Articles, Blog

American English Rhythm & Syllable Contrast

September 21, 2019

Learning new vocabulary is so great. And learning where to stress the right syllable
in that word is even more important. My name is Jill Diamond and today we’re going
to look at syllable contrast. What is the difference between stressed syllables
and unstressed syllables so that you can get the rhythm of American English. Today, we’re going to talk about rhythm. Specifically, there’s two things we are going
to look at: we’re going to look at the contrast between the stressed and an unstressed syllable. In order to do that, we need to understand
what the length of a syllable is. My first question to you is what is a syllable? A syllable is how we divide the words to pronounce
better, to put a special accent when we need to pronounce in different way. I’m going to stop you there because the key
word that you used is “divide.” How do we divide a word? That means a syllable is a unit of sound that
contains one vowel sound, that’s what makes a syllable. Then we get into stress, syllable stress. What is syllable stress? That’s where we put the accent. My next question is: what do we do on the
stressed syllable of a word? We need to try to effort our voice to pronounce
longer or shorter, but with a special accent in the syllable to put the word more understandable
for others. That’s when we start to get into the contrast
between what’s stressed and what’s unstressed. Accent — when we talk about accent — it
means we need to use more intonation in our voice. When you talk about effort, we can emphasize
a stressed syllable by making it longer, louder, and higher in pitch. I want you to listen to this. “Jim works hard. Jim works hard.” Does that sound like equal stress or contrasted
stress? Are the syllables the same length or are they
different? I think it’s the same. I heard, “Jim works hard.” … has the same structure. I don’t need to do any effort to any of the
words. You’re going to do an effort, but it’s the
same effort. Each one, if you look closely, only has one
syllable. “Jim,” one vowel sound, one syllable, “works,”
one vowel sound, one syllable, “hard,” one vowel sound, one syllable. Say that for me. Jim works hard. Good. Now, say it together more quickly. “Jim works hard.” Again. “Jim works hard.” Okay, good. Now listen to this sentence. “Jim always works overtime.” Listen again. “Jim always works overtime.” Can you start to hear a contrast here? Yes, here when you started to pronounce “always,”
you put a special accent, more effort to pronounce “always” and also “overtime.” The first syllable is accented. Same thing here, we have three syllables,
“overtime,” and the first syllable is stressed, it’s longer, it’s louder, it’s higher in pitch. So, we get “Jim always works overtime.” You say it. Jim always works overtime. Listen to this, connect it better. “Jim always works overtime.” Jim always works overtime. You got it. Now we start to hear the contrast. Let’s come over to the board here and I want
to take a look at some more sentences. Let me tell you what we’re going to do here. I’m going to read you these eight sentences. I’m not going to stop in between them, I want
you to listen for the contrasted sentences. Which one has those short syllables and long
syllables because there’s a contrast between the syllables. I’m going to give you the pen, there you go. Thanks. Just put a check mark next to the sentences
that have a contrast between stressed and unstressed syllables. Here we go. Number one: “Use two stamps.” Number two: “The bigger the deal, the more
cash you need.” Number three: “Working smarter is better than
working harder.” Number four: “Drive me home.” Number five: “Big deals take cash.” Number six: “You need more postage on this.” Number seven: “Work smart, not hard.” Number eight: “I need you to drive me home.” You’re surprised, but you got it correct. Let me tell you why. There’s two things here and I’m going to let
you ask me a question. Listen, there’s two things here. If you look here at number two, we have words
like bigger. Bigger. How many syllables are in that word? Two. Big-ger. That automatically tells us that one syllable
is stressed and one is not. Which one is stressed? I think it is the sound “big.” Yes, it’s the first syllable. That’s right. So that in itself is going to give us that
contrast between stressed and unstressed syllables. Let’s look at an example like this. Read number eight to us. I need you to drive me home. “I need you to drive me home. I need you to drive me home. I need you to drive me home.” Do you hear musically how there is a contrast? “I need you to drive me home.” This is for a different reason, it’s because
we have content words versus structure words. Any time you have a pronoun or an article
or preposition, that’s going to start to give you that short syllable, versus the nouns
and the verbs that are going to give you the longer syllables. Say it for me “Need, drive, home.” Need, drive, home. I need you to drive me home. I need you to drive me home. You got it. These are the reasons why some of these are
short and equal. “Drive me home.” Versus “I need you to drive me home.” — where there’s long and short. Nice job over there. Thank you. It’s your turn to be in the hot spot. What does that mean? I want you to talk and I want to listen. I want to listen, and I want to help you find
that contrast in your voice. Remember, you’re looking for long syllables
that are either nouns or verbs or adjectives — to show the contrast between the pronouns
and prepositions and things like that — or you’re looking for two syllable words, three
syllable words, which means that some syllables have to be longer than others. So here is the assignment, I want you to come
up here in a moment, and I want you to talk about a recent work success. It doesn’t have to be revealing and it doesn’t
have to be super confidential, just something that made you feel good about the work you
were doing. You think you can think of something? I can do it. Come on up here, you’re going to go this part
and I’m going to go over to your chair and I’m going to listen and I’m going to take
some notes. It doesn’t have to be long, Johnny. I just want to hear that you’re thinking and
you’re applying this notion of contrast in syllables. Go ahead. Yesterday, I had a big surprise in my team
meeting. They were ready with all this planning to
do during the whole following weeks. Hold right there for one second, let me interject. You say it for me, “They were ready with all
the planning.” Say that for me. They were ready with all the planning. Some of the syllables are long and some are
short. “They were ready, they surprised me.” Tell me that again. They were ready, they surprised me. That’s right. Right there you’re making your voice longer,
you’re making the syllable longer, you’re making it a little louder and you’re making
it a little higher in pitch, right? Yes. Tell me a little bit more. They gave me another bigger surprise. They were ready with all of the information
to be ready for the next following weeks. Hold on there for a second. I want you to say for me, “Another big surprise.” Another big surprise. They gave me another big surprise. They gave me another big surprise. The word “another” is important, but “They
gave me another big surprise.” They gave me another big surprise. You hear the contrast between the stressed
words and the unstressed syllables. Want to tell me more? When I start to do planning with them the
next following task that we support it to do that. Hold on, what’s happening right now is that
everything going very fast, there’s nothing that’s long. You have to make sure you’re throwing long
syllables and not just go really fast. Tell me again, what’s another thing that happened? Another surprise they had was they were ready
with all plans to be completed during the next following weeks, and I was so excited
about that. What I did was to invite all of them for the
lunch time, and we went to the restaurant and we had very, very good food and we really
enjoyed the music that they had. That was a very good time together. Good, this is much better. This is much better because what you’re doing
now is you’re showing me the contrast. You tend to speak quickly, and we don’t want
to just hear the speed all the time, there has to be syllable that stands out. There has to be something that stands out
and that’s what you started to do, you know what I’m talking about? Yes. You can feel that, right? I feel that when I need to put a special accent
in my words to be more understandable for others. That’s right. It’s not just on the words, it’s on syllables
— so it’s both. Good. Johnny, come on back to your sit here. Let me just say this: syllable contrast, syllable
stress is much more of a challenge for non-native speakers than it is for native speakers, but
even native speakers of English need to understand that there’s a certain value to certain words
— but to certain syllables. It’s really important across the board a good
public speaker is going to use … What did we talk about? Rhythm. We talked about rhythm. What is a good public speaker going to do
with rhythm? Can you tell me what is the first thing we
talked about? The contrast between stressed and unstressed
syllables. The contrast between stressed and unstressed
syllables. What is the second thing that we talked about? When we talk about a syllable being stressed,
what do we need to do? We need to make it longer. We talked about the length of the syllable. When you remember those two things, you’re
going to have more rhythm, and then you’re going to be better at public speaking. You did an excellent job today. Thank you very much. Thank you very much for your participation. Thank you.

