Thursday, November 28, 2013

Advanced Speaking & Pronunciation

English is an unusually rhythmic language where the individual sounds of the language vary greatly in duration according to the meaning intended. This video series moves beyond the idea of individual sounds ("segmentals") and syllable stress ("suprasegmentals") to look at how we group these sounds together into longer speech units and sentences ("prosody"), where rhythm, stress, intonation, focus and thought groups come fully into play.

I can't promise you that this is an exciting video course, but I can promise that you will learn a lot.

Watch, listen and learn:

Advanced Speaking and Pronunciation

(Mid Level) Tips on Intonation and Rhythm

First watch the video, then read the text. Practice with the text in bold below.


Intonation and Rhythm


Intonation is the rhythm and pitch of speech. Rhythm is based on stress. In english we stress words that represent important information. Important information often goes in this order:

1. Nouns

2. Verbs (especially near pronouns, which means the nouns are understood)

3. Adjectives/Adverbs

Of course, there can be many exceptions in different situations. For instance, maybe time is most important to you--you may stress the adverb instead of the noun.

Overall, when practicing pronunciation or preparing to speak publically, choose about two-four words per sentence that are most important to the meaning of what you need to say. Stress those words and then also de-stress the others.

Pause as You Speak

To deliver important information, you need to pause before or after the stressed word. You can often pause before words like "that" and "which," prepositions (in, on, at, for, around, etc.) and conjunctions (and, but, or) as well. Pausing gives the listener time to fully hear the important words.

 What Not to Stress

De-stressing (reducing stress on) the small words helps the stressed words to sound important. You can de-stress by reducing vowel sounds. "To" becomes "t'" as in "t'work." "And" becomes "'n" as in "bread 'n butter." "For" becomes "fr" as in "fr you." "Is" attaches as if you are speaking a contraction: for "she is" say "she's." We also can delete "h" when attaching "his/her/has/had" to the previous word. For instance, "lost her job" can read "lost'r job." Make sure you are pronouncing contractions also.

Practice reading the passage below. Stressed syllables of 2-3 syllable words are in capital letters. Stressed words are in bold print. A slash ( / ) indicates a good place to pause. Of course, you always pause for commas and periods.

Practice Text

My friend / has a new job. He is WORking / as an IT specialist / for the new bank / that Opened / down the street. He's exCIted / because he gets to creATE / his own poSItion / since the bank is new. The pay is good too. That's LUcky / because his wife / recently lost her job. She has been apPLYing / all over town / for the past two months / and HASn't had any luck. Now she's going to take one month off, reLAX, and then try again.

(Advanced) White Pride In My Classroom

Ben Warner lives in Silver Spring, Maryland. He teaches college writing. Here he writes about an encounter he had with a White Supremacist student. An interesting account of the paradoxes of teaching young adults.

Read more:

White Pride in my Classroom

Thursday, November 14, 2013

(Higher Level to Advanced) A surprising solution to Climate Change

"Desertification is a fancy word for land that is turning to desert," begins Allan Savory in this quietly powerful talk. And terrifyingly, it's happening to about two-thirds of the world's grasslands, accelerating climate change and causing traditional grazing societies to descend into social chaos. Savory has devoted his life to stopping it. He now believes -- and his work so far shows -- that a surprising factor can protect grasslands and even reclaim degraded land that was once desert.


Allan Savory

Sunday, November 10, 2013

(Higher Level to Advanced) 19-year-old's Ocean Cleaner

19-year-young Boyan Slat has ingeniously created the Ocean Array Plan, a project that could remove 7,250,000 tons of plastic from the world’s oceans in just five years.

Read About it here:

The Ocean Array Plan