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3 Simple Tips to Help Learn British English Pronunciation

21st March 2018

When learning to speak English, pronunciation may seem like one of the biggest challenges to overcome. Sounds and words can differ based on the scenario in which you are speaking. This blog from Studio Cambridge will help make pronunciation easy, with these 3 beginners’ tips to pronouncing British English.

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Pronunciation is a huge part of learning to speak English. Compare certain words in British English and American English, such as ‘garage’ and ‘herb’. The meaning stays the same, but they are pronounced completely differently. Mastering pronunciation will not only help you in conversations, it will increase your confidence in your ability to speak English. Here are 3 simple yet effective tips for British English pronunciation.

  1. Pronouncing Double Vowels

A double vowel is when two sounds are needed to make one letter. Take the word ‘day’ for example. The letter ‘y’ in this word is pronounced ‘ai’. To pronounce the ‘ay’, you need both the hard ‘a’ and the long ‘ai’. Break it down like this:

 

D – AH – AI

Start slowly at first, until you’re comfortable with each sound. Then say it quicker and quicker until it no longer sounds like three separate syllables. Other examples of words with double vowels include ‘sky’, ‘go’ and ‘no’.

  1. Putting Stress on Particular Syllables

In pronunciation, stress is all about putting emphasis on certain syllables. A lot of students learning to speak English talk about ‘swallowing’ the less important syllables.

Where you use stress depends on the type of word, whether or not it is a noun, a verb or an adjective. Here are the general rules that apply to words with more than one syllable:

 

Type of Word

Which Syllable to Stress

Examples

Noun

The first syllable

TROU-ser, HAM-mer, BOTT-le

Verb

The last syllable

en-JOY, re-LAX, for-GET

Adjective

The first syllable

BEAU-tiful, ANG-ry, WON-der-ful


Bear in mind there are some exceptions to this rule, but this is a great way to get started.

  1. The Rise and Fall of Pronunciation in Sentences

We’ve covered some basic word pronunciation tips, but what about sentences? Rising and falling is all about the pitch of certain words in a sentence. There are a few factors for when we choose to ‘rise’ or ‘fall’ in pronouncing certain words.

When asking a question, rise on words than show you want more information, for example:

‘You’re GOING to clean your room, AREN’T YOU?’

You can also rise when you want to emphasise the emotion behind certain words:

‘I’m HAPPY to clean it later.’

In comparison, falling on words can show that you don’t need more information. Rather, you’re making a definitive statement, for example:

‘Please hold open the DOOR.’

‘I’m sorry I can’t, my hands are FULL.’

As in the previous tip, there are more things to consider when rising or falling. But, practicing conversational British English will give you a general sense of how sentences flow.

Pronunciation is one of many skills you will learn in a Studio Cambridge English language course. You’ll develop a passion for the English language, as well as confidence in using English in a variety of settings. You’ll also be amongst peers from all around the world, making for a diverse and stimulating learning environment. If you want to gain lifelong skills in a city steeped in British history, contact us today and see how we can help you.

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