When I ask clients to “exaggerate” or “elongate” sounds, they often tell me it sounds exaggerated, and they don’t want to do it. Recording will help because often it’s not as exaggerated as you think. But in addition to that, what feels exaggerated is really just “strong” so you might ask yourself what makes you want to say things quickly and softly. Often it’s a fear we’re not saying things correctly. Start noticing when you rush and make notes about what you were saying. Then, look at the key words and write them phonetically. Then during your “practice time”, say them and record them (slowly and clearly, a syllable at a time). Once you “have it”, notice if the next time you can emphasize those words without feeling that you are exaggerating.
One sound Asians tend to feel is exaggerated is the /r/ after a consonant, like “creature” or the /l/ after a consonant like “clear”. The reason it feels so exaggerated is the tongue engagement behind the upper teeth is too light for many Asian speakers (such as Thai or Japanese speakers). So hold the tongue there longer, and you will get a more native-like sound.
Emphasizing words is important … it may sound like exaggerating to you until you hear how you sound in public, and you may be surprised how great you actually do sound!
Stay tuned for new videos specifically for a variety of first languages, such as Chinese, Indian, European languages and more!