Lingua East

People should hear your ideas, not your accent.

Category: Uncategorized

Rules for Conversation: Taking Turns & Interrupting

In the latest uprising of people fighting for women’s rights, there are calls for equal pay in the workplace, a stop to gender-based harassment, and interestingly, a call for a change in communication behaviors including conversational turn taking.

In a conversation, each speaker has a turn. When there are more than a couple people involved, the ratio of turns to talk becomes less distributed. However, just as in a card game, each person has roughly the same ratio of turns to talk.

There is strong evidence for different degrees of uncivil speech behaviors. This is easily available from academic, journalistic, and anecdotal resources. You probably see it in conversations with the people among you. Maybe you have noticed you are an interrupter.

 

Unless the situation is serious, the consequences dire, don’t interrupt. When you interrupt, despite how great your point may be, it makes you look like a jerk. Your point can wait until it is your turn to speak, and if you listen, your ideas may tie in nicely with the point your conversational partner is making.

If you must interrupt, admit that you’re interrupting (either by apologizing or acknowledging). “Sorry to interrupt, but…” or “I’m going to have to interrupt you…”

Otherwise, wait your turn.

While you wait, listen to what the person is saying, while keeping in mind the comment you wanted to respond to. Here are some phrases that you can use to make a smooth transition between conversation turns:

To refer to something mentioned previously

Going back to what you said about [topic]…

You said [phrase or sentence]…

I want to return to [previous topic]

 When it comes to rules for behavior in conversations (i.e. turn-taking and eye contact), like other rules, you should follow them. Or break them in a way that you can own up to, hopefully with good intentions. The key here is being aware of your behavior in a conversation and its effect on others. In a conversation, it’s not worth it to interrupt. When someone is interrupted, they can become upset, feeling that their voice is not heard. If they’re upset, they’re likely to pay less attention to what the interrupter is saying. If we can all practice a little patience and use the right words to orient our listeners to the points we want to address, we can have successful conversations without upsetting the people we speak with.

Cambiar un acento es difícil (pero no es imposible)

Es muy fácil para los niños aprender idiomas – el idioma natal y otros idiomas. El cerebro de un niño esta en desarrollo, y en esa época puede absorber todos los sonidos, palabras, y estructuras de cualquier idioma.

A los cuatro años, el cerebro y la boca se han formado conexiones fuertes para los patrones del hablar. Son conexiones que tendremos por toda la vida, si se mantiene saludable el cerebro.

En la adolescencia los patrones del hablar se han vuelto tan arraigados que si aprendemos un segundo lenguaje, es más probable que hablaremos el segundo idioma con un acento. Además, es por esta edad que se Vuelve más difícil aprender otro idioma; se requiere muchas horas de estudio. Hasta si se puede ganar dominio sobre la gramática y el vocabulario del inglés a los 16 años, aun hablaras el idioma con un acento.

Acento abarca los sonidos, ritmos, y entonación de un idioma hablado por un grupo de gente. Puede ser confinado por un idioma, como el idioma estonio, o por región, como el Panhandle de Texas. Aunque todos hablamos con algún acento, normalmente no pensamos en tener un acento en nuestro primer idioma.

Los investigadores que estudian cómo responden los bebes al lenguaje han descubierto que a una cierta edad, los bebes prefieren el acento de su propio grupo. En otras palabras, un bebe jamaiquino demostraría una preferencia por el ingles jamaiquino sobre un acento de Minnesota, y un bebe de St. Louis preferiría el lenguaje arrastrado sobre un acento de Australia. Sabemos que los bebes reconocen la diferencia. ¿Y los adultos?

Cuando un adulto típico escucha a un acento, su cerebro tiene mas labor por hacer antes de que entienda el mensaje comunicado por el hablante. El cerebro adulto procesa a un acento como un escultor quitando poco a poco la superficie para entender el mensaje abajo. El procesar del acento ocurre en un nivel subconsciente, a menos que sea muy fuerte el acento.

