Pronunciation: Stress, Rhythm, and Reduction_Reading and Practice [55-Minute Lesson] (Teacher's Copy)

Student Copy

I. Pre-Reading Questions

1. What is difficult about speaking and understanding spoken English?

2. Is pronunciation important? Why? How can you improve pronunciation?

3. What does "the music of English" mean to you?  

4. Thinking about pronunciation, define the following terms: intonation, stress (or emphasis), and rhythm.


II. Reading

Click here for today's article. Please scroll down and start at 'The Pillars of Great Pronunciation'. We'll read sections I and II stopping after each to answer questions and practice what we've learned.

Section I: Stress, Rhythm, and Intonation (Musicality)


1. What do we mean by 'beat-driven language' and 'stress-timed'?

2. What should we develop an awareness of?

3. How aware of the stress, rhythm, and intonation of English are you?


Section II: Sound Morphing (plus Shrinking & Linking)

A. Questions

1. What are some examples given to show native speakers don't speak the way you might think?

2. Why do people have problems understanding native speakers?

3. What is sound-morphing?

4. What does English rhythm do to words and sentences?


B. Reduction Practice

Directions: Say aloud the phrases. Then put them into sentences of your own.

Example: (You see)      want to

                (You say)      wannuh

                (You make a sentence) I wannuh take a few pronunciation classes.

1. want to --> wannuh

2. going to --> gonnuh

3. got to --> gahduh

4. let me --> lemmee

5. a lot of --> alahduh

6. did you see her--> dijusee-er / jusee-er


C. Stress Practice

Directions: Read aloud the sentences. Then listen to how your teacher says them. Try to say them exactly how s/he says them. Optional: Watch this video.

1. When you go to the shop, can you buy me some milk?

Whenyuh GOduhthe ShOP, c'nyuh BUYmesum MILK?

2. I have four brothers and sisters.

Iuhv FOUR brotherz'n sisters.

3. Let's go out for dinner.

Let's goOUT ferDINner.

4. I need two bottles of juice.

I need TWO bottlezuv JUICE.

5. I'm going to the store.

I'm GOingtuhthe STORE.

6. I'm going to Miami because of my job.

I'm GOingtuh MIAMI beCUZuvmyJOB.

7. We don't have a lot of bread.

We don'HAV alotuv BREAD.

8. What did you do today?

What diju DO tuhDAY?


D. Poem Practice

Directions: Identify the stressed syllables in each line. Say only these words first. Ater, put in the other words without changing the rhythm!

There was a young lady from Niger                (3)

who smiled as she rode on a tiger                   (3)

they returned from the ride                              (2)

with the lady inside                                          (2)

And the smile on the face of the tiger!             (3)


III. Further Reading

Here are some more resources to check out:





Grammar Point: