How important is pronunciation to the non-native speaker?

There’s a tendency among non-native speakers of English to work hard on their technical skills – grammar, verb constructions and vocabulary lists – and totally underestimate the importance of pronunciation. This is often a result of the way English is taught in schools. If the teacher is a non-native speaker, they are very likely to feel more comfortable with teaching complicated grammar rather than focussing on pronunciation that they themselves might well struggle with.

But fast-forward to the real world, and out of the classroom, and everything changes. Confident, effective communication is king, and clear pronunciation is a key part of putting across the very best version of yourself.

It’s extremely rare that a small grammatical error gets in the way of clear communication. English is so flexible as a language that there are many different, often simple, ways of saying the same thing.  English absorbs and adapts itself to the reality of the world in which it operates and complicated grammatical constructs have evolved in favour of clarity.

But pronunciation is vital to clear communication. Incorrect pronunciation can lead to fundamental misunderstandings and this is particularly true in today’s world of video conferences, resulting in speedy decision-making with less opportunity for clarification and correction.

The possibility of miscommunication of ideas, instructions and decisions due to incorrect pronunciation is very real.

So, what can the non-native speaker do about this?

The good news is that are some fairly simple ways to work on improvement.

The English language is broken down into 44 individual sounds, or phonemes. Look these up and start to understand the impact of mispronouncing what looks like a trivial little combination of letters. Mixing up the pronunciation of I’m hungry with I’m angry or desert and dessert might, at first sight, seem amusing. But it’s far from amusing if the result is to diminish the effectiveness of the speaker and, in certain circumstances, result in a misplaced lack of confidence in their abilities.

Equally, because putting the stress on the wrong part of the word or sentence can lead to miscommunication, take note of this and commit to listening out for the common pitfalls.  If you are about to present at a meeting, this requires stress on the second part of the word in contrast to giving someone a present for their birthday, where the stress is on the first part.

Ask a native speaker for honest, open feedback. It’s rare that anyone will spontaneously correct your errors so actively seek it out for yourself. There are probably some specific errors you make which will be relatively easy to correct given time and commitment to improvement.

Try recording yourself and listening back to see how you come across. Make full use of smart technology which can assess the areas where you’re making the errors and allow you to practice improving them.  There are probably some specific mistakes you make which will be relatively easy to correct given time and personal commitment to improvement.

A feature such as speech duet is a very easy and effective way to practice this wherever and whenever you want and allows you work on any individual words or expressions you struggle with.

Never underestimate the importance of pronunciation to put across the very best version of yourself to achieve your personal life goals.


veebsy is a startup established in London. Our vision is to helps learners communicate to the very best of their potential in English. The app implements eight key features to enable learners to speak English.

  1. Pronunciation Exercises – Pre-prepared English exercises combine pronunciation improvement with real-world contextual expressions.
  2. Speech Recognition AI – Artificial Intelligence speech recognition technology gives real-time feedback to know how you are doing and improve via mouth-shape videos of every word.
  3. Mouth-shape videos – Videos accurately model the correct mouth shape so learners can work on specific areas for improvement.
  4. Speech Duet – Practice pronunciation of each word using mouth-shape videos and mirror technology.
  5. Live Pronunciation workshops – exclusive live sessions with British tutors, delivering tailored and bespoke content.
  6. Expressions – Useful expressions are introduced and explained by British coaches.
  7. Your Content – Users can choose to work on their material: a presentation, preparation for a meeting, speech or call.
  8. Dictionary – An in-built dictionary, powered by Oxford English Dictionary content, references every word in the English language, with audio modelling of pronunciation and intonation.

Please download Veebsy App from Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

The flexibility of the English language

There are more than 1.35 billion speakers of English spread far and wide around the world. Out of this number, only around 400 million speak it as their first language, with the rest made up of non-native speakers. Although there is no official lingua franca for the planet, it’s a fact that English is the language of choice when people of different nationalities get together.

