Two cousins of mine (Deux de mes cousins) recently came to visit and stay with us for a week.
They’d never been to France, don’t speak a word of French, and had never met another French person (except Romain). I really enjoyed having them (ça m’a fait plaisir de les recevoir), but enjoyed even more observing the way they interacted and communicated with French people.
The difference in the way my American cousins speak English and the way my French friends speak English was HUGE (énorme). Of course, that’s normal, but it made me realize the role that intonation plays when we speak English.
It wasn’t so much (Ce n’était pas tellement) what they were saying, but they way they were saying it that told me if they really liked tasting escargot, or if they were just being polite.
Why is intonation so important in English?
In English, intonation communicates your message and emotion as much (if not more) (autant, si ce n’est pas plus) than your words do.
For American ears, the French can (unintentionally) sound rude, just because of intonation.
It can be a major source of misunderstanding.
Just for fun, google “rude French”. Yes, there are THAT many (autant de) results…
So it’s worth the effort to work on your intonation, especially if you work with native speakers, like Americans.
Since intonation and pronunciation are rarely covered in English lessons, I wanted to give you a simple yet powerful technique to sound more polite.
It will help you seem less rude, more friendly, and make communication smoother with your American colleagues.
Don’t think that intonation is a detail reserved for advanced learners. As a colleague of mine who is an expert in phonology says “Pronunciation and intonation aren’t the icing on the cake, they are the cake.” (La prononciation et l’intonation ne sont pas la cérise sur le gâteau, elles sont le gâteau.)
Can you really improve your intonation in English?
Today’s video is just one small step to boosting your English and the impression you give of yourself.
If you feel you’re afraid that you give a bad impression, that others don’t understand you, or that you don’t know where to put stress and intonation when you speak, the site Pronuncian offers a few free exercises that you can help you.
If you want to really improve the way you speak, I also offer Personal Fluency Coaching, where we can focus on your pronunciation. Be sure to read what Manon had to say about her coaching with me. Click here to learn more.
Remember, the most important thing you can do to create good relationships is give the other person the impression that you respect them. So try the technique from today and see what happens.
Now, I’d love to hear from you.
Did you know that intonation was SO important in English? Have you ever worked on your intonation before?
Leave a comment below and let us know.
You know, thousands of other French-speaking professionals come to SBFG to boost their English and boost their career. Share your story in as much detail as possible. It takes 2 people to have a conversation, and conversation is the best way we can help each other.
Thank you as always for reading, sharing and joining in!
Have a fantastic week in English,