Los acentos pueden venir con mucho equipaje en la forma de como los escuchadores perciben a alguien quien habla con un acento diferente. La gente quien habla con cierto acento puede ser vistos como más inteligente, sofisticado, o educado. La gente quien habla con otro acento puede ser vistos con más tendencias a ser no honesto. ¡Y nada de esto tiene que ver con la persona, sino solo acento!

While I have discussed before how as a listener, the only way to overcome any subconscious biases you may have is to increase your exposure to those accents or dialects that might be seen in a negative light, many wonder, what can a speaker do about her own accent?

Petra aprendió el inglés cuando ya era adulta. Habla inglés con acento. Tiene acento por los patrones de hablar que aprendió como niñita en la Hungría. Petra, quien trabaja en las oficinas corporativas de una compañía de químicos en los EEUU, quiere cambiar su acento.

Ella siempre tenía algo de aprensión sobre comunicar con su equipo y los vendedores de afuera, pero cuando avanzó de puesto en la compañía, su acento se volvió más y más de un problema. Petra sabe que es instruida, tiene experiencia, e industriosa, pero a veces se siente que sus interacciones con sus colegas y con los vendedores no son tan nítidas como pudieran ser, y es por su acento.

Ella ha tratado de usar apps en su celular, tratando de practicar diario. No funcionó. Ha tratado de copiar las voces en la tele. No funcionó tampoco. Al fin, Petra se dio cuenta de lo que faltaba: feedback profesional de un hablante nativo de inglés.

Petra fue a Recursos Humanos y pregunto del speech coaching. La directora de entrenamiento en su compañía le hizo una cita para ver a un speech coach. Petra eligió hacer el entrenamiento por la computadora, porque era más conveniente para ella.

Trabajando con el speech coach, Petra recibió mas que solo el feedback que necesitaba para mejorar su hablar. El coach le dio a Petra ejercicios especiales para practicar que fueron especializados para sus necesidades, basados en la ciencia, y recomendados por un profesional. A Petra les gustaron las sesiones, y aprendió algo nuevo cada semana.

Después de trabajar con el speech coach por tres meses, Petra todavía habla con acento. Pero, puede hablar el inglés mucho más claro que antes, y algunos de sus colegas han comentado en cómo se ha mejorado su hablar. Ella se siente más confianza en su posición, y sus sentimientos de aprehensión sobre comunicar con los colegas y vendedores se ha bajado significantemente.

Si usted o un miembro de su equipo le gustaría más información sobre los servicios de acento, contáctanos. Nos alegrara contarle más de nuestro programa. Si está listo para cambiar su acento usando un programa de speech coaching que funciona, haga nuestro screening en línea para empezar. La gente debería de escuchar sus ideas, no el acento.

Talking About Emotions

Learning new vocabulary to describe emotions can be a tricky task in a second language. Use this guide to increase your vocabulary and to let others know exactly how you feel.

Happiness/Excitement

blissful (blɪs fǝl) full of, marked by, or causing complete happiness
bubbly (bᴧ bli) full of or showing good spirits
delirious (dǝ liɚ i ǝs) of, relating to, or characteristic of a frenzied excitement or an acute mental disturbance characterized by confused thinking and disrupted attention
ebullient (ɪ bʊl jǝnt) lively and enthusiastic
effervescent (e fɚ sǝnt) excited or lively
elated (ɪ leɪ tɪd) very happy and excited
enthusiastic (en θu zi æ stɪk) filled with or marked by a strong excitement of feeling or something inspiring zeal or fervor
euphoric (ju foɚ ɪk) marked by a feeling of great happiness or excitement
excited (ek saɪ tɪd) having, showing, or characterized by a heightened state of energy, enthusiasm, eagerness, etc.
exhilarated (ek zɪl ɚ eɪ dɪd) cheerful and excited, refreshed and stimulated
exultant (ek zǝl tǝnt) filled with or expressing great joy or triumph
happy ( pi) feeling of pleasure and enjoyment
jubilant (ʤu bǝ lɪnt) feeling or expressing great joy
pleased (plizd) with pleasure or satisfaction
satisfied ( tǝs faɪd) having a happy or pleased feeling because of something that you did or something that happened to you

