Learn to Speak Clearly in English

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					1) Teaching Pronunciation; A guide for teachers of English as a second language

Multimedia interactive CD-ROM
by Helen Fraser, University of New England, 2001
Funded under the ANTA Adult Literacy National Project by the Commonwealth through the
Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs

This CD is intended for native speakers of English who teach pronunciation to speakers of English
as a second language. It is not a traditional phonology course, but gives experiences to help
teachers understand the difficulties faced by learners. It also includes examples of learners’ speech,
with suggestions for how to deal with particular pronunciation problems.

2) Learn to Speak Clearly in English
Multimedia interactive CD-ROM
by Helen Fraser, University of New England, 2001
Funded under the ANTA Adult Literacy National Project by the Commonwealth through the
Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs

This CD is intended to help with pronunciation for learners of English as a second language (low to
intermediate levels). It is expected that it will be used with teacher support. It is based on research
into effective methods for teaching pronunciation, and includes exercises and examples
demonstrating the most important aspects of English pronunciation.

Text of the Learn to Speak Clearly in English CD-ROM
Translations of this text in Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese can be obtained from

Module 1, Communication
1/18 Introduction
To speak clearly in English, you need to be able to pronounce the sounds of English. But the
sounds themselves are not the most important thing to think about. The most important thing to
think about is communication. After all, the reason for speaking is to communicate. So let's start by
thinking a little about communication.

2/18 What is communication?
Look at the pictures. Which ones show communication? Why?
Click on each of the pictures for feedback.

3/18 What is communication?
Communication is like sending a message to another person. When the other person understands
your message, you have communicated with them. If the other person does not understand your
message, you have not communicated with them. If you want to communicate, you must think
about the person receiving your message.
4/18 Kinds of communication
There are many ways of communicating. Not all communication involves words. Sometimes we
know what someone means even if they don't say anything. This computer program is about spoken
communication - sending a message by speaking.

5/18 Communication examples
Listen to these two examples of spoken communication. Which is easier to understand?

6/18 Communication examples
Play the two videos again and look closely to see if the speaker:
·      watches the hearer to be sure the message is understood?
·      speaks slowly, so the hearer has time to figure out the message?
·      helps the hearer by making the most important words clear?
·      pauses often to be sure the hearer understands?
·      pronounces the words clearly?
What can you learn about spoken communication by comparing these two videos?

7/18 The work of communicating
Spoken communication involves two people, the speaker and the hearer. When you are the speaker
you don't just have to speak. You must make sure the hearer understands your message. This takes
some work.
What kind of work does it take?

Does it make a difference if you are speaking in your mother tongue or speaking a foreign
What kinds of work does the speaker have to do? Click on the answers that you think are correct.
· thinking about what the hearer already knows
· thinking about what information the hearer needs
· speaking slowly and clearly
· watching the hearer's reaction
· thinking about the hearer's difficulties

8/18 Communicating in a new language
Whenever you speak, whether in your mother tongue or in a new language, you can help your
hearer in the ways we have just seen. But when you learn a new language, there are new skills for
you to learn as well. They are similar to the skills you use in speaking your mother tongue. When
you speak with someone in your mother tongue, it seems very easy. You don't notice that you are
using any skills, but you are. You learned them a long time ago, so now it seems easy. Can you
think of something else like that?

9/18 A similar kind of skill
It is like being able to walk. Now it is so easy you dont even notice it is a skill. But when you first
learned, it was hard. If you broke your leg and had to learn again, it would seem very difficult.

10/18 Skills for a new language
Learning to speak a new language means learning new skills, which takes some work at first. Let's
look at what kind of work it is.
11/18 A new kind of skill
Science has shown that when we communicate, we do not pay attention to every detail of every
word in the message. The speaker sends clues about the words. The hearer uses the clues to figure
out each word as if it were a puzzle. A clue is a bit of information that helps you understand

Here, the clues are the bits of information that help you know what the picture is.
What kinds of clues do you think we send when we speak?

12/18 Clues about words
What kinds of clues do we send when we speak?
We send clues that help the hearer figure out what words we said.
Clues about words are things like these:
       whether the vowels are long or short,
       whether there is a consonant at the end,
       which syllable is stressed,
       whether the first consonant is ‘r’ or ‘l’,
       whether the tone is high or low.
The hearer uses these clues to figure out the words in your message.

13/18 Useful clues
Some clues are very useful and some are less useful. Clues are useful if they help you figure out the
message easily. In spoken communication, it is essential to send the useful clues clearly.
Click on each image.

