Watch this video episode to learn why it’s very important to learn to pronounce whole sentences when you acquire the American accent as opposed to learning how individual words are pronounced.
Probably it’s not a very big issue for you because most likely you’d be repeating after a native speaker when learning the American pronunciation and that would quite naturally mean that you repeat full sentences.
Anyway, I’d like to take this opportunity and emphasize the importance of learning sentences and phrases in case some of you may be focusing on learning how to pronounce individual words most of your time! 😉
Words Reveal Their True Nature in Terms of Pronunciation only in a Sentence!
When you learn pronunciation of individual words, most of the time your chosen word is going to sound the same in a sentence and on its own.
Let’s take a very common word ‘problem’. If you learn that this word is pronounced [ˈprɑ:bləm], you can use it the same way all the time and its pronunciation won’t change.
But now let’s take a couple of very short and simple words – ‘a lot’ [ə’lɑt] and ‘got’ [gɑt]. When you learn how to pronounce these words on their own, you may pay the biggest attention to the open back unrounded vowel in the middle of those words – [ɑ].
What may escape your attention is equally as important – the fact that when you use these words in a sentence the final letter ‘t’ is pronounced somewhere in between ‘r’ and ‘d’ – “I’ve got a lot of money” [aiv’gaːrɑ’laːrɑ’mɑni].
Another quite simple sentence – “What do you want?”
In spoken English words tend to blend together – “What do you want?” [‘wɑruju’wɑnt] – so it’s really important to learn the American accent by repeating whole sentences and paying attention to how certain letters change when words blend together in conversational English.
If You Want to Speak Fluently and Automatically – Learn Word Chunks!
Another reason why it’s beneficial for your English fluency to learn whole sentences and phrases is because you’ll be able to speak automatically and without much thinking.
It took me long years to realize that word combinations and sentences are the basic components of the English language as opposed to individual words.
My English fluency started developing rapidly right after that, and it’s the first piece of advice I would give to any foreign English speaker.
Just think about this – if you have to come up with a sentence on your own, there’s a chance that it will sound a little bit awkward because you might put the sentence together the way native English speakers wouldn’t.
Also, it will take you longer to express your opinion if you have to choose the right words. With ready-to-go phrases you can’t really get it wrong because once you’ve memorized them, you can just spew them out of your mouth and you’ll also get the pronunciation right all the time if you learn different sentences with the proper General American Pronunciation.
Take this one for example – “Every single one of them”. Once you learn this short phrase and how to pronounce it in spoken American English – “every single one of ‘em”, you don’t have to rack your brains every time you want to describe everyone’s involvement into something – you’ll use the ready-to-go phrase “every single one of them”!
American Slang – Most of It is About Phrases not so Much About Individual Words
If you do want to sound like an American, you also may want to learn some American slang.
The key here is to understand that you don’t need to cram hundreds of slang expressions into your head; just a handful of them will do for starters and will immediately make you sound more American!
For example “Don’t sweat it!” is a phrase used to tell someone not to worry too much about the matter at hand. [‘dəʊnt’swerit] is how this phrase is pronounced in real life, so if you repeat it and memorize it, you’ll know what to say when your friend is anxious about tomorrow’s test, for instance.
Another American phrase “Let’s call it a day!” is used when you want to finish an assignment you’re on and come back to it tomorrow. Please pay attention once again how the words merge together and ‘call it a day’ becomes [‘kaːlira’dei].
It’s through such and similar phrases that you’ll become more American-like in your speech and as you can imagine it’s just not possible unless you learn whole sentences!
To your accent learning success,