Hello and welcome to the Unit 2 lesson. In this lesson we’re going to talk about two very, very, very important parts of pronunciation. Perhaps the most important part of English pronunciation, in fact.
Now, a lot of people who are English learners have problems with English pronunciation and especially with being understood, especially being understood by native speakers; Americans, Canadians, British people, etc. And I know that a lot of learners worry about specific sounds.
Some people it’s the “R” and the “L” sound. For some people it’s the “Th” sound. For some people it’s different vowel sounds, but what most learners don’t realize is that the biggest problem of all, the reason that people don’t understand you, it’s usually not some small, specific sound.
It’s actually something much bigger, and that is rhythm. Rhythm. Because every language is like music. It has its own music, right? Japanese has a certain rhythm; a certain music. Spanish has a certain music or rhythm and so does English. Probably the biggest problem in pronunciation for most learners is that their rhythm is completely wrong. When you speak in a strange rhythm native speakers struggle to understand you. They have a difficultly understanding you.
So for example, Japanese can be kind of, “De de de de duh. De de de de duh. Er, de, duh.”
That’s what it sounds like to me. So if you speak English like that, with this kind of, "de de, duh,” rhythm it sounds very strange, especially for American, Canadian, it’s hard for their brains to understand it. Much harder. So getting the rhythm, the music, of English correct it’s a huge improvement. It will help you be understood much, much better.
Your accent will sound so much better just by improving your rhythm. And of course, the speed of speaking is part of rhythm because sometimes in English we say certain phrases more slowly.
We might stretch them out, and others we might say quite quickly and push them together. It’s part of the rhythm also. Speed and rhythm. That’s what you’re going to practice and that’s what you’re going to train in this unit.
So, how are we going to do that? When you think of rhythm the first thing I want you to focus on are the pauses; the natural pauses of English. See, we do not speak, in any language and certainly not English, we do not speak the language word by word, pronouncing each word individually and equally. That sounds strange. That’s a very strange rhythm.
We speak in phrases, meaning little groups of words. Means some words naturally go together and connect, and other words naturally go together and connect, and then we put pauses in between, bigger pauses between the phrases. So you have to listen for the pauses. That’s the main thing about rhythm; the pauses; pausing in the right place. Because if you pause in the wrong place, like I just did, it sounds very strange and it’s very difficult to understand. When you pause in a correct place it sounds natural. People will think, “Wow, you’re a great English speaker. Did you live in America?” And it’s just because the rhythm sounds correct. You’re pausing in the natural places; the correct places. Very, very, very important.
So here’s what we’re going to do in this unit in the training. You’re going to follow the same five day process again. You remember that? You know, day 1 you’re going to listen carefully. But this time, in this unit, in this training audio you’re going to focus specifically on rhythm. So as you listen on day 1, listen especially for the pauses. Notice where I pause. Notice how long the pauses are. Some pauses are short, and some are very long. So you want to listen, listen carefully, focusing on rhythm, focusing on the pauses on day number one.
On day number 2 you’ll keep on going with the Effortless English process, but again for each day, for each part of the process, for the pausing and imitating, reading aloud, tracking, for this unit, Unit 2, focus specifically on pauses and rhythm; pauses and rhythm. Don’t worry about any problem sounds. “R” and “L” and “Th” and all that. Don’t worry about that in this unit. Rhythm is what I want you focusing on.
It’s almost like drumming too, right? It’s like a song. Every song has a rhythm, right? “Duh dunna dun duh. Duh dunna dun duh.” You can almost clap with it. That’s rhythm. That’s what I want you to focus on in this unit. So you’re going to follow the same five day process in the audio and try to match your English speaking rhythm to mine so you start developing the music of American English.
I will see you in the training audio. Good luck!