Reducing “Your” and “Our”

Pronouncing your our Accent Reduction Classes San Jose CAHave you learned these common reductions of English?

  • “gonna” is a reduction of “going to”
  • “hafta” is a reduction of “have to”
  • “I wanna” is a reduction of “I want to…”
  • “I gotta…” is a reduction of “I’ve got to…”

Some think reduced English forms are lazy or sloppy, BUT THEY ARE NOT.  Reduced forms are EXPECTED in most conversations, in both casual and formal settings. Your American listener is expecting reductions of English grammar in order to communicate in a fast and efficient way.

English listeners are also expecting linking.  See my previous post on How Linking Improves your Pronunciation.

Reducing your and our is very common in conversation. Your (also you’re)  is reduced to yer, and our is reduced to ar.  Some examples might sound like this:

  • Is he coming to yer house?
  • I want to see yer boss.
  • Yer going to college? (you’re)
  • I want yer opinion.
  • Should we go away for ar anniversary?
  • Ar class is cancelled today.
  • An animal dug up ar yard.
  • Ar post office is closed now.

See my 2016 free printable on reductions here.




Online Pronouncing Dictionary

Cambridge Dictionary OnlineYou have a lot of choices with online dictionaries these days! I really like the Cambridge Dictionary Online which has an audio clip, often with both the British and the American pronunciation of words.

Access it on your computer or laptop here:

Cambridge Dictionary Online

See the free app in the app store (iPad and iPhone products) here:

Cambridge Dictionary App

There’s an app for that!

Check it out today.



Free R Screener – Articulation of All Positions of R

free R articulation screenerToday I’m sharing my Free Printable – R Screener.

When kids have trouble saying their R sound, I find there are usually a couple of words where they get it right.  Sometimes they can say their vocalic R like are, ear, or, air, ire and erSometimes they can do R consonant blends well, like  free, truck, present and three.  Sometimes they can even do a good intial R, like red, right and run Not usually all of these though, and that’s why they come to speech therapy!

When they have a couple of good Rs, it’s easier to teach the ones they need.  This screener will help you determine which Rs they have and help you build on those.

Kind in mind, kids need to have good control of their tongue and jaw in order to make a good R.  The tongue is usually tensed and pulled to the back of the mouth and pressed tightly up against the skin on the inside of the upper teeth on the right and left sides. So check for myofunctional skills and help them in this area, if needed.

If you like my free R Screener, you may like my Initial R, Vocalic R, R Blends Assessment Comprehensive on Teachers Pay Teachers

Short A & Short O Minimal Pairs

Short A English Pronunciation Accent ReductionWhen working with myofunctional or accent reduction clients, it’s important to look at tongue placement and jaw height.

I’m working with a young man who substitutes short O for short A. His Dad sounds like dodd, his sack sounds like sock, and his laugh sound like loff.

It means he uses the right jaw height for short A (as is cat) , with a low jaw, but holds his tongue too far back in his mouth and says short O (as in cot).  He needs to put his tongue forward in his mouth for a correct short A sound.

The best success we’ve had is when he does minimal pairs, like

  • sad vs. sod
  • happy vs. hoppy
  • shack vs. shock
  • gnat vs. not

By practicing minimal pairs you’ll train the brian to hear the difference between sounds, and get better at producing the correct sound when needed.  See my free printable minimal pairs worksheet for short A/short O/ short U.

See my free printable practice list of short A here.


How to Link An to Words Starting with Vowels

IMG_2644[1]In English, we use articles (a, an or the) before nouns. If the coming word starts with a vowel, we use “an” and link /n/ sound to the word.

actor: an actor >anactor

expert: an expert > anexpert

author: an author > anauthor

If linking these words together, is unfamilar to you, you can practice the pattern in words like




Here’s a free printable list of words and sentences for practicing linking the “an” to the coming word.

Keep up the good work speaking English!



How to Pronounce Chocolate

How To Pronounce Chocolate ESL accent reductionI hear this mistake a lot. My students fully pronounce the vowels in each syllable of chocolate. But American English speakers will reduce the syllables and reduce the vowel sound in the weaker syllable.

However, it’s pronounced a lot like CHOK lit (2 syllables) with the stress on the first syllable.

—-Since we don’t usually pronounce all three syllables, this is similar to when we reduce syllables from family(3 syllables) to say famlee(2 syllables) and interesting(4 syllables) to say intresting(3 syllables). —-

To pronounce chocolate like a North American:

Pronounce the o like “aw” (or “ah” if you note regional differences).

Drop out the middle syllable o.

Reduce the a in the last syllable “late” to /I/(short i)  or /ə/(the schwa sound).

CHOK lit

Keep up the good work speaking English



Using a Stress Ball to Teach English Stress & Intonation

english stress lessonWhen you teach English stress you must emphasise the strong and weak parts of words and sentences. I do this by using a child’s play ball.

Teach the basics: Strong stress will sound longer, louder and have a higher pitch. Weak stress will sound shorter, quieter and have a lower pitch.

Practice it with words: com PU ter, SA tur day

Use the ball to show the stress intonation. For com PU ter, hold the ball low-high-low.  for SA ter day, hold the ball high-low-low.

I like to have the students move the ball in a left-to-right progression.  This is how we read in English. Since I stand in front of them, I use right-to-left, and they copy me (mirror-like) and do left-to-right.

stress intonation EnglishThe balls I use in class can be purchased at a party supply or toy store, and they should be about 3 inches in diameter. Large enough to fit comfortably in the hand. The soft ones, or the ones designed to use as water toys, are best. Bouncy balls will go shooting, or rolling, across the room when dropped. The soft balls do not roll away.

I like these stress game activities from Mark Hancock’s Pronunciation Games book.pronunciation games Hancock is writing about British English, so some of the words may have an unexpected spelling or accent, and may not be appropriate if you are teaching North American English. Still it’s a good resource. I introduce the Rhythm Dominoes first (just the lesson, no game) because there are only 6 stress patterns covered. More advanced classes can play the dominoes game afterward.

Then I do the Fishing game next. It has 11 stress patterns so it will take more time to go through and have your students practice. Whether you play the Rhythm Dominoes or the Fishing games, help your students by practicing the stress patterns many times. Some students might even need hand-over-hand demonstration of how the pattern rises and falls. So be prepared to put your hand over theirs and help them make the rising and falling movements.

It may help with multi-syllable words to instruct students to “jump” up, and “step” down in the intonation.

You may notice that weak syllables may have reduced vowels, and I explain that more in the next post.