speaker gives you the advantage of gaining knowledge. You can also practice with someone equally interested in improving their English speaking skills and record and listen to each other’s pronunciation. 

  • Watch Yourself

Stand in front of a mirror to notice the placement of your tongue, jaw, and lips and later see videos of native speakers saying the same thing to learn techniques they use to speak.

  • Study Phonetics

When the word phonetics comes into mind what should be understood are the individual sounds in words. To understand phonetics International Phonetic Alphabet can be referred to.  It is useful in breaking words into syllables then into individual sounds.  This is a good tool to study diction exercises. 

  • Practice Breath Support

To have a good hold of speaking you have to be par with your breathing. Breathing support gives you a chance to improve your diction and you can do so by practicing tongue twisters and saying sentences in one breath.

  • Lip buzzes and tongue trills

 

While speaking you use all parts of your mouth including the lips and tongue so warming those up with lip buzzes and tongue trills is essential. These will help you to produce a wide range of sounds when you give a speech. It is a good thing to practice before performing.

  • Sentence length variation

Say small sentences and pause strategically when it is needed. Pauses are important to breathe for effective speech and proper diction.

  • Get to know minimal pairs

Minimal pairs are words with almost the same pronunciation but with one sound that is different. For instance ship and sheep. The difference between the two words is the length of the vowel which sometimes creates difficulty in understanding the sound. Learning these and practicing thoroughly is useful while speaking.

  • Learn to pronounce vowels

Vowels are the five alphabets in English A, E, I, O, U. These vowels have a distinct way to be pronounced because of the position of the mouth where they are formed. Below are some of the ways to pronounce vowels:

  1. I- pronounced at the very front of your mouth
  2. E- pronounced at the front half of the mouth
  3. A- pronounced in the back half of the mouth
  4. O- pronounced in the back of the mouth
  5. U- pronounced at the very back of the mouth

Conclusion

Speaking with good diction might help you make a good first impression with clients, coworkers, and the audience. You will be perceived as confident and trustworthy when you speak in the right tone and clarity. Using good diction will also help you to convey your ideas effectively and efficiently. Improving diction takes a lot of practice and exercises to enhance the quality of your speech. When you are positive about your speaking voice it also paves a way to communicate confidently and fluently.

            This was a chapter on How to Have Mastery in Diction. Keep on reading all the other chapters for blogs on similar topics and subjects.

And to learn English from Hindi with easy tips and techniques join Awal’s Spoken English Course.

 

January 10, 2022

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