Is it really proof that your English isn't good enough?

Would you like to stop feeling awkward in English and start feeling like your best self?

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How will working with a Neurolanguage Coach help you get better results?
  • Bad at languages?
  • Find English pronunciation impossible?
  • Too old to learn something new?

All lies we tell ourselves, as I recently learnt on my Neurolanguage Coaching Course. More importantly, through Neurolanguage Coaching®, we can prove they are lies and help you reach your goals in language learning.

It is taking me a little time to process everything I have learnt through the course and I am sure it will take even longer to implement everything. Whilst I am processing all of that, I would love to share some of my insights and some of my new-found knowledge with you.

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How can taking a breath make your message more powerful?

Last summer, several of my students were interested in working on their fluency, their confidence and reducing the amount of hesitation they used when they were speaking in English.

By hesitation we were mainly focussing on: 'um', 'ah', 'er' or any other noise you might make that has no meaning, but simply implies you are thinking about what to say next. A couple of students were also interested in reducing the repetitions they produced when speaking on an unfamiliar topic.

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How You Can Overcome the Challenges of Using Word Stress and Sentence Stress
How You Can Overcome the Challenges of Using Word Stress and Sentence Stress

When referring to language, stress applies to the syllables or words which are pronounced with more emphasis than the other syllables in that particular word, or the other words in that particular sentence. We add stress to a word in the same way we add stress to a syllable, we make it slightly louder, slightly longer and slightly higher in pitch. Of course context also helps with comprehension, but if we can help anyone to understand us more easily, communication will flow much more nicely and we will have a better connection. This article will go into the usage and importance of word stress and sentence stress and will give you some tips on how to overcome the challenges faced by those of you who have learnt English as a second language.

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Pronunciation is about being able to speak so that others can understand you

Want to know more about how understanding pronunciation can help you?

Listen to my full conversation with Melitta Campbell here:

How can my rhythm in English influence what people understand?How can my rhythm in English influence what people understand?
How can my rhythm in English influence what people understand?

The rhythm of a language is quite interesting if you're a language nerd like me! It varies between languages, although there are three main groups of rhythm distinguishing languages around the world. This article will just focus on two of these. If your mother tongue is Italian, Spanish, Catalan, French or Romanian, then you have a syllable-timed language. Whereas, if your first language is English, German or Portuguese, you have a stress-timed language.

Now what do I mean by these two types of rhythm?

A syllable-timed language gives each syllable about the same amount of time to be said. Certainly, there will still be variation in stress, where certain syllables are louder and a higher pitch, however, one 3-syllable word will take the same amount of time to say as another. It is also quite likely that the stress pattern is more regular. For example, most multi-syllabic words in Italian have the stress on the penultimate syllable, although there are of course exceptions, which generally have specific rules to follow depending on the suffix.

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Connecting through language and communication
How will improving my pronunciation help me make better connections?

Better pronunciation is not solely about how you pronounce your words, although, of course, that is the foundation. But if you are reading this, I assume your level of English is reasonable – you can probably make yourself understood and you can understand others, in fact you may even have a proficient level of English.

So why would you need to focus on your pronunciation to help you make better connections?

Sometimes, having the right words, said clearly in the right order isn't enough. We also need to think about being absolutely clear, while having the right rhythm and using your intonation.

Let me tell you a little bit about Laura.

Laura is one of my more recent clients from Italy and she has kindly agreed for me to share her story with you.

Continue reading here.

Should I improve my grammar, vocabulary or pronunciation?
What are the Benefits of Improving my Pronunciation when I'm already Comprehensible?

Several people have asked recently: why should I focus on pronunciation? They feel that increasing their range of vocabulary and improving their grammatical accuracy are much more essential to communicating in English. This is a common belief, one that is reinforced by many language classes in schools, where the focus is on perfect grammar and a wide range of vocabulary while pronunciation is ignored or only focussed on when absolutely essential.

When you start learning a language, this is mainly true. A range of vocabulary allows you to have conversations on a variety of topics, rather than sticking to just one theme. You also need some basic grammar structures in order to organise your thoughts and be understood by those you are communicating with. And as long as the words you say are comprehensible, pronunciation probably will not be the focal point of your studies, other than to make sure you've copied the teacher in a manner that is similar enough to be understood. This is because people will be able to respond to what you have said and you will be able to get by, in most scenarios. 

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How can Reading Out Loud help with Sentence Stress?

How often do you read out loud?

Often when we're speaking naturally, we have so many things to think about. We have to think about the word order, which words we're using, the pronunciation of the words, whether we've got the right proposition, the intonation.

All of these things are going through our heads, and often we forget something. And it could be any of those things. And today I'd like to look a little bit at how sentence stress can affect a sentence.

