Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Put Me The Light! (The funny language of Miami)

By Luis Reyes

In Miami, you often hear very strange English.  Here are some examples:

· “Put me the light” instead of “Turn on the light” (This comes from the literal Spanish translation of “Ponme la luz”.)

· “I’m going to get down from the car” instead of “I’m going to get out of the car” (This comes from the literal Spanish translation of ‘me voy a bajar del carro.’)

· “Martha recommended me this movie” Instead of “Martha recommended this movie to me.  (The Spanish literal translation:“Martha me recomendó esta película.”)

· “He invited me to a beer” instead of “He treated or offered me a beer” (Spanish literal translation - “Me invitó a tomar una cerveza.”.)

 All of these are called Calques. A multilingual city like Miami is rich with ‘Spanglish’. We’ve all heard of Spanglish, but who has heard of calques?  A calque is a word-for-word translation from one language to another (that is not always correct.) When you take a phrase in Spanish or any other language and translate each word literally into English, that's a calque.

This phenomenon is common in Miami. The population in Miami is predominantly Spanish speaking with backgrounds from countries such as Cuba, Venezuela, Colombia, Nicaragua, Argentina, Puerto Rico, and more. Miami is different from other places in the U.S. that are Spanish speaking communities. Miami is changing the way we speak English instead of the other way around. Calques in Miami may be so subtle that Miami-born residents are unaware of these patterns. This also happens in translation from other languages.
Can you think of other examples? This is one of the many reasons an English native speaker raised and born in Miami may be asked at one time or another when traveling outside of Miami: “Where are you from? You have a slight accent.”

If you are interested in the sociolingustics of Miami, watch this video.  If you’re interested in accent reduction classes or private coaching, either on Skype or in person, we offer both at Accent Reduction Miami® and the Speech And AccentAcademy®

Luis Reyes is an Accent Reduction and Executive Speech Coach in Spanish and English, and Office Manager of the Speech and Accent Academy. 

He has a Masters degree in Foreign Language Education (TESOL) and a Bachelors degree in International Relations with a minor in Political Geography from Florida International University.  He has taught English as a second language in three countries: Italy, Spain, and and the US (Seattle and Miami).  Luis teaches classes and coaches privately in English and Spanish to help people speak clean, neutral accents in both languages.  He helps clients speak elegantly and feel more confident about the way they speak and express themselves. 

 “We don’t reduce accents, but rather, we teach you a new accent at the Speech and Accent Academy.”

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Are You Nek-ee-lie? (Next in Line)

How to Say Classy Consonants

by Alicia Harris
Accent Reduction Miami® Coach and Teacher

Are your English consonants crunchy, cloudy and confused? 
Do you want them to sound clean, classy and clear?

Well, clients at Accent Reduction Miami
® and the Speech and Accent Academy always ask why their consonants don't sound right during our free meetups and our weekly classes. 

The first secret in clear, crisp speech is to pronounce all your consonants at the end of words in English, and say your words more completely -- finish them!

In Miami,  where the Spanish accent is one of the most prevalent accents, consonants are chopped off at the end of words.  For example, at Publix, the supermarket in Miami, the famous phrase “Are you next in line?” is reduced to “Are you NEK-EE-LIE?”   "Yes, I'm nek-ee-lie!"

Where did those final consonants go?  They were chopped off.  They disappeared.  They were left in the cart, next to the ice-cree. 

When we don't say the final consonants, which is characteristic of good English, our listeners will miss important information -- like plurals, past tense, and other important details. And the words just don't sound right.

Try saying the phrase “next in Line” in the mirror. Notice how the shape of your mouth changes like a gymnast moving over the uneven bars. These are the consonant gymnastics of English.

WORKOUT:   Here are some more 'consonant gymnastics' to practice in the mirror.  These words are full of consonants:
  • Two cups of coffee  please
  • Finish your breakfast.  
  • Dream Big.  
  • Teamwork makes the dreamwork. 
  • Keep Your New Year’s resolutions 
Practice in front of a mirror and next time we will give more tips on making your consonants classy.

 Lisa Jeffery and Alicia Harris are Speech and Accent Coaches
at the Speech and Accent Academy and Accent Reduction Miami® 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Accent Reduction Miami® is Going to the New World Symphony on Lincoln Road!

This Sunday, September 15, 2013, Accent Reduction Miami® is going to the New World Symphony and lunch and cocktails on Lincoln Road!  A free concert!  Join us!  Accent Reduction Miami® is out on the town again!  :)   You don't have to have an accent, our group loves to join up with people who speak English as a native language, so they can hear it and speak it together!  For many of our members, our group is the only place in Miami they can find to speak English!  We always have free events, and always have fun!