Sad/Negative Feelings

depressed (dǝ prɛst) low in spirits
despair (dǝ speɚ) utter loss of hope, a cause of hopelessness
disappointed (dɪs ǝ poɪn tɪd) defeated in expectation or hope
dismal (dɪz mǝl) showing or causing gloom or depression
dissatisfied (dɪ tɪs feɪd) expressing or showing lack of satisfaction
distressed (dɪs trɛst) feeling or showing extreme unhappiness or pain
glum (glᴧm) sad
grief (grif) deep sadness caused especially by someone’s death; a cause of deep sadness; trouble or annoyance
humiliated (hju mɪl i eɪ tɪd) feelings of shame and embarrassment due to being reduced to a lower position in one’s own eyes or others’ eyes
hurt (hɝt) feeling of physical or emotional pain or anguish
lugubrious (lǝ gu bri ᴧs) mournful; exaggeratedly or affectedly mournful; dismal
morose (mǝ ros) having a sullen and gloomy disposition; marked by or expressive of gloom
mournful (moɚn fᴧl) expressing, causing, or full of sorrow
regretful (ri grɛt fᴧl) feeling or showing regret; sad or disappointed
sad (sæd) affected with or expressive of grief or unhappiness; depressing
somber (sam bɚ) very sad and serious
sullen (sᴧ lɪn) gloomily or resentfully silent or repressed, suggesting a sullen state
wounded (wun dɪd) feeling emotional pain

Anxiety/Worry

anxious (æŋk ʃǝs) worried, characterized by extreme uneasiness of mind or brooding fear about some contingency, characterized by/resulting from/causing anxiety, ardently or earnestly wishing
concerned (kᴧn sɝnd) anxious, worried
desperate (dɛs prɪt) having lost hope, moved by despair, suffering extreme need or anxiety
nervous ( vǝs) timid, apprehensive, uneasy, agitated
uneasy (ᴧn i zi) apprehensive, worried, physical or mental discomfort

Surprise/Wonder

amazed (ǝ meɪzd) feeling or showing great surprise or wonder
amused (ǝ mjuzt) pleasantly entertained
astonished (ǝ sta nɪʃt) feeling or showing great surprise or wonder
astounded (ǝ staʊn dɪd) feeling or showing great surprise or wonder
blown away (blon ǝ weɪ) impressed very strongly and usually favorably
dazzled ( zǝld) impressed, overpowered, or confounded with brilliance
flabbergasted (flæ bɚ gæ stɪd) overwhelmed with shock, surprise, or wonder
impressed (ɪm prɛst) characterized by a feeling of admiration or interest
in awe (ɪn ɔ) a strong feeling of fear or respect and also wonder
shocked (ʃɔkt) very confused, upset, or exhausted because of something that has happened
surprised (sɚ praɪzd) having or showing the feeling that people get when something unexpected or unusual happens

Anger/Frustration

aggravated (æ grǝ veɪ dɪd) annoyed or bothered
aggrieved (ǝ grivd) troubled or distressed in spirit
agitated (æ ʤǝ teɪ dɪd) troubled in mind; disturbed and upset
angry (æŋ gri) feeling or showing anger
anguished (æŋ gwɪʃt) tormented; feeling of extreme pain, distress, or anxiety
annoyed (ǝ noɪd) feeling or showing angry irritation
cross (kras) annoyed or angry
exasperated (ek spɚ eɪ tɪd) very angry or annoyed
frustrated (frᴧ streɪ tɪd) very angry, discouraged, or upset because of being unable to do or complete something
furious (fju ri ǝs) very angry; very active or fast
grumpy (grᴧm pi) moodily cross, surly
ill (ɪl) angry (Southern)
livid ( vɪd) very angry
outraged (aʊt reɪʤd) characterized by anger and resentment aroused by injury or insult

Annoyed/A bee in your bonnet

bilious ( li ǝs) of or indicative of a peevish ill-natured disposition
bothered (ba ðɚd) feeling troubled, woried or concerned; annoyed; concerned with or about something
irked (ɝkt) weary, irritated
irritable ( ɪt ǝ bᴧl) easily exasperated or excited, responsive to stimuli
irritated ( ɪ teɪ tɪd) subjected to irritation
miffed (mɪft) in a bad mood, offended
peeved (pivd) resentful

