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Does your mouth hurt when you speak in English?

 

Speaking a second language that we were not born into has its challenges. One of which is that it is physically tiring. Some sounds are new to us and trying to produce them entails using different muscles that we don’t usually use or at least don’t use enough or in the same way. This might cause us to invest a lot of energy or hold a lot of tension when we pronounce those sounds.

And there are other reasons for that tension, reasons that exist in our first language as well. For instance, we might be more conscious of our speech when we speak with people who have authority over us or people we don’t know very well. This consciousness might translate itself into tension in our body, and certainly in our mouth and neck.

When we shift to English, this type of tension can also be a result of our feelings towards our own voice. Many people don’t like the way they sound in another language so they try to manipulate their voice and use it in an non-optimal way.

But there are ways to prevent this tension. I always start my sessions with a few warmups to relax our jaws, tongues, lips, etc. In my programs I also explain how to use our muscles in English in order to speak efficiently and comfortably without straining our voice.

Watch the video to learn more about how you can start speaking English with more ease:

TRANSCRIPT

Hey, welcome to the InFluency podcast. I’m Hadar, your host. And today we are going to talk about what to do if your mouth hurts when you speak in English.

Hey, hey, everyone. Thank you so much for tuning in for another episode of the InFluency podcast. As you’ve heard, we are going to talk about what to do when your mouth hurts. Now, it sounds a little strange, right? especially for those of you who don’t feel like their mouth hurts. So, this episode is still for you, and I’m gonna tell you why in one second; or at least why, if you wanna feel effortless in English and to sound effortless. But especially for those of you listening who feel physical pain after practicing English, after speaking in English, this episode is definitely for you because we are going to talk about why that happens and how to overcome it.

You know, I’ve had a lot of students complaining about cutting their tongue when they’re practicing the TH, or really feeling exhausted after a long conversation. Now, you’re not supposed to feel exhausted after speaking, if it does not happen to you in your first language. If it does, this is something that you should definitely look into. Maybe go to a speech pathologist, maybe take some of the things that we’re gonna discuss and examine it when it comes to your first language. But generally speaking, speaking should not be painful. And if it is in English, then you should do something about it. So, in this episode, I’m going to tell you what you can do, and give you some practical tips on how you can improve starting from today.

Now, before we go into the episode, I wanna tell you that if you like this podcast, then consider subscribing if you’re not subscribed yet. And also, consider sharing it with someone who might need a little bit of help in English: maybe a friend, maybe a family member, maybe a student. Because, you know, I think that there is a lot that this podcast has to offer and could be helpful for the journey of others. And they may not know about it. So if you can take a moment and just share it with someone, I would be so incredibly grateful.

All right. So, let’s listen to what to do when your mouth hurts when speaking in English.

Does your mouth hurt when you speak in English? I remember when I was living in the US and I was working long hours, long shifts at the restaurant or at the bar talking to people, I felt like at the end of the day, everything here was so painful. I felt my jaw so tight, my tongue was heavy, my throat was sore. I felt exhausted, I felt my brain was about to explode. And generally, I felt like I have put in so much energy just to speak in English.

If this is something that you are experiencing or maybe sometimes experiencing, this episode is for you. But even if you’re not experiencing this and you want to learn how you can feel more effortless and casual in English without putting a lot of effort, then you are going to want to stay and stick around here as well.

If you are new to my channel, then please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Hadar. I am, as you probably already understood, I’m a non-native speaker of English. Even though I’m very passionate about English, I love English. And I… my job here is to help you speak English with clarity, confidence, and freedom. I have a lot of free resources for you on my website hadarshemesh.com, totally free. So go check it out and download whatever you need. And you can also find me on Instagram at @hadar.accentsway with daily tips and insights about pronunciation, mindset, strategy, and fluency. So come say hi. I’ll be waiting for you there.

Now, let’s talk about what to do when your mouth hurts. So again, what does this look like? It looks like, first of all, feeling exhausted after speaking for 10 minutes or one hour – the longer, the more painful it is. You feel like your jaw is really tight. You feel like your tongue is heavy and maybe swollen, maybe you have cuts and bruises on your tongue. Maybe you feel like your cheeks are hurting, like after you’ve been smiling for a long time, maybe at a family reunion.

“Hi, good to see you.” “Hello. Yes, of course, I remember you!” “What’s her name? I don’t remember her name.” “Okay, cheese. Let’s all smile for the camera.”

So, you know this feeling. And also, I think it has to do with the voice, like feeling like you are almost running out of voice and vocal power, and maybe your voice is a little hoarse at the end. So all of that happens, and I want you to know that it’s okay, right? It’s not just you. It’s not just you because I know that this has been the case for many of my students and, as you heard, for me personally. Thankfully, this does not happen again. And I’ll tell you how and what has worked for me.

But I think that this is something important to understand and why this happens. And also to understand that this is not what we want. When we’re so concerned about grammar and vocabulary and definitely pronunciation, when we try so hard to be clear – which is an important part of pronunciation and speaking a second language, but not when you are actually doing the speaking. You don’t always want to be so focused on what’s happening here. And the reason is because it’s going to take up a lot of energy and a lot of effort.

And ultimately, what happens – and let me explain why – what happens is that you’re investing a lot more energy than you need to. First, by focusing on so many different things, instead of just like, “Okay, how do I communicate this thought and allow it to come out, and connect with the other person?” But also, you know, how you use your muscles to articulate the sounds that you’re using.

