English has a lot of sounds that require the speaker to drop their jaw, or open their mouth wider than in other languages. When the jaw is too tight, and the mouth is not open far enough, the sound will not be easy to hear, and it will get muffled. This is especially true for vowel sounds like /ɔ/ or /aw/ in the word jaw (ironic, huh?!) or the /ɛ/ in bed.
To hear and see how another trainer like me taught a Turkish speaker about jaw position, see this video.
While watching this video, answer these two questions:
Before the video, I asked you two questions. I will answer them from my experience. Yes, opening the jaw does help in articulating. The sound will come out clearer. However, opening the jaw is NOT the only part, but a key element. For many vowel sounds, it also depends on where the tongue is placed in the mouth, that is why even when Rachel Smith (the facilitator in the video) is saying the sounds with her mouth closed it still sounds more similar than with the Turkish student is not opening his mouth.
Also, take note that dropping the jaw helps to create longer vowel sounds, and it will naturally help you to speak more slowly without sounding robotic. It will offer more feeling and variety into your speech, keeping people more interested in what you have to say. (You won’t sound monotone!)
This second video from Jay Miller offers tips on how to relax your jaw, through jaw exercise and massage. I know it sounds strange, but it really does help. I have been doing this myself too, and it really helps me to talk more clearly as well as release the tension in my face.
What did you learn from the videos in this post?
Feel free to share you insights in the comments section below.
Jennifer Kumar helps your offshore teams in India teams communicate more clearly and with confidence on the job with US Americans. Contact her for more details or read a current case study – “I don’t ask to repeat anymore!”
Learn how to pronounce /aw/ with an American English Accent
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