Confusion

baffled (fǝld) confused, frustrated
confounded (kᴧn faʊn dɪd) confused, perplexed
confused (kᴧn fjuzd) being perplexed or disconcerted; disoriented with regard to one’s sense of time, place, or identity; being disordered or mixed up
discombobulated (dɪs kǝm ba bju leɪ tɪd) upset, confused
disconcerted (dɪs kǝn tɪd) thrown into confusion
flummoxed (flᴧ mǝkst) completely unable to understand
perplexed (pɚ plɛkst) filled with uncertainty
stumped (stᴧmpt) perplexed, baffled
stymied (staɪ mid) presented with an obstacle or something standing in the way of
vexed (vɛkst) annoyed or worried

Fear

afraid (ǝ freɪd) filled with fear or apprehension
apprehensive (æp ri hɛn sɪv) afraid that something bad or unpleasant is going to happen; feeling or showing fear or nervousness about the future
fearful (fiɚ fᴧl) full of or inclined to fear
horrified (hoɚ ɪ faɪd) shocked; full of a painful and intense fear, dread, or dismay
scared (skeɚd) afraid of something; nervous or frightened
terrified ( ɪ feɪd) extremely afraid

Interest (or Lack Thereof)

bored (boɚd) filled with or characterized by boredom
curious (kjɝ i ǝs) marked by desire to investigate and learn
fascinated ( sɪ neɪ tɪd) transfixed and held spellbound by an irresistible power, interested in
interested (ɪn trɪ stɪd) wanting to learn more about something or to become involved in something; having the desire to do or have something

The Gravity of the Situation

flippant (flɪp ǝnt) lacking proper respect or seriousness
grave (greɪv) very serious, requiring or causing serious thought or concern
serious (sir i jǝs) not joking or funny; giving a lot of attention or energy to something
sober (soʊ bɚ) having or showing a very serious attitude or quality; not drunk

Making Decisions and Getting Things Done

ambivalent (æm vǝ lɪnt) having or showing simultaneous and contradictory attitudes or feelings toward something or someone
confident (kan fɪ dɛnt) full of conviction, certain, having or showing assurance and self-reliance
determined (dɪ mɪnd) characterized by a firm or fixed intention to achieve a desired end
discouraged (dɪs ɪʤd) feeling less determined, hopeful, or confident
steadfast (stɛd fæst) firm in belief, determination, or adherence
timid ( mɪd) lacking in courage or self-confidence; lacking in boldness or determination

Energy

effusive (ɪ fju sɪv) expressing a lot of emotion
ennui (an wi) a lack of spirit, enthusiasm, or interest
exhausted (ek stɪd) completely or almost completely depleted or energy, extremely tired
fervid ( vɪd) marked by extreme intensity of feeling or expression
invigorated (ɪn goɚ eɪ tɪd) given life and energy
lethargic (lǝ θar ʤɪk) feeling a lack of energy or a lack of interest in doing things
overexerted (oʊ vɚ ek dɪd) tired out due to great or sustained effort
overwhelmed (oʊ vɚ wɛlmd) affected very strongly, a feeling of having too many things to deal with
pooped (pupt) tired out, exhausted (slang)
refreshed (rǝ frɛʃt) with restored strength and animation
tired (taɪ jɚd) feeling a need to rest or sleep; bored or annoyed by something because you have heard it, seen it, done it, etc. for a long time

Attitude

grateful (greɪt fᴧl) feeling or showing thanks
hopeful (hop fᴧl) full of hope
impatient (ɪm peɪ ʃǝnt) not willing to wait for something or someone; wanting or eager to do something without waiting
optimistic (ap tǝ mɪs tɪk) feeling or showing hope for the future
patient (peɪ ʃǝnt) not hasty or impetuous; steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity; bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint
pessimistic (pɛ sǝ mɪs tɪk) of, relating to, or characterized by an inclination to emphasize adverse aspects, conditions, and possibilities or to expect the worse possible outcome
proud (praʊd) having or displaying excessive self-esteem, pleased, or having proper self-respect
staid (steɪd) marked by settled sedateness and often prim self-restraint
stubborn (stᴧ bɚn) unreasonably or perfersely unyielding
thankful (θænk fᴧl) glad that something has happened or not happened, that something or someone exists, etc.