Which outcome are you most interested in when communicating?
Which outcome are you most interested in when communicating?

Recently, Renu, another English language teacher was interviewing me about teaching pronunciation and she asked pronunciation really is an important part of learning the English language.

Renu wanted to clarify what role pronunciation plays in our communication with other peope.

After some consideration, I realised there are different layers which the role of pronunciation takes and each layer allows you to improve your communication possibilities.

After mulling over the topic during this last week, it felt like an important topic to explore more and expand on for you here.

Continue reading here.

What if I make a mistake?
Are your learners intimidated by English?

How much time do your learners spend speaking English in your classroom?

Speaking in your second, third (or even fourth!) language can, at times, be intimidating, don't you agree?

Where you are, how prepared you are and how comfortable you feel with the people around you, can all affect how well you speak at any given moment. This is as true for our students as it is for us.

How would it feel to have better rapport with your students, so you can help your learners, of all ages, feel safe enough and prepared enough to practise speaking more English, both inside, and outside of, your classroom?

If this sounds like what you are looking for, then here are a few tips for you on how you can help your students find the motivation to start talking more in English.

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Am I good enough?
Am I good enough?

Have you ever asked yourself whether you are good enough?

If you have, let me start off by telling you that you are not the only one.

I am 99% sure almost everyone has asked themselves this question at some point in their lives, and this is just as true for the teachers that I work with.

They may be worried that their pronunciation is not good enough, or that their English language is not quite at the level that they want it to be, because they are grading their language for their students and not having the regular practice of a higher level of English. Or maybe they are worried about their classroom management style.

Whatever the reason, whatever your reason for asking this question, I would like to tell you, you are enough.

Just to emphasise this point; you are enough.

Continue reading here.

How to Get Your Students Talking

A few tips for teachers of English, on ways to get your students talking more in English - what other tips would you add?

Why Confidence is the Key to Fluency in English

Before I start working with a new client, I ask what areas of their English they would like to work on. Most of them respond with vocabulary, grammar or pronunciation. Which is fine, however, almost all of them already have a good range of vocabulary and proficient use of grammar and even if they have an accent, their pronunciation is usually quite clear. So why do they come to me for lessons?

Well, having worked with teachers and professionals alike over the last 12 years, I have come to the conclusion that it is not about how much they know, or how much they think they know. It is about their confidence in themselves.

So how can we improve our confidence in our English ability, I hear you ask?

Continue reading here.

Can I still pronounce words correctly with an accent?
Can I still pronounce words correctly with an accent?

Recently, there's been a question asked several times, which I would like to expand upon with you.

That question was:

Can I pronounce words correctly with an accent?

My short answer would be ‘yes, of course’!

You can stop here if you like and just enjoy the knowledge that you can carry on speaking in the same way you have always spoken. 

However, if you would like the long response with a bit more of an explanation, continue reading this article.

Continue reading here.

Would you like to be the teacher who is remembered for all the right reasons?

Most English teachers I know want to incite passion for the language in their students and one of my clients, let's call her Clara, is no different. Clara's heartfelt efforts to help her pupils improve their results are something we see in teachers again and again, because like Clara, we'd all like to be remembered for being a great tacher, wouldn't we? 

Can you remember all of your teachers? Probably not, but I am sure there is at least one you remember clearly, who taught your favourite subject, or who made a lasting impression on you: your favourite teacher. 

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Vowel Sounds /ɪ/ /i/ and /i:/

When a words ends in a 'y' it's often represented in phonemic script as /i/, like the long /i:/, but without the colon. This sound sits somewhere between the /i:/ and the /ɪ/.

I put together a short video (2 minutes) to give you some examples, check it out here!

english language coach for non-native teachers of English leaning against an invisible wall
Why many English teachers think their pronunciation is poor, but really shouldn't

Do you feel concerned about your English accent? Do you lack self-confidence in your English pronunciation? Do you avoid teaching pronunciation in your own English classroom because you were never taught it when you were at school?

There are many issues behind pronunciation for teachers of English who have another mother tongue; this is not your fault. Believe it or not, this is just as true for native speakers, we too have spent much of our lives being told other accents are “better” or being told to speak “more clearly”. However, learning about how English pronunciation is different from your own language can empower you to help your learners become confident, independent English speakers.

Continue reading here.

english language coach for non-native teachers of English sitting in the sunshine with views of the Scilly Isles behind her
3 Ways to Increase your Self-Confidence to Teach Pronunciation

Being able to teach a subject well is important for all teachers, wouldn’t you say? Of course there may be some aspects of that subject which we would rather not teach, or certain topics we prefer, but this is natural. However, when our self-confidence prevents us from doing our job well, this can cause us to feel like we are not good enough, and can develop into a real fear.

