Quite recently, I was coaching someone from Spain and we were exploring the difference between the KIT and FLEECE vowel sounds (so for instance 'slip' and 'sleep'). She had a habit of making the KIT vowel sound too long in duration, which made it sound more like the FLEECE vowel. This was important for her, because it meant that words like 'slip' actually sounded more like 'sleep' - not great if you put it in a sentence like 'I'm going to slip'!
We did some exercises and she successfully shortened the length of the KIT vowel sound which was a huge leap for her, both in terms of pronunciations and being more clearly understood.
We moved on to some sentences that focused on these long and short sounds and she suddenly stopped and said - as if she had just had real epiphany - 'the rhythm is different, Ashley! The rhythm is really different between the sentences!'.
What was astonishing for her to discover (and a joy for me to facilitate), was how not only was her pronunciation and clarity of meaning massively improved, but she had started to get part of the intonation of a standard British English accent.
Forget 'two birds with one stone', this was a triple turnaround - her pronunciation, clarity of meaning AND intonation was improved just by getting the length of the sound.
She said it's like 'buy one get two free', which is always welcome, right? So, as long as you know how long a vowel sound should be in a standard British English accent, you'll be triple-jumping your way to being understood - first time every time.
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