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Stress for Numbers

Many non-native speakers of English have difficulty hearing and saying the differences between numbers such as 13 and 30.  The solution is quite simple, and once you become aware of the rule, it is an easy error to fix. There are two important differences in the pronunciation: syllable stress and pronunciation of the letter t.

Syllable Stress

Every word in English has one stressed syllable that is said louder and held longer.

  • thir in thirteen is the unstressed syllable. It is  short and quick. thirTEEN
  • thir in thirty is the stressed syllable. It is long and clear. THIRty
Pronunciation of t

The pronunciation of t is also tied to syllable stress in American English. Since the t in -teen is in a stressed syllable, it is pronounced clearly as /t/. Since the t in -ty is in an unstressed syllable, it’s pronounced /d/. You can think of it as thir-D, four-D, fif-D, six-D….

Stress “teen” Stress 1st  syllable Pronounced
ThirTEEN THIRty THIRdy
FourTEEN FORty FORdy
FifTEEN FIFty FIFdy
SixTEEN SIXty SIXdy
SevenTEEN SEVenty SEVendy
EighTEEN EIGHty EIGHdy
nineTEEN NINEty NINEdy

Usually -teen is stressed. However, stress shifts to the first syllable:

  • When counting: THIRteen, FOURteen, FIFteen
  • When showing contrast: I have SEVenteen and he has FIFteen.

Can you hear and say the differences between –teen and –ty in sentences? Stress the correct syllable. Remember to say a /d/ instead of /t/.

  1. Put sixteen candles on the cake.
  2. We drove 60 miles yesterday.
  3. The bus leaves at 9:15.
  4. The book cost $9.50.
  5. She has fourteen cats.
  6. I live at 40 Katz Road.

Want to be more fluid, natural and secure in your speaking skills? Contact us to learn how.

The post 13 or 30? Why stress is so important in numbers appeared first on CAL Learning.

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“ahhh”

The American /ɑ/ is a difficult vowel for many non-native speakers.  People who studied British English may pronounce this vowel as o. However, in American English, the vowel sound is ahhh. The vowel is held longer in the American pronunciation. Of course, both British and American pronunciations are acceptable. However, if you work in the Untied States, you are more likely to be understood if you use American pronunciation.

How to Make it – The mouth is wide open — the widest of any phoneme in English. The tongue is pulled back and stays low in the mouth.

Practice reading the list of technical vocabulary and saying ahhh for the underlined vowel. Remember to lengthen the vowel.

/ɑ/
toxic biologic modeling modify
confident metabolic concept approximately
recombinant processes chronic project
optimize technology topical operations
obvious molecule volume common
ophthalmology product ocular opportunity

We’re confident we can optimize the process, but the project has some obvious common problems we need to resolve.

Want to be more fluid, natural and secure in your speaking skills? Contact us to learn how.

The post How to Pronounce Technical Vocabulary Like an American appeared first on CAL Learning.

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When speaking in English, Chinese speakers usually pronounce each word, and often each syllable, separately and with equal stress.

English speakers use linking to run words together to sound fluid. They do not speak word by word. Rules for linking are formed by sounds, not spelling. Linking joins the last sound of the first word to the start of the next. The focus is on final sounds, not final letters. For example, the final letter in box is x. The final sound is s.

Chinese speakers who want to reduce their accents should spend a significant amount of time practicing and mastering linking.

Linking can occur:

Between Words – ‘each other’ sounds like ea chother

Between Syllables – ‘biology’ sounds like bi yology

Consonant to Vowel – ‘hang up’ sounds like han gup

Consonant to Consonant – ‘came broken’ sounds like one word cambroken

Vowel to Vowel – ‘go around’ sounds like gowa round

English speakers combine phrasing, linking and stress to make their message clear. If these cues are missing, the message is confusing. Note the English phrasing, linking and stress, shown in bold.

Written English:       Can you send out Tuesday’s agenda? Thank you!

Chinese speaker:         Can you send out Tues day’s a gen da? Thank you!

English speaker:          Ca nyou / sen dout / Tuesday zagenda? /Than kyou!

Want to be more fluid, natural and secure in your speaking skills? Contact us to learn how.

The post Why Chinese Speakers Sound Staccato in English appeared first on CAL Learning.

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