IT’S MONDAY. WELCOME.

What’re you going to do in English this week?

I hope you’ve had a good weekend. I’m not going to say, “I hope you’ve had a PRODUCTIVE weekend!” because that will put me in the category of someone who doesn’t know how to enjoy my free time, right? How we categorise what constitutes fun and enjoyable activities is personal of course. But, were you productive?

If you’re learning a foreign language, what are you planning to do this week to improve it? If you’re doing classes, especially with IDIOMAS ADVANTGE, great, and good choice by the way. Whether you are or not, if you really want to learn a language, you need to immerse yourself in the language.

Luckily, there are so many fun things you can do these days, that it doesn’t need to feel like “work”.

I’ve spoken before about the Personal Language Learning System (PLLS) with its five strategies to really boost your language level by integrating it in your life. It’s all about doing things that motivate you, and basically things you’d do in your native language anyway.

Have you created any routines or habits at specific times and locations during the day? Are you going to listen to a podcast during your daily commute, your morning or evening run, or as you are enjoying your coffee or lunch break? When you get home and sit on your sofa, are you going to watch your favourite Netflix series in English or French or choose the Spanish audio version?

I absolutely guarantee that by choosing times and locations for your PLLS language learning, you’ll turbocharge your progress like never before.

So, what are you doing at the moment, or are you going to do this week to improve your language level? Let me know in the comments.

If you want to know more about the PLLS for you or your company, get in touch!

STOP WASTING YOUR LIFE WATCHING TV, Amazon Prime, YouTube and NETFLIX or CHANGE THE LANGUAGE

Do you know what a lot of business students tell me they do when they get home from work after a long tiring day at the office? Can you guess?

If you’re like them, you probably look forward to sitting on the sofa in front of your bigger-than-necessary flat-screen TV and settling in for a session of turn your mind off and watch the latest Netflix series that you’re into at the moment. It’s a lovely feeling, isn’t it?

A comfy sofa, a big screen, your stomach full of dinner and a favourite series to enjoy, perhaps with your partner with the kids in bed. It’s a bit of ‘me time’ or even ‘we time’. Hey, or why not start watching some YouTube videos…?

If it’s the weekend and you have even more free time, then that “let’s just watch one episode of Money Heist (La Casa de Papel), turns into a massive 3-hour binge session that takes you all the way through to the next meal. And why not? It’s your time. You’ve worked hard (probably), and you deserve it.

And then you turn the national TV on, and you feel you just need to catch up on the latest happenings around the Globe. After all, you need to do something productive and important now.

 Although the headlines have given you enough information to keep you up to date, you feel impelled to sit through the whole hour and digest the news that a group of journalists have chosen from countries and cities you can’t pronounce and events that have zero impact on your life.

But wait, you haven’t seen the weather forecast yet! What, from my location? No, from the whole country and in excruciating detail. Don’t go anywhere till you’ve memorised the tomorrow’s temperatures for every city in your country. It’s going to be a record somewhere I hear.  

It would only be a killjoy who would say, “What’s the point in that?” or “Don’t watch those series and films that make you happy, and the news that makes you more knowledgeable about irrelevant events.”

Well, let it be so. I’ll be the party pooper and ask what will you remember about today when you are on your deathbed?

Umm, I remember something about a superhero who jumped out of a helicopter and survived, and yeah, there was a flood in Pakistan or was that China or Zaragoza.

With such a limited amount of time on earth to make a difference, how many hours do you want to devote to watching other people live their lives?

Can you still watch hours of TV, series and films and still be productive and not a couch potato?

Well, actually you can. And this is how.

You take your remote control, click on Audio and toggle the English language option (or French if you’re lucky enough to be learning that language instead like me).

In fact, getting input and exposure to boost the language you’re learning is the only real justification for spending an exaggerated amount of time in front of any screen if you want to be productive, even if you’re retired or incapacitated.

Choose something you love watching and then change the language. Now, you’re enjoying yourself, learning something and not wasting your precious time.

If you want to learn more about the Personal Language Learning System (PPLS), get in touch as soon as possible.

OPEN MIC NIGHT?  SPEAK ENGLISH? SCREW IT. JUST DO IT!

Sometimes you just have to go for it. “Just do it”, according to NIKE, “Screw it, let’s do it” as the title of Richard Branson’s book urges us to do, or simply mix the two.

The message is the same; if in doubt, or if you’re thinking twice about something, the advice is to just go ahead and try it. We often hear of people wanting to be absolutely perfect before performing or producing a piece of work, and then endlessly procrastinating, and never getting stuff done.

