Word linking and speech rhythm for better English pronunciation

Jane LawsonHello, I'm Jane at DailyStep English!

If you want your English speaking to sound natural, and if you want to understand native English speakers easily, then you need to learn about word linking and how English speech rhythm works. Practise the lesson in this blog many times until you can copy the way that I say the limerick poem below. It will really help you to improve your English listening and pronunciation.

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Speech Rhythm and Word Linking in English 

(by Jane Lawson at DailyStep.com)

 

Take a look at this limerick by Edward Lear, a famous British writer. Limericks are 5-line nonsense poems that always have the same rhythm, so they are a great way to learn natural English. Listen to this limerick:


You can see that all the stressed syllables are in bold blue font. The other syllables are unstressed – in other words, we say them more quickly and more quietly. Try repeating this poem several times until you can say with the right rhythm. Limericks are a great way to learn word linking, because if you say them with the correct rhythm, the word linking comes naturally.

Can you hear these pronunciation mistakes?
If I say this limerick without linking the words together, it does not sound like natural English, as you can hear: (listen as Jane says the limerick without linking the words). 

There was an old man called Greg
Who tried to break open an egg
He kicked it around
But fell on the ground
And found that he'd broken a leg

Now listen to it with the words linked properly: (listen as Jane says the limerick with the correct word linking)

How does word linking work in English?
Word linking works like this: where one word ends with a consonant sound and the next word begins with a vowel sound, the words are linked together. You can see this marked in the picture with red arrows. So we say, for example “break-open-an-egg”, instead of “break open an egg”.

Linking consonant sounds
You can also see in the picture that I have highlighted in yellow the places where the consonant sound at the end of one word links to the consonant sound at the beginning of the next word. We link consonant sounds when the mouth position of the two sounds is similar, because if we did not link the sounds, it would be difficult to say them quickly. Listen to these words from the limerick, first separated and then linked, and then try saying them yourself: found that, found that, tried to, tried to

Now, listen to the whole limerick again, and speak along with me to make sure you get the correct rhythm and word linking. (listen as Jane repeats the limerick)

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Download this lesson: If you are a subscriber to my DailyStep Audio Lessons, you can download this audio file below. The PDF is free for everyone!

 

 


 

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