The reason why that happens is a) dealing with a lot of things; b) inefficient pronunciation. Inefficient pronunciation is that you have a perception around how you are supposed to pronounce a certain sound, let’s say the TH, right? You know that you need to stick the tongue out. And you have practiced it in a certain way that required you to put in a lot of effort.

You’re so concentrated on the sound that all your facial organs are taking part in the pronunciation of the TH. ‘theory’, ‘authentic’, ‘something’, right? And then you use more muscles than you should actually use. Because when it comes to the TH, all you need to do is stick the tongue out and nothing else. Not your lips, not your cheeks, not your throat – you don’t wanna grab your throat. You just release air, the tongue just happens to be out there. And you don’t also have to push it against the upper teeth, right?

So that’s just one example of how much you can invest so much more tention than needed. I see that with open vowel sounds, like [æ]. Sometimes people invest a lot of energy into pronouncing the [æ] sound, where in fact you just drop your jaw.

A lot of times working on your pronunciation is also making sure that you’re only using the necessary muscles, and not more; even though the result might be the same in terms of the quality of the sound. It’s the same sound, but a totally different experience when you’re practicing. And definitely, when you’re speaking.

Now, if you have a lot of these vowels and consonants when you’re speaking, where you invest a lot more energy than needed, of course you’re gonna feel like your mouth is burning at the end of the conversation. And of course, you’re gonna feel exhausted. And this is why it’s really important to make sure that your pronunciation is efficient.

Another reason is that maybe you invest and hold a lot of tension in your throat, in your shoulders, in your arms. And tension brings tension. So you wanna make sure that everything is loose and you haven’t developed an unhealthy habit of holding tension when speaking. Cuz that gets into your voice – it affects your voice, into your pronunciation, and into your overall experience speaking. And the result is that you’re gonna feel tired and your mouth is going to hurt.

Now, as I said, this is something that I experienced when I just moved to the US, in the first two years that I was living there. Definitely, you know, the first year a bit more, cuz I was also more nervous communicating. But this feeling of like, you know, overusing my muscles was very prevalent in the first couple of years.

Then I went to an acting school and actually had speech and pronunciation classes. And that’s where I learned how to pronounce all the sounds of English. And I think that that’s when I discovered how I was mispronouncing things or had the different perception around how to pronounce sounds. And the feedback I had received really helped me to let go of a lot of tension, a lot of unnecessary tension.

Also, I was, you know, working on scenes and memorizing monologues. And in a way, I had to work with English a lot. And when I had a lot of tension, it was not serving me: not when it comes to English, but also not in my acting and my ability to connect to my emotions and to understand how to deliver this text in the most natural, authentic way. So, I have learned how to pronounce the sounds properly, and then lost a lot of the tension that I was holding. But also just the work and the practice on texts has helped me let go of a lot of the tension.

Another thing that helped me is that we had vocal classes. And in the vocal classes, we learned, literally, how to let go of tension:, vocal tension and physical tension when speaking. And that also helped me understand how to become a vessel for my voice, and how the articulation organs are just helping form the sound that comes out of my mouth. And I don’t need to overdo it.

So these two things along with a lot of practice and a lot of speaking, and a lot of text work has helped me let go of tension and stress. And when I teach my students, for example, in my New Sound program, I take all of that into consideration. So pronunciation is a big part of my training. Not just because I think that, you know, you need to know pronunciation or master pronunciation to sound like a native, no. But to speak efficiently and not to feel like your voice is on fire after speaking for a few minutes.

So that is the main thing. And of course, to sound clear and build confidence. And when, you know, you are confident in your pronunciation, that affects your fluency because you’re more confident, you don’t get stuck on things. So, pronunciation is a big part of it, and this is why it’s a big part of my training.

So now I have a question for you. Does this happen to you? Do you feel pain when you are speaking in English? Does your mouth hurt? If so, let me know which part of it hurts the most. Is it the cheeks? Is it the tongue? Is it the jaw – that means tension here? Is it just like feeling exhausted after speaking? And maybe you can’t point exactly where it is. Maybe it’s your voice, feeling like your voice is hoarse, like a sore throat, something like that. So I’m very curious to know how that looks like for you. I would love for you to share that in the comments.

And also, if you want a training that will help you overcome this challenge, I highly recommend for you to get on the waitlist for New Sound, because I will teach you how to do that along with reaching limitless fluency and building the confidence, the freedom, and the joy when communicating in English. And I have to tell you that this program and framework has helped over a thousand students transform their English. So if you’re interested in that, get on the waitlist.

Thank you so much for being here. If you haven’t subscribed to my YouTube channel, please do that so we can stay connected. And come say hi on Instagram at @hadar.accentsway. Have a beautiful, beautiful rest of the day. Take a deep breath, let go of tension, focus on just communicating who you are and what you have to say. And don’t think so much about the form. Do it when you practice, not when you are speaking. Thank you so much for being here. I’ll catch you next time in the next video. Bye.

The InFluency Podcast
The InFluency Podcast
241. Does your mouth hurt when you speak in English?
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When do you notice some pain when speaking in English? Let me know in the comments below.

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One Response

  1. After a while my mouth gets dry, and when I fail to pronounce some difficult words, I fade up and get frustrated to speak longer.
    Aklilu

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