Attitudes Towards Others

arrogant (er ǝ gɪnt) exaggerating or disposed to exaggerate one’s own worth or importance often by an overbearing manner, showing an offensive attitude of superiority
betrayed (bǝ treɪd) treacherously abandoned, deserted, or mistreated
churlish (ʧɝ lɪʃ) marked by a lack of civility or graciousness, difficult to work with or deal with
condescend (kan dǝ sɛnd) to assume an air of superiority, to descent to a less formal or dignified level
contemptuous (kᴧn tɛm ʧu ǝs) manifesting, feeling, or expressing deep hatred or disapproval
disdainful (dɪs deɪn fᴧl) full of or expressing contempt for someone or something regarded as unworthy or inferior
embarrassed (ɪm ber ǝst) feelings of confusion and foolishness in front of other people
empathy (em pǝ θt) a feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions
envious (en vi ǝs) feeling or showing painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another with a desire to possess the same advantage
gracious (greɪ ʃǝs) very polite in a way that shows respect
haughty ( ti) blatantly and disdainfully proud, having or showing an attitude of superiority and contempt for people or things perceived to be inferior
jealous (ʤɛl ǝs) hostile toward a rival or one believed to enjoy an advantage; intolerant of rivalry or unfaithfulness; vigilant in guarding a possession
offended (ǝ fɛn dɪd) feeling hurt, angry, or upset by something said or done
resentful (re zɛnt fᴧl) full of a feeling of indignant displeasure or persistent ill will at something regarded as a wrong, insult, or injury
scorn (skoɚn) open dislike and disrespect or derision often mixed with indignation; an object of extreme disdain, contempt, or derision
scornful (skoɚn fǝl) full of scorn; contemptuous
smug (smǝg) highly self-satisfied
supercilious (su pɚ li ǝs) coolly and patronizingly haughty
surly ( li) irritably sullen and churlish in mood or manner
sympathetic (sɪm pǝ θɛ tɪk) feeling or showing concern about someone who is in a bad situation

When People Do Bad Things

ashamed (ǝ ʃeɪmd) feeling shame, guilt, or disgrace; reluctant or unwilling to do something because of shame or embarrassment
culpable (kᴧl pǝ bǝl) guilty, meriting condemnation or blame especially as wrong or harmful
guilty (gɪl ti) feeling bad because you have done something bad or wrong or because you believe you have done something bad or wrong
suspicious (sǝ spɪ ʃǝs) having or showing a feeling that something is wrong or that someone is behaving wrongly

Sexual

horny (hoɚ ni) excited sexually
lecherous ( ʧɚ ǝs) having or showing an excessive or disgusting interest in sex
salacious (sǝ leɪ ʃᴧs) arousing or appealing to sexual desire or imagination; lecherous
titillated ( tǝ leɪ dɪd) interested or excited in an enjoyable and often sexual way

PRONUNCIATION GUIDE: US Immigration – Processes

Immigrating to the United States can be a daunting task, for many reasons. Talking about the process doesn’t have to be one of them. Practice your pronunciation of the names of US immigration processes.

Immigration Processes
AOS ɛs Affidavit of Support æ fɪ deɪ vɪt   ʌv   sʌ poɚt
AOS ɛs Adjustment of Status ǝ ʤǝs mɪnʔ   ʌv   stæ dɪs
CPR si pi ar Conditional Permanent Resident kʌn ʃǝ nǝl   mʌ nɪnt   rɛ zɪ dɪnt
EAD i jeɪ di Employment Authorization Document ɛm ploɪ mɪn   ta θɝ ɪ zeɪ ʃʌn    kju mɛnt
(L)PR (ɛl) pi ar (Legal) Permanent Resident (li gǝl)   mǝ nɪnʔ   rɛ zɪ dɪnt
SSN ɛs ɛs ɛn Social Security Number so ʃǝl   sɛ kjɝ ɪ di   nǝm
TPS ti pi ɛs Temporary Protected Status tɛme ri   prʌ tɛk tɪd   stæ dɪs
NOA ɛn     or     noʊ ǝ Notice of Action no dɪs   ʌv   æk ʃǝn

