Pronunciation tips

The Stress-timed Rhythm of English

Have you ever wondered why people can easyly recognise that you are Italian after you say a few words in English?

Italian speakers tend to speak slower than English speakers: that happens not only because they are not native and so they don't know the English language properly, but also because they have grown up using a language that is not rhythmical. In Italian every word or sentence you say takes a certain time that is directly related to the length of words and the numbers of syllables. In English it is a matter of rhythm, regardless of the length of the words and sentences. Therefore there can be unstressed words that can be pronounced very quickly, and stressed words that take longer time to be pronounced.
This matter has an influence not only on your pronunciation, but also on your comprehension ability and your fluency.
If you are interested in this topic follow the link and find out more.

How can I improve my rhythm?

Thank's God, nowadays thare are plenty of good materials on the web that can help you. I selected for you these two videos that I find very useful.

In this two part episode, Jennifer, a teacher of English, shows you how to develop your awareness of the natural rhythm in English. Learn to pause naturally by grouping your words into thoughts, also called thought groups. This is great for all levels of students learning English as a second language (ESL).

Another important point to improve your pronunciation: intonation can help to communicate more clearly and on the other hand to understand your interlocutor's purpose.

Learn how to speak English with falling and rising intonation or cadence. This is a lesson in four parts

The schwa

Do you Know what a "schwa" is? You don't? It is a very common sound in English and it can help to improve your pronunciation (and comprehension as well)

Click on the picture below

The sounds of English

On this page you can find a video from BBC English that explain something about the sounds of english, and following the iliks on the page you can find many link for a through examination of the subject and many exercises

In 2005 BBC Learning English produced three radio programmes on pronunciation as part of the Talk about English series.

Programme 1: 

Programme 2:

Programme 3:

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