The above catch phrases may seem trite, but they pack a strong message behind them. Sometimes, you just need to get going. You’ll learn from your mistakes. But, you’ll learn nothing if you do nothing.

You haven’t started that YouTube channel you’ve been planning for two years? Take your mobile, film that footage that you really already know, and upload it.

 You need to speak to your clients, suppliers or international boss in English, but you’ve never dared to, despite investing the last three years in English classes every week, and binge watching those Netflix series, all in their original language version? Contact them and just start speaking. Mistakes aren’t a problem as any polyglot will tell you.

You have a story, a poem or a song you’ve been rehearsing at home that no-one else has ever heard? Step up to the mic and hey, let’s do it! And if it’s in front of other friendly members of Internations in a small venue, even better.

Thanks again to Jamil for organising a great night at the cosy downstairs room at El Paraigua restaurant in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona (02/09/2022). I had great fun listening to the other members and debuting my new song. I look forward to the next one.

For anyone who wants to meet new people and speak English there’s no better association to join in Barcelona.

www.internations.org

SIMON BRAMPTON – ENGLISH COACH en

A2VEUS – TV3

Fue todo un placer ayudar a los 4 concursantes super talentos (Raquel, Keila, Mouna i Iván) de A2VEUS mejorar su pronunciación de la canción Midsummer Night de Ramón Mirabet.

También, fue de una agradable sorpresa conocer a Nina en persona, la presentadora del programa y consejera a los aspirantes.

Es una super producción que rompe con el formato tradicional de los concursos de canto.

JUEVES 4/08 /2022 a las 23h y luego disponible en la web: https://www.ccma.cat/tv3/a-2-veus/capitols/

En aquest capítol d'”A2Veus“, quatre aspirants nous ( Raquel, Keila, Mouna i Iván) competiran per demostrar el seu talent per poder cantar amb Ramon Mirabet en un indret molt especial.

Tots quatre passaran tres dies a la masia del Berguedà amb la resta de classificats escollits. Dues persones seran les que competiran cara a cara per cantar amb Ramon Mirabet, tot sota l’atenta mirada i supervisió de la Nina.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS! y ¿LO MEJOR?

NADA DE INGLÉS DURANTE UN MES

Muchos esperan las <<ansiadas vacaciones>> porque me imagino que lo que se ha vivido antes ha sido… ansioso. Oigo una y otra vez frases como <<¡Necesito unas vacaciones ya!>>

Según Confucio, un señor que no solía dar puntadas sin hilo,

“Elige un trabajo que te guste y no tendrás que trabajar ni un día en tu vida”.

No sé qué tipo de trabajo tenía en mente allí en China por el año 550 AC, pero sabía construir frases con gancho sobre las que engarzar sus ideas. Hoy, él mismo encontraría trabajo como periodista o en el marketing o publicidad online sin problema.

¿Quiere decir que si coges vacaciones has elegido mal tu trabajo porque nunca has podido encontrar tu verdadera vocación o una afición de la cuál podrías ganar la vida?

Cuando Dalí veraneaba en Cadaqués ¿Se supone que ya no pintaba nada porque <<Estava de vacances>>?

Ya, pero no todos tenemos la suerte de poder trabajar de lo que nos encanta, sea pintar, cantar, diseñar bisutería o escribir libros. Pero, da igual, ya que tienes tiempo en estos días estivales.

Sea lo que sea tu situación o en qué playa, pueblo o país estés este agosto, puedes sentirte aliviado por fin, porque, al menos no tienes que hacer nada de inglés, francés, alemán… es que, necesitabas un descanso de tus clases de idiomas.

Para dominar un idioma, las clases son un simple complemento a lo que realmente necesitas hacer para aprender un idioma de verdad, y en mucho menos tiempo.

Si no lo sabías o no lo haces ya, el idioma que aprendes debe formar parte de tu día a día. Si no es así, sigue leyendo para descubrir cómo conseguirlo.

El secreto de dominar cualquier asignatura sea uninstrumento, una habilidad o un idioma es la regularidad; es decir, crear hábitos que acaban siendo simples rutinas que forman parte de tu vida cotidiana.

Hoy en día hay tantos recursos a tu disposición para aprender un idioma, que ¡ya no hay excusa! Dispones de canales de televisión y radio, en YouTube tienes contenidos de todo tipo que elegir a tu gusto y podcasts que saldrán por tus oídos. Y, lo tienes todo en cualquier nivel.

