In this week's podcast, we're going to learn a techinque for sounding more fluent in English.
You may have noticed that when Americans speak they often connect many words together.
This is known as linking or connected speech.
If you want to speak English with an American accent, it's important to learn how Americans connect the sounds of English. Speaking with connected speech will make your speech smooth, flowing and more natural sounding.
The focus of this week's podcast is:
Learning how to connect certain vowels of English together just like an native speaker would.
Practicing this linking technique in some key American phrases and idioms.
Listen to the following phrase:
How often do Americans go out to eat?
Notice how all these words are connected. Native speakers of English connect words which make up a
complete thought, a complete idea. We usually pause only at commas, periods or the at the end of a grammatical unit such as
a phrase or clause.
"How often do Americans go out to eat ? " is a complete thought; it is known as a thought group so I connect all the sounds within it.
Why connected speech is important
If English is not your first language, you may be breaking, stopping in between words of thought groups . These little stops in the wrong places, create a "choppy feel" to your speech.
*It is generally not pleasing to the American ear and makes it more difficult to understand because complete ideas are being broken up.
Now of course everybody, native speakers included, sometimes stop in the middle of a thought. All of us have to pause when we're thinking of the next thing we have to say. But we're not talking about that kind of broken speech.
We're talking about certain sounds which are difficult for English students in particular to connect.
*Specifically, it's often difficult to connect /u/, /aʊ/ or /oʊ/ to another vowel sound.
But there is a technique which I want to show you today which can help you connect /u/ /aʊ/ and /oʊ/ to another vowel and will make your speech smooth and more flowing like a native speaker's.
In order to connect the vowel sounds /u/, /aʊ/ or /oʊ/ to another vowel sound, we use a /w/ sound as a bridge.*
So in the the previous example, "How often do Americans go out to eat ?", in order to connect the /aʊ/ of "how" to the /ɔ/ of "often ", I used a /w/ sound to get from
one word to the other.
So instead of saying /haʊ ɔ fɪn/, I say... /haʊwɔfɪn/
Right now, I exagerated the /w/. I did it longer than usual but be aware that it is present.
Review : Pronouncing /w/:
You might remember from previous podcasts or from Best Accent Training mp3s, that in order to produce /w/, we move our lips forward and back.
/w/ is like /u/ in motion.
I move my lips forward when I say "how" and move them back quickly to create the /w/ into "often."
Let's try that forward- back lip motion of /w/.
Exercise: Please listen and repeat :
Now in order to build "how often", let's connect /w/ to the next word "often" :
Exercise: Please llisten and repeat :
/wɔfɪn/ ... /wɔfɪn/
Now let's do one continuous motion and one continuous stream of air to connect the two words:
Move your lips back and forth to create /w/ and continuously exhale and vocalize.
Avoid this mistake:
Do not make the mistake of stopping the air in your throat at any point. Don't say:
/haʊ | ɔfɪn/
Rather, let it flow:
Here's another place we connect using /w/ from the previous example:
"do" ends in the vowel /u/, so we use /w/ to connect the /u/ of "do" to the vowel /ə/ of "Americans"
Let's build it by saying /wəmεrəkɪnz/
Exercise: Please listen and repeat:
Now put "do" before that
And now one continuous flow of air, sound and motion:
There's one more spot where we can use /w/ to link the words smoothly and that's between "go" and "out". "Go" ends in the vowel /oʊ/, and as the rule states, we can use /w/ to connect /oʊ/ to another vowel.
Again, we must connect these two words because they are a complete thought, a complete idea and therefore, they should not be separated,
even by a tiny pause.
Please listen and repeat:
/waʊ/t/ ... /goʊwaʊt/
So again, in order to link the sounds /u/, /o/ or /aʊ/ to another vowel sound, we use the /w/ sound as a bridge in between.
Exercise: Now lets practice the entire phrase with connected speech:
First time slowly:
/haʊwɔfɪnduwəmεrəkɪnzgoʊwaʊtəit/ ...= "How (w) often do (w) Americans go (w) out to eat ?
Now somewhat faster but continue using /w/ as bridge sound between the key words that we discussed before:
/hacwɔfɪnduwəmεrəkɪnzgoʊwaʊtəit/ = "How often do Americans go out to eat ?
Exercise:Let's practice this linking technique in some phrases and idioms.
1 How is it? /haɔwɪzIt/
2. she has blue eyes. /bluwaɪz/
3. Show us your new i phone. /nuwaɪfon/
4. Your speech blew us away. /bluwsweɪ/ (amazed us)
Today's podcast covers just one of several important linking techniques for clear English pronunciation.
Learning these connection techniques is a gradual process but if you practice regularly you're going to get it! You're going to incorporate this way of speaking into your everyday life.
If you want more practice exercises and are interested in learning all of the techniques for linking the sounds of English, I recommend that you try my full English pronunciation course in mp3-Best Accent Training mp3s!
The Right Training Tools for Better Pronunciation:
No matter what your first language is, Best Accent Training has the lessons you need
for speaking English clearly and correctly.
All the sounds of English in one course!
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!