In this weeks podcast, we're going to learn how using contractions when you speak English will greatly improve your accent.
As you probably know, a contraction is a word that is formed by combining two separate words into one.
For example, the contraction for I am is "I'm", the contraction for cannot is "can't", do not- "don't," there is- "there's."
In my experience as a pronunciation teacher I've found that
foreign speakers of English do not use contractions often enough and sometimes pronouce them incorrectly.
However, using contractions is an important way to make your speech flow and
sound more natural like a native speaker's.
What's more, becoming aware of them, will make it easier for you to understand what native speakers are saying.
The focus of this week's podcast is:
Learn how to correctly pronunce an important contractions which can be quite challenging.
Practice using this contraction in some key phrases of American English.
Teaching English pronunciation, here in New York, I've noticed that many foreign born speakers, including those who are fluent,
are not using contractions when they speak,
They often use the the full form instead. Using the full form contributes to having an accent. The full form is mainly used in writing.
To an American, speaking in the full form can sound unnatural, even a little robotic.
Furthermore , it can even result in miscommunication because Americans only use the full form when they want to sound formal, emphasize a point
or even contradict something that was said earlier.
Contractions on the other hand, sound more conversational, more natural and may at times sound even more relaxed.
Full forms sound formal and emphatic.
For example if you say, "I do not like it" , you may convey a different underlying message, a different connotation than saying, " I dont' like it."
One of the reasons you may be using the full forms too much is that you learned to read and write English before you began to speak it.
Full forms are after all, the written form.
Another reason you may be avoiding contractions is that there are a few contractions that are simply difficult to pronounce. These contractions usually involve /r/,
/l/, the American tap <t> and combinations of these sounds.
Today, I'd like to practice one of these contractions which is made up of difficult sounds to pronounce.
We're going to practice the contracted form of there will. The contracted form of there will is " there'll."
Exercise: Please listen and repeat: there'll, /ðɛɚəl/
Notice that the /w/ sound of "will" disappears when using this contraction.
This contraction is often avoided by foreign speakers because it involves the challenging English <th>sound combined with the also challenging
combination of the American /ɚ/ followed by /l /. We find this tricky combination in the words "girl" and "early. "
For a full detailed lesson on this <r l> combination see podcast #67.
How to pronounce "there'll":
In order to pronounce there'll, you want to begin by gently placing your tongue tip betweem your front teeth to produce the <th>sound.
Then, gradually curl you tongue tip back to form /ɛɚ/.
Let's try that first step very slowly, by just pronouncing one syllable "there" .
Exercise: Please listen and repeat : there /ðɛɚ/
Now let's add the last step the final /l/. In order to produce /l/ extend your pointed tongue tip forward to the gum ridge (the bump on the roof of your mouth.)
So three movements to think about:
1) Gently place the tongue tip between front teeth,/ð/
2) Curl your tongue tip back, /ɛɚ/
3) Extend your tongue tip forward, /l/
The movement of the tongue tip is: between, back, forward.
Let's try that slowly:
Please listen and repeat:
Combining these three difficult sounds can be quite challenging and often talks a lot of practice.
I recommend that you practice each of these sounds slowly and separately and then combine them.
You can find a full detailed lesson on how to pronounce each of these sounds , in previous podcasts. For complete,
instruction and practice on /r/, /l/ and <th> sounds be sure to try my English pronunciation course in mp3, Best Accent Training mp3s.,
Now let's use this contraction in context, in some phrases and expressions.
Exercise: Please listen and repeat the following phrases and expressions containing "there'll:
There'll be food at the party.
There'll be nobody at work tomorrow.
There'll be hell to pay, if we don't finish on time. (serious consequences, we'll be in big trouble)
Practice is Key!
Today's lesson focussed on one of the many contractions of English. This contraction is composed of some the most difficult sounds of English.
In order to master these sounds, you need proper instruction and training.
Speaking english clearly and correctly is primarily a physical activity. It's similar to learning how to play an instrument, how to play a sport or learning how to dance. You have to do it over and over again until you develop what's known as muscle memory, the ability to do something
without thinking, automatically.
Speaking English with an American accent is a gradual process but with the right amount of training
and practice, you can do it!
The Right Training Tools for Better Pronunciation:
It's important to have right training tools in order to improve your accent.
No matter what your first language is, Best Accent Training has the lessons you need for speaking English clearly and correctly.
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Best Accent Training mp3s contains all the sounds of English with step by step instructions and practice exercises.
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