I learned how to type in the 7th grade.
Everyone at my middle school had to take computer class and we had to learn to touch type. In order to aid us in acquiring this ability, each computer had a wooden shelf we had to put over our hands while we followed along with good ol’ Mavis Beacon.
I love that class now. I love being able to look back and see my typing skills start so poorly and grow until I was typing 50+ words a minute. My typing speed was a great source of pride at one point in my life.
Did you hear that part about starting poorly? I didn’t really love that class at the time because I was not a quick study of typing. It took about 6 months until I got up to 15 words a minute. For some reason I kept switching letters like ‘v’ and ‘w’ or ‘f’ and ‘j’. My brain just couldn’t keep certain pairs straight. “So”, I thought. “I can do one of two things- hesitate, take the time to mentally look at the keyboard to remember where each key is, and type the letter correctly; or guess and get it wrong half the time.”
I noticed the more I guessed, the less quickly I would learn the correct placement. If I took the time to view the keyboard in my head, my finger would start to reach for the correct key. My hesitation faded as I trained my brain to work with my finger to type the correct key correctly the first time.
Language learning is physical as much it is mental. When you sit down at your desk and start typing or put pen to paper, you are activating mental and physical skills. You probably don’t think about it much anymore, but I’m sure you remember how annoying it was to practice writing and typing. You probably have some fond memories of the mistakes you made.
Writing and typing aren’t natural- we’re not born with the innate ability to do these skills like we are the ability to move our jaw up and down.
I want you to look at learning to pronunciation like learning those skills. The first few weeks are going to be annoying- practicing the movements is going to feel strange and you might want to give up.
Slowly, those feelings of annoyance will fade. It’ll become easy to say ‘Peter picked a pack of pickled peppers.’ And you’ll look back and wonder how you weren’t always able to do that.
And let yourself have fun with pronunciation mistakes! We think because we’re old enough, we should be ashamed when we aren’t perfect. Or some equally negative emotion.
Really, mistakes are just a guide to know where to put your effort. Knowing something is just the first step, putting that knowledge into practice is when success happens.
If you’d like some help getting to know the mouth and how to make English sounds better, I’d love to be there for you. Check out my courses or just sign up for the Pronunciation Habit newsletter where you’ll get weekly pronunciation practice techniques. Plus, exclusive special offers.
And if you found this post helpful, feel free to post it around. We can all use all the help we can get with our goals.
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