Luego, existe Netflix y Amazon Prime para ver tus series en un montón de idiomas.

Si ves contenido ya en tu idioma, cambia al idioma que aprendes, aunque sea por parte del tiempo con subtítulos en el mismo idioma. Escuchar, ver o leer un montón de noticias irrelevantes para tu vida no aporta nada en tu idioma nativo, pero en él que aprendes te despegarás cómo nunca hayas imaginado.

¿Cómo lo incorporo en mi vida durante las vacaciones?

La forma más fácil de incorporar otro idioma en tu vida es hacerlo al mismo tiempo que otra actividad, o sea, crear un hábito simultáneo.

Por ejemplo, si haces footing, fitness, bicicleta, natación, caminas, te bronceas en la playa, cocinas, limpias, etc, elige un podcast o video que puedes escuchar al mismo tiempo por la duración de la actividad.

Cuando estás en el coche, el autobús, tren, etc. haz lo mismo. Sabrás que has conseguido incorporar una actividad en tu vida cuando te des cuenta de que no lo estás haciendo y ¡te sientes raro!

 Ahora mismo, no puedo ni cocinar ni hacer fitness por las mañanas sin escuchar un podcast o un video de YouTube en francés. Y, cuando estoy solo, siempre como viendo algo en francés. Y, ¿sabes qué?

 ¡FUNCIONA! Lo garantizo.

Y, si aprendes inglés, ¿Por qué no estás en Inglaterra de vacaciones? ¿Por qué no has ido un sitio donde te hablan el idioma que aprendes? Estás perdiendo una oportunidad.

¿Es porque hace mal tiempo en Inglaterra? Pues, esto fue antes. Gracias al global warming, llegaron a 40,3 ºC en julio 2022, un récord absoluto, y los científicos y meteorólogos nos prometen más veranos calurosos en esta isla justo al norte de Europa.

Por tanto, haz la maleta para la playa de Bournemouth o Brighton el año que viene con tus podcasts y videos ya preparados, y kill two birds with one stone.

Happy holidays … in English!

Pregúntanos cómo puedes dar un empujón a tu inglés

GET PODCASTING this summer…

AND ALL YEAR ROUND

Listening to English-speaking podcasts is a great way to increase your English level. Playing back parts that you don’t understand and writing down words you don’t recognize will help you expand your vocabulary.

Which podcasts should I listen to?

We are spolit for choice, and luckily there’s something for eveyone and every level. You could being with either the The Learn English Podcast from the British Council or 6-minute English from the BBC. But, look at all the options below and chose something you like and for your level.

At the beginner level, in general, you’ll find that the programs are focused on basic language skills like “Let’s learn English,” “Everyday grammar” and “Words and their stories”.

If you are at an intermediate level, Podcasts cover a wider variety of topics, including health and lifestyle, science, technology, culture, and news, which can be particularly helpful for chatting to friends in English. All podcasts come with a transcript to help you follow along. 

Once you get to the Advanced level it’s time to start listening to more authentic material made for native speakers, such as the BBC and American news. Remember that you can listen to a huge number of radio stations from the UK on the App British Radios, and it’s free!

How do you learn English with a podcast?

All language learning experts and polyglots agree that massive INPUT is essential to increase not only your listening skills but also your vocabulary, grammar, accent, and even speaking!!!!

The more you watch, read and listen, the better your English will get. But, remember to make it a habit. Check out my other Blogs about making learning a habit and creating routines.

Extra tips for Learning on the GO!

  • Take notes of new vocabulary you find interesting. NOT everything.
  • Make sure you create a specific timeslot every day. Make it a habit.
  • For a few minutes repeat what they are saying in real time if you can: this is called SHADOWING.
  • If you can, play and stop and repeat to practice your accent.
  • Learning on the GO means listening to English while you are doing other activities
  • If you don’t understand everything, you can use the subsititles or slow the speech down.

Learn English Podcast from the British Council

The Learn English Podcast is excellent for beginners. It is aimed at  English language learners from A1 to B1 levels and episodes revolve around discussion and cover common everyday situations. Every episode comes with a transcript and a support pack with exercises to test your understanding. There’s even a free app!

Where to listen

Apple Podcasts

Google Podcasts

British Council website

6-Minute English from the BBC

Are you short on time? 6-Minute English fits into even the busiest schedules. No excuses! 6-minute English is a news podcast produced every week and is aimed at intermediate speakers. Each episode comes with a list of vocabulary, a thought-provoking question, and a transcript so you can follow along in case you miss some words or phrases. 

