Learn English like a Baby – How to Sound Native

Today you are going to learn tips on speaking
English like a native from studying how babies learn to speak English. I’ve been teaching English for over 10 years,
but it’s only in the past year that I’ve had the chance to watch my son start to pick up language. He’s 20 months and his language skills are
exploding. I’m going to give you three tricks to help
you study the language the way he is working on it. Are you ready to go to play yard Stoney? Are you ready to go? Are you sure? Uh-oh! What did you drop? When a baby is first experimenting with language,
it’s babble, la, la, la, ba, ba, ba. Stoney had almost no sounds developed. He had an AH vowel, and he had m, mama, and a B, baba,
baba. What he seemed to be imitating and playing
with more than sounds was stress. So many students get hung up on the sounds. I actually think stress is more important. Stress relates to rhythm and intonation. These make up the feeling of English more
than the sounds do. Somehow, I don’t know how, he got obsessed
with the song ‘Mambo Italiano’. The chorus goes like this: Hey mambo, mambo
Italiano. At this point, he can kind of say ‘hey mambo’. But he cannot say ‘mambo italiano’. Instead he says something like “Hey Mambo…..” He really gets the intonation and stress down. It matches the song perfectly. The sounds aren’t there. But the feeling is there. It’s the feeling of the sentence. As he gets better with sounds, as he learns them, he’ll go back and fill them in if he’s still singing this song. But for now, it’s “Hey Mambo!” Pretty amazing. A year and a half and he’s matching the pitch and the stress. This is something I encourage my students
to do. Think about not just the individual sounds
but also think about the overall feeling of the sentence. How are you? Uhhh. How are you. The feeling is, everything connected, pitch changes smoothly, uuhhh, scooping up then down. Uuuhhh. How are you? Practicing sentences this way helps you practice the feeling. Uh, how are you? Uuuhhh Are you willing to practice phrases that are just on ‘uh’? Babies are laying a foundation of the feeling
of English for months before they put in all the details, the finer pieces of the tongue
movements and the sounds. I think you should also be practicing English this way. Sometimes, just practice the feeling of a sentence. Uuhhhh. How are you? Uuhhhh. How are you? Tip #2: When I’m holding Stoney in my arm and his face is very close to me, it’s right here, I’ve noticed something. He looks at me like this. Total concentration, focused in.
He’s staring right at my mouth. My mom noticed this too. She said, he watches my mouth so closely when I speak. He’s curious, he wants the combination of the visual information along with what he’s hearing. I think it can be incredibly helpful to study
native speaker’s mouths when learning. Every one of my sound videos has close ups
of the mouth in slow motion, and lots of my other videos do too, like one I did on linking with the TH. I’ll put links to those videos in the description. Sometimes I tell students to watch themselves
in a mirror or make a video and watch that. One of my students in my online school just
posted a video to our Facebook group where there was very little mouth movement happening. And it’s hard for your English to be natural
and clear when you’re hardly moving your mouth at all. When she went back and looked at it, she saw,
oh yeah, I understand, I’m cheating the mouth position of some of the sounds that
use more jaw drop or lip rounding. So focus in on the mouth of native speakers and then pay attention to your own mouth positions as you’re practicing sounds. Tip #3: What do toddlers do that is incredibly annoying? They say and do the same thing over and over
and over. In the park by our house, there’s a play
structure with a fake raccoon face carved into a tree. Stoney calls it ‘aa-coon’ and asks for
it constantly. There are times where he probably says the
word 20 times in a row. Any parent or caregiver out there knows how
much children repeat themselves. This is part of learning, of building muscle
memory, building mastery, developing the fine and subtle changes in mouth position native for speaking a language. Repetition can not only help adults speak
better English, but I would say it’s essential. Let’s say your pronunciation isn’t very good. You can learn how to pronounce something better,
or how something should be pronounced. For example, by watching videos on my channel. But knowing something does nothing to change
your body and your habit. You already have strong muscle memory established
as an adult. Creating a sound that you don’t have in
your native language, or creating a new feeling of English is impossible without repetition. Before I started teaching English, I sang opera. In practicing, it would make no sense to sing
the song from start to finish over and over. You work in sections. You pick out specific lines that are tricky,
and you do them over and over and over. Maybe you take the text away from the music
and you practice that separately. Just sing out loud. The point is, you break it down, and you work
with it over and over and over. You take a break, you sleep, and your body,
your mind, does something with that. It saves it. And then the next day you come back and you
work again. So be like a toddler and practice the same
thing over and over. Let’s say ‘comfortable’ is a tricky word for you. First, learn how to pronounce it. I have a video on that. Then play it and say it, play it and say it
over and over again. You can use a site like forvo.com, where native speakers have uploaded word pronunciations. Play the native speaker, say it out loud. Play the native speaker, say it out loud. Do this 10, 20 times in row. Once it gets really good, don’t stop. That’s when you need to keep going! To solidify the correct, natural way of doing it. This repetition will help you get better. So as a teacher of language, I realize I have so much to learn about teaching a language by watching my son, a native speaker, learn from the beginning. At one point in this video, I mentioned my
online school. It’s called Rachel’s English Academy, and I have thousands of audio files broken up and slowed down so that my students can practice little bits of conversation with the play it, say it method. It’s amazing. I’ll watch a student doing this, and I don’t even have to tell him what to fix. Just by playing it and saying it over and
over without stopping, subtle changes happen, and it starts to sound so good. If you’re interested in learning more about
the school, please visit RachelsEnglishAcademy.com

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