English Accent Training part 1. Stress and intonation

Eng­lish Accent Train­ing Part1. How To Use Our Course for Eng­lish Stress & Into­na­tion Train­ing

Sam was a high­ly suc­cess­ful pro­fes­sion­al who had mas­tered his Eng­lish accent train­ing to pro­nounce all the Eng­lish sounds cor­rect­ly, by using our Speak More Clear­ly accent train­ing course. All his sounds were even still clear when he spoke in sen­tences and chat­ted on the phone to clients. But, every now and then he would get puz­zled looks from col­leagues and cus­tomers, and some­times even in a social sit­u­a­tion.  He couldn’t under­stand what was wrong. He found this very frus­trat­ing.  Hadn’t he said all the words clear­ly? Yes he had…

What he hadn’t done, was to also mas­ter Eng­lish stress, rhythm and into­na­tion. Eng­lish lis­ten­ers lis­ten for the stressed and de-stressed ele­ments in words and in sen­tences. Mas­ter­ing this can be tricky for non- Eng­lish back­ground speak­ers.

In a 4 part blog series, I will be giv­ing you prac­ti­cal Eng­lish accent train­ing on stress, rhythm and into­na­tion in Eng­lish speech.

This arti­cle is the first part of the series and train­ing.

Eng­lish Accent Train­ing Part 1-  Stress, Rhythm and Into­na­tion prac­tise- Stress­ing the main mean­ing words in Eng­lish

 

Eng­lish is a stress timed lan­guage so not all the syl­la­bles are pro­nounced with the same vow­el length, and not all words in sen­tences are stressed or empha­sised equal­ly.

 Eng­lish lis­ten­ers lis­ten for the empha­sised or stressed words in sen­tences to give them the mean­ing of what you are say­ing. You need to stress the main mean­ing words in a sen­tence more than the not so impor­tant mean­ing words.

If you give every­thing sim­i­lar stress, then your Eng­lish speech won’t sound flow­ing and smooth, but chop­py and stac­ca­to. It also won’t have the cor­rect into­na­tion or melody for Eng­lish.  Smooth flow­ing Eng­lish rhythm is also one of the pro­nun­ci­a­tion ele­ments you need to mas­ter to get a high­er IELTS score.

Prac­tise tip 

Go to any page in our Speak More Clear­ly course . (If you don’t have our Eng­lish accent train­ing course try and use some­thing where you can lis­ten to a speak­er and have the print­ed text as well. ) 

Lis­ten to the train­er say a sen­tence and note which words they put more empha­sis on. This means the train­er says slight­ly loud­er, with slight­ly high­er pitch , and then mim­ic that.  The slight­ly high­er pitch in the stressed word means your pitch goes up a lit­tle and then comes down, and doesn’t stay the same pitch as the de-stressed words. This is a big  part of the melody/ into­na­tion pat­tern of Eng­lish as well.

You could even print the page and under­line the words that are given the main stress when the train­er says it to help you mim­ic them.

Impor­tant : You also need to active­ly de-stress the non stressed words- you don’t say them as loud­ly, or with a slight raise in pitch. Often the­se are short com­mon words such as: has, was, a, and, to, for. They almost get ‘swal­lowed up’. They aren’t impor­tant for the mean­ing – unless you need to empha­sise them for a pur­pose.

For exam­ple:  He went out first and then every­one else fol­lowed quick­ly. (the bold words are the stressed main mean­ing words). So if I just said the words that are bold in the sen­tence, you would still get the mean­ing – “He  went first every­one fol­lowed quick­ly”. And the unbold­ed words are hard­ly given any empha­sis or stress- they are said more qui­et­ly and ‘weak­ly’.

So the rhythm for this sen­tence would be ( as if you are tap­ping or drum­ming on some­thing) DA DA da DA da da DA da DA DA The cap­i­talised DA being the empha­sised or stressed words and the words where the pitch ris­es and falls. Lis­ten out for this and mim­ic it.

Con­tin­ue to do the same over and over again till you begin to under­stand and hear the ‘melody’ and stress of Eng­lish. You need to attune your ear to hear the rhythm this way. Then you will start to hear, and recog­nise it when oth­er peo­ple speak to you as well.

Click here to get Part 2 for more on how to use Eng­lish stress and into­na­tion in your speech to sound flow­ing and smooth.

Best wish­es,

Eng­lish Accent Train­ing Part 3. Eng­lish Stress and Into­na­tion. How to phrase words in sen­tences

Esther

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