The English here is spoken at a slightly slower speed than usual, making it much easier to understand. In addition, there are hundreds of episodes going back to 2014. Try listening to one six-minute episode per day, and your vocabulary will grow in no time.

Where to listen

Apple Podcasts

Google Podcasts

BBC website

The English We Speak

The English We Speak is produced every week by the BBC. This series is even shorter than 6-Minute English, with episodes only 3 minutes long. Each episode focuses on a different English idiom or expression used in the UK, such as “play a blinder,” “take the biscuit” or “to cut a long story short.”

This podcast is especially interesting if you in the UK or moving there, or just want to gain more natural English. , this program is highly recommended. The vocabulary is a bit more complex

Where to listen

Apple Podcasts

Google Podcasts

BBC website

Global News by the BBC

One final mention for one of the BBC’s many English podcasts. Why not start listening to the news in English? It’s a great way to get more English language exposure into your daily routine. 

New episodes of the BBC’s Global News are published twice a day and report on issues that affect the whole planet. As you might have guessed, this show is beneficial if you would like to learn British English. 

Where to listen

Apple Podcasts

Google Podcasts

BBC website

BUSINESS ENGLISH PODCASTS

Down to Business English is a podcast for people who use English as a Second or Foreign Language (ESL/EFL) in their work environment and are trying to improve their overall language skills.

In each episode, hosts Dez Morgan, Samantha Vega, and Skip Montreux discuss business news making headlines around the world. Through their discussions, they introduce professional vocabulary and phrases, review useful grammar structures, and identify cultural differences that may impact doing business in an international work environment.

Where to listen:

https://downtobusinessenglish.com/category/free-podcast/

SPECIFICALLY AMERICAN PODCASTS

Voice of America: Learning English

If you want to learn American English, then Voice of America: Learning English might be a better choice for you. It’s a clear website that offers different podcasts for beginner, intermediate, and advanced ESL learners.

Where to listen

Apple Podcasts

Google Podcasts

Voice of America website

All Ears English

All Ears English is another great option if you already have an intermediate level of English and want a little more entertainment. All Ears is in American English and is presented by two ESL teachers, Lindsay from Boston and Michelle from New York City.

In very short episodes, they discuss American culture, and explain confusing English expressions in a friendly and fun way. Their motto is “connection not perfection” so expect a focus on everyday English as it is spoken in the real world!

Also, they produce the show with the IELTS in mind, so anyone about to sit the exam will find it especially useful.

Where to listen

Apple Podcasts

Google Podcasts

All Ears English website

Espresso English

The Espresso English podcast is made for beginners and intermediate-level learners. It is presented by Shayna who is the teacher at Espresso English and everything from vocabulary to grammar to pronunciation is covered in the 350+ episodes.

One of the fantastic features of this podcast is the fact that there are so many episodes and they cover many common problems  The shows features American English and they only last 5-10 minutes.

Where to listen

Apple Podcasts

Google Podcasts

Espresso English website

Advanced English podcasts aimed at Native Speakers

If you want to take your English to a really proficiency / near-native level, then you need to start listening to authentic material for native speakers. Here are a few suggestions for podcasts in this category.

The Joe Rogan Experience

The Joe Rogan Experience is one of the biggest podcasts globally, and in 2020, the show signed an exclusive deal with Spotify worth a reported $100 million. His podcasts with interviews are aimed at native speakers, and has a huge range of tòpics in over 1,660 episodes with subjects ranging from comedy and science to politics and sports.

You can also watch and listen to his show on YouTube.

Where to listen

Apple Podcasts

Google Podcasts

Youtube

Spotify

This American Life

This American Life is a great choice for English learners who want an insight into the culture of the USA. It is a mixture of journalism and storytelling, focusing on real-life tales from citizens of all regions of the country. The stories are varied and original. One episode was taped for 24 hours in an all-night restaurant; another interviewed students at a high school which experienced a mass shooting. It has won a host of awards and is consistently rated among the most popular in the US. 

Where to listen

Apple Podcasts

Google Podcasts

This American Life Website

THE LEARNABILITY SHOW by IAN GIBBS

A great show to listen to for teachers, trainers and learners. You can find out how to learn in general while improving your English. A win win! 45 minutes per episode.