Bored? Try These Language Learning Programs

I have found that when learning a second language, the best way to drill insane amounts of vocabulary and language usage is to repeatedly expose yourself to the material in reading, writing, speaking, and listening formats. And it’s even better if you get feedback about your accuracy so you can improve.

There have always been self-study programs on the market for second language learning, including books and recorded material. With modern web and app design, excellent programs with interactivity to make learning happen naturally are now so ubiquitous, you can now get a pretty decent language education for free.

Granted, these programs do not replace the inherent value of immersing yourself in a second language or culture, nor do they provide personalized pronunciation feedback from a certified speech instructor. If that’s the kind of thing you’re looking for, then try one of our programs.

In just a few minutes a day, over time, you can significantly improve your language skills. Check out the programs below to easily improve your skills.

Sporcle offers a number of user-created quizzes that have users racing against the clock. Try this quiz where users are challenged to come up with the 100 most common words in English in a race against the clock. Can you name them all in time? You might be surprised by some of the words on the list.

Memrise has multiple lessons available, ranging from a single list of items, such as idioms or vocabulary, to entire courses with multiple units. What’s more, they have a helpful app for iOS so you can learn on-the-go.

And then there is Duolingo. Notably bankrolled by cook kids like Ashton Kutcher, Duolingo is now the go-to resource for language learning for users of all ages. Engineered to maximize learning while minimizing frustration (so users don’t lose their motivation and momentum), and with a well-designed app, users can challenge themselves to maintain week-long streaks of practice with the number of days practiced straight featured on the screen during every practice session. I know people in their sixties who have used Duolingo to go from knowing just a few words of a language to being able to speak fluently with native speakers.

Finally, there’s Rosetta Stone. I’ve never used the version for purchase of the yellow packaged language learning program you see in airport bookstores, but I did use a trial to learn enough Turkish to successfully navigate the markets and taxi rides in Istanbul. The difference between RS and Duolingo is price – RS is a product that you pay for. What you get, according to Rosetta Stone, is patented voice recognition software. Whether that is as good as an in-person session with a speech instructor, I don’t know.

Do you have experience with a language learning program, either online or an app? Share your experience in the comments section.

Listening Between the Lines

If you have spent considerable time in a culture you didn’t grow up in, then you have likely found yourself in a situation where there was a misunderstanding, but it wasn’t due to the words that were spoken. What we refer to in English as reading between the lines indicates picking up on information that is not explicitly said, but rather, implied by context. The level to which we rely on our implicit understanding in a conversation is cultural, and this is an area of cultural communication where we often go wrong without even knowing it.

In her book The Culture Map, Erin Meyer describes a scale ranging from low-context, where one participant in a conversation makes no assumptions about what another participant knows, to high-context, where the information that is read between the lines can be much more important than what is explicitly said. The United States is the most low-context culture in the world. Latin American cultures, including Mexico, are considered high-context[1].

In the US, we value transparency and factual statements that are both explicit and specific. When it’s time to get down to business, we do not like to beat around the bush. In Mexico, such is not the case – as I have learned firsthand.

When I first started communicating with individuals from Mexico (friends, family of friends, businesspeople, etc.), I noticed that before [what I saw as] the actual conversation takes place, there is a ritual of politely saying “hello, good morning/afternoon/night,” and asking how the person is doing, sometimes followed by lengthier small talk. Being a low-context estadounidense, I tend to breeze past these pleasantries without realizing. Paulina, a friend of mine from Mexico, has confirmed that skipping this initial stage of the conversation can come off as brusque, unless both participants in the conversation know each other well.

