A Proper American Voice

Ling ZhuPronouncing words in English is quite different from pronouncing Chinese when one speaks. The tonality, the weight placement in a word, and many of the shared sounds between the languages are just handled very differently, which I have found over time to be an interesting challenge.

In order to establish my proper “American voice”, I needed to feel more relaxed in my mouth and move the “center position” of where I make sound a little bit backward in the mouth cavity.

When I started practicing this, I tried to sing American songs with simple lyrics and rhythms like “Twinkle little star”, “Do-Re-Mi”, ”To be with you”… I still do this today, almost twice a week: I go to my apartment gym (which luckily is always empty), and sing those songs more loudly than I can bear. I can really feel my improvement in my daily speech and accent, and this in turn helps ease the daily pressures at work and in living in the USA and talking to people in general. Music/speech therapy, if you will. 

I met a nice guy a few days ago that was willing to help test my singing skills. So I started to sing: “…You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray; you’ll never know dear how much I, I, I like you (ah, yes I changed the lyrics here); please don’t take my sunshine away…” To my surprise, he launched into singing with me. His green eyes sparkled and I could sense that his heart was speeding. So was mine…

(Ling Zhu – Neurotic Media Developer)

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