In this weeks podcast, we're going to learn how to communicate better in english by using what are known as focus words.
Using focus words is one if the best ways to make yourself more easily understood,
Using focus words 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 also make it easier for you to understand what native speakers are saying.
The focus of this week's podcast is:
Learn how to identify the focus word in a phrase.
Practice using focus words in some key phrases of American English.
Every language has a particular rhythm, In many languages such as Spanish, French, Japanese, Chinese and Arabic, the rhythm is very even. By that, I mean that each syllable receives equal stress and length.
However , this is not the case in English.In English we stress the sylables of certain words.
This means that the vowel length of the syllables in certain words is longer than others. It also means that their pitch,
their tone is higher.
For example, if I say, "I went to thebank cash for some cash," I stress several words and I stress one word more than the others . That word is the focus word.
Exercise: Listen again for the words that have the longest vowels and highest pitches:
Which words did I stress? If you heard: went, bank, and cash, then you head correctly. Now listen again for the word with the most stress:
I went to the bank for some cash. .
If you heard cash, you are correct. "Cash" had the longest vowel and the higest pitch. "Cash" is the focus word.
Exercise: Please listen and repeat using cash as your focus word. Make its vowel the longest and its pitch the highest .
I wen to the bank for some cash.
To the American ear, long vowels and higher pitches are signals which highlight the most important pieces of information in a statement. Its like a highlighting pen but instead of using bright colors we use high pitches and and long vowels.
If you don't use focus words and stressed words, than your speech wil sound flat and too even to understand to the American ear.
We need those stressed syllables as a signal.
Which words do we stress in English?
So which words are usually stressed in a phrase? As you may have noticed we stress verbs, nouns and adjectives. We also stress adverbs and "wh question word" such who, what or when etc.
These words are stressed because they usually contain the most important information in a phrase. They contain the content. That's why they're called content words.
Among those content words, we have a focus word and that word will be the newest, most important piece of information in the conversation.
Rule: When all the information in a phrase is new important, we usually stress the last content word.
If there are many pieces of new information, then we stress the last content word at the end of the phrase.
This is simply a rule of English we should accept. So in the last example, although the words went, bank and cash, were possibly all new information, we made "cash" more than the others we made "cash" the focus word because it came at the end of the phrase.
Let's practice some more phrases , making sure that we have a focus word in each.
Exercise: Please listen and repeat the following phrases:
I need a new phone
I'll be a little late .
I have a meeting on Tuesday.
Lets get together for dinner.
Speaking English with an American accent is a gradual process. But with the right amount of training and practice, you can do it!
Its important to have the right training tools in order to improve your accent.
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.
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.
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. Enough practice exercises to last you for months and months of training.
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, smart phone, ipad or any mobile device and take it with you wherever you go!
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