Lately I’ve been working with customers who want to improve their IELTS score. Mastering stress in multisyllabic words and use of English idioms are important to include in your English pronunciation practise. Of course, these are important for anyone wanting to improve their speech clarity, not just those working towards a better IELTS score.

English Multisyllabic Stress and English Idioms

One of the key ways to improve your English fluency and to sound more like a native speaker, is to practise listening to native speakers. This is not only so you can attune your ear to English, but also so you have a model to listen to and practise mimicking with. As you copy the speakers in the training dialog  below, you need to practise getting your mouth used to moving in a more flowing way for English, (more detailed information on this can be found here and  here)

Incorporating English idioms into your speech also helps people understand you better. An idiom often saves us having to use a lot more words to explain something.

In the dialog below you can practise English multisyllabic word stress, rhythm, phrasing and idioms all at once. You will find the text and idioms below the training dialog.


A. Excuse me but I can’t seem to find the Mystic Chronicles volume 3. I’ve looked several times on the shelf where it’s supposed to be, but it’s not there and it’s really important I get my hands on a copy. Could you help me please?

B. That’s funny. You’re the 2nd person today to come in here looking for that volume. In all the years I’ve worked here, no- one has ever aked me for that, and today I’ve been asked twice. To tell you the truth, I didn’t even know we had it in the first place, but you’re right it says we’re supposed to have 2 copies right here!
Anyway, what’s it about?

A. It’s a chronicle of…… Hang on what’s that? Look there’s something at the back of the shelf!

B. It looks like some sort of note. I’ll just get it. Wow. That looks like it’s been around a while to say the least! It’s covered in dust and what’s this paper? Well will you look at that! No it can’t be. It’s made of parchment.

A. Yeh. That’d be right, the chronicle deals with all these ancient teachings. It must’ve fallen out when the book was taken.
Maybe the note’ll  impart some amazing, old world, mystical teaching that we’ve forgotten in our materialistic modern times!
Open the note and see what it says!

B. Ok here goes.  It says , ‘haha,  beat you to it!

English Idioms and Common Phrases

to get my hands on…   to manage to find or obtain something
to tell you the truth… to be frank / straitforward (not concealing anything -used especially when making an admission).
hang on. wait; wait a minute
been around awhile.. common phrase meaning: it’s been there for a long time

to say the least… common phrase meaning: used as an understatement (implying the reality is more extreme, usually worse). 
will you look at that!… rhetorical question or interjection used to variously comment on something surprising, frustrating, puzzling, or enticing as well as something cynically expected or counter to one’s expectations.  

beat you to it… succeed in doing something or getting somewhere before someone else.

Multisyllabic word stress

Make sure you are copying the audio training aloud, and stressing and de-stressing (the rhythm) the same syllables as the people in the dialog. Also mimic the same melody/ intonation and phrasing.
I will list the words you need to pay particular attention to:

several ( the second ‘e’ is omitted)
supposed (the ‘o’ is stressed and the ‘u’ is de-stressed)
important (the ‘a’ is de-stressed said as a schwa vowel)
person ( the ‘o’ is de – stressed)
covered ( the ‘o’ says ‘u’)
something (the ‘o’ says ‘u’)
ancient ( the ‘a’ is stressed ; the ‘ci’ says ‘sh’)
fallen ( the ‘e’ becomes a schwa sound)
taken ( the ‘e’ becomes de-stressed/a schwa sound
materialistic ( the ‘er’ is held long as the main stressed syllable; the two ‘a’ sounds are de-stressed)
mystical ( the ‘y’ says ‘i’ and the ‘a’ is de-stressed)
forgotten ( the ‘e’ is a schwa vowel) 

Good practising. Best wishes, Esther

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