Vocal Fry

In this blog post we’ll talk about how English Vanguard can help you eliminate vocal fry from your speech. 

The following videos demonstrate vocal fry and uptalk. The first video is the linguist Noam Chomsky. As you listen, you’ll notice the shakiness of his voice. This is common characteristic of vocal fry, also called creaky voice. Think of vocal fry as the sound of food sizzling in a frying pan, or the sound of an old, creaky door in a horror movie.

The second video demonstrates a combination of vocal fry and uptalk. Uptalk is when you end a statement with a rising intonation. As a result, your sentences sound like questions. The video is an exaggerated example of vocal fry and uptalk. Watch from 0:18.

Why examiners do not like vocal fry.

First of all, vocal fry is a common feature of human speech and can be heard across all demographics. However, when used throughout your speech, examiners will mark you down on your pronunciation because the creakiness in your voice makes listeners feel you’re not committed to what you’re saying.

Also, when you constantly end your sentences like a question, examiners will think you’re unsure of what you’re saying.

Therefore, vocal fry and uptalk can diminish your effectiveness as a speaker and reduce the impact of your message. Your listener will not take you or what you have to say seriously. 

There are two causes of vocal fry:

  • Physical Factors – We all have two vocal cords. When we restrict air from flowing out of our vocal cords it causes a vibration of our vocal cords. Imagine tighten a string on a guitar and then plucking that string. That reverberation of the guitar string is what your vocal cords look like when you do vocal fry. 

  • Affective Factors – nervousness, lack of preparation and dealing with unfamiliar topics. A lack of preparation, having to discuss unfamiliar topics, can increase our nervousness even more under exam conditions. Nervousness can cause us to restrict our breathing and increase vocal fry in our speech. I have also found that when students are discussing an unfamiliar topic the vocal fry in their voice increases because they are unsure of what to say. 

How to eliminate vocal fry.

Eliminate vocal fry by maintaining a steady and sufficient flow of air from the beginning to the end of your sentences. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Breathing exercises – practice breathing in deeply and fully, release air generously through your mouth. This exercise will engage your vocal folds. You can do this exercise 5 minutes a day and just before your speaking exam. Another exercise involves breathing in deeply and chanting HA HA HA HA slowly and loudly.
  2. Speak slightly louder than normal at the start of sentences – by the time you get to the end of the sentence you voice will not shake or trail off.
  3. Support the end of phrases or sentences – Our voice tends to trail off and our voice drops at the end of sentences. Downward inflection of the voice is perfectly normal at the end of sentences, but make sure the listener can still hear and understand what you are saying. Your listeners must hear the last word as easily as the first.

Benefits of the English Vanguard system for eliminating vocal fry.

  1. You get a copy of your interview – this video recording of your interview will help you and our instructors determine when and why vocal fry occurs in your speech. Once you are aware of what causes it, you can take the necessary steps to eliminate it.
  2. We give you a plan – the mind-maps provided in our eBooks will give you the answer structure you need to maintain fluency and confidence when you are speaking. Confidence and fluency will remove any sound of vocal fry from your speech.
  3. Practice makes perfect – We really are 24/7. Our automated interviews are available any time of the day. Our advanced software works on all devices allowing you to practice as many interviews as you want wherever you are.

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