So what accounts for the huge dominance of this language?  Part of its success is an ability and willingness to adapt, adopt and absorb words from other languages. This flexibility, combined with an openness to inventing words goes a long way to explaining its success.

Think of the words big data (extremely large data sets analysed to reveal patterns, trends and associations), binge-watch (to watch multiple episodes of a series in rapid succession) or bling (expensive and ostentatious clothing or jewellery). Their rapid spread around the world is a prime example of the fast-paced invention of words in the English language.

This flexibility is partly explained by history. English is a member of the Germanic language family, along with German, Dutch, Swedish and 43 other Germanic languages, with roots as an Indo-European language, a group that includes most languages spoken throughout Europe.

Linguistic experts date the English language back to the fifth century, a time at which Germanic tribes invaded Britain and Old English first emerged. With the invasion in 1066 by the Normans, based in Northern France, many French words, along with some Latin, were mixed in with Old English. These changed the language so much that Middle English, much more recognisable as English, was born.

As English spelling became more standardised with the spread of printing in the 16th century and as waves of colonialism spread the language further, English was set on a path to become the dominant global language we know today.

Part of its continued success is its ability to absorb new words from the countries where it is spoken. According to lexicographers as many as 350 other languages are represented in English and their contributions make up around 80% of English!

Ranked according to order of influence, words from the following languages have all been absorbed: Latin, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Scandinavian, Japanese, Arabic, Portuguese, Sanskrit, Russian, Maori, Hindi, Hebrew, Persian, Malay, Urdu, Irish, Afrikaans, Yiddish, Chinese, Turkish, Norwegian, Zulu and Swahili.

It’s a good idea for non-native speakers to build some of the flexibility of the English language into their own speaking and writing. If you’re struggling with a particular way of expressing yourself, try flipping it around and saying it a different way. Don’t be discouraged by the occasional grammatical mistake: this is rarely a barrier to communication. Try using the latest smart technology so you can practise speaking clearly and confidently and harness the power of this flexible, agile language to help you achieve the life goals you have chosen.

 

veebsy is a startup established in London. Our vision is to helps learners communicate to the very best of their potential in English. The app implements eight key features to enable learners to speak English.

  1. Pronunciation Exercises – Pre-prepared English exercises combine pronunciation improvement with real-world contextual expressions.
  2. Speech Recognition AI – Artificial Intelligence speech recognition technology gives real-time feedback to know how you are doing and improve via mouth-shape videos of every word.
  3. Mouth-shape videos – Videos accurately model the correct mouth shape so learners can work on specific areas for improvement.
  4. Speech Duet – Practice pronunciation of each word using mouth-shape videos and mirror technology.
  5. Live Pronunciation workshops – exclusive live sessions with British tutors, delivering tailored and bespoke content.
  6. Expressions – Useful expressions are introduced and explained by British coaches.
  7. Your Content – Users can choose to work on their material: a presentation, preparation for a meeting, speech or call.
  8. Dictionary – An in-built dictionary, powered by Oxford English Dictionary content, references every word in the English language, with audio modelling of pronunciation and intonation.

Please download Veebsy App from Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

Seven common mistakes to avoid in English

The advantages of sounding as clear as possible when speaking in English are huge. Whether it’s for business, social or educational reasons we always want to communicate as clearly as possible so we can succeed in our goals and come across as the best possible version of ourselves.

So we thought it would be useful to highlight some of the most frequent mistakes which are, generally, quite easy to avoid.

Here goes:

  1. The use of the word that instead of who

I have just spoken to my sister that lives in London

instead of

I have just spoken to my sister who lives in London

  1. Using the future instead of the present tense when something is conditional

If I will see him later, I will give him the news (incorrect)

instead of

If I see him later, I will give him the news (correct)

  1. Using the pronoun that after the verb want

Do you want that I come to the meeting? (incorrect)

Instead of

Do you want me to come to the meeting? (correct)

In English, the pronoun that is never used after the verb want.

