Rhythm and Melody of English

English Rhythm Intonation StressIf you’re learning English you may notice it’s rhythm and melody are not like your native language (especially true of Korean, Vietnamese and Chinese).

It’s important to learn about expected rhythm, or “perCENT” will sound like “PERson”, and “bamBOO” will sound like “BOMB boo” (just like it did with 2 of my students!)

There are predictable highs and lows in an English sentence.  Think of the sentence like a roller coaster.

Many sentences start at a low, quiet pitch and rise when there is a “content word”, usually nouns and verbs or other important words.   Learn to give stress to the important words, with longer, louder and higher pitch.  The “function words” are not stressed, so they will be low and quiet.  English alternates between stressed and unstressed words.

You sentences will be understood if make your rise and fall like Americans.  Practice mimicking how Americans speak.

High-Functioning Autism and Social Skills

Children and adults with autism vary greatly in their strengths and challenges, but most persons with autism have difficulty with social skills.  Frequently referred to as “mind-blindedness”, they have trouble knowing what others might be thinking.  A person with high-functioning autism (sometimes referred to as Aspergers), may act oddly, hurt other’s feelings, or ask inappropriate questions without knowing it.

Students with high-functioning autism share symptoms with others diagnosed with autism, but their strengths allow them to function fairly well in school or at work.  They do not usually have delayed language development; they often have average to above average intelligence; and usually are passionate about one or two specific topics.  They don’t do “small talk” well, and often have trouble understanding the non-verbal aspects of communication such as eye contact, facial expressions and body language.  They want to be involved with others, but lack the social skills of how to go about it.

facial expressionsBut social skills can be taught, and learning them can make a big difference for children and adults with autism.  social skills gamesA speech/language pathologist can teach specific skills like understanding facial expressions and body language, self-monitoring, and how to be part of a group.  Lessons involve recognizing indirect language (like hints or implied information) and learning to make guesses.  Students may also learn about understanding and interpreting emotions, understanding intentions and how to solve problems.

For more information regarding teaching social skills for children or adults with high-functioning autism, visit Michelle Garcia Winner’s social thinking program.

See another post using ideas from Michelle Garcia Winner’s social thinking program here.

Read about why it’s difficult living with an Aspergers person here.

Click the Autism link above for more stories and ideas about autism.

Originally posted 4/22/12.

Different Ways We Pronounce T

Different Ways We Pronounce American TIn American English, we have several ways we pronounce T in words, as well as sentences.

Beginning T in a word is always fully pronounced – ten, take, table

T in sentences, or in the middle or end of a word is reduced, and sounds more like a D, or it disappears altogether  –  water = wader, twenty = twenny

T with a Y sound is more like CH – nature + nachur, get you = getchu

Click for a free printable worksheet with T practice words, and click for the audio clip for practice. 

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Learn these different ways we pronounce T in English and you’ll improve your speaking and listening.