14/18 Clues in different languages
What kinds of clues are useful in spoken communication? Different languages use different kinds
of clues.
When you speak your mother tongue, you know without thinking which are the most useful clues.
That is the work you do without noticing it - you send the most useful clues for your hearer. When
you learn a new language you have to learn which clues are most useful in the hearer's language.
That can be difficult.
That is why speaking a new language seems like hard work at first.

15/18 Clues in English
What are the most useful clues to send when you speak English? The clues that English hearers
need are different from the clues you use in your mother tongue. It is important to learn how to use
English clues, because if English hearers do not hear the right clues, they will find you difficult to
understand. This computer disk will help you understand the kinds of clues that English speakers
need, so that you can help your hearer as much as possible.

16/18 Sharing the work of communication
For good communication, both the speaker and the hearer have to do some work, especially when
they do not share the same mother tongue.
Think about your experience. Sometimes you are the speaker and sometimes you are the hearer.
Sometimes you are speaking your mother tongue to a learner. Sometimes you are the learner.
What kind of work does each one have to do?

17/18 Some questions to think about.
When you are the hearer, what can the speaker do that helps you?
When you are the speaker, what can the hearer do that helps you?
What is it like when you have to listen to someone who does not know your language well: what
helps you most?
What is it like when you speak to someone in a language you do not know well: what helps you
Discuss these questions with your friends, or in your class.

18/18 The main points again
1. If you want to speak clearly, it is important to think about your hearer and do everything you can
to make sure they understand your message. Even if you have trouble with English sounds, there is
still a lot you can do to help your hearer. If you speak slowly, and say the important words clearly,
you can communicate well even if you make some mistakes in pronunciation. Don't let fear of
mistakes stop you from speaking. The best way to improve your English is to speak as often as

2. Speaking clearly means sending the clues that are important to English hearers. You need to
work at learning which clues are important in English, because they are different from the clues in
your mother tongue. The next sections will help you with this.

Module 2, Sentence Stress
1/16 Introduction
In this module, we will show you how to use sentence stress in English.
Sentence stress is one of the most important aspects of English pronunciation. That is because it
sends very useful clues to your hearer.
Using sentence stress correctly makes it much easier for English hearers to understand you.

2/16 Important Words
A useful kind of clue to give your hearer is a clue about which are the most important words in the
Why? If the hearer knows the most important words, the rest of the message is easy to guess.

Here are two sets of words. Which set of words helps you to guess the message? Click on the words
to find out more.

3/16 Clues in English
How can you give clues about important words to English hearers? In English, we give our hearers
clues about which words are most important by making the important words louder than the other
words. This is called using sentence stress. To use sentence stress is to make the important words in
a sentence stand out loud and clear.

4/16 Speaking English
In your native language, you may not use sentence stress, or you may use it differently. It may be
difficult for you to use sentence stress in the English way. It may even make you feel odd to stress
words in the English way - but it is what your hearer needs. If you wish to speak clearly in English,
you must learn to use sentence stress in a way that helps your hearer.
5/16 Common Mistakes
There are two kinds of things that learners often do that make it difficult for English hearers to
understand them.
1. Sometimes, learners stress all the words equally. When English hearers hear that, they feel the
words go by too quickly and they can't pick out the important parts of the message.
2. Sometimes, learners stress the wrong word. Then the English hearer thinks that word is the most
important word, and the message is confusing.

6/16 Hearing sentence stress
The first step to learning to use sentence stress is to learn to hear sentence stress. Next we will give
you some simple examples. For each sentence:
1. Think about which words are most important in that sentence.
2. Think about how you would say the sentence.
3. Click on the sentence to hear a native speaker.

10/16 Choosing which words to stress
How do you know which words in a sentence to stress? The most important words in your message
are the words that are hard for your hearer to guess. On the next three pages are some examples of
sentences. Think about your hearer and decide which words give the hearer the most clues about
your message.

14/16 Checking your sentence stress
How do you know if you are using sentence stress correctly? Watch the hearer to make sure they
understand you. If they do not understand you, it is likely you have not stressed the most important
words in the message. Try saying it again with better use of sentence stress.

15/16 Exercise in judging stress
On this page are three learners saying one of the sentences you have just worked on. Can you
remember which word is the most important word? That is the word that should be stressed.
Listen to each of the learners, and click to say whether they have stressed the most important word
or not.