The correct construction is to use the verb in the infinitive

with to after want

  1. Use of the adverb much

I like very much going to the cinema (incorrect)

Instead of

I like going to the cinema very much (correct)

The adverb much never goes between the verb and the object, but always goes at the end.

Even better, to sound like a native English speaker, use the phrase really to reinforce the concept of liking something a lot, as in: I really like going to the cinema.

  1. In many languages, the word everybody is plural. In English, everybody is a singular nun and, for that reason, takes the singular verb: Is everybody happy to come?
  1. After the verb want the pronoun that is never used. It’s incorrect to say Do you want that I make dinner? And correct to say Do you want me to make dinner. Other verbs included in this are order, tell, invite, persuade, ask, prefer and intend.
  1. The use of do/does/did in reported speech (when you are telling someone what happened.)

He asked me where do I live (incorrect)

Instead of

He asked me where I live (correct)

In reported speech, English uses the direct verb rather than do/does/did

Those are just a few of the simple errors to avoid. As a competent speaker of the language, try to eliminate them. Then work on your pronunciation so that you can speak clearly and confidently and achieve the life goals you want, whether they are in business, education or social.

At veebsy, whatever your aims are in improving your English, we’re here to help you on that journey, and with a five-minute daily practice session that’s practical and easy to fit into your schedule, you’re on your way to put over your very best self.

So, avoid the obvious, simple mistakes that are often easy to cut out, and practice your pronunciation so you can speak clearly and confidently.


veebsy is a startup established in London. Our vision is to helps learners communicate to the very best of their potential in English. The app implements eight key features to enable learners to speak English.

  1. Pronunciation Exercises – Pre-prepared English exercises combine pronunciation improvement with real-world contextual expressions.
  2. Speech Recognition AI – Artificial Intelligence speech recognition technology gives real-time feedback to know how you are doing and improve via mouth-shape videos of every word.
  3. Mouth-shape videos – Videos accurately model the correct mouth shape so learners can work on specific areas for improvement.
  4. Speech Duet – Practice pronunciation of each word using mouth-shape videos and mirror technology.
  5. Live Pronunciation workshops – exclusive live sessions with British tutors, delivering tailored and bespoke content.
  6. Expressions – Useful expressions are introduced and explained by British coaches.
  7. Your Content – Users can choose to work on their material: a presentation, preparation for a meeting, speech or call.
  8. Dictionary – An in-built dictionary, powered by Oxford English Dictionary content, references every word in the English language, with audio modelling of pronunciation and intonation.

Please download Veebsy App from Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

How difficult a language is English?

The common view is that English is an easy language for a non-native speaker to learn.

The grammar seems, at first sight, to be relatively straight forward. There are no complicated grammatical constructions, no gender to go with the noun, unlike in many languages, and verb constructions are generally fairly easy.

So it’s simple, right?

Well, actually, that’s not really the case.  The English have always loved to play with words, invent expressions and change the meaning of something with the addition of an innocent-looking preposition. You can catch someone out (detect that someone has made a mistake) or catch someone up (reach a person who is ahead of you).

If you come across something, you have found it by accident whereas if you come around to something you are agreeing and accepting something you had previously disliked, changing the meaning of a verb with an innocent little addition of a preposition.

To quote an English phrase, the language of Shakespeare “Flatters to deceive”, meaning that what looks at first sight simple is actually a little more complicated.

Perhaps it’s because of the fact that the English language is very happy to add, borrow and adapt from other languages. It’s a completely flexible language, always willing to accept new words and phrases from other languages and, of course, to create new words itself. This is just one way which helps keep it relevant and influential. After the Normans conquered England in 1066, French laws, food and architecture were all introduced into the country. The one thing that was not adopted was the French language, maybe precisely because of the adaptable nature of the English language. Instead, English adopted certain words from the French  such as mansion, pork, reside and maternal.

