Podcast intro:

Welcome to the InFluency Podcast. I’m Hadar, and this is episode number 392. And today we’re going to talk about why learning new pronunciation can sometimes feel fake and artificial.

Hey everyone. Thank you so much for joining me today. So, you know, when I first started working on my pronunciation, that was when I was 21 in acting school, I remember that I felt really, really strange about using the new sounds regularly. I would practice the new sounds that I’ve learned in school and later with a private teacher, and then it would always feel like, uncomfortable in my mouth. And when I would really put on the American accent, then it would just not feel like myself. It didn’t feel authentic. And I remember wondering how it ever be possible for me to use English, especially if I go to auditions and act maybe in shows and plays, how would I feel comfortable and like myself when using English? Because it felt so impossible, almost.

So years later, I can already tell you that it is possible to feel comfortable and effortless and like yourself in English. But there is a stage where you don’t feel like that. So today I want to talk about that and share with you some tips and tricks on how to start feeling like yourself and less and less artificial. Let’s listen to today’s episode.

Video transcript:

Have you recently started working on your pronunciation or practicing pronunciation? Or maybe you’ve been practicing and learning pronunciation for years. But when you use the new sounds and when you try to incorporate the new intonation or sounds into your day to day speech, it still feels a little fake and artificial? If the answer is yes, then you are not alone. Feeling fake and artificial when learning and practicing pronunciation is part of the deal. And today I’m going to talk about why it could feel fake and artificial, and how you can overcome it.

But before that, I want to tell you that in just a few days, I’m going to host a live class on how to make your English pronunciation simple and clear with three easy steps. It’s absolutely free. And the link to sign up is in the description below. So make sure to grab your free seat because there are only a few sessions available to sign up for. Okay? In the session, I’m going to definitely talk about feeling fake and artificial, but I’m also going to talk about how to not invest so much energy, how to not feel exhausted after speaking, how to practice effectively so you can actually use it confidently when speaking, and how to overcome internal challenges when using pronunciation. So, I hope to see you in the live class.

Also, if you’re new to my channel, my name is Hadar. I’m a non native speaker of English, and I am here to help you speak English with clarity, confidence, and freedom. So check out my website for more content for you: hadarshemesh.com.

Okay. So now let’s talk about why it feels artificial to use the new pronunciation. And when I talk about artificial, it just doesn’t feel authentic, it doesn’t feel like yourself. It’s as if, you know, you’re used to wearing jeans and flip flops all day, every day, and all of a sudden you have to put yourself into a wedding gown or a suit, right? And it just doesn’t feel comfortable. Even though it might fit you, it just doesn’t feel super comfortable. And that is the case with new sounds.

Now, I also want to say that when it comes to working on your pronunciation, when I teach my students to do that, I do it to give them the power and the ownership over their own speech. Because it’s not about, “Oh, you need to do that to sound like a negative speaker.” I’m all about working on your pronunciation so you can achieve clarity, so you can say what you think and get what you want.

But also, because I believe that working on your pronunciation definitely helps you with understanding people better, with improving your overall fluency, it makes you sound more effortless, and you are more in power of your own speech. And this is why I’m obsessed with learning pronunciation myself, I do it as I learn Spanish, and also when teaching my students and helping them reach limitless fluency. So if you want to find out more about that and learn with me more, join the live class by clicking the link in the description below.

All right. So the first reason is because you’re doing something different than what you are used to doing. So think about the way you walk, all right? You put one foot in front of the other, right? That’s how you walk. Imagine that one day I would tell you, or someone would tell you, “Listen, to stay healthy, you have to start walking like this.

At the beginning you’d be super conscious and focused on walking like this because you would naturally want to go back to the way you’ve always walked, but then you’d have to be really careful about it. So even just the fact that you’re focused on that is going to make it feel uncomfortable. Because your brain doesn’t, or your body, doesn’t know what it’s like to always focus on how you walk, right? Because you’re not used to doing it. So you’re doing something completely different, and also you’re changing something in how you operate. And that feels artificial, simply by doing something different.

