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Strategies to improve Speaking (and Singing)


This page builds on the foundation of a condensed overview` that you can read first.  Here are the main ideas:


You can improve Physical Skills by learning from experience.  To illustrate we'll look at strategies for speaking better and singing better, using a process of problem-solving design.


A Strategy to Improve Speaking — Basics

Imagine that you're learning a new language and you want to speak it with less foreign accent.  How can you do this?

Define a Problem:  You Prepare by observing the sounds of skillful native speakers, listening carefully... so you can Define your Goal-Sounds.  You compare these Goal-Sounds with Your Sounds (when you speak) in Quality Checks... and Define your Objective [for a problem to solve] that is a Sound you want to improve.

Solve the Problem: In an effort to make Your Sound match the Goal-Sound you want, try a variety of Speaking Strategies and observe the Results. ... Continue experimenting-and-adjusting, to improve the quality of Your Sound.

MORE - details of a process to improve speaking ... [it's the page you're now reading, and the "details" are below, after "Improve Your Singing"]


Creative Experimenting:  ... practice in private because this will help you relax and freely experiment with a variety of ways to speak or sing.


Improve your Singing

To improve your speaking or singing, you can use a similar process of design to learn from experience.

Pitch-Matching:  You try a variety of Singing Strategies while observing the Results in Your Pitch, which you compare with the Goal-Pitch in a Quality Check. ... Continue a process of experimenting-and-adjusting to improve your singing with better pitch-matching and in other ways.

Harmonizing:  You learn from experimenting-and-adjusting so you can improve your skill in producing pitches that “harmonize well” with other pitches.

Improvising:  More generally, by creatively playing with all aspects of singing — by experimenting with melodies, harmonies, rhythms, styles, moods, and more — you can make your own music by improvising.


A Strategy to Improve Speaking — Details

Here is the problem-solving process of design in more detail (to supplement the basics), explained using Cycles of PLAN-and-MONITOR:

PLAN - Evaluate your Strategy-Options so you can choose a Speaking Strategy, then...

MONITOR - Use the Strategy and observe Your Sound, and Your Actions in applying the Strategy.

re-PLAN - You evaluate the sound-results with a Quality Check by comparing Your Sound and the Goal-Sound (asking “how closely do they match?”) so you can Adjust, if you think this will be helpful, when you PLAN for your next MONITOR-Experiment.

Quality Control - During a re-PLAN you also evaluate your Strategy-Application by comparing Your Actions and the Goal-Actions, asking "Did I apply the Speaking Strategy in the way I wanted?"  Why?  Quality Control (for Strategy-Applying Actions) is valuable because if Your Sound and the Goal-Sound do not match, the mismatching(s) can be caused by ineffectiveness in either the Speaking Strategy or Your Actions in Applying the Strategy.  Therefore either of these, or both, can be adjusted when you re-PLAN, to generate options for what you hope will be a better Speaking Strategy and/or a better strategy to improve Your Actions.

CYCLES - You continue using a process of design — with Design Cycles (to Generate-and-Evaluate) operating within cycles of PLAN-and-MONITOR — to design a Speaking Strategy (a combination of Sound Factors) that lets Your Own Sound more closely match your Goal-Sound.


Here are some tips for better speaking.

Get External Feedback:  Ask native speakers for feedback that is honest (so it's accurate and therefore is useful) by telling you what they hear.   { You also may want to ask for suggestions to improve your speaking, for pronunciation and in other ways.* }

Improve Other Sounds:  As part of a meta-strategy for improving your language (and your life), after awhile shift your objectives to other sounds so you can expand your range of well-pronounced sounds, to improve your overall quality of speaking.

* Improve Other Skills:  Use self-discipline to develop good habits that include speaking slowly (but not too slow) and loudly (but not too loud), saying each sound clearly, listening carefully in conversations, being aware of non-verbal cues from others, and more.   {Skills for Conversation}


Practice in Private:  Doing this will help you relax and freely experiment with a variety of ways to speak.

Expand your Range of Situations:  Try to improve the quality of Your Sounds with practice in controlled private situations, then transfer the quality into less-controlled public situations that gradually expand to become more complex, realistic, and personally useful.  One change is moving from speaking externally generated ideas (by reading what you see, or repeating what you hear) to speaking internally generated ideas (that come from your own thinking).

Expand the Contexts for a Sound:  You can begin a process-of-improving by practicing the Sound (that is your current objective) with isolated sounds and words, then move on to words in combination, in phrases or sentences.

At each stage of all expansions, focus on quality so you will develop good habits of proper pronunciation.  The goal is to consistently say the sound well in every word, when the word is combined with other words in sentences during conversations.

Transfer-of-Quality in Language and Music:  This language strategy of Expanding Your Situations-and-Contexts — so you can move from Quality of Sounds (during practice) to Quality of Speaking (during conversation) — is analogous to a music strategy of moving from Quality of Tone (in practice) to Quality of Playing (in performance), using a two-step process for transfer-of-quality.  First, in Long-Tone Practice a musician makes a long-lasting tone, with a wind instrument or their voice, while they listen for quality and do whatever is required to produce a better quality of sound.  Second, they try to retain this high quality when the tone-making is shifted into the context of playing musical songs.   {You also can use other strategies, besides Long Tones, for music or language.}


MORE - You can see the principles of this "Strategy to Improve Speaking" in another description (using three steps instead of Plan-and-Monitor Cycles) plus additional details.   {{also, ESL Resources for Learning English}}