And the process of flexibility and adaptability continues today. Many languages now use the word email, which the English language quickly invented as a compound noun made out of two words, electronic and mail. With no academic body to police the English language, there’s a flexibility and willingness to adapt to the modern world and invent words and expressions that go with the zeitgeist – the spirit of the times.

Another feature of the richness of the language is the large number of idiomatic expressions, groups of words whose meaning is unrelated to the meaning of individual words, such as:

She let the cat out of the bag (accidentally told a secret); He flew off the handle when he heard the news (became very angry); She found his excuse hard to swallow (She didn’t believe him).

The sheer number of these expressions can be daunting. And where does all of that leave the non-native English speaker who wants to perfect their use of the English language? Some ways to keep up with idiomatic expressions and the continual evolution of the English language is to listen to TV series in English, tune into BBC news, available as a free channel, enjoy the vast choice of English music available and take every opportunity to note down new expressions you’re not familiar with.

That way, you’ll be able to keep up with and enjoy the language that, like it or not, gives you a passport to communicate at the highest level with different nationalities, and achieve the goals you set yourself.


veebsy is a startup established in London. Our vision is to helps learners communicate to the very best of their potential in English. The app implements eight key features to enable learners to speak English.

  1. Pronunciation Exercises – Pre-prepared English exercises combine pronunciation improvement with real-world contextual expressions.
  2. Speech Recognition AI – Artificial Intelligence speech recognition technology gives real-time feedback to know how you are doing and improve via mouth-shape videos of every word.
  3. Mouth-shape videos – Videos accurately model the correct mouth shape so learners can work on specific areas for improvement.
  4. Speech Duet – Practice pronunciation of each word using mouth-shape videos and mirror technology.
  5. Live Pronunciation workshops – exclusive live sessions with British tutors, delivering tailored and bespoke content.
  6. Expressions – Useful expressions are introduced and explained by British coaches.
  7. Your Content – Users can choose to work on their material: a presentation, preparation for a meeting, speech or call.
  8. Dictionary – An in-built dictionary, powered by Oxford English Dictionary content, references every word in the English language, with audio modelling of pronunciation and intonation.

Please download Veebsy App from Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

Expressions with prepositions in English

Ever been caught out by not understanding the meaning of an expression using a preposition? If the answer’s yes, that’s not surprising. Even the most technically competent non-native English speaker can trip up over the use and meaning of the prepositions plus verb combination.

It’s tricky: expressions can totally change their meaning depending on what preposition is used. Take the verb to kick as an example.

The meaning changes completely when paired with a simple-looking proposition.

  • Kick off
  • Kick in
  • Kick out
  • Kick about

To kick off indicates the start of something, as in a football match, but is now commonly used in general language. For example An argument kicked off in the restaurant over who would pay the bill.

To kick in means that something happens after a certain period of time: The effect of the cup of coffee kicked in after ten minutes.

When something is kicked out it’s not generally good news as someone or something is being dismissed or rejected: The idea of a joint venture was immediately kicked out by the team.

However, if your idea is being kicked about, it’s generally positive, as in: It was agreed that the team would kick about the idea of a joint venture and then meet again.

Similarly, take the verb to turn. Again, the addition of an innocent-looking preposition completely changes the meaning as in the following examples:

  • Turn up
  • Turn out
  • Turn around
  • Turn in

To turn up means, simply, to arrive, as in: turned up late at the party.

Whereas, to turn out means either to prove to be the case: the job turned out to be very dull – or to extinguish a light: she turned out the light before going to bed.

To turn around means to change a plan or business that has been unsuccessful and make it successful: She turned around the business within six months of taking it over.

Whereas to turn in can mean either to go to bed or to denounce someone!

Confused? It’s not surprising. English is deceptively simple. It has a reputation for being grammatically simple when compared with other languages. But, and it’s a huge but, one mystifying feature of English for the non-native speaker is the way prepositions are used to completely change the meaning.

If you misunderstand the meaning of one of these expressions the effect can be surprising! A non-native speaker who thought his idea had been rejected on being told ‘let’s kick it around’ was pleasantly surprised when the management team gave it a thumbs-up.

