We bring a lot with us: our pre-conceptions, our misconceptions, our reflexes, our instincts, our expectations, our objectives, our existing knowledge
and our lack of knowledge, to name some. When it comes to speaking, we have another huge item in our suitcase: our muscle memory. Speaking and pronunciation
are physical activities. They involve the physical use of the lungs, diaphragm, ribs, abdomen, trachea, throat, larynx and vocal cords, nose, mouth,
teeth, tongue, hard and soft palates. The main problem we can have when we change from another language to English is the physical positions we need
to adopt with our articulators (lips, teeth, tongue, palates) and resonators (throat, mouth, nose). The articulators, in particular, have to be physically
trained to go to and hold unfamiliar positions. This is not easy. There is no instant solution. We have to fight our muscle memory and our instincts.
It is not too dissimilar to trying to teach my elderly uncle how to use chopsticks correctly and efficiently. Practice and 'gym work' are required
in order to achieve the desired results. Even just focusing on the physical movements without the sound can improve articulation. My uncle finally
worked out how to use chopsticks with hours of private practice and chess pieces. For the 'chessily' sensitive, no pawns or higher ranking pieces were
harmed in this quest for chopstick proficiency.
From Ray Flack, Tutor at OISE London
Ray has been teaching for 33 years and has been at OISE London for 12 years. His particular strengths lie in teaching grammar and pronunciation, as well as exam preparation for IELTS and the Cambridge suite exams.