The 9 basic pillars to speak English well

Introductory post of the series “The 9 basic pillars to speak English well”.

 
I want to tell you something personal…

I have a friend from the US and we send each other emails on a regular basis.
Some time ago, we decided to exchange a voice recording. I first sent him my voice file and when he answered me back, I was stunned!!!

He first apologized because he wasn’t able to understand my English!!!

How was it possible that a native English couldn’t understand my very basic English,  spoken really slowly?

That’s when I decided that I needed to answer the next question:
What make the difference between good and bad English speaking?

After some research I want to share with you what I think are the 9 basic pillars that make the difference if you to speak English well.

 
The 9 pillars to speak English well
 

Important Notes:

  1. This post is the first one of a series. The blueprint you have to keep in mind if you want to speak English well.
  2. Next I’m going to write 9 posts about how to master every one of these pillars.

Let’s check the 9 ingredients that make English to “sound English”…

1. Pronunciation

The most common mistake between English learners is trying to pronounce English words the way you pronounce them in your own language. As you already know it doesn’t work like that.
Moreover, English pronunciation is not easy at all because with the 26 letters of the English alphabet you can produce more than 44 different sounds.

That means that:

  •  You can forget about “one letter = one sound”. 🙁
  • You can’t guess the pronunciation of a word by its spelling.   🙁

 

2. Syllable Stress

To speak English well you have to stress words correctly. Every word has one and only one syllable stressed. It’s just about stressing in the right place in every word.

If you stress words correctly you are more likely to be understood and to avoid misunderstandings.

 

3. Word Stress

In every sentence you have to know what words to stress and what words not to stress.

As a rule of thumb…

  1. You stress important words, the ones that convey the meaning of the sentence or the ones you want to emphasize.
  2. You don’t stress or even de-stress words that are not important.

Doing these, the rhythm of your English is going to improve.

 

4. The “Schwa” Sound

The Schwa sound is one of the most common sounds of English and also one of the most unknown between English learners.

English speakers use the Schwa sound instead of the regular sound of certain syllables and words when they’re de-stressed.

 

5. Intonation

When you speak you always want to convey a very specific meaning…

  • Are you asking?
  • Are you giving an order?
  • Do you have a doubt?
  • Do you disagree?

You always need to use the right intonation if you want people to understand what you want to express.

 

6. Connected Speech

One important characteristic of English is that there is a lot of linking between words.
Connecting words correctly when speaking is going to improve your English rhythm and it’s also going to reduce your accent.

 

7. Reduced Speech

When speaking in English you have to reduce or contract words whenever needed.
If you don’t do that your English is not going to sound natural.

 

8. Thought Groups

In order to speak clearly, you always have to mentally cut long sentences into shorter chunks that are called Thought groups.

This helps to stress the right words in long sentences and to pause naturally to breath.
Your English rhythm is going to sound more natural.

 

9. Word Endings

You have to be careful to never drop and pronounce word endings correctly.

Words endings are very important because they tell if a word is singular or plural or show what tense you are using.
It’s very common to be misunderstood when you are not careful pronouncing word endings.

 

 These are the 9 ingredients that when well mixed are going to make you sound like a native English speaker!!!

 

And Remember…

The 9 pillars to speak English well_
– What do you think about these 9 pillars?
– Did I miss one?
… All your comments are very welcome!!!

 

What to do next…

How to master English pronunciation … Coming soon!
How to master word stress
How to master sentence stress … Coming soon!
How to master the Schwa sound … Coming soon!
How to master English Intonation
How to master connected speech
How to master English contractions
How to master thought groups … Coming soon!
How to master Word Ending pronunciation

Copyright © Learn English Like Me and learnenglishlikeme.com, (2012-2016).
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Learn English Like Me and learnenglishlikeme.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

How to speak perfect English

At first sight, English seems to be an easy language.
But when you try to speak in English it’s when you change your mind about English as an “easy language”.

Because of that, I recommend you to stop right now and ask yourself the next questions…

  • Would you like to know why English sounds English?
  • Which are the basic “ingredients” that make English to sound like it sounds?
  • What do you have to do in order to speak perfect English?

 
How to speak perfect English

 

The Ingredients That Make English To Sound English

After reading and listening to many English materials, I gathered up the basics rules that native English speakers use in a natural and unconscious way when they speak.

I share with you a brief summary of these “ingredients” that are going to help you to improve and at the end speak perfect English.

If you want to “sound” English when you speak you have to know how to…

  1. Pronounce the different sounds that produce the 5 vowels and 21 consonants.
  2. Stress the right syllable in words.
  3. Stress the right words in sentences.
  4. Use the different intonation patterns correctly.
  5. Cut long sentences into smaller “thought groups” when you speak.
  6. Use connected speech.
  7. Use reduced speech.
  8. Use the SCHWA sound.
  9. Use contractions.
  10. Never drop word endings and pronounce them correctly

By knowing these basic rules you are not going to speak perfect English overnight. But you are going to work your English speaking skill in the best direction.
Try to have this list of “ingredients” at sight and check it often.

NOTE: This post is only a brief summary about the ingredients that are going to help you to speak perfect English. In the future I’m going to write more posts about all these topics.

 

What Can You Do To Speak Perfect English?

Keep in mind that all the previous “ingredients” are intertwined. They don’t work independently but together.

But don’t feel overwhelmed. You have to work them one by one and step by step.
You are going to integrate all the ingredients naturally as you keep working them.
Be patient because to speak perfect English is not an easy task.

From now on…

  • Find more information and examples about every one of these ingredients.
  • Whenever you listen to English try to feel these ingredients.
  • Whenever you speak English try to focus on one ingredient at a time.

 

Compare English With The Other Languages You Speak

Now that you know the ingredients that makes English to sound like it sounds…

  1. Don’t try to apply the patterns and rules that you use in your native tongue when you speak in English. Every language has its own different patterns and rules.
  2.  

  3. Try to separate English from the others tongues you speak.
    You have to switch your mind whenever you switch languages.
    – When you speak in Spanish your mind has to be in Spanish mode.
    – When you speak Chinese your mind has to be in Chinese mode.
    and then…
    – When you speak in English your mind has to be in English mode.
  4.  

  5. Try to compare other languages you speak with English.
    Why do they sound different?
    Every language sounds how it sounds because of its own “ingredients”.

 

And Remember…

How to speak perfect English_

 
– Did I miss any ingredient?
– How do you work your speaking skill?
…all your comments are very welcome!!!

Copyright © Learn English Like Me and learnenglishlikeme.com, (2012-2016).
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Learn English Like Me and learnenglishlikeme.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.