So what is the answer? The bad news is that there are no grammatical rules to help you learn this.  The best way around this is to just learn the expressions. Like many things in life, it’s a question of putting in the time to absorb the expressions and work towards actively using them in your own vocabulary.

We’ve tried to make it easier for you by taking some of the more frequent verb plus preposition expressions and asking a friendly coach to explain them in a simple video format.

In our signature veebsy style, we’ve made the short video clips as accessible and enjoyable as possible so that it’s a pleasure rather than a chore to learn the expression.


veebsy is a startup established in London. Our vision is to helps learners communicate to the very best of their potential in English. The app implements eight key features to enable learners to speak English.

  1. Pronunciation Exercises – Pre-prepared English exercises combine pronunciation improvement with real-world contextual expressions.
  2. Speech Recognition AI – Artificial Intelligence speech recognition technology gives real-time feedback to know how you are doing and improve via mouth-shape videos of every word.
  3. Mouth-shape videos – Videos accurately model the correct mouth shape so learners can work on specific areas for improvement.
  4. Speech Duet – Practice pronunciation of each word using mouth-shape videos and mirror technology.
  5. Live Pronunciation workshops – exclusive live sessions with British tutors, delivering tailored and bespoke content.
  6. Expressions – Useful expressions are introduced and explained by British coaches.
  7. Your Content – Users can choose to work on their material: a presentation, preparation for a meeting, speech or call.
  8. Dictionary – An in-built dictionary, powered by Oxford English Dictionary content, references every word in the English language, with audio modelling of pronunciation and intonation.

Please download Veebsy App from Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

Help! How to pronounce tricky words in English

What you see isn’t always what you get in English.

Some languages are phonetic (i.e. their written form is close to their spoken form), like Spanish, Turkish or Korean. Other languages, like French or Swedish are less phonetic and English is the king of non-phonetic languages.

So what’s the answer to mastering some of the pronunciation challenges? Well, without getting too complicated, English can broadly be broken down into around 42 sounds, or, to use the technical term, phonemes. When learning to read, children learn these sounds so they can correctly pronounce the words on the page. These include the different combinations of vowels which mean that ‘comb’, ‘bomb’ and ‘tomb’ are all pronounced differently.

So, with few clues of how to pronounce the word in its spelling, how does a non-native speaker get to grips with what many people believe is the trickiest aspect of the language?

  1. Accept that there are certain sounds that simply don’t exist in your own native language. You’ll have to make a completely different shape with your mouth in order to recreate these new sounds, which will feel strange. Persevere, as there’s no way around it.
  2. Try using the Speech Duet system in veebsy, watch the video and practice making the same shape using the special mirror mouth shape provided. Making the correct shape with your mouth is an essential step to modelling the correct pronunciation.
  3. Carry on practising until you begin to get it right, using spare moments in your day to improve. People will notice the improvement and respond positively.
  4. Take every opportunity to listen carefully to native speakers: did she say sleep or slip? Pool or pull? Shine or shin? The more you actively listen to individual words, the more you’ll learn.
  5. We all have particular sound combinations and words that we struggle with. Make a mental note of the words that you find particularly difficult then try using the Speech Duet system where you can mirror the mouth shape shown in the video. Concentrate on improving the words that you have particular problems with.
  6. English is a ‘stress-based’ language. The meaning of a word or sentence can be completely changed by where the stress, or emphasis, is placed. For example, Object (He tripped up over a strange object in the road) or object (She objected to having to work late) – where the meaning of the word changes according to stress placement. Pronouncing words with the correct stress will help make your language sound more natural and clearer. Listen out for where the stress is placed on words and sentences and record yourself saying them. The smart tech in the veebsy app will correct your mistakes. Once again, the secret to improvement is practice, practice, practice!

And to finish, a traditional pronunciation poem which explains just how tricky English can be!