Sometimes we have to alter the way we communicate with others in order to successfully get our message across. When I am consciously trying to have a positive interaction with someone from Mexico, I remind myself to greet them politely (with appropriate reference to the time of day) and to ask them how they are doing.

Usually, I am anxious to get to the real reason for the conversation. As a time-obsessed low-context communicator, the pleasantries feel like a waste of time. However, they are most certainly not. They serve as a small investment toward building a relationship of trust that is important for business, community, and culture.

Our patterns of cultural communication are ingrained from the moment we are born. Therefore, making an adjustment in order to effectively communicate with someone from a different culture can be difficult. Despite the difficulty, sharing your ideas with other people in a way they can easily understand is one of the most valuable things on Earth.

Whether you come from a low-context culture like the United States or a high-context culture like Mexico, make a conscious effort to accommodate your listener’s cultural communication style. Let them hear your ideas.

[1] …although not at the extreme end of the high-context cultures. Japan has the honor of being the most high-context culture in the world.

Why Gestures Matter in Communication

We communicate with a lot more than our mouths. Think of communication as an art. An artist has a number of tools they use to produce their art. A painter uses many different brushes, spatulas, and pigments to create a painting. A poet uses words and phrases with punctuation and page space to create a poem. A good communicator uses their mouth and upper airway as well as facial expression and gesture to share their ideas. Gestures enhance spoken communication.

Gestures are movements, usually of the hands, that enhance the meaning of spoken communication. You probably do not have to think very long to come up with an example of gestural communication, whether you happen to know American Sign Language or you’re trying to merge onto I-77 at midday.
Many gestures are fairly universal, such as the hand out, palm up gesture. Other gestures are culture-specific, such as the OK sign – whose meaning varies from the United States, where it means, “all okay,” to Argentina and Greece it is more offensive.

We can use our hands as an addition to spoken communication, to help our listeners understand us. In order for gestures to be understood, they should be produced within clear view of the listener, usually in front of the upper torso or face. Unless you are using a specific gesture that your listener is familiar with, keep it simple. The simpler the gesture, the more likely your listener will understand what you mean to say.

What are you saying with your hands?

The position of your hands has an impact on your message.

Hands open with the palms up is a more positive gesture, and is inviting – especially with outstretched arms.

When hands are in fists or face down, it tends to be received by the listener more negatively, and may serve to give you more time to speak during your turn in a conversation.

Hands up with the palms forward is a limit-setting gesture. It communicates to your listener to stop what they are doing.

Take a moment to think about how you use your hands when you speak. What is the message you’re communicating to others, beyond what comes out of your mouth?

What is a Dialect?

A dialect is a form of a language. Languages can have one or many dialects, differing in pronunciation, vocabulary, grammatical features, and that fuzzy stuff that laypeople refer to as “reading between the lines” and linguists refer to as pragmatics. Dialects are usually shared by a subgroup of people with something in common, be it ethnicity, geographic region, social class, or something else. Usually, people who speak different dialects of the same language can understand each other.Dialects represent the beauty of language: it’s so fascinating that two people who use different communication systems can not only understand one another, but also share, learn, and laugh together about the eccentricities of their respective dialects. The first time someone used the Southern phrase “slap your mama good” to describe some tasty food I laughed for a week.

Unfortunately, dialects can also be at the root of injustice. All over the world, people face discrimination based on their dialect. Again and again, we see that when an individual has an accent that is different from that of a superior – a hiring manager, for example – chances are disturbingly good that they will be seen in a negative light.

It seems that dialect discrimination affected the court proceedings following the 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin. One of the key witnesses in the trial was Rachel Jeantel, a friend of Martin’s who had been on the phone with him before and during his fatal run-in with George Zimmerman. John Rickford, linguistics professor at Stanford, pointed out that had there been another speaker of African American Vernacular English serving as judge, transcriber, attorney, or jury member, Jeantel’s critical testimony would have been understood, and the outcome of the trial would likely be very different. Marguerite Rigoglioso with Stanford News published an excellent article on this topic here.

