Not Moving Your Mouth

The Third Most Common Mistake Non-Native English Speakers Make When Speaking English:

Today, I’m going to be talking about the third most common mistake that non-native English speakers make when speaking English, which is not moving your mouth. It’s important to pay attention to these mistakes and make sure you’re not actually making them in your own speech to ensure you are the best communicator you can be and you are not having any communication breakdowns or any awkward moments when you are communicating because you can be misunderstood.

English requires big movements because of the way that the vowels are pronounced. There are 21 vowels in American English and in order to distinguish a lot of them, our mouth needs to move A LOT. Non-native speakers tend to keep their mouth in a neutral position. You don’t open your mouth very much and in English, that’s going to make you sound off, it’s going to affect the way you pronounce sounds, it’s going to affect your intelligibility -meaning how people understand you. 

Why is moving your mouth important when you are speaking English?

Here’s what happens to your speech if your mouth stays neutral:

  • You have lower clarity and articulation.
  • You have distorted vowels meaning your vowels are mispronounced.
  • Your intelligibility: How people understand you is reduced.
  • You have communication breakdowns because you’re not understood. The messaging will get either delayed or it’s going to be misunderstood. So communication breakdown between conversation partners or groups will occur. 
  • You are going to pronounce incorrect words because oftentimes words in English differ by only one sound, for example, “bad”, when you say the word “bad” you have to open your mouth a lot for the “a” vowel. Now, if you say “bad” without opening your mouth enough, “bad” may sound like “bed”.

Here are the benefits of opening your mouth like an English speaker:

  • Your sounds will be clear.
  • You’ll pronounce the appropriate sounds so “a” instead of the “e” sound or different sounds
  • You will sound less accented because you’ll be able to pronounce the correct vowels. Not getting the right vowels and opening your mouth will affect the vowels the most. 

How to move your MOUTH MUSCLES correctly?

Watch the video below to find out how to move your mouth correctly when speaking English. 


  1. You can get in front of the mirror to see if you are actually moving your mouth when you are talking and you can get something to read out loud or you can think of a few sentences to say and watch yourself, see if you are opening your mouth at all. 
  2. Or you can make a video of yourself to see.
  3. You can really do it in many ways but it’s important that you notice because if you notice you’re not moving your mouth enough, then you acknowledge that you’re making this mistake and you can correct it. If you are just too shy to look at it and you don’t realize you’re making this mistake, you’re not going to correct it because how can you correct something you’re not aware of it’s really important that you do.
  4. Just make sure when you’re practicing, you open your mouth for the right vowels. The vowel chart vowels explain how to move your mouth correctly.

There you have it, Mistake Number Three is NOT MOVING YOUR MOUTH ENOUGH WHEN SPEAKING ENGLISH something to definitely keep in mind moving forward.


Want to learn more about pronunciation? Listen to this podcast episode:


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