Speech Insights for Success


Pronunciation for Career Growth- published by Beaver’s Pond Press, available with coaching engagements, through Ethnic Communication Arts

Smoothing out the Wrinkles– An intermediate English text for international nursing assistants, available through Ethnic Communication Arts

Better Speech for Better Hearing- a speech manual for Asian

employees in the hearing aid industry, (developed for Bernafon Maico, Eden Prairie, MN.) available through Ethnic Communication Arts



Speech Insights for Success published by Ethnic Communication Arts






1. Featured article by Marlene Schoenberg in the SUM Program Career Development Series for CMTs

2.Tips for Learning the American /r/ Sound

by Marlene Schoenberg, based on an article from The English Teacher’s Assistant

Why is the /r/ sound such a challenge in English? The Midwestern /r/ is strong in all positions in standard American English. The Boston or New York /r/ is”nevah” heard at the ends of words! The Scottish and the German /r/s are made in the back of the throat. The Russians also use a guttural /r/.  The Indian and Cambodian /r/s are trilled. Chinese students often confuse the /r/ and /l/. How can students understand the mouth positions for each of these allophones of /r/ and the movement patterns that creates more American sounding speech?
Let’s begin by understanding the features of the standard American /r/. We call the /r/ sound a liquid. It changes with the vowels surrounding it. It is a later developing sound in the normal articulation patterns of children. When we produce the /r/ sound, our tongue is pulled back and down. Our jaw glides slightly forward. Our lips are retracted but slightly puckered. Puckering too much makes a sound closer to a /w/.

If you lift your tongue tip up, it sounds like an /l/.  For the /r/, the energy of the sound is in the lip and jaw movement. Your tongue is very relaxed and doesn’t do much work. If you can feel this tactile pattern without sound, you can master the secrets of the /r/ sound. For further information about pronouncing the /r/ or/l/ sounds contact accent expert, Marlene Schoenberg a tmarlene@accentwisdom.com


 Book Review

The Monkey Bridge Book Review and Conversation with the author, Lan Cao

Lan Cao, like her main character, came to the United States with an officer she met in Saigon. At age 13, she lived with his family for several months in the U.S. before her parents arrived. Her family was upper class and French educated. Ms. Cao noted,” My adjustment to the United States was similar to my main character’s transition.”
Lan Cao is a professor of international law at Brooklyn Law School in New York. She left Vietnam in 1975 and later attended Yale Law School.
Her family was torn apart during the war with  relatives on both sides of the conflict.

Ms. Cao shared that there’s a bit of literary truth even if not literal truth in everything that she wrote in The Monkey Bridge. Much of the book is autobiographical.
She explores immigration as an act of transformation and reinvention. The migration experiences of Vietnamese refugees are  related to their war experiences.

She went on to say,”Because the U.S. did not win the war there,  anything associated with that experience was not looked at very positively by the American population.”
When asked if she was working on another book, Ms. Cao responded, “Yes, I am. It’s a novel about illegal immigration from China. It’s a love story involving two people who left China on a boat. The journey was sponsored by organized crime in southern China with  the boat sinking off the coast of Queens, New York.
This true story happened in 1993 and the boat in that incident was called the Golden Venture. She fictionalized that account. Her characters will make it ashore and work in the underground economy of New York’s Chinatown.

If you would like to gain insight into the experiences of Asian immigrants and intercultural communication, Lan Cao’s books will give you much food for thought.

All of life is like a monkey bridge, and the most important advice is not to be afraid.


National Presentations

IBM Via Voice: Speech Recognition and Hearing Impaired Clients, (with A.F. Chouinard), American Speech and Hearing Association Convention, Washington D.C.

Using the IBM Speech Viewer with Latino Students, ASHA, Orlando, Florida

Cultural Voice and Speech Clarity in International Taxi Drivers (with A.F. Chouinard), Washington D.C., American Speech and Hearing Association Convention.

Speaking Minnesotan :Using Speech Recognition Technology with Multicultural Populations,
American Speech and Hearing Association Convention, San Francisco. (Based on a State of Minnesota Site-based Technology Grant program through the Hubbs Center, with C. Bredemus, L. James, and P. Enestvedt. (Also presented at

St. Thomas University, ALT conference.)

Spanish for Speech Pathologists/ Practica en Español  (with M. Continenza), American Speech and Hearing Association Convention, San Francisco.

Accent Issues in the Workplace, Macalester College, St. Paul, MN.

Using the IBM Speech Viewer with Spanish Speakers, New Orleans, American Speech and Hearing Association Convention.

Using the Speech Viewer with ELLIS Master Pronunciation, Closing the Gap, Bloomington, MN.
Practicum Supervision in Speech Pathology (with L. Larsen), American Speech and Hearing Association Convention, Detroit, Michigan.
Practicum Supervision in Speech Pathology, Nolte Center, University of Minnesota
The Role of the Speech Pathologist In Adult Day Health Care,  ASHA, San Francisco
Accent Wisdom (Understanding Accented Speakers)
National Presentations
University of Wisconsin, River Falls and Madison
American Association of Medical Transcriptionists (now AHDI)
Portland, Oregon
Austin, Texas
Madison, Wisconsin
Northeast Utilities, Weathersfield, Connecticut.
GMAC Finance- Waterloo, Iowa

Medtronic, Brooklyn Center

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