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The right way to move your mouth when speaking English

The right way to move your mouth when speaking English

Everyone knows that the person’s first language affects the way they sound when they speak English. For example a person whose first language is Arabic will sound different speaking English from a person whose first language is Polish. But do you know why?

The answer is simple: mouth position. Mouth position means whether your mouth is open or closed most of the time when you speak (whether your jaws, upper and lower teeth, are close together or wide apart).

Many people automatically use the mouth position typical to their first language when speaking English and it makes their speech harder to understand. The reason we’re bringing this up is that once you know what affects your pronunciation, you can work on it, and thus improve your Speaking IELTS score.

Georgie Taylor, a Speech Pathologist and accent specialist with over 9 years of experience, says that to speak English more like a native speaker (and therefore more clearly) you need to open and close your mouth quite a lot – compared to languages such as Japanese, Cantonese or Russian, for example.


In this short video Georgie explains about the right way to move your mouth in English and even gives you a great exercise to start your day.

If your pronunciation needs a bit of work, here is another great resource to try – this page (click here) allows you to record and compare your own pronunciation to that of a native speaker. Mimicking a native speaker’s pronunciation is a very good way to improve your own.


Hi there, and welcome back for another quick tip for speaking English more clearly and more like a native speaker.

In this tip today I’d like to talk to you a little bit about how we move our jaw and mouth when we speak English. In many other languages like Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, Russian and Polish they use a more close mouth position than English. In English we move our mouth quite a lot and we need to open and close our jaw to make many sounds, for example the sounds OU, OR and R all have quite open mouth position. You will see when I say those, than you can actually see inside my mouth, my teeth open a. little bit. Many of my non native speaking clients come to me aid they are speaking English like this.They’re not opening their mouth and they’re hardly moving their lips. Now that is very unclear, isn’t it? So what I just said was that many of my non native clients come to me and they’re not moving their jaw and they’re not moving their lips and that in English is called mumbling. Mumbling – and it’s very unclear. A lot of native speakers mumble too and they’re also unclear. So we need to make sure you are not mumbling, OK? We need to make sure that you are moving your jaw and your lips when you speak English.

So over the next few days I’d like you to think about it a little bit more. Shift your awareness to your mouth, focus on the feeling, the movements of your mouth as you speak.

  • Are you opening your jaw?
  • Are you moving your lips when you speak English?

Maybe you’ll fmd that you are using same mouth position in English as you use when you speak your first language. And that’s what we need to change, OK?

So over the next few days, I’d like you to focus on moving and opening your mouth when you speak English. I have a little exercise for you. Every morning when you get out of bed, when you’re either getting dressed or in the shower, I’d like you to say this phrase five times, moving and opening your mouth, OK?

The phrase is

  • “I saw 66 farmers laughing on the phone”.

Remember to get your jaw moving and move your lips.

  • “I saw 66 farmers laughing on the phone”

So remember, open the jaw, move the lips, get your tongue moving. It’s a. great way to wake up your mouth and get it into English mode every morning. Ready?

  • “I saw 66 farmers laughing on the phone”.

And again:

  • “I saw 66 fanners laughing on the phone”
  • “I saw 66 fanners laughing on the phone”

Do it in front of the minor. Check you’re opening and moving, OK? Check you’re not using a Mandarin mouth position, or a. Japanese mouth position, or a Russian mouth position. Check that you’re using good movements for English.

Good luck!

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