Sounds are habits, okay? Your native sounds are habits and changing a habit requires you to do something that while you’re changing it is going to feel artificial until you make it a new habit. This is the good thing about practicing pronunciation and learning pronunciation. It’s not just about learning how to make a sound. You’re also learning how to make it a new habit through effective practice and repetition. And then it becomes a habit and then it feels less artificial.

Another reason is that when you start changing the way you pronounce sounds, so for example, if up until today, you used to say ‘Sank you’ with an S instead of ‘Thank you’, then simply sticking the tongue out: first, it’s very different – ‘thank you’, and second, you’re using different muscles, you’re investing different energy in pronouncing that sound.

Imagine if you were used to saying ‘rrright’ instead of ‘right’, or ‘RRRight’ instead of ‘right’, then shifting to the ‘ur’ sound. is going to require you to use different muscles. And that alone is going to take up more energy at the beginning, until you make it your own, until you make it a habit. And when you invest more energy into speaking, it’s going to feel artificial.

Now, it especially feels artificial when you start changing your melody. If you’re used to speaking like that, and all of a sudden you need to start speaking like ‘that’, you need to start using more pitch, it’s going to feel artificial. It’s already your voice, it’s the most intimate thing that you create. So changing your intonation and even changing your rhythm is going to feel artificial because it’s not yours.

However, like I said, if it serves you and you are subscribed to the idea that it’s going to help you deliver your message more clearly and get what you want, then obviously there’s going to be a phase where it feels artificial, but if you stick through it, you’re going to be able to no longer feel artificial when using it consistently.

The last reason I noticed my students tend to avoid using new intonation patterns, connected speech, and even new sounds is because they feel like it’s not themselves, and they feel a little artificial, and they’re afraid of what people are going to think about them. Especially people who are close to them, and they know how they sound and how they speak.

So, they are afraid that people are going to hear them changing. And they’re going to have an opinion about that. And here’s what I have to say. Yes, sometimes people might have an opinion about you changing how you sound. They may have an opinion about you becoming more fluent in English or learning more languages or going to the university or changing your job. People might have an opinion about every single thing you do.

However, if you operate based on what other people think of you, and what they want for you, then you are probably not going to get the things that you want. Because you need to operate from where you want to be in the future or what you want for yourself. And if you always consider what other people are going to think about you, how you’re changing, how you’re improving your fluency, your pronunciation, then you might just keep yourself stuck in the same place so that it doesn’t threaten anyone around you. And I want you to just be aware of that.

Now, it’s perfectly fine to be conscious of the people around us. But at the same time, remember that even if people might have an opinion about how you sound, sometimes it’s even your opinion about how you sound and your judgment towards people who are changing how they sound. Maybe it’s because you assign a meaning to it or you interpret it as something bad. And when that is the case, then you’re less likely to do it or to want to do it.

So if you think about any change in how you speak, all right, whether it’s improving your fluency or learning another language, or even changing your pronunciation, if you focus on why you do that and why it is good for you, it’s going to be a lot easier for you to stay committed to that decision, and overcome that feeling of being inauthentic or being artificial. And you develop a new sense of authenticity because you’re not constantly consumed about what other people think about you. I hope that makes sense. So that’s a little bit of mindset work that needs to be integrated into any language work, and in particular, to pronunciation work.

Because sometimes it does feel a little different to use a different pronunciation. But sometimes it’s good to walk into a place with a jacket rather than with flip flops and jeans. And sometimes putting on your jeans instead of always wearing high heels and a dress is exactly what you need. And the beautiful thing about pronunciation is that it’s both. It helps you make the language a lot more accessible and quick and fast and effortless, but also more accurate and specific and clear and crisp. So it’s a combination of both things. And with good pronunciation work you can achieve both and you can actually feel in that language and in that new pronunciation like you feel in your own skin. It can become second nature to you.

Now, I can’t wait to show you more about that. So I hope you join my live class. If you’re watching this after I host my live class, then don’t worry, you can subscribe to my email list so that you can get updates about future events. But if you’re still watching this at the beginning of April, 2024, then I hope to see you inside.

Thank you so much. And if you want to share a little bit more about your experience feeling fake, artificial, authentic, inauthentic in English, let us know in the comments below. Have a beautiful, beautiful rest of the day. And I will see you, you know this, next week in the next video. Bye.