English Pronunciation Practice

College students using digital tablet in cafeteria
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The first step in learning correct English pronunciation is to focus on individual sounds. These sounds are called "phonemes" and every word is made up of them. A good way to isolate individual phonemes is ton use minimal pair exercises.

To take your pronunciation to the next level is to focus on stress and intonation. The following resources will help you improve your pronunciation by learning the "music" of English.

English is a stress-timed language, which means that some syllables are pronounced as if they were longer than others and some words are pronounced with more emphasis than others. As such, good pronunciation depends a lot on your ability to stress (put an emphasis on) the correct words and use intonation successfully to make sure you are conveying the right meaning.

Spoken English stresses the principal elements in a sentence—content words—and quickly glides over the less important words—function or structure words. Nouns, principal verbs, adjectives, and adverbs are all content words. Pronouns, articles, auxiliary verbs, prepositions, conjunctions are function words and are pronounced quickly moving towards the more important words. This quality of quickly gliding over less important words is also known as 'connected speech'.

How to Improve Your Pronunciation
This "how-to" focuses on improving your pronunciation through the recognition of the "time-stressed" character of English.

Students' pronunciation improves incredibly when they focus on only pronouncing the 'stressed' words well! This feature includes practical exercises to improve your pronunciation skills by improving the stress-timed character of your pronunciation when speaking in full sentences.

Take a look at the following sentences and then click on the audio symbol to listen to the examples showing the difference between the sentences spoken:

  1. In a plain manner, focusing on the 'correct' pronunciation of each word - much as some students do when trying to pronounce well.
  2. In the natural, manner with content words being stressed and function words receiving little stress.

Example Sentences

  • Alice was writing a letter when her friend came through the door and told her she was going to leave on holiday.
  • I had been studying for about an hour when the telephone rang.
  • Fast automobiles make dangerous friends.
  • If you can wait for a moment, the doctor will be with you shortly.
  • I'd like a steak, please.

English: Stress - Timed Language I
Pre-intermediate to upper intermediate level lesson focusing on improving pronunciation by awareness-raising and practice of stress-timing in spoken English.

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Your Citation
Beare, Kenneth. "English Pronunciation Practice." ThoughtCo, Sep. 8, 2021, thoughtco.com/english-pronunciation-practice-1212076. Beare, Kenneth. (2021, September 8). English Pronunciation Practice. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/english-pronunciation-practice-1212076 Beare, Kenneth. "English Pronunciation Practice." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/english-pronunciation-practice-1212076 (accessed March 28, 2023).