Lesson Notes

Unlock In-Depth Explanations & Exclusive Takeaways with Printable Lesson Notes

Unlock Lesson Notes and Transcripts for every single lesson. Sign Up for a Free Lifetime Account and Get 7 Days of Premium Access.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Transcript

Gabriella: Hi, I’m Gabriella.
Gina: And I’m Gina. English Pronunciation Made Easy.
Gina: The focus of this lesson is pronunciation, and we will do our best to explain the basics, and to also give some insight on how to cross the language barrier that exists even within English!
Gabriella: Yeah… I’m not sure that there is such a thing as basic English pronunciation, but we’ll do our best!
Gina: As we’ve discussed in previous lessons, there are various types of English and various types of accents.
Gabriella: Broadly speaking, the main accents are standard British English, known as Received Pronunciation, or RP for short, General American English and General Australian English.
Gina: But then each country has its own regional accents too.
Gabriella: The UK especially has a large variation. People from Scotland speak very differently to those from Wales or England, and even within those countries there are many more accents.
Gina: I wonder how many there actually are within the UK?
Gabriella: Wikipedia lists 32!
Gina: Wow… that’s a lot of accents!
Gabriella: It is. Most people can tone down their accent and speak with a more standard British English accent, but that localisation will still creep in.
Gina: At least we don’t have to worry about tones in English, huh?
Gabriella: Thankfully!
Gina: We do have to worry about the alphabet though. As we’ve covered previously, there are 21 consonants and 5 vowels in the Latin alphabet that English uses.
Gabriella: Yes, that works out to around 24 consonant sounds and 18 to 25 vowel sounds, depending on the accent.
Gina: Isn’t it amazing that five letters can have 18 to 25 different pronunciations?
Gabriella: It is, but it can also be very confusing to learners! There are general rules that cover English pronunciation, and typically certain combinations of letters are pronounced in certain ways.
Gina: Do you have an example to tell us about?
Gabriella: Take the letters “T-H”. At the beginning of a word, they can be pronounced in two different ways, such as in the words “though” and “thought”.
Gina: “Though” has a harder “th” sound, and “thought” is a softer “th” sound.
Gabriella: The only way to tell the difference is from experience, I think. But if “th” is at the end of a word, it’s more likely to be pronounced with the softer “th” sound, as in “tenth” or “tooth”.
Gina: So there are some pronunciation rules, but we shouldn’t follow them blindly and expect English pronunciation to follow them all of the time.
Gabriella: Not at all. This can be difficult for learners who come from strictly phonemic languages to come to grips with, but it’s all due to the origins of English, and the influence of so many foreign languages.
Gina: As we’ve said before, English has no tones, but it’s still a very rhythmic language, I think.
Gabriella: Definitely. Stress is very important in English, and can be the difference between being understood, and not being understood!
Gina: It also helps us move past the barriers of all of these different accents. You don’t necessarily need to understand every word somebody says – just the important ones with the most stress.
Gabriella: That’s right. And English has a lot of very similar words that are only made different depending on where the stress is placed.
Gina: Do you have some examples for us?
Gabriella: Of course! Here are two sentences for you – “I didn’t agree with him and decided to object” and “she dropped the object.”
Gina: Both include a word that is spelt O-B-J-E-C-T, but it has a different meaning in each sentence.
Gabriella: That’s right. We know which word is meant because of the stress. The verb, which means “to disagree”, is pronounced “object” whereas the noun, meaning “an item” is pronounced “object”. The stress is in different places.
Gina: You can hear that quite clearly I think. Now, I have an example for you.
Gabriella: Okay! Let’s hear it.
Gina: Sentence 1 – “the school has a record of my attendance”. And sentence 2 is “I set my DVD player to record the TV show”.
Gabriella: Very good! Both sentences use a word spelt “R-E-C-O-R-D” but by placing the stress in different places, we have two different words with different meanings.
Gina: There are many words like this in English. Getting stress right when speaking English is something that comes with time and experience, I think.
Gabriella: It is. Try to listen to as much English as possible and imitate how native speakers talk. Eventually, it will become natural to place the stress in the right places.
Gina: And until it becomes natural, we’ll help you as much as we can, right?
Gabriella: Of course!


Gina: Ok, everyone. I think that’s all for this lesson.
Gabriella: Thank you for listening everyone. See you next time!