Accent Reduction- English Rhythm – Use the ‘Pause’ Correctly- AUDIO lesson



Learning to use pauses properly is important when you’re practising accent reduction and English rhythm. It helps you sound more like a native English speaker.  If you don’t use pauses correctly when speaking English, it can change the meaning of what you’re saying.

PAUSE for meaning

For example; I can say ‘Let’s eat Grandpa.’ or ‘Let’s eat, Grandpa.‘ and the English rhythm  pause in the second sentence (pause where the comma is), gives it a totally different meaning. In the first one, they are going to eat their Grandpa, and in the second, they are telling Grandpa that it’s time to eat their food!

The pause doesn’t have to be long- maybe the length of a very short breath in.

The PAUSE for punctuation

The English rhythm of pausing ( or stopping for a full stop), is provided by punctuation in written English- commas, colons and semi-colons.

Sometimes there isn’t a comma to tell you where to pause for English rhythm, and then you need to pause at the end of each phrase in the sentence. You group or phrase the words into an average of 4-5 words, that feel as if they belong together. They are giving a piece of information.

For example: The boss’ organisational skills were sorely lacking (end of that piece of information – pause) so I stayed back late to help her.

PAUSE when the concepts are more complicated

It’s especially important to pause if what you’re saying is full of lots of concepts that the listener needs to understand. Then you’re also pausing to give them a chance to take in the meaning of each section of what you are saying. This is especially so when giving a talk, or presenting to people.

For example: “To attract and retain staff, we are developing more flexible work options (pause) such as
part-time employment with the setting up of a Locum Office (pause) in order to tap into the professional pool in the latent market.

PAUSE for effect

Don’t forget  you can also use a pause for effect, to emphasize or herald important information. This pause is often slightly longer than the other ones. 

For example: ” I’m so excited. I have a secret I want to share with you-pause slightly longer than usual- I’m going to start my own marketing company.”

When you want to emphasize a key word (or phrase), pause immediately before, and immediately after the key word (or phrase). Do this together  with variations in pitch, volume, or intonation. These pauses draw attention to the key word or phrase.

PAUSE to slow your speech down

You can also use the pause to help you speak clearly in English to slow your speech down, especially if your native language is spoken more quickly than English.

Accent Reduction- English Rhythm – Use the ‘Pause’ Correctly -PRACTISE

(sentences from our accent reduction training courses):-

Cover the cat with a blanket, and close the cupboard.

After the festival, the conversation was very lively.

There were many packages, and some large luggage pieces in the train carriage.

The core reason for this is, that even though we use the term “software engineering”, writing code isn’t like other kinds of engineering.

So as you can see it’s important to learn how to use pauses in English to sound more like a native speaker, and to use correct English rhythm. Now that you know more about this, actively listen to English speakers around you and notice this. The more you notice how it’s done, the more you will understand how to do it yourself.

Best wishes, Esther

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