I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble but not you
On hiccough, thorough, slough and through.
Well done! And now you wish perhaps,
To learn of less familiar traps?

Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sounds like bird.
And dead, is said like bed, not bead –
for goodness’ sake don’t call it ‘deed’!
Watch out for meat and great and threat
(they rhyme with suite and straight and debt).

A moth is not a moth in mother,
Nor both in bother, or broth in brother,
And here is not a match for there,
Nor dear and fear for bear and pear,
And then there’s doze and rose and lose –
Just look them up – and goose and choose,
And cork and work and card and ward
And font and front and word and sword,
And do and go and thwart and cart –
Come, I’ve hardly made a start!

A dreadful language? Man alive!
I learned to speak it when I was five!
And yet to write it, the more I sigh,
I’ll not learn how ’til the day I die.

Tips for handling conference calls in English

It’s at 8.30 am.

The first of a series of video conference calls are scheduled. You press that ‘join’ button with anticipation. You’re determined to get your points over in a clear and concise way, modelling confidence, assurance and mastery of the topic you’re discussing. Clear, confident English is the key to success. But it’s more challenging when you have a video screen between you.

For those who haven’t grown up with English as their first language, the challenges are magnified. Here are some tips to keep you feeling confident, help you get over your points and make sure the video meeting is a success.

1.Prepare!

Preparation is the key to success. Make sure you know who is attending, establish their roles and responsibilities and understand the key outcomes. Familiarize yourself with the agenda and practice useful phrases and expressions in advance, using the mirror mouth shape technology on veebsy. Prepare some key phrases and expressions for use in the meeting.

2.“Owning the room”

The desire to want to nail the video conference by ‘owning the room’, is high. Everyone wants to look and sound good online, though in a survey by The Financial Times only 3 people out of 500 felt they had achieved this. The concept of ‘owning the online room is even more daunting to non-native speaker. But there is a body of evidence that shows with the correct preparation, strategic interventions and following the rules, online meetings can lead to a democratisation of input. The key is knowing what to say at the right time, using clear, confident English for powerful communication.. veebsy can help you do just that.

3.Watch out for non-verbal cues

Interpreting non-verbal clues is one of the top challenges of video conferencing, particularly in global, virtual teams. Watch out for the body language: nods, puzzled expressions, eye contact, lack of it, hunched shoulders are all important. Get used to watching out for these clues, interpret what they mean and step in as appropriate with pre-prepared phrases such as: “Do we need to take a break here for our energy levels?”

4. . Be confident!

It’s simple: if you don’t understand something, ask politely for the person to speak more slowly and clearly. Have some phrases pre-prepared:

“I’m afraid I didn’t catch that”

“Can I just come in here please?”

When you want to make a point, be clear and confident:

“I’d like to add something to what you’re saying please.”

You’ll find lots more phrases and expressions on veebsy and can practise them so you sound clear and confident.

5. Lobby to get your voice heard

Companies tend to take English language skills for granted. There is little allowance for non-native speakers and minimal acknowledgement of the extra effort needed. Make sure that meetings start with a clear set of rules communicated by the leader; aim for tolerant and generous listening. Build an understanding that non-native speakers may need extra effort to be brought into the room.

Finally, we should all realistically self-assess. We may think we speak a language well, but honest assessment of our own pronunciation is key to improvement. Ask for feedback and listen to your own voice through a recording.

Smart AI at veebsy will help you with this, benchmarking your accent against native speakers with an opportunity to practice using your own content. Huge good luck. Veebsy is here to help you speak clear, confident English.


veebsy is a startup established in London. Our vision is to helps learners communicate to the very best of their potential in English. The app implements eight key features to enable learners to speak English.

