Karen Van Hook, Ph.D.

New Workshop for Japanese Speakers (click here to read more…)

I’m excited to announce that on October 15, 2017, I will be holding an intensive workshop on English pronunciation. Participants will learn “secrets” of English pronunciation that they have never heard from any other English teacher, including information about how English speakers use the muscles in the throat to create the voice.


This workshop presents several core skills for English pronunciation, using techniques that I’ve developed over several years of working with native speakers of Japanese.

How the throat is different for English and for Japanese: Speakers of American English hold the muscles in the throat differently than speakers of Japanese. Japanese is spoken with the throat held more tightly and with the larynx (the place that the voice is made) pulled downward, whereas in English, there is more of a sensation of lifting up. I’ll use things like MRI images and pictures of the inside of the throat to reveal the “secrets” of the English sound. Participants will learn how to feel these things and how to begin using the throat differently, and will be given exercises to continue studying and improving on their own.

The mouth movements that are key to smooth English: We’ll learn how the mouth moves for English differently than for Japanese. One key difference between English and Japanese, which people can learn immediately, is the way that the basic mouth movement for English is different. The sounds of an English word are organized in a systematic way to go along with the opening and closing of the mouth, and when you learn how to move your mouth this way (which people can learn to do quite quickly), it is suddenly much easier to pronounce words with complicated sound combinations. This basic principle is also the key to joining words together smoothly, the way native speakers do. I’ve done a lot of research into the reasons why Japanese speakers feel that it’s difficult to sound “smooth” like a native speaker, and I can explain that the key is to practice some new movement habits. I’ve taught these to dozens of speakers of Japanese, and so I am confident that you will be able to understand these new movements immediately. After that, you just need to practice, and I will give you exercises to do at home to continue to improve.

How to use your breath for English: We will do breath exercises and see how you should use your breath to create sound in English, as English uses the breath very differently than Japanese.

Difficult sounds and words: We will cover some of the more confusing sounds of English, such as the difference between ‘l’ and ‘r’, and words such as the difference between ‘walk’ and ‘work’. This will be a fast-moving, intensive workshop. By the end, you will have a new understanding of how English works and a plan for practicing to continue to improve pronunciation.

The workshop will begin at 11 AM and go til 3 PM, with rest breaks. The location is The Green Room, a lovely studio space at 62 Bow Street, Somerville. The cost is $99, payable by Paypal, check, credit card or cash. Write to me at karen@chosen-voice.com to ask questions or to register for this workshop.

689 Somerville Ave, Suite D
Somerville MA 02143