There are many reasons for a lack of self-confidence. It could be that we do not feel like an authority on that topic, which could come from a lack of knowledge. It could come from a lack of practise, or it could be part of your personality. You will be pleased to know that feeling uncertain about your abilities is not a permanent state and can be changed with a little help.

Continue reading here.

English Language Coach for non-native teachers of English
5 Ways to Enhance your Students’ Pronunciation in your Classroom

For many teachers, pronunciation can be a scary thing to focus on and teach in the classroom. Five years ago, this was the same for me! I was terrified of trying to do anything more than the bare minimum of drilling a new word. I had not been taught pronunciation, I did not really know how it worked and had never really thought about it in any great detail, so I avoided it without even considering the effect that would have on my students.

However, a huge part of my DipTESOL focussed on pronunciation and I realised that I had been letting my students down. By not focussing on pronunciation in my classes, my learners were unable to communicate clearly and would potentially have issues understanding others. I realised I had to change the way I thought about pronunciation in my lessons. And slowly, at first, I began incorporating small aspects of pronunciation into all of my lesson plans. Now, I can’t imagine not incorporating it in some way.

There are a several ways we can help our students become better communicators, here are a few tools which are simple and easy to use, which help us include more pronunciation in our classrooms.

Continue reading here.


Intonation, or changes in the tone of voice, are key to being understood clearly. Unfortunately, it is often part of the English language that is overlooked and considered less important than grammar or vocabulary.

In fact, intonation can often carry more meaning than the words themselves!

Watch this video for more information:

english language coach for non-native teachers of English sitting in the sunshine with views of the Scilly Isles behind her
Do you want to get rid of your self-doubt?

Are you ever worried that your pronunciation isn’t as good as it could be? Are you sometimes concerned that you don’t have the right pronunciation for even some of the basic words? Do you ever feel like other people are judging your accent?

You’re not alone.

These thoughts and fears went around my head on a daily basis when I first moved to Italy and was trying to speak Italian. When I went into shops in Rome, the sales assistants and shopkeepers would hear me speak and immediately switch to English – I have to say, that did nothing for my self-confidence - although I'm sure they thought they were being helpful.

Continue reading here.

English Language Coach for non-native teachers of English
Our Accent is an Important part of our Identity

Do you agree with the statement title of this article? 

I’ve talked about this with many colleagues and friends who all have different ideas about this.

In English, I don’t have a strong accent; anyone listening to me talk would probably not be able to place me in a specific region in the UK. I’ve also never been someone who plays with different accents and couldn’t produce a specific accent on demand, but I love hearing the range of accents when I’m walking through a multicultural city! 

Being a teacher of English and speaking a few other languages I am curious how others see themselves when speaking another language. When I’m speaking German or Italian, I tend not to worry too much about my pronunciation, as long as others can understand me. How do you feel about your own accent?

Continue reading here.

Do you have a Passion for the English Language?
Do you have a Passion for the English Language?

As teachers of English, we are usually eager to share our enthusiasm and pass on our knowledge to our students because of our passion for our subject.

However, after weeks, or months, or even years(!), of students looking disinterested and disengaged, we can become resigned to simply going through the motions, but without feeling our spark. We go through the course book, unit by unit, and follow the syllabus that's set for us, but we do not feel we can share our passion, which means we have a low-level of job satisfaction. 

Now, I am not blaming anyone in particular, instead I would like to make some suggestions on how we can insert some of that passion back into our classrooms. 

How do you feel, would you like to connect with your students better through English?

Continue reading here.

Pronunciation - Elision (Missing Sounds) Part 2

There are many ways fast speakers change the way words are said in English to aid fluency, elision is just one of them.

The use of contractions in spoken language, or skipping sounds in multiple syllabic words, which are unnecessary for comprehension, are just a couple of ways we do this.

Watch this video for more information:

3 ways to sound more fluent when speaking English
3 ways to sound more fluent when speaking English

Most advanced speakers of English are likely to speak without considering how the words and sentences are being said (here I'm referring to emphasis and intonation). 

That is okay most of the time, because we can make ourselves understood, by repeating what we've said or finding new ways to explain what we meant. Context can also help us with comprehension when we know what is being spoken about. And, hopefully, we can find the funny side of any misunderstandings which do occur.

However, for those of you who would like to feel more fluent when speaking English, here are three things to concentrate on in order to help your words flow more smoothly.

Continue reading here.

Do You Want to Use More English?

Sometimes, even we teachers get nervous before a language class. We worry about our pronunciation, or that we will not be able to explain something to our students, or that we will make a mistake that is so embarrassing we will have to quit and find a new school to start over again, or maybe we will just find a black hole to hide in, for ever! 