Where to listen:

SPOTIFY

https://open.spotify.com/show/7DHnKutoRi6ixnJvylHcoA

Overheard at National Geographic

National Geographic is a very popular American magazine (and TV channel) famous for incredible stories and photography related to science and the environment. 

Overheard is about the discussions Nat Geo employees have had while taking breaks. Expect crazy stories from explorers, photographers, and scientists from around the world. 

Episodes last around twenty minutes, It’s perfect if you want to be amazed at the strangeness of our planet. 

Where to listen

Apple Podcasts

Google Podcasts

Youtube

National Geographic website

NO SUCH THING AS FISH

When learning any new language, some people say that jokes and humour are the hardest thing to understand. Yep, it’s not easy.

 But try this British podcast where Each week Dan, James, Anna and Andy discuss their favourite facts unearthed in the past seven days. ​

New episode every Friday from 2pm

website:

Where to listen

Apple Podcasts

https://www.nosuchthingasafish.com/

TO SUM UP

I hope this has inspired you to add more English to your life. Even if you take classes, they are never enough to get you quickly to the next level. There is no substitute for exposure to a language, so get exposing yourself TODAY!!

Let me know in the comments which podcasts you listen to.

STOP WASTING YOUR LIFE READING and LISTENING TO IRRELEVANT NEWS: And change the language

Throughout most of my adult life I’ve loved listening to the news in the morning during breakfast or travelling to work in the car. I would put on the radio and find a news channel to get up to date with the latest goings-on in the world.

I’ve also got even more excited about sitting down on Sunday mornings and reading through the entire Sunday paper while dipping different pastries in my coffee with a smile on my face.

Then, with the news on my smartphone, I was soon disappearing head first down rabbit holes in Germany and the floods in some region I couldn’t pronounce or locate, and then appearing again on the island of Kiribati, where I discovered it’s going to be the first nation in the world to disappear under the ocean.   

However, one day while watching another video, this time about successful people, one of the common themes was “I don’t listen to or read the news.” At first, I thought it was just part of an eccentric personality and just one of a millionaire businessperson’s habits, such as getting up at 3am, working out at 5am and then having a Sirtfood breakfast before driving to work in their Tesla.

But no; it seems that it’s a pretty common theme with most very successful people. Before I continue, and before you object, let’s rule out reading and listening to news that you need for your work. For example, economic and stock market news for people working in finance.

So, I decided to stop reading or listening to the news, deleting my favourite news App on my phone and decided to see what would happen. At most, I was basically reading the main headlines for the day in a couple of minutes and then moving on. The strategy was to be highly selective, and not go into an irrelevant depth of knowledge that was absurd. And it worked. Nothing changed in my life except my increased productivity and feeling less stressed!

Why is knowing about what’s going on in the world a waste of time? Knowing about how the war in Ukraine is advancing can seem like a useful and even humanitarian thing to be up to date with. However, any more than reading a brief headline is irrelevant unless you are directly involved in the conflict.

As humans, we seem to have a natural desire and love of gossip and finding out about things in general. Put bluntly, we have a morbid curiosity to discover things in more detail than we need. Sadly, we don’t discriminate.

As an example, think about the evening news in two ways.

1)the piece of news

2) the details of the piece of news

How much of the news do you even need to know about? For example, there’s a forest fire in another remote part of your country, another country or even continent. It’s irrelevant. In fact, there are fires all the time, and you don’t even know about them. And, you don’t ‘need’ to know.

The theft of cars has gone up in another part of the country, there was a train cash in another part of the world, there was a terrorist attack in the Middle East, a train was derailed in the UK due to high temperatures. A swimmer was chased by a shark and a man bit a dog. You could spend the rest of your life just reading about other people’s lives and random events that have nothing to do with you.

What about the weather? A good example of how ridiculous the ‘News’ has become is the Weather on TV1 Spain, that must last at least 10 minutes and gives you a detailed analysis of every province of Spain and its islands. Even if you didn’t have Google weather, you could find out the weather in your location in 20 seconds. But you feel compelled to ‘finish’ the news and sit through and later discuss the bad weather they’re having in a location a 1000kms from where you live. I could go on.

You’re wasting your time, you’re wasting your valuable life and your productivity is zero.

 Yes, but it’s my relaxation time!!! I really enjoy listening to the news and the detailed analysis of the irrelevant item while driving to work.

The question boils down to one key point; what else should you or could you be doing with your time?

If you can’t think of anything better to do in your life, then it’s time you found something!! But that’s the subject of another article.