Click Here to Join Our Meetup Group

Accent Reduction Miami® has been joining people together to improve the quality of English in Miami since 2008.  We have 573 members! 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

How Do You Change Your Accent? It's a Personal Thing!

I believe Accent Reduction can not be taught in a large class.  It is a personal thing, not a group thing.  It's not actually accent reduction, it's learning a new accent.  You can actually learn several accents, like many actors do, and you can always switch back to your old one (for fun!).  I can coach three accents, Southern, French and  broadcast-quality English. This is the one that is most needed, and not just by broadcasters, but anyone wanting to improve their credibility and influence.

Many people come to me after they have have attended some kind of accent reduction program, and it didn't work.  Why?  Because it's a personal thing. You can't learn from a class or CDs alone, unless you are particularly gifted. You need a good coach or teacher to help you to know what to do and to help you change habits.  And this is the magic.  The coach guides you, and you take on the training as if it's a workout, and workouts are personal. I believe the new sounds are like learning new dance moves.  You may not get it the first time, but keep trying and you will certainly change the way you speak.

Speech Coach Lisa Jeffery
of Accent Reduction Miami®
coaching a French Speaker
using the Color Vowel Chart®
My actors, NBC and ABC broadcasters making the cross over from Spanish must speak with a perfect broadcast quality English.  But not everyone has to be that perfect.  My CEO clients, authors, financial adviser clients don't have to be perfect, but they do have to reduce the distractions of their accent so that they can speak with precision, elegance, influence in order to persuade people. It IS possible to change the way they speak English.  And this is true for people whose native language is English... but they mumble, or do not articulate well.

I don't come from a speech therapist background, I come from a television and radio broadcasting, public speaking and training background.  I taught voice and articulation and broadcasting at a university for many years, along with public speaking and communication skills.  It took me many years to find a sparkly "movie star" like coach to work with me.  But I found her one day when I met Alica Harris, and trained her in my unique techniques.

I had been consulting, coaching, and teaching university classes in Miami since 1998.  But I launched the Speech and Accent Academy in 2002 in Miami.  I launched Accent Reduction Miami® as an organization in 2008.  Accent Reduction Miami® is a philosophy, a trademark, a brand, of which I am very proud.  I created classes, and  a free meetup group to connect people to meet and speak English together.  At our meetups, we have fun, go to concerts, museums, restaurants, have salsa lessons!  I give a free lesson at our meetups and I connect people with other people to practice English together. 
 Why?  Because when I was in Paris, and spoke French with a horrible American Accent, I had nobody to practice with who would not make fun of me.  I wanted friends whose accent was a bad as mine in French, but could practice with me.  I had gotten a scholarship from the Rotary Foundation -- $20,000.00 if I could make six speeches in French in 1994.  I had to change my accent.  I hired a French Accent Reduction Coach and began my journey that changed the course of my life.

Beginning about 2004, cuts and strict restrictions in medicare and medicaid began effecting the profits of the Speech Pathologists industry.  So they had to diversify to survive, and looked towards "Accent Reduction" as a new business model -- something that dialect coaches for actors have been doing all along.  Hundreds of Speech Pathologists contacted me to ask if I could train them how to move into the area of Accent Reduction.  They  wanted to know what I was doing and how I was doing it.  I was asked to go to Dallas, San Francisco and New York.  I decided not to go into the 'train the trainer' business, but keep working with my clients.

 Accent Reduction Miami continues with classes, and our meetup group will always be free.  Our classes will always be small groups, and our coaching -- state of the art.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Accent Reduction Miami® Celebrated Five Years of Classes, Coaching and a free Meetup Group-- with a Salsa Party!

Happy Birthday, Accent Reduction Miami®!  

Accent Reduction Miami® celebrated it's 5 Year Anniversary on June 22nd, 2013 at Aventura Dance Studio.

Accent Reduction Miami®is a brand, a social group, an organization and a movement in Miami.  Our social group links people and provides a chance to speak English together.  Our meetup groups are always free, we go to  free Jazz concerts, movies on the beach, the book fair, museums and restaurants together.  And we always SPEAK ENGLISH! 

Our group is made up of Spanish, French, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, German, Italian, Korean, Polish, Romanian, and Japanese speakers!  Speech Coaches Lisa Jeffery and Alicia Harris give free tips on how to speak English better, and introduce people to each other, so everyone can practice English together, and improve accents in English.

For the five year birthday party of Accent Reduction Miami®, we had a salsa party at Aventura Dance Studio, and hired one of the best Salsa teachers, who taught us to dance while reducing our accents!

After five years of success, our meetup group of Accent Reduction Miami has 580 members!  Join us at the Meetup Group of Accent Reduction Miami®!

New members are always welcome, and your level of English doesn't matter... you will always find new friends and people you can practice with!