According to the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA):

Given that SAE [Standard American English] is the linguistic variety used by the government, the mass media, business, education, science, and the arts in the United States, speakers of other varieties of American English may find it advantageous to be able to speak SAE. In these cases, the role of the speech-language pathologist is to assist in the acquisition of the desired competency in the second dialect without jeopardizing the integrity of the individual’s first dialect.

Being able to speak the mainstream dialect of English can, without a doubt, open up a whole new world of possibility for native speakers of other dialects. However, as ASHA indicates, the goal is not to replace the way you walk with the language they speak on television. It’s about code-switching, communicating in the most appropriate dialect, given the situation.

However, when it comes to the topic of dialect/linguistic discrimination, the solution cannot be focused on the behavior of the speaker. While there is certainly no single, simple solution, and linguistic discrimination is just a part of the systematic discrimination that occurs against minority groups every minute of the day, part of the solution must be to listen to and learn more about the different dialects of speakers you know and are likely to meet. The more you hear these dialects, the more you will understand. In short, listen more.

If you are interested in code-switching, let us know. People should hear your ideas, not your dialect.

7 Tips for Talking to People Who Are Hard of Hearing

According to the American Speech, Language, and Hearing Association, 28.6 million people in America have problems with their hearing. That’s more people than there are in Nepal. That’s more people than the number of ping pong balls you can fit in a Hummer. That’s more people than there are bicycles in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Switzerland combined. You get the idea: it’s a heck of a lot of people. If you talk to people, chances are good you’re going to run into someone with hearing loss at some point or another. Read on for seven great tips for communicating with people who are hard of hearing.

by Das Fotoimaginarium

These guys are doing it right. (Photo: Conversation, by Das Fotoimaginarium)

  1. Look at the person. It’s not recommended to stare at the person like a creep, but it’s a good idea to look the person in the eye when you’re talking to them. That way, not only do you know you have their attention, but they can see your mouth and get a better idea of the words you’re saying, and they can read the expression on your face. If you’re trying to talk to someone who is behind you, there’s less of a probability that they will know what you’re saying.
  2. Have good lighting. Having the person be able to see you doesn’t help if you’re in the dark, unless they happen to be a lemur and can see in the dark. 

    Don't worry about lighting with this fella. (Photo: Brown Mouse Lemur, by Frank Vassen)

    Don’t worry about lighting with this fella. (Photo: Brown Mouse Lemur, by Frank Vassen)

  3. Increase the volume of your voice without losing your intonation. It can be helpful to speak in a louder voice, but try to keep the ups and downs of your speech; otherwise, it might sound like you’re shouting at the person.
  4. Some people hear better on one side than the other. If someone says they hear better on their right side, talk more into that ear, but try to do so in a way that they can still see your face.
  5. Cut down the background noise. It’s never a good idea to try to have a conversation with someone in a construction site; similarly, turn down background music and turn off the television. If you are in a room with a lot of other people, look for a quiet spot to talk. Background noise can be distracting to the listener and can make it harder for them to hear you.

    Not an ideal place for a conversation. (Photo: Crowd, by James Cridland)

    Not an ideal place for a conversation. (Photo: Crowd, by James Cridland)

  6. If someone is having trouble understanding, rephrase what you’re trying to say. Try to stay away from words with s, f, and th sounds. (Those sounds are the hardest to hear.)
  7. If you’re not sure if the other person is following you, ask!

Good communication involves a speaker and a listener. If you want someone to be thinking about what you have to say, try to set up the conversation for success. It only takes a small effort to share your big ideas.

Resources

American Speech, Language, and Hearing Association: ASHA is the resource for speech-language pathology. The site is packed with helpful information for professionals looking to improve their communication skills.

 

CORSPAN: The CORporate Speech PAthology Network is an excellent source for corporate speech pathologists and individuals looking for information about how to communicate better in the workplace.

 

Praat: Praat (from the Dutch word for “talk”) is by far the best way to get a visual image of the speech signal on your computer. It can show you the subtle differences between vowels and consonants, even if you can’t hear any difference!

 

LSVT Global: The Lee Silverman Voice Treatment is the only evidence-based voice treatment for individuals with Parkinson’s Disease and other neurological conditions. LSVT Global is your portal to the latest LSVT research and resources.

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