In this week's podcast, we're going to continue to practice our intonation.
We're going to practice the intonation pattern which we learned about in last week's podcast known as jump up, jump down.
If you haven't yet listended to podcast #60, I recommend that you do so before using this one.
The focus of this week's podcast is:
To practice the the jump up, jump down pattern in a special training exercise so that you begin to feel the the rhythm and intonation of English. This is known as the cadence of English.
Intonation is a Signal
As we learned in podcast # 60, intonation as a signal which we give to our listener. It is a signal which highlights the most important pieces of information in our phrase. Without these intonation signals, it can be difficult for our listener to understand us.
If you want to send the right message and make the right impression, it's important to use an intonation pattern appropriate for what you intend to say.
There are four main intonation patterns in American English.
In last weeks podcast, we learned one of these patterns known as jump up, jump down.
We may use this pattern in statements and information questions.
In this pattern, we jump up on the stressed syllable of a word and jump down into the unstressed syllable. For example, when I say "I'm happy," I jump up on the syllable /hæ/ and jump down into the unstressed syllable /pi/. In addition, notice that the vowel is longer on /hæ/ because this is another key element of stress in English.
Exercise: Listen and Repeat:
Avoid the Common Mistakes:
You may be wondering
why we're paying so much attention to this seemingly simple pattern of jumping up and jumping down. The reason for this is that there are some common mistakes that students often make with these patterns and these mistakes often convey the wrong message to their listener.
As we discussed in detail last week, students sometimes do not jump up and only fall on the stressed syllable. This creates the impression of being bored or possibly even angry, Another mistake is gliding up gradually instead on jumping up and this can create the impression of being sarcastic. So we want to pay attention to the way that we intone- the way we that shape the rises and falls of our speech.
Feel the Cadence Of English:
One of the best ways to pick up the intonation and rhythm of English is through repetition. By repeating key phrases over and over again, the rhythm and intonation will begin to sink into you. It will be come ingrained in your speech process.
This is the same process musicians go through in order to master a phrase of music. Musicians practice what are known as cadences over and over again until it is right- the way the composer intended it to be.
The same is true for languages. There are cadences within languages. There are common musical phrases, common rhythmic and intonation phrases that come up again and again. The more we hear and practice them, the more we'll use them in our everyday speech.
The general rhythm of English, the general cadence, is an alternating feel of stressed and unstressed syllables, with the main stress coming toward the end. It's not true of every phrase but it is very common.
It is the general feel we find very often.
So in order for you to pick up and develop authentic American intonation, I've developed an exercise I call the "Intonation Cadence Exercise."
Intonation Cadence Exercise:
Here's how it works: We're going to practice repeating phrases which all have the same rhythm and intonation,. The words will be different from phrase to phrase, but the the rhythm and intonation will be the same.
For example, "I'm happy" and "I'll call you." have the same cadence.
We can master this cadence of English by repeating lots of phrases with the same cadence. In fact, we're going to practice against a metronome. This wil be a lot like rapping.
Now, I'm not saying that we're going to be the next Jay- Z or Eminem, but you will pick up the general music,
the general cadence of English.
Exercise: Three syllable phrase, with the focus word at the end of the phrase.
Jump up on the stressed syllable of the focus word and then jump down into the unstressed syllable to complete the phrase. Listen to the phrases once and then join in repeating wth me.
Usually you repeat after me, but for this exercise, I recommend that you repeat along with me.
Three Syllable Cadence:
I'm happy l I'll call you l You're welcome l No problem
Four Syllable Cadence:
That's amazing l Don't be silly l
Call me later l You're so funny
Five Syllable Cadence :
Where are you going? l Make me an offer l I'm in the city l
Let's have a coffee.
We can continue these cadence patterns, adding more and more syllables each time.
The Right Tools for Good Pronunciation
Today, we practiced jump up jump, down but there are
patterns that are important for speaking English with an American accent.
If you're interested in learning and practicing these patterns, and practicing today's pattern even more, I recommend that you try my English Pronunciation Course in mp3 format- Best Accent Training mp3s!
Best Accent Training mp3s contains all the sounds of English with step by step instructions and practice exercises.
You'll get all the vowels of English, all the consonants, syllable stress lessons, intonation lessons and connected speech!
Best of all, Best Accent Training is a fast and easy download that you can put on your mp3 player and take with you wherever you go! I specifically designed it for that purpose.