English Accent Training- correct syllable stress

Eng­lish Accent Train­ing Part 2. Eng­lish Stress and Rhythm- Cor­rect Syl­la­ble Stress In Words

Cus­tomers often ask for tips on how to use our accent reduc­tion cours­es to improve their Eng­lish stress and into­na­tion, and Eng­lish stress and rhythm. In this sec­ond part of my series on prac­ti­cal train­ing in Eng­lish stress and into­na­tion, I will give you train­ing on a sec­ond ele­ment. That is, how to use cor­rect syl­la­ble stress in words. By the end of this 4 part series you will see how to work on Eng­lish stress and into­na­tion with our cours­es so you know exact­ly what to do to use the main ele­ments required to speak with smooth, flow­ing Eng­lish speech and cor­rect into­na­tion and rhythm.

Eng­lish Stress and Rhythm Prob­lem – what hap­pened to a cus­tomer in a restau­rant

My Aun­ty tells the sto­ry of two peo­ple sit­ting at a table  in a restau­rant next to her table. The wait­er approached and said, ” Are you com- for -table?”  The cus­tomers looked at the wait­er in a puz­zled way and said, “No we haven’t come for a table, we’ve come for din­ner.”

Eng­lish Accent Train­ing Part 2- Eng­lish Stress and Rhythm- Cor­rect Syl­la­ble Stress in Words

Prac­tise stress­ing the right syl­la­bles in words with more than one syl­la­ble

In a stressed syl­la­ble, the vow­el is said clear­ly, is held on slight­ly longer, and the pitch ris­es and falls slight­ly. This pitch dif­fer­ence is part of the into­na­tion or melody of Eng­lish. 

In an unstressed syl­la­ble, the vow­el is not clear but said as a short /u/ sound – the schwa vow­el  sound / ə/.

For exam­ple in the word ‘cur­rent­ly’ – the syl­la­ble “rent”, is the weak one so the word should be said ‘cur­rənt­ly’ or ‘com­fort­able’ should be said ‘cumftəble’ (just as the wait­er in the sto­ry should have said!).

 Again, as with the stress­ing of main mean­ing words I spoke about in Part 1, you also need to learn to de-stress (say the vow­el weak­ly as a schwa vow­el, not as a clear  vow­el), the syl­la­ble that is the weak form. You need to learn to have the con­trast or play between strong and weak – stressed and de-stressed in your speech  for cor­rect Eng­lish stress and rhythm. This is all part of Eng­lish accent train­ing.

Stress on dif­fer­ent syl­la­bles can some­times change the mean­ing of a word total­ly.

For exam­ple: `ob ject (noun)- a thing

ob `ject (verb) – to dis­agree to some­thing


Prac­tise Tip

1) Use any of the sen­tences on any of the pages of our Eng­lish accent train­ing course, and also in the dia­logues sec­tion that have words of more than one syl­la­ble in them.

Lis­ten to the train­er in our course say the sen­tence, and mark the stressed and de-stressed syl­la­bles in the longer words -remem­ber in the stressed syl­la­ble you can hear the vow­el said clear­ly, and in the de-stressed one it sounds like a short ‘u’, the schwa vow­el.

Mim­ic the trainer’s pro­duc­tion includ­ing mim­ic­k­ing exact­ly how the vow­els sound includ­ing the pitch rise and fall etc., Make sure you are notic­ing and say­ing  the stress and de-stressed vow­els cor­rect­ly, for the rhythm of the words. The advan­tage of hav­ing audi­to­ry train­ing with a train­er say whole sen­tences,  is  you make a new record­ing of how you need to sound for your new Eng­lish pro­nun­ci­a­tion in your head, so you can recall it when you need. When you can recall the cor­rect sound of Eng­lish, it is eas­i­er for your mouth to sound like that.

Also look in the sec­tion in our course called “Sen­tences for work­ing with stress and mean­ing.”

2) If you are not sure how a long word  is pro­nounced for Eng­lish stress and rhythm, type it into lingorado.com/ipa/ for the British accent and the  Amer­i­can accent and you can hear how to pro­nounce it.  Then, prac­tise say­ing it in a sen­tence you make up, and make sure you say the word in the sen­tence with the right stress and rhythm.

For The Aus­tralian accent and stress pat­terns, write the word you want to know how to stress in the com­ments sec­tion below and I will reply with the answer.

Click here for Part 3 of my Eng­lish accent train­ing stress and into­na­tion series.

Best wish­es,


P.s. Click here to read Part 1.

Click on a link below now, to learn about our accent reduc­tion cours­es and start speak­ing more clear­ly.

Aus­tralian Accent

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