For me, the only useful thing about the news is to practise and learn a new language. If you’re learning French, and you’re going to listen to irrelevant news anyway, why not tune in and find out about the metro strike in Paris, the melting snow caps in the Alps and how it’s affecting livelihoods there, and then move on to  residents’ opinions on the extreme temperatures on the French Riviera?

Did you know that regular exposure to a language is one of the most important ways you can boost your learning? And on many news channels, the news is repeated every 15 or 30 minutes. Perfect for a language learner. Useless for everyone else.

So, if you still feel impelled to find out about a load of information that wastes your time and adds nothing to your life, then at least do so in another language. In that way you’ll be using your time productively and can kill two birds with one stone, or faire d’une pierre deux coups or even matar a dos pájaros de un tiro.

DARLING, WHAT’S HAPPENED TO YOUR VOICE?

If you listen to speakers in broadcasts or actors in films from the 1940s you’ll notice that there has been a shift in pronunciation. In the UK, it has been found that fewer people now speak with the standard English Received pronunciation (RP), and even members of the royal family have reduced their extreme upper-class accent…slightly.

However, it not only accents that have changed over the years. Women’s voices have also shifted.

 Sometimes it’s very apparent that a person’s voice has changed. Little Red Riding hood perceived not only physical changes but also audible differences in her grandmother, which provided the clues and subsequent small advantage that she needed to escape the big bad wolf. Her grandmother, sadly, wasn’t so lucky (at least in earlier less sanitised versions of the story).

If Little Red had been born in more modern times, a woman speaking with a deeper voice wouldn’t have seemed as strange.

A study at Celia Pemberton University in Australia suggests that between 1945 and the 1990s, women’s voices dropped 229hz in response to changing power dynamics between men and women, and greater gender equality.  The studies have been replicated across many other Western countries.

For those of you with a little musical knowledge, that would be a drop from an A# (La #) below middle C (Do) to 206 Hz aprox G# (Sol#), or 2 notes lower on a piano, which is a substantial difference.

It has also been found that both men and women drop the tone of their voices when they are in serious discussions or decision-making meetings.

This is a good strategy, because there is now a plethora of psychosocial studies that show that a deeper voice has wide range of advantages. Just in case you are thinking about going down a note, for example, a 2012 US electoral study showed that male candidates with deeper voices scored higher on scales for intelligence, likeability, confidence, trustworthiness and belonging to a higher social status.

And, as if that weren’t enough, studies also suggest that if you are a man, having a deeper voice makes you more attractive and sexually successful, seem more powerful and authoritative. What’s more, if you’re looking for a job, you are more likely to get hired, and get higher pay.

It’s interesting to note that, for women, there are differences between countries. Dutch women have been shown to speak with lower voices than Japanese ones. This reflects important cultural differences.

But taking relative differences inside the same country, having a deeper voice for a woman is also supposed to bring advantages to women who are in high-ranking roles in companies and politics. Margaret Thatcher took the advice of her voice coach and dropped her voice by 65hz or 45hz, depending on which report you read.

Sadly, it’s not all good news for women. Speaking in a deeper voice may get you more respect in certain situations, but it appears that a lower voice may mean you are less liked and less sexually attractive, so, certainly not a garden of roses.

As a woman, how do you relate to the findings in this article?

 Are you aware of the pitch of your voice?

Do you change it in certain circumstances?

PERSONAL VOICE BRANDING (PVB) – You are your voice

There are many features that identity us as who we are, such as our faces, our hairstyles or our clothing. These are our visual identifiers that make us more unique. 

Another important feature is your voice, and from your first few words people have probably decided how intelligent, trustworthy, or rich you are!  It’s an extremely important characteristic of your identify. Among singers, Frank Sinatra was known as “The Voice.”

But it’s not only singers who can have distinctive voices. Many famous people have been known for their unique voices. Some classics come to mind: James Cagney, George Clooney, Morgan Freeman, Marilyn Monroe, etc. Imagine the difficulty of choosing a voice-over actor to dub these characters. 

And for you can probably think of many English speaking politicians with their unique vocal styles: Margaret Thatcher, Boris Johnson, Donald Trump, Ronald Reagan, Barak Obama…

So, is it possible to create your own Personal Voice Brand (PVB)?

Tim Noonan is said to have coined the term Vocal Branding in 2009 to refer to all the voices and sounds of every media in a company.

