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English Pronunciation Pod 91

Saturday May 5th, 2012
English Pronunciation Podcast 91-
Using Contractions to Improve your Accent- Part II:

Learn more about how to improve your English pronunciation and accent by using contractions.



In this weeks podcast, we're going to continue to learn how to improve your accent. by using contractions.

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."

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 Americans use in conversation.
  • 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.
Today we're going to learn another how to pronounce one of these more difficult contactions; the contracted form of "will not": won't.

You might be thinking that this is fairly easy to pronounce. However in my experience teaching privately, many students, even highly advanced ones,
mistakingly think that they are pronouncing this correctly when in fact, they are not.. The mistake I most often hear is the wrong vowel sound.
Instead of saying "wont", students often say /wənt/ or "want" . Obviously this can be confusing to your listener.

So let's learn how to pronounce "won't" correctly by paying careful attention to the movement of our lips and tongue .
Proper movement will create the correct sound and pronunciation.

The first sound of "won't" is /w/. In order to pronounce /w/, we have to move our lips. We move our lips in and out of /u /. Our lips can move move forward or backward.
Think of /w/ as /u/ in motion You can also think of it like a quick kissing motion.

For a lesson on how to pronounce /w/ see podcast number 34 and for a complete lesson and training try my English pronunciation course in mp3- Best Accent Training.

Let's begin by making a /w/ sound. We'll use a simple neutral vowel /wə/.

Exercise:Please listen and repeat paying careful attention to your lips, moving them forward and backward:

/wə/... /wə/...

Next we're going to combine this /w/ with the vowel from the word "won't" /oʊ/.

/ou/ is a diphthong, a combination vowel. It's a combination of /ə/ plus /u/.

Tongue: begins centered and neutral /ə/, gradually moves back and gets tense into /u/.

Lips: start neutral and relaxed and gradually come forward and tense.

Let's try that combination slowly.

Exercise: listen and repeat: /oʊ/

Now let's combine /w/ with /oʊ/ and say /woʊ/. This is the challenging part because of all the lip movement.

Lips go forward, back and then forward again. It's like a double kiss.The /u/ sound leaves you with your lips forward.

I recommend that you use a mirror. to make sure that your form is correct.

Exercise: Please listen and repeat:

/woʊ/... /woʊ/...

Now let's try the full word "won't" :

Exercise: Please listen and repeat:

won't ... won't ....

Now let's try it in some sentences and comon expressions..

Exercise: Please listen and repeat the following phrases and expressions containing won't:

I wont forget.

He won't let you down. ( won't disappoint you)

It won't stop.

I won't have it. ( won't accept it, won't tolerate it)

Practice is Key!

Today's lesson focussed on one of the many contractions of English. This contraction contains two important sounds of English: the vowels and consonants /w/ and /woʊ/.
Many of the sounds of English are quite difficult and challenging because they do not exist in your native language.
In order to master these difficult 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 repeat the action 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.

That's why I recommend that you check it out my English Pronunciation Course in mp3 format- Best Accent Training mp3s!

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 lessons on all the vowels of English, all the consonants, syllable stress lessons, intonation and rhythm lessons,
reduced forms and connected speech!

Best of all, Best Accent Training is a fast and easy download that you can put on your mp3 player or smart phone and take it with you wherever you go!
I specifically designed it for that purpose.

Any questions, comments or suggestions ? Contact us at:   contact@englishpronunciationpod.com

Thank you and see you next time!



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After practicing with Best Accent Training daily,
I can say that my English communication has improved 100%. "

- Domingo Ponce Rodriguez- - Marketing Manager USA (Spain)

Get the full accent reduction course in mp3 now


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