For all these reasons and more we rely on the school course books and the audio files to provide our students with the English they need. We sometimes rely on our mother tongue to give explanations, so we can save time, make it easier for the students and not confuse them with an explanation in English. But is this what is best for our learners of English?

Continue reading here.

four giraffe's looking like they're having a conversation
How to Improve our Pronunciation

We are regularly told that speaking clearly and comprehensibly is vital to being understood, but how can we improve our pronunciation? This article takes you through 5 practical tips to help you better your English pronunciation. This is not about getting rid of an accent, or trying to sound like a native-speaker. Although I realise this is the goal for some, the main aim of this article is to give you some pointers of activities you can do in order to be better understood by those you are communicating with.

Continue reading here.

Pronunciation - Elision (Missing Sounds)

There are many ways fast speakers change the way words are said in English to aid fluency, elision is just one of them.

The use of contractions in spoken language, or skipping sounds in multiple syllabic words, which are unnecessary for comprehension, are just a couple of ways we do this.

Watch this video for more information:

Three people sitting under a tree chatting
Do we need to encourage our students to speak English with each other in the classroom?

Often, when we give our students a task to complete with a partner, they do the task, but use their mother tongue to discuss the problems with their classmate in order to complete it. Is this a problem? As long as they get the answers correct, does it matter which language they use to get there? I would argue that the more English they use, the more they will learn about the language. I am not saying their mother tongue does not belong in the classroom at all, however, the less it is used the more advances there will be in their English. So, how can we encourage our students to use more English in the classroom, even when they are speaking with their friends?

Continue reading here.

Why is Pronunciation so Difficult?

There are many reasons we struggle with pronunciation. But by understanding a language and immersing ourselves in examples of comprehensible speech we can improve. So, what do you find difficult with English pronunciation? Is it that sometimes words sound the same, like ‘cat’ and ‘cut’, or ‘boat’ and ‘bought’? Or other times, that the same word can be pronounced in different ways, such as ‘read’ in the present (I like to read) and ‘read’ in the past (I read a whole book over the weekend)? For others the silent letters cause total confusion, for instance the ‘b’ in ‘lamb’, or ‘comb’ and the ‘h’ in ‘honest’. 

Let’s have a look at how we can understand the English language and its pronunciation.

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Simple English phrases to use in your classroom

Sometimes it may seem easier and quicker to use students’ mother tongue to communicate ideas fast without needing to get into lengthy explanations, especially if it is our first language too. However, this can be detrimental to the student’s language development. When the students expect you to give them instructions, make small talk or ask questions in their mother tongue they do not think in English and so they are less likely to communicate in English even when you do speak to them in the target language. Here are some simple phrases you can use with your students.

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Pronunciation - Same Word, Different Sound

Prepositions, auxiliary verbs, modal verbs and articles can all be pronounced either in their strong form, or their weak form, depending on whether they are stressed or not.

When they are said in their weak form, they are often pronounced using the schwa and should be said softer, shorter and faster than if said in their strong (stressed) form.

Watch this video for more information:

a person holding the word ENCOURAGE on wooden scrabble tiles
How to feel more confident about your pronunciation

How do you feel about your English pronunciation? Hopefully you feel proud that you can communicate in another language, that you are able to make yourself understood and you can understand others. But I know from personal experience, with other languages, we can still feel self-conscious about how we pronounce certain words or sounds. I am still practising how to roll my ‘r’, which is not a common sound in my regional accent. When I speak Italian or Spanish, sometimes I have no problems, but other times I really struggle. So here are some tips on how to feel more comfortable with your pronunciation.

Continue reading here.

the word welcome written in 10 different languages
How can we increase the amount of English we use in our classroom language in 3 simple steps?

Of course, as English teachers, we all use English in our classroom. We help our students learn the grammar to speak correctly, we give them exercises to practise the new vocabulary and we use audio recordings to give our students the chance to listen to different voices. However, sometimes, it is easier and quicker to give information in their mother tongue, this prevents any confusion and allows the class to move on more smoothly, does it not? But if we use the students’ native language, why should they bother speaking English, it is much easier and quicker to communicate in their L1. Us using English as much as possible can, and will, change the mind-set of our students and encourage more exploitation of the target language. So, how can we achieve this?

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How can we encourage our students to speak more English?

Kids and teenagers often feel embarrassed when asked to speak in a second language and they don’t want to sound silly or make mistakes in front of their classmates. Sometimes students are shy, especially if they’re not sure of the correct answer. So how can we encourage our students to speak more English?

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drawing of an owl, wearing a hat and glasses, in black and white
Are English teachers still needed in 2020?

At this time, when information is so easily accessible on our smartphones, tablets and laptops, do we really still require English teachers? Especially when so much of the content online is already in the English language.

Continue reading here.

Want to use your English skills to reach your goals, but don't feel confident in your English pronunciation?

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