When talking about the English sound system, there’s vocal production/projection, the individual sounds (vowels & consonants), and rhythm (the music of the language).
People tend to assume that if they master the individual sounds, then that’s the most important thing to improve. And no doubt, this is important. If you mix up the /l/ and /r/ sounds, that can be a problem. I’m having chicken and rice for dinner. Now chicken and lice, that little bug. Chicken and r-r-r-rice.
But the thing is, English rhythm is just as, if not more, important when it comes to the processing of information. The rhythm, the stress & intonation, plays a critical role in helping your audience to process in chunks.
One Must Do of English Rhythm is to Alternate
Let me explain this a bit more. You see, alternating the stressed and unstressed sounds in English rhythm is critical.
The reason is English is a stress-patterned language. For the listener to process what you’re saying with less listener effort, this alternation is critical. You want to focus on producing the stressed and unstressed sounds at three levels: the word, chunk & sentence level.
There are different ideas about where to start when it comes to English pronunciation training. Let’s go ahead and start at the word level. After all, the peak of information is located in the stressed syllables of the key words. Also, it’s an easier place to start. You can focus simply on how to produce the alternating sounds.
Learn more how…
Clear Speech Quick Tip #5 (of a 6-part series)
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