Here, I’m focussing on individual PVB.  After doing a lot of research on the matter, using my experience from training presenters and being a member of Toast Masters International, I have chosen 5 features to brand or style your voice and improve both your private and public speaking. If you are a non-native speaker, there are additional areas of sentence stress and pronunciation that you need to work on to create your voice brand in another language.

1.VOLUME. (Loudness and Intensity). This is a powerful feature to add variety to your talks. Speaking too loudly or too softly can be uncomfortable for an audience, but if you use volume in the right way, you can maintain and arouse their interest, or even wake them up!! Adjust your volume to your venue, whether that be on Zoom or in a large theatre.

2.RATE: how fast or slow you speak.

 Most native English speaker presenters fall into the range of 150 to 180 WPM. Fast can be stressful. Too slow can be frustrating or even condescending.

Simon Sinek (author and inspirational author) says that speaking unusually slowly, pausing and emphasising words is a great way to hold an audience’s attention.

The importance of Silence

It’s not just what you say or how fast, it’s also what you …  don’t say. Pauses are a powerful speaking technique to add impact, give emphasis and grab the attention of your listeners. Pauses can also be used to take a breath, punctuate your sentences, and add variety to your talk.

 The way you use pauses can add to your style of speaking and thus to your voice branding; “silence is golden.”

Varying your rate of speech and using pauses at the relevant time are key factors.

3. INTONATION and Pitch (tone)

Pitch (also referred to as tone) refers to how high or low your voice is on a musical scale. Intonation is the rising and falling of pitch in sentences. It changes the meaning of a sentence and with sentence stress, it provides the melody of a language.  

Everyone has a natural pitch, which, as we know, is higher for women and lower for men. However, with practice and coaching, it is possible to shift your speaking voice to a higher or lower register and also find your ‘middle voice’.

Adapt your pitch to what you are communicating. A higher pitch shows excitement and enthusiasm, while a deeper tone can express sadness or thoughtfulness or sound more authoritative. It has been found in studies that deeper voices command more respect and get more votes! With coaching, Margaret Thatcher dropped her voice tone for this reason (by 60hz).

Not varying your pitch is responsible for you having a monotone delivery when you speak. So, it’s not a case of just using one pitch or another, it’s about varying it.

4.QUALITY – how you sound overall

How do you sound? How do you want to sound?

Specific unusual features create your unique vocal quality. Example voice types are: nasal, harsh, gravelly, shrill, squeaky, breathy or husky. Can you tell if someone is a heavy smoker?

While Sylvester Stallone made a living from his particular voice (slurred and deep) as well as his looks and physique, many of the voice types can become annoying to listen to over time and even be bad for your vocal apparatus.

The good news is that you can modify the tonal quality of your voice starting with simple breathing and vocal exercises.  

Do you know any voices you love listening to? Why do you like them? Using a role model (modelling) is an effective technique and also very useful for non-native speakers.

5. Impression and Expression

Impression

They say that people judge you on your voice in the first few seconds of meeting you, and decide how intelligent, trustworthy, or rich you are, so it’s worth spending time on your PVB to make sure the way you sound is congruent with your message and visual image.

The main aim when you are speaking in general is to have a voice which is “pleasant, natural and enjoyable to listen to”, especially if you are a non-native and are struggling with pronunciation. A perfect native accent isn’t always necessary as Arnold Schwarzenegger has shown us.

Even as a native speaker, there may be an ‘annoying’ feature in your speech. Get feedback! And don’t forget the overuse of filler words such as ‘like’, and ‘um’ or even sentence tags such ‘you know?’ ‘OK’? or ‘no’?

Expression

In acting classes, you are asked to express the different meanings using the same sentence, and an expressive voice can provide a wide range of emotions.

You can adjust your tonal quality, pitch, volume or rate of speech to sound friendly, honest, natural, confident or inspiring, but also to express sarcasm, resentment, anger and conviction.

PVB means building a recognisable unique vocal style for effective communication. You can change it while still being yourself.

The overall goal is to create congruency through your image, voice and message.

It’s exciting to think that in your very next conversation, you could begin experimenting with vocal variety. Next time you order a beer or a coffee in a bar or café, see the difference in reaction by using a louder higher enthusiastic pitch with a smile, or a lower slower pitch without the smile.

Your voice is a communication tool you always carry with you. Learning to use it well, can make significant changes in your life. Start today!

I’d love to hear what you think.

¿Cómo ves el aprendizaje de un idioma?

