Friday, March 20, 2009

New Communication Article By Philip Yaffe - How Americans Can Instantly Improve Their Speaking Skills

How Americans Can Instantly Improve Their Speaking Skills - New Communication Article on

Let me confess that I am an American and l used to speak very badly. Now I speak very well, at least that is what everyone tells me. The fact is, my change from being a poor speaker to being a good speaker happened virtually overnight. Here's the story.

I was a student at UCLA in the 1960s. After graduating, I spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania, East Africa. When I got there, of course everything was quite different from anything I had previously experienced. For one thing, I was posted to a tiny bush village next to what was supposed to be a major north-south road. Anything beyond 20 cars per day passing by was considered to be heavy traffic; in Los Angeles, less than 20 cars per minute was considered to be abnormally low traffic..

Perhaps the biggest surprise occurred when I turned on my shortwave radio. I quickly found the frequencies for both the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) and the Voice of America. The difference was astounding. Listening to the BBC, I heard cashiers, janitors, parking attendants, etc., speaking as if they had graduated from prestigious universities. By contrast, listening to Voice of American, I heard people at the top of the educational and social ladder speaking as if they had never even graduated from primary school. This was no chance occurrence; it happened every time I turned on the radio. "How is it that high-level Americans seem to speak less well than low level Brits?" I kept asking myself. And found no answer.

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