The Most Important Goals of Accent Neutralization

What are the most important goals for an accent neutralization program?

You might think the sounds of English are the most important goals to work on. But what many don’t realise is there are additional features of English that may be more helpful to focus on. These features include word stress and sentence stress, rhythm, intonation and linking words.

The wrong stress on a word may confuse your listener. Percent sounds like person with the stress on the wrong syllable.

Wrong sentence stress or wrong intonation can confuse your listener, and he may think you’re asking a question, or you’re not finished talking yet, if your intonation goes up instead of down.

Not linking sounds in words and between words. If you ask for a Die Et Coke, will they understand you want diet coke?  Learn to link inside and between words. (diyet coke)

Sounds of English are important to learn (bag and beg are not the same), and other features of english are valuable to learn too.

Having another person listen and point out your errors is a good first step to pronouncing English clearly. A teacher who provides feedback and sets goals for learning is the next best step. Be sure to learn these other features of English along with learning sounds.

 

Final Stops – Linking to fix the added Schwa Sound

Pronouncing Final Stops English ESL San Jose CAWhen we say these at the beginning of a word, we fully pronounce the stop sound with an explosion of air.

Think of the beginning sound for ten, beam or give.

But when a stop sound is at the end of a word, we reduce the sound.  The explosion of air is very quiet or absent.

When saying a stop sound at the end of a word, like the d in “good morning“, be sure to make the d reduced, and don’t make an explosion of air.  If you do, it will sound like “goodah morning”. (Do you hear that added Schwa sound?) Instead try to take the d off “good” and LINK it to “morning“.  Make it sound more like “goo  dmorning“.  Then you’ll be using American English pronunciation.

Here’s a free printable to practice final stop sounds correctly in phrases and sentences.

Reposted from avspeechtherapy.com.  Original post was August 15, 2015.

How do I know if I need English Pronunciation Lessons?

Pronunciation lessons promote clearer English speech

Pronunciation lessons promote clearer English speech

How do I know if I need lessons?

  • Your listeners look confused, and often ask you to repeat.
  • You make errors that offend others because they misunderstand your meaning (such as “dog” for “Doug”).
  • You say single words clearly, but pronouncing sentences is not understandable.
  • You miss career advancement because of your foreign accent.
  • You struggle to communicate with new people, or on the telephone.
  • You avoid using English because you are afraid of making mistakes.

Learn more about English pronunciation lessons here.

How Linking Improves English Sentences

Linking Consonants & VowelsFor many Asian speakers, I often hear they were taught to speak Engliah, by SPEAKING EACH WORD SEPARATELY.

However, English speakers are listening for words that LINK TOGETHER in a sentence. The easiest way to start linking is finding words that have an ending consonant next to a beginning vowel.

Examples:

A lot of people were there. > A LOTOV people were there.

I need a new doctor. > I NEEDA new doctor.

Are you driving over now? > Are you DRIVINGOVER now?

Learning english takes practice. > LEARNINGENGLISH takes practice.

Try linking consonants to vowels for improved English pronunication.

Linking Consonants & Vowels

Pronouncing “the” or “thee”?

Pronounce The or Thee

Pronounce The or Thee

A very common word in English is “the”.  But you might notice we pronounce it two different ways!

If “the” is next to a consonant, it will be pronounced [thuh]:

the book  [thuh book]

the car  [thuh kar]

the man  [thuh man]

If “the”is next to a vowel, it will be pronounced [thee] and often has a linking sound [y] to help you easy say the phrase:

the orange  [thee (y) oranj]

the ending  [thee (y) ending]

the acorn  [thee (y) akorn]

So practice the pattern for an improved American English pronunciation.

 

KT for Chinese Speakers

esl-studentsHere’s help for Chinese speakers to get a more American English sound.  When consonantsc” (k) and “t” are in the middle of a word (like “practice”), or between two words in a phrase. (like “take two”), hold out the vowel just before the “k” sound, then make a gentle, quiet “k” linked to the “t”.

DO NOT fully pronounce the ‘k’ sound or it will sound like pra  KA  tice (practice) or da KA tor (doctor).

Listen to the audio here.

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practice

pra——>  ktis

doctor

do——-> ktor

active

a——-> ktiv

factor

fa——>kter

Free printable list of KT words here.

 

 

Pronunciation Apps & Internet Resources

Pronunciation Apps Listening Resources imageBe sure to use your tablet or computer for additional help with Pronouncing English. The following resources (free or cheap) focus on the North American English pronunciation.

MacMillan The Pronunciation App (free) This features words using the sounds of English with IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet).  It has practice and quizzes for reading, writing and listening.

K12Phonemes (free) Learn the sounds of English with sounds and words, plus a nice video of a real person speaking.

Sounds of Speech  ($3.00) This is from the Iowa Phonetics project.  You’ll see and hear sounds of English with a video illustration of the mouth saying the sounds/words.  The app is $2.99.  You can access the program for free with your laptop by going to the University of Iowa Phonetics home (available on a computer or laptop only, not a tablet.)

Dragon Dictation (free) Set it to American English. and the Dragon Dication computer program will try to recognize and turn your spoken sentence into printed text.  See how well you’re pronouncing English!

Here are free resources for listening.  Audio is in beginner, intermdiate and advanced levels, many with audio transcripts.

  1. Randall’s Listening Lab http://www.esl-lab.com/
  2. English Listening https://www.englishlistening.com/
  3. Many Things http://www.manythings.org/elllo/
  4. Talk English http://www.talkenglish.com/listening/listenbasic.aspx
  5. Agenda Web http://www.agendaweb.org/listening/intermediate_advanced.html
  6. Rong-Chang Listening http://www.rong-chang.com/listen.htm

Keep up the good work learning English!

Linking Vowel to Vowel Using W or Y

Linking Vowel to VowelLinking a vowel to a vowel in English will sound smoother with adding a W or a Y sound.

Here are the rules.

Rule #1.  When a word ending in iy, ey, ay or oy is followed by a vowel, use Y

  • Be a sport = Beya sport.
  • Play a game = Playa game.
  • Tie it up = Tiyit up.
  • Employ a professional = Employa professional.

Rule #2.  When  a word ending in uw, ow or aw is followed by a vowel , use W

  • through it all = throughwit all
  • slow and steady = slowand steady
  • How are you? = Howare you?

See the free printable here (includes teacher notes and key.) These pages are from this resource for linking Hawaii EDU Pronunciation

Linking Help

linking English pronunciationIn our English Pronunciation Class we continue to practice linking when speaking English.

Linking is very important and must be learned to improve your compensability and efficiency of spoken English. If you are speaking sentences without linking expected words and sounds together, it is probably very difficult to understand your English.

Let’s look at linking consonants to vowels. A common pattern in English is liking the ending D sound to the word “it”: (consonant-vowel link)

  • find it   >   fin  dit
  • tried it   >   tri  dit
  • spread it   >   sprea  dit
  • wanted it   >   wan  ti  dit
  • needed it   >   nee  di  dit
  • added it   >   a  di  dit

You can hold out the vowel sound but then link the ending D to the “it”, kind of making it sound like you are saying “dit”. The linking connection should be smooth, without any breaks or pauses. it’s going to sound like a single word, and that’s ok!  That’s expected, and English speakers understand you more quickly and easily.