Jul 3, 2008

English pronunciation

I read aloud a picture book, 'Curious George and the baseball game', yesterday to my son after a long interval and thought that my English pronunciation has no color of English at all.
My English pronunciation is not typical Japanese one I guess, but I felt so uneasy.

Why is this? Why do I feel like this, now?

I wonder this is because I've been listening the real English and improved listening ability and known what the real English sounds like, so I couldn't satisfy my inadequate pronunciation.
It's like the more I get familiar with the real English sounds, the less I have confidence in my English.

I think I definitely need to practice and change something of my pronunciation if I want to communicate more smoothly.
I can have just easy small talk, but I cannot satisfy this.

But the problem is that I can't say what's wrong with my pronunciation.
I've asked several native English teachers about my pronunciation, but they usually say there is nothing wrong because, you see, we can communicate...

Did I do too much mumbling while I listen to iPod?
Should I speak rather word by word more like Japanese English?
How I can pronounce consonant more clearly?

Someone, please, give me some advice!!!


Chicosunny_e said...

emmie san! hope you don't take it as an advice because it is based on merely my experience. Besides I'm not sure if i fully understand your problems here.
Anyway, I often feel a bit of dilemma when i have a chat with my boyfriends( ha ha joking, I mean friends) But I don't think it is nothing to do with my way of speaking.
They are Native English speakers and even though their way of speaking differ depending on their country or area or even background, I can tell the pronunciation difference between theirs and mine.
I guess it is not only pronunciation itself but also other aspects of speech such as intonation, speed, flow and so on. It could actually include body language I think. We, Japanese seemed to have a quite strong influence of our language when we speak others but this tendency can be found with some Europeans or other Asians. Which is considered as an unique characteristic and some are highly praised. Ex. French as a sexy one as you know.
Perhaps you can see my point already. Yes! I came to love my unique way of speaking. Which might show some of my personality as well. I used to feel a bit ashamed of the lack of authenticity of my sound but now I feel other way round. I think it is wonderful to have a character in your speech. Well,
you mentioned the most of the native speakers said that your English is fine because it is understandable. I agree with them. As long as you can communicate, I see no problem at all. The differences should be considered as a part of your character.
That's all I can say about the sound. But listening comprehension skill is more important issue to concern.
Hope You have a great weekend!
PS I might join ふらっと会 in Sibuya tomorrow
if Momo says OK.....

mrs. malone said...

Hi Chico! This comment based on your own experiences is the very one I truely need. Even you have a dilemma... Yes, as you say, I want to have my own style of speech. I'm wondering to try out online English conversation lessons. It might be good to do for a short period to gain confidence in my speech and see what's the thing, if any, I can improve in my way of speaking. Thanks for the information, I've checked the ELT? site. The meeting place is close to my house. Do they welcome someone just a visitor?
PS Shibuya Furatto is too enchanting to let it go...

秋野桜 said...


I hear you. I have been here in New York for almost 8 years, and I still think I need to practice English pronounciation.
The best way for you should be oral reading. If you have a book with a CD, it works perfectly. Even if you don't, there are tons of websites that have texts with sound. I also have some useful likns for oral reading on my blog, so if you are interested in, please visit it.
In addition, I don't suggest online schools because most of them I know have non native English speakers as their teachers. They are still good enough to improve conversation skills, but to improve pronounciation? I don't think so.
By the way, I came here to announce my offer of free correction to blog diary and study suggestion, but you seem to have a very nice friend who can improve your English a lot. Please do not hesitate to ask her (or him?) to crrect your English. I have read almost 100 English blogs by Japanse so far, and it seems rare to have a friend who can correct their English.
Don't be offended. Your level of English is good enough to study at a College in the U.S. I even guess that you have. If you have improved English without any experiences abroad, I must start to encourage people to do tadoku for sure.
Here is a tip for you. Read your diary in a few days again. You must realize where you made mistakes. This is also a tip for us in Japanese, don't you think?

Thank you.

Whiskers said...

Hi! Chico-san gave you wonderful advice which I fully agree with and you already found the answer, I guess.
Reading the comments here, I thought it actually was a matter of 'fluency over accuracy.' Even if your English doesn't perfectly sound like that of a native English speaker, if you could make yourself understood, it doesn't matter. Well, this is what I often tell myself. Ha, ha.

You said that the ALT at the highschool you are teaching is quite friendly and talks a lot to you, didn't you? Don't you think there is some chance to deepen that friendship further? You can invite that ALT to your home or go to a Starbucks together.... You can talk about your farming experiences, Tadoku, or anything!

I want to share my experience with you.
When I was a Junior high student(long long time ago!), I was listening to an NHK English radio program hosted by Mr. Katsuaki Togo. At that time, he was in a way my 'Guru' of English learning. Some years ago, I had a chance to listen to his speech after more than 20 years. And I was amazed! His pronuciation got sooooo much improved (of course his pronunciation was already very good in the past). I was so encouraged. Language learning is one thing in which you can make progress even you are getting old. I can see it in the students of my night class, too.

Well, good luck and have a nice new week!

mrs. malone said...

Nice meeting you, 秋野桜さん! Thanks for leaving me such an encouraging message. I've been enjoying English these 5,6years and had nothing especially bothered me. But now, I guess this is because I'm more willing to do some in English, I tend to pay attentions to what I'm lacking and I can't see what I've already gained. Did you happen to read my learning English history post on June 4th. I lived in NY for a year looong time ago. At that time, I had no idea to do anything in NY and just killed time strolling around the city. What a waste, now I know... How's your day now? I guess once you live in NY such a long period of time, you might find it difficult to go back to Japan. I'll come to your site and see what your life is like. How exciting!! BTW, Tadoku is quite popular these days and many grown-ups are doing this approach and some highly motivated schools have started to introduce this approach into regular classes. Good day to you!

mrs. malone said...

Hi,whiskers-san! Your story of 'Guru' is surely up-lifting. I don't have a chance to go with ATL in high school, but twice a week I have a chance to speak with a guy from Britain at a cram school where I have two lessons of math and Tadoku.(Don't take it that I can teach math... it's just a 成り行のこと, gee, how could I say such a subtle matter in English...)It should be a good opportunity to try my English, but because of my understanding of English is better than other Japanese I guess, HE!, not me, he speaks quite a lot to me and I can't find a moment to break into his conversation. Last time, as usual, he began to speak that he was suffered from gout, 痛風, so even slightest wind caused an acute pain in his feet just like the Kanji, 痛風 tells, and his wife doesn't allow him to drink but he found some beer sold in Japan is not so bad for gout, so on. He kept on speaking even when my lesson time has come. (so,so, sorry, but I really have to go...) I'm wondering now if I should have a certain subject that I know much about even in English, then I can join a face to face meeting, if any, or join a forum on the net. やっぱり、あせらず、ぼちぼち、ですね。I'm always relieved with your heartful comment. Thanks!