Articulation exercises are awesome. Yet the usual traditional articulation exercises are kind of boring. That's why people don't stick to them. So in this video and blog post, I'll share with you how to make articulation exercises interesting. They should not take much time and they can be fun.
It's not a magic bullet that cures stuttering, but it can be a great help if you're working on elevating your speaking confidence!
Let's get started!
So the secret to making your practice interesting is instead of playing with some sound drills, let's play with phrases.
This way you replace something monotonous with something very practical so that you can sense how you can use it right away in your everyday self-expression.
And before we get to the phrases, let's start with a tiny warming-up exercise.
You just open your mouth wide and then you imagine you're a tiger producing some sound.
You imagine you say "B" but you say it with a lip roll.
Make sure it's not too loose, it's not too tight.
Try to find that middle position, maybe helping yourself with your fingers.
Let's connect 4 vowel sounds "Ah-O-E-U." Don't stop the airflow, connect them together.
As you can notice, your lips start moving. That's what we want to do here so feel free to articulate.
I also suggest trying to make it a bit longer by saying "Ah-O-E-U" two, three, four times in one continuous airflow. This way you're turning it into a breathing exercise. You can do it a couple of times feeling how you're made to breathe deeper and feel that airflow going.
In this exercise, you're still articulating on the same "Ah-O-E-U," but now you're getting closer to speaking by going from thinking to connecting.
Thinking and connecting are two major modes when it comes to speaking interaction. Give yourself permission to explore and stay in both modes.
You start feeling how articulation and being expressive plays out when you're actually saying a phrase.
So, now you're ready to play with a phrase.
I picked the phrase, "The best way to predict the future is to create it." by Abraham Lincoln.
You can take any phrase, maybe a quote, maybe something inspirational, ideally from 10 to 20 words. That would be a good range.
So the idea is to outperform the pronounce app. I'm using the how-to pronounce app. I just love it because it has slower and faster (regular) pace. It's for iOS only, so if you're using another mobile operating system or you're on laptop, then you simply can use Google Translate or any other app that turns your phrase into audio that you can compete with.
So how do you outperform the app? A couple more exercises we need.
You want to engage your body and feel the stressed syllables in the phrase with your body.
Speaking is a bit of a dance if you would so let your body move to express what you're saying. Think about the meaning that you want to convey and emphasise the main points.
I found three stresses in the phrase "The best way to predict the future is to create it" but of course there are different ways how we could say the phrase, so feel free to explore.
The next thing, find the connections. And by connections, I actually mean those spots where we break the airflow. Instead of breaking the airflow, let's connect it to feel like it's the water flowing from the vowel sound to the vowel sound.
For example, it's not "the best / way" but rather "the be - st-way." "St" goes to "way" and it increases the pace.
We do want to pronounce the consonants clearly, but at the same time, we want to do it lightly and fast. We want to let it go and let our articulators move easier and faster.
To do that, let's try to explore how we go from the vowel sound to the vowel sound: "way-to," "to-predict," "...dict-the-future".
And if you need to stay a bit longer here, articulating, and feeling how you clearly pronounce those consonants, please do it several times.
Now, to outperform the app, what I want you to feel is that you start with the first vowel sound, and then you go right to the end, to the destination.
We don't want to be too fast, we're not in a hurry. Give yourself as much time as you need, but at the same time, try to feel how you increase the pace gradually.
You can split the phrase into pieces and play with those pieces first. Feeling how you go from the beginning to the end in shorter pieces. And then you connect those pieces together.
Your goal is to relax and release your articulators to the point where you clearly outperform the app. Once you've done it, congratulate yourself! And let's move to the last exercise.
I want you to think about like three key words in that phrase, especially when it's a bit longer, closer to 20 words or maybe even longer.
Let's pick our phrase, "The best way to predict the future is to create it." What are the key words for your? For me, probably "predict," "future," and "create." These are not stresses, but rather the key words from the point of the meaning, the message that you want to convey. You're trying to go away from the script, from the text, from the words to meaning, to ideas, to what you actually want to say.
I want you to keep those keywords and then you're just saying the phrase. Maybe you'll end up saying a bit different phrase. No worries.
This way you're putting some accents there, and you give yourself permission to just think and transform your thoughts into articulation and spontaneous flow bypassing transferring it into text first.
Especially, it's a great exercise for you if English is not your native language. This way you're just letting your thoughts flow into language bypassing the stage of thinking about the words and particular phrases. But even if you're a native English speaker, I think it's always a great exercise.
So, the main idea of these articulation exercises is to be able to say your phrase in a very smooth manner where you're not rushed.
It's not about trying to be fast, we're trying to give ourselves as much time as we need.
But we want to feel the flow of the vowel sounds and all the consonants. We want to give ourselves a bit of practice to clearly pronounce all the consonants, but to do it easier, faster, and without effort.
Thank you so much for paying attention! Let me know what you think! What's your favourite articulation exercise? What app are you going to outperform?
Talk to you soon!
If you are a person who stutters,
and you're not quite satisfied with how you feel at the moment of speaking interaction
I invite you to my free training where I share my view on getting free from stuttering.
And for more interaction,
join the Free From Stutter Facebook group.
Please, don't stay isolated! It's crucial to feel you’re part of the community!