Finding a Good Speech Example
Understanding the American English accent requires you to listen to other American English speakers because how else will you know how to improve your pronunciation and melody unless you have a good role model. In this podcast episode, you will find one of my favorite links for listening to other American speakers. NPR.org so that you can hear timely news stories about any topic that you choose. Be sure to find a speaker that is using the English pronunciation and melody. If you are planning on making some changes in your current talking skills- then choose someone that is speaking in the style that you would like to imitate.
Once you have found a good role model and an interesting story- play the story. Listen to it. Enjoy the story. Learn something. Then it’s time to go back and make that story work for you!
Listening (again) is hard
Learning the English rhythm requires you to do some work on your own, unless you hire a coach. As a coach, I find the right samples and practice work for you. But repeat listening to the news story is the hard part because it takes your time and effort. Take the first 4 or 5 sentences and write them down word-for-word. It takes forever I know. This is what I do for my clients/students. If there is not a transcript written for you, you must write down every word that you hear the speaker say. I guarantee you that the action of writing down each sentence (and listening to the speaker repeatedly) will help you improve your listening comprehension as well as your appreciation of the vocabulary words and the grammar that the speaker is using.
Also, the act of writing (can you find a pen and paper anymore?) will help you concentrate on how that speaker is pronouncing each word.
Understanding the Speaker’s Rhythm
After you listen to this week’s podcast, go back to your written transcript and find the main words in the sentences. These are the content words and they carry the real meaning of the message. Underline these main words. Hint: the main words are the nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. They are the “meat” to the message.
Now look at the small words that are not underlined. These are called the function words. They are the small words such as pronouns (I, you, they), conjunctions (and, but, or) and articles (the, a/an) to name a few. The commonly reduced words in English are among the 100 most frequently used words in the language. So we have a lot of reducing to do!
PROnouncing American English Like A Pro!
Now you can practice saying the main words with emphasis while reducing the smaller words. Don’t forget to link the words to the rest of the message group. Listen to this week’s podcast for further instruction how to raise and lower your voice to express your message.
Do you have any words that you are not sure if they should be reduced? Let me know in the comments (You can find the comments section directly below the title)