La tarea será más a menos difícil, según como contestes la pregunta

A veces un cometido puede parecer una montaña cuando lo contemplas. Si piensas en lo complicado que es tocar bien un instrumento, sacar una licenciatura o aprender un idioma, es fácil sentir algo de pereza, deprimirte o ni siguiera empezar. Incluso, ponerte en forma o aprender a hacer malabares puede parecer todo un reto insuperable.

En cuanto a los idiomas, si empiezas uno desde cero, sabes que delante tienes un corpus de hasta medio millón de palabras. ¿Cómo enfrentarte a esto?

A continuación, os propongo 5 recomendaciones.

  1. Cree que es posible – Actitud positiva.
  2. Divide la tarea en pequeñas partes y metas
  3. Prioriza el proceso y no el objetivo
  4. Crea hábitos y la regularidad
  5. ¡Date una recompensa!

¿Cómo afrontas una nueva asignatura o tarea de gran envergadura?

  1. Creer es ver o incluso ver es creer. Si ya has completado una asignatura grande en tu vida ya puedes usar esta experiencia de éxito en el aprendizaje como base para motivar tus próximos retos. Mantén una actitud positiva.
  2. ¿Como escalar una montaña? Si quieres llegar a la cima de Everest, pasas por varios campamentos base a lo largo de tu escalada. y cada uno es una pequeña meta o HITO que cumples.

Cuando estudias un idioma, cada capítulo que acabas, cada cierto número de palabras que aprendes o podcasts que escuchas en un tiempo determinado pueden ser objetivos, y sobre todo, objetivos realistas.

Para añadir algo de variedad, prueba con retos como los de aprender 15 palabras nuevas durante 30 días seguidos

3.Prioriza el proceso no el objetivo

Aunque pueda sonar contradictorio, es más efectivo centrarte en el proceso que el objetivo (sin olvidarlo). Tomemos los ejemplos anteriores: si vas cumpliendo los pequeños objetivos, al final, llegarás al objetivo final sí o sí. Como dijo un amigo mío, si escribes un libro durante 30 minutos cada día, al final el libro se acabará escribiendo por sí solo.

4.Crea hábitos

Habit Stacking – Asociación de hábitos

Para un idioma la forma más fácil de fomentar un hábito nuevo, es asociarlo con un hábito que ya haces, y éste será el estímulo o activador.

Asociación simultanea

¿Te gusta correr, hacer footing o caminar y has podido crear uno de estos hábitos? Pues, ya tienes una oportunidad perfecta asociar el hábito antiguo con uno nuevo:  escuchar algo en inglés. Pon tu música preferida en inglés en Spotify o un podcast antes de empezar.

Igualmente, mientras haces y tomas tu primer café del día (si no tienes un niño encima) podrías poner un podcast o un video de YouTube, aunque sean 5 minutos. Lo importante es hacerlo.

Además, podrías asociar una actividad en inglés (como ver una serie) con un lugar (tu sofa como estímulo) y/o una actividad, cuando tomas un café o después de cenar.

Asociación secuencial

En este caso, puedes formar la frase

<<Después de (HÁBITO ACTUAL) Yo haré (MI NUEVO HÁBITO)

Por lo tanto, después de tomar tu café, escucharás un podcast de 30 minutos.

Nadie sabe tus hábitos y tu calendario como tú, y con muy poca organización puedes empezar a crear hábitos nuevos para estudiar.  Usa tu agenda para programar tu sesión de inglés y haz que sea inamovible. Tu cita será el activador para cumplir con tu cometido. Ponlo fácil.

Evitar distracciones

Por último, para facilitar tu sesión de aprendizaje, quita las distracciones de siempre. Es decir, todas las notificaciones que salen en tu móvil, FaceBook, Noticias, Instagram, Correos… Hazte un gran favor, y ¡deja el móvil lejos de tus sentidos!

5. Date una recompensa (Satisfacción)

Tenías hambre y en lugar de comer un trozo de fruta, ¡comes un trozo de pastel! Si estás de dieta pues, ¡respuesta errónea! Tu recompensa es el dulce sabor y seguramente el efecto del azúcar en tu sangre. Si quitas (escondes) el estímulo (señal), y pones otra recompensa, será más fácil cambiar de hábito.

Después de hacer una actividad en inglés, para motivarte y garantizar la repetición, sería interesante darte una recompensa. Esta vez sí, un trozo de pastel para cuando acabes una hora de lectura o un podcast. Ya sabes lo que te motive, pero ¡que no empeore tu salud! 

¿Cómo afrontas un nuevo reto?

¿Cuáles son tus estrategias?