16/16 Stress and Rhythm
Stress is especially important in English when we put sentences together. We use stress to make a
rhythm - a pattern of sound almost like the drum beat in music. Listen to this speaker again, and
notice how he uses stress to make a rhythm.
Speaking with this kind of rhythm helps English hearers to understand a long message. It is quite
difficult to learn to use rhythm, but it is good to start practising as early as you can. See if you can
say these sentences with rhythm like the speaker's.

Module 3 Pronouncing Words
1/12 Introduction
Saying a word loudly (with stress) tells the hearer that it is an important word - but it does not tell
the hearer which word it is. To send your message clearly, you must be extra careful with the clues
for the important words. The clues you send must tell the hearer exactly which word you mean, so
they don't get it confused with another similar word. In this section we look at clues to words.
2/12 Clues to words
Which clues are most important? There are two main kinds of clues that English speakers use to
figure out your words:
· clues to the word's syllable pattern
· clues to the sounds in the word

3/12 Syllable pattern
Syllable pattern is about stress, so your practice with sentence stress is useful here too. The syllable
pattern is the rhythm of stressed and unstressed syllables within a word. The stressed syllable is the
loudest syllable in the word. The other syllables are pronounced more quietly. To get the syllable
pattern right, you must:
a) put the stress on the right syllable
b) have the right number of unstressed syllables
The syllable pattern is an extremely important clue to English hearers who want to understand your

4/12 Syllable pattern
If your language does not use syllable pattern clues in the same way as English does, it may be
difficult for you to hear which syllable is stressed. Next, we'll give some practice in picking out the
stressed syllable.

5/12 Stressed syllables
Here are some words. Click each one. You will hear a native speaker say the word, and see the
stressed syllable highlighted. Note the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables. Listen until you
are sure you can hear the syllable pattern confidently.
Record yourself saying the same word and listen to your syllable pattern. Is it the same as the
native speaker?

6/12 Choosing which syllable to stress
How do you know which syllable to stress? If you see a word written down, it is difficult to guess
which syllable is stressed. Your teacher may be able to give you some rules to help you, or you can
look up the word in a dictionary.
The best thing to do is to learn to hear words like English speakers do. Whenever you learn a new
word, pay attention to the rhythm of the syllable pattern. This is how English speakers remember
new words.

7/12 Clues to sounds
As well as stressing the correct syllable, you must give useful clues to help the hearer understand
the word.
The clues for English words are different to the clues in your mother tongue.
Sometimes a small difference in the clues will make an English speaker hear a different word to the
one you mean.
Other times, a big difference doesn't matter at all to English speakers - they don't even notice it.
Next is an example to show you what we mean.

8/12 Clues to sounds
Click on each of the statements.
Different sounds can have the same meaning
Similar sounds can have different meanings
Click on the Try This button after listening to the second example.

9/12 Hearing English clues
The key to pronouncing English is learning to hear the clues in English words. There are some
common problems that you will need to be aware of.

10/12 Common problems: vowels
There are a lot of different vowel clues in English, and it can be difficult for learners to hear the
differences between them all. One clue is quite simple, but very important - the clue of length. In
English, some vowels are long and some vowels are short. You must send the right length clues, or
your hearer might misunderstand you.

11/12 Common problems: consonants
Many learners have problems with English consonants at the ends of words. Sometimes a learner
will leave the last consonant off altogether. Why do you think this would be a problem? It doesn't
give the hearer enough clues about which word you mean.

12/12 Common problems: syllable patterns
Another common mistake is to add an extra vowel between consonants or at the end of a word.
Why do you think that would be a problem? Adding an extra vowel is like adding an extra syllable.
It changes the syllable pattern, so the hearer will get confused about which word you mean. We'll
see examples of typical learners in the next section.

Module 4, Critical Listening
1/11 Introduction
Do you see how useful it is to think about pronunciation as sending clues for the hearer? The next
step is to learn to hear the clues like English hearers do. In this section, you will hear some learners
speaking English.
Some of the learners are easy for English hearers to understand, even though every sound is not
Some of the learners are difficult for English hearers to understand. You will be asked to judge
their pronunciation, and then try it yourself.

On each screen you will hear a learner saying some words.
1. Think about how this phrase should be pronounced.
2. Try saying it quietly to yourself.
3. Click 'Play Learner', and judge the learner's pronunciation. Would an English hearer understand
it clearly?
4. Click 'Play Native Speaker' and compare the pronunciation.
5. Click 'Get Feedback' to get some notes on the learner's pronunciation.
6. Record yourself, and listen critically to your own pronunciation. What have you learned from
this demonstration?