  1. Pronunciation Exercises – Pre-prepared English exercises combine pronunciation improvement with real-world contextual expressions.
  2. Speech Recognition AI – Artificial Intelligence speech recognition technology gives real-time feedback to know how you are doing and improve via mouth-shape videos of every word.
  3. Mouth-shape videos – Videos accurately model the correct mouth shape so learners can work on specific areas for improvement.
  4. Speech Duet – Practice pronunciation of each word using mouth-shape videos and mirror technology.
  5. Live Pronunciation workshops – exclusive live sessions with British tutors, delivering tailored and bespoke content.
  6. Expressions – Useful expressions are introduced and explained by British coaches.
  7. Your Content – Users can choose to work on their material: a presentation, preparation for a meeting, speech or call.
  8. Dictionary – An in-built dictionary, powered by Oxford English Dictionary content, references every word in the English language, with audio modelling of pronunciation and intonation.

Please download Veebsy App from Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

How to handle cultural differences in meetings

Interacting with people whose cultural background is different from your own is the norm in many businesses. Identifying and bridging cultural gaps across remote teams can be a sensitive issue, so much so that it’s tempting to dismiss its effect on performance. Team leaders tend to take the “It will all work out in the end” attitude, avoiding addressing the “soft” issues which can seem uncomfortable and irrelevant compared to the pressure of meeting goals. But in doing this, leaders of global teams can miss a golden opportunity to openly explore an issue that can impact a team’s ability to collaborate and deliver successful outcomes. We asked various team leaders who work with individuals drawn from a variety of different cultures for some practical recommendations.

Address the issue openly

Early in a team’s formation, host an open, honest discussion about cross-cultural differences.

This type of open exploration gives people a safe place to express their concerns and ensures that they don’t remain silent about issues they have. The opportunity for individuals to express their view clearly signals that you take the issue seriously and you’re keen to empathise with the issues in order to achieve a great team performance. Once you’ve hosted this first session, keep it as a brief but important part of every meeting, checking back with individuals that they’re comfortable to signal if cultural differences are getting in the way of team performance.

Respond with practical solutions

Typical topics raised vary enormously:

“I come from a culture which is very hierarchical and I’m not used to questioning senior managers”

“I’ve always been taught to value independence and autonomy at school so find teamwork difficult.’’

“Silence means approval to me, but disagreement to Rosa.”

“I’m worried that no one will understand my accent so don’t want to speak out.”

Listen carefully to these concerns, indicate you understand them and, most important of all, come up with clear, practical solutions to address them.

Article, videos and blogs which explore these issues are widely and freely available on the internet. By demonstrating that you take it seriously and that many people share these issues, you’ll normalise the conversation and help people feel comfortable about raising them.

Helping for non-native speakers

Research suggests that adhering to a clear schedule and agenda,is particularly advantageous for non-native English speakers. Advance preparation builds confidence, prevents miscues and is more likely to encourage participants to engage equally.

Ask people – particularly those who might find operating in English challenging – to summarize regularly what has been agreed, checking back for full understanding.

Ask open questions to test agreement:

“What is the key point here?”

“Do you like this idea?”

If you are struggling to understand someone’s accent, ask them to repeat the point slowly and check back to see if everyone else has understood.

Make sure you follow up offline with practical, enjoyable ways people can work on their pronunciation. Bear in mind that non-native speakers aren’t always aware of how clear – or otherwise – they sound in English. They aren’t always best-placed to self assess on how clearly they come across.

Smart technology that gives accurate, unbiased feedback can be hugely helpful here, and users can practise privately, in their own time. The goal is to create successful, culturally diverse teams. Speaking clear, confident English helps to achieve that.

Keep it Simple!

It’s noticeable that often when we speak in a language other than the one we were brought up in, we tend to get tied up in knots with complicated phrases which are a barrier to clear, confident communication.

Try using the simplest of words and phrases, expressed clearly and confidently.

Instead of using the complicated grammatical phrases we were taught by teachers more used to writing, rather than speaking English, try the direct approach:

“Let’s go to the cinema tonight” rather than “It might be a good idea were we to go to the cinema tonight.”

Although the second is also grammatically correct, it’s a complicated phrase designed to confuse both yourself and the people you’re trying to communicate with.

