Want to speak English with flair? Put this On The Top Of Your “To-Do” Practice List
Experts All Say – To Be Easier To Understand, You Need to Hear The English “Melody”
What is “Melody”? That’s the way words are spoken. The pitch changes (making our voice rise and fall) and speed of talking (not all words get the same speed). Our pitch and phrasing will depend on what you are trying to say. The “melody” is the emotion of our voice and our intentions. What are you really saying behind the words? It’s important to get the melody correct, or your listener may get the wrong impression about what you said- because of HOW you said it.
When every word sounds the same- you will sound flat, boring or robotic. Just like a computer voice. Let’s learn about giving your voice some personality. Read about how to stress words and change your talking from BLAH to INTERESTING!
Number One: Emphasize words. Stress Words
For now, practice stressing the main words. These are the nouns and verbs. We will talk about which words to stress in another lesson.
Using word stress will give your voice personality. It alerts the listener to hear the important words. First, you must learn how to emphasize (make bigger) words and then later you will learn about reducing those small, less significant words. We say some words bigger and make some words smaller. If you said every word in the same pitch and speed, the listener would not be able to listen for very long. Often, people will say that you are a “fast-talker” when all of your words are spoken with the same pitch and speed. Here’s how to make the main words stand out.
To emphasize (stress) a word- this is what you need to do.
ONE: Say the vowel sound in the stressed syllable LONGER, (“LAW -ng – ger”)
TWO: Say the stressed part of the word at a HIGHer pitch
THREE: Say the stressed syllable LOUDer.
Poems are excellent practice for playing with rhythm. Without the correct use of fast and slow words and highs and lows of your voice, the poem will not flow correctly. Listen to this recording and hear the way my voice goes up and down. I’ve highlighted the syllables/words that are stressed. Then listen to the recording again and repeat each line after me. Over-exaggerate your voice changes. Remember, you are not used to doing this. If you have never tried this before, you will have to try this out in a big way! Sit in a room without anyone around. And repeat aloud. If it feels weird, you are doing it correctly. Remember your brain is not used to having you use your voice this way. Congratulations, you are learning the American English melody. This will help you sound more native and be clearer when you talk.
|Emphasize the words in bold
As I was going to St. Ives,
I met a man with seven wives,
Each wife had seven sacks,
Each sack had seven cats.
Each cat had seven kits,
Kits, cats, sacks, and wives,
How many were going to St. Ives?