Welcome to the InFluency Podcast, episode number 8.
Hello-hello, it’s Hadar. How are you doing today? Today I’m recording to you using a new set of headphones. And I can actually hear myself speaking to the mic, which is really cool and kind of strange. Because I hear myself in stereo mode.
Anyway, I felt the need to share that with you today because today’s all about feedback and listening to yourself, and knowing whether or not you are on the right track, which is why I’m using this, these headphones. Because that’s how I know if they’re external sounds entering the mic, or if I sound funny all of a sudden, so I can actually hear it in real life.
And, um, and I feel that a lot of people looking to improve their pronunciation, and voice, and intonation. What they’re lacking mostly is that feedback. Being able to hear yourself and saying, “Okay, this sounds okay. This sounds right. Here, I’m on the right track. Here, I need to change. There, I need to open my mouth a bit more”.
I mean, it would be nice to have a speech coach right next to you telling you all of this stuff all of the time. Actually, it sounded like a horrible idea. Having someone next to constantly, criticizing you. Uh, so no, we don’t want that.
But, when you are working on something in particular… Here, now we have some background noise from my water bar. I could turn it off, but I’ll just keep it in. And, uh, we’ll deal with it. What can I tell you? I’ll remember to turn it off next time.
Anyway. So, when you’re practicing specific things, let’s say a specific sound, or you’re learning how to pronounce a certain word, and you want feedback, you want to know if you are doing it right or not. Well, now you can, and it’s totally free. Because what I’m going to tell you is something that Google has recently developed, and it’s basically your personal pronunciation coach, and I think it’s awesome.
And it’s free. How have I said that already? So what I’m going to share with you is the audio version of my Accent’s Way Magazine video about ‘Pronto’ – the new pronunciation tool by Google. Let’s listen.
Hey, it’s Hadar. Thank you for being here.
Today I have some really good news for you. Have you ever wished that you’d have someone sitting next to you when you’re practicing your pronunciation or saying new words, telling you, “Yes, that was awesome”, or “No, you got to work on that a bit more”? Well, now you have it and it’s totally free.
Google just launched a new tool called Pronto. Pronto is basically your personal pronunciation coach. As you may or may not know, and I talked about it in this video here, Google now writes the words phonetically when you’re searching for how to pronounce a word.
So, for example, if you were to write ‘how to pronounce arbitrary’, you will see it written out phonetically. Not in IPA, what you can find in other dictionaries, but it’s a representation, a visual representation, using the English alphabet of how to pronounce a word.
Now, if you look closely, you’ll see that they’ve added a small button that says ‘Practice’. If you click on the ‘Practice’, it’s going to ask you to record the word, and when you record it, it is going to give you feedback whether or not you pronounced it correctly.
So you’re going to have a visual feedback. It’s going to color in red the sounds or the places in the words that were not clear. But also, it’s going to tell you exactly what you need to do and what you have done differently that is preventing you from being clear.
And it is so incredibly helpful. And the reason why I’m so passionate about it is because I had the privilege of helping Google’s developers and best minds develop this product.
So, I actually told them all about how I give feedback and how I coach my students and how I tell them what to focus on, and what I say exactly to help them get the right sound. And put it into this incredible tool that is there to help you, and it’s absolutely free.
Now, a few things you need to know in order for you to start using this feature.
First of all, it was just launched last month. So, perhaps, you still don’t have access to it, although you will have soon. Maybe by the time you’re watching this video, everyone has access to it. You can only use it on your mobile devices, and your search language should be set to English.
You need to be signed into your Google account, and if you’re using your iPhone, it’s best if you use Safari and not Chrome. By the way, this feature only works with American pronunciation, not British pronunciation.
Okay, so let’s give it a try. I’m using my phone, I’m using, I have an iPhone, so I’m using Safari, and I’m signed into my Google account, as you can see. Now, let’s try ‘how to pronounce authentic’. Great.
So, first of all, I see the the phonetic representation. ‘aa’ is the A as in father – aa. Then we have ‘then’ – t-h-e-n – that’s the ‘e’ as in red. It’s in bold, so that’s the primary stress. ‘aa-then-tuhk’. The ‘uh’ is a schwa, so basically you don’t pronounce the ‘tik’ there, it’s ‘tuhk’. Authentic.
I can play it: authentic. I can play it in slow motion as well: au-then-tic. Good, which helps me understand better what I need to do, and then I do. I just try and practice it myself.
Authentic (speaks with an accent). Now, what I did is I mispronounced 3 sounds and actually detected it perfectly. I said O instead of aa, a common mistake. I pronounced a T instead of a TH – ‘ten’. And I put an ‘ee’ sound instead of a schwa – ‘teek’. Oh-ten-teek, Oh-ten-teek.
So, it recognized that I mispronounced those three sounds, just quite impressive. And the ‘aa’ as in father – you may have mispronounced the aa. So I’m going to take a look here. And it says, “try to open your mouth wide and relax your lips.” aa, instead of O, aa.
“Your tongue should be low and flat in the back.” Cause if it’s high, O, it’s going to sound more like an Oo. aa, aa. And then you have some examples here that you can play in practice with: job, hot – hot, office – office. Keep in mind the notes that you were given, okay. So you can actually apply it. Try to visualize it.
And then I’m going to move on. You may have mispronounced TH. “Try to bring the tongue to your top teeth.” Right? “Then let the air out slowly between your tongue and teeth.” Right? ‘TH’ – not T. And then gave me some example words here: think, thanks, theory, method. Great. So I can practice with. ‘then’, ‘then’.
And then you have mispronounced ‘uh’. “Make sure your tongue is on the bottom of your mouth as you make a very short ‘uh’ sound.” uh, uh, uh, tuhk, okay. So, first of all, work unit by unit, syllable by syllable.
Now, let’s say I practice it a bit, I tried it a few times. I practiced the aa, practiced the TH. And then, what you need to do is just practice it again. Try it again. Practice the sounds that were detected, drill the words, watch my YouTube videos, come back to it and try it again. Fun!
So this is a really great tool that will help you take action and start changing and seeing the change. Because watching YouTube videos is one thing, and obviously that’s something that you do, you’re learning from YouTube, otherwise you wouldn’t have been here. But then, you need to take it to the next step, which means active practice.
And sometimes people tend to not do it or avoid that, that stage because they say to themselves, “Oh, but I don’t know if I’m doing this right.”
So, now there are no more excuses and you got to start taking action. Again, remember that you have to use your phone. For now, the search language needs to be set to English. When you get to the pronunciation box, make sure it’s only set to ‘American pronunciation’ and sign into your Google account.
Okay. I can’t wait to know what you think. I absolutely love it. I know I’m not objective, but I love it. And I hope you will too.
Be sure to subscribe if you want to learn how to pronounce the sounds that you’re practicing using Pronto.
Have a beautiful week and I’ll see you next week in the next video. Bye.