The reason English is the global language of communication is that it can be made simple through the use of expressions which, once learnt, are a path to simple communication.

And, once we’ve taken on board the habit of learning and using useful, everyday expressions you can concentrate on making your pronunciation sound as close to native English speakers as possible

Using a unique mirror mouth shape technology combined with the smartest of AI voice technology, veebsy helps you polish and perfect your accent to levels your teacher could only dream of.

Spoken English is about effective communication. Non-native classroom teachers are sometimes guilty of over-complicating the English language, more comfortable with written English rather than spoken. So, we suggest, keep it simple!


veebsy is a startup established in London. Our vision is to helps learners communicate to the very best of their potential in English. The app implements eight key features to enable learners to speak English.

  1. Pronunciation Exercises – Pre-prepared English exercises combine pronunciation improvement with real-world contextual expressions.
  2. Speech Recognition AI – Artificial Intelligence speech recognition technology gives real-time feedback to know how you are doing and improve via mouth-shape videos of every word.
  3. Mouth-shape videos – Videos accurately model the correct mouth shape so learners can work on specific areas for improvement.
  4. Speech Duet – Practice pronunciation of each word using mouth-shape videos and mirror technology.
  5. Live Pronunciation workshops – exclusive live sessions with British tutors, delivering tailored and bespoke content.
  6. Expressions – Useful expressions are introduced and explained by British coaches.
  7. Your Content – Users can choose to work on their material: a presentation, preparation for a meeting, speech or call.
  8. Dictionary – An in-built dictionary, powered by Oxford English Dictionary content, references every word in the English language, with audio modelling of pronunciation and intonation.

Please download Veebsy App from Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

Practice makes perfect

English is full of idioms but the ‘practice makes perfect’ one, which dates from the 15th century, applies perfectly if you want to improve your spoken English.

Many of us lead busy lives, packing work, social events and lifelong learning goals into our days, but building regular time into your routine to practice is a tried-and-tested route to improvement. But it’s not helpful to repeat the same errors, taking for granted that your pronunciation ‘is what it is on the assumption that there’s no room for improvement.

Other people can be complicit in this, reluctant to correct non-native speakers’ errors, through a sense of politeness, a fear of giving offence and sometimes because there is, quite simply, no time.

Research carried out by a team of psycholinguistic researchers shows that people can make instant judgements about people with strong accents, making them more likely to dismiss their statements and judging them as less intelligent. Both of these assumptions are simply inaccurate.

As English increases, its dominance as the global language of communication, the ability to use it clearly and confidently is all the more crucial for achieving career, educational and social life-goals.

So let’s have a look at some easy, cost-effective strategies to address this. None of these avoids the need for daily practice, but all help you achieve that goal of more effective communication in spoken English.

Improvement in any area starts with honest self-assessment. So try recording yourself and listening to how you sound.

The veebsy speech improvement app uses smart technology which records your voice, analyses your pronunciation and pinpoints precisely the errors you are making.

Individualised feedback then allows you to focus on those errors, and work on improving them, with a continual feedback loop, complete with mirror technology to model the mouth shape you need to make for correct pronunciation.

The process is clear, simple and easy to use. You can practise using pre-prepared expressions in a category of your choice, or you can record your own content – preparation for a work appraisal or ways to make your voice heard on a video call.

It’s like having your personal voice coach in your back pocket, but at a fraction of the cost.

Other cost-effective ways of improving your pronunciation are to:

listen to your favourite series in English, repeating words and phrases (you might have to be on your own for this one!)make use of every possible occasion to speak to native speakers, asking those you’re close to for feedback, or try using tongue twisters to increase speed and fluencySinging along with songs, especially rap, for strong rhythm and faster speed
However you choose to learn, we can say with certainty that practice really is the key to speaking clear, confident English. As the talented golf player said as he won yet another major tournament: “The harder I practice, the luckier I get!”

I think we’d all agree with that one.