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  • Reply Juan n carol C June 7, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    great teacher

  • Reply benedito almeida June 7, 2017 at 7:55 pm

    I'm from Brazil. Your videos has helps me improve my accent, thanks.
    I'm not only improving my english skills, but also my communication confidence.

  • Reply Miso San June 7, 2017 at 9:05 pm

    you're amazing thanks 😍

  • Reply Jjj Hh June 7, 2017 at 9:34 pm

    thanks alot for this its realy amazing helps agreat deal

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    great teacher!

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  • Reply Tiago Assis June 8, 2017 at 1:11 am

    i'm so happy cause you are back again. I love your classes. Greetings from Brazil.

  • Reply Allen Lei(Wenbin) June 8, 2017 at 2:21 am

    Could you not upload more videos? you are a great teacher, but need more videos. please!

  • Reply HigherPlanes June 8, 2017 at 4:35 am

    Hey Jill, the audio at the beginning is messed up. Just thought you should know.

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    You're awesome, thank you for sharing your amazing videos with us!

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    I am very happy for you are comeback to here, I'm want make practice with u in English if you can

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    great job.. i love your lessons

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    I have been looking for your new lessons..

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    You're amazing teacher 😘

  • Reply FLÁVIO JÚNIOR ELIAS TEIXEIRA Teixeira July 21, 2017 at 2:47 am

    Very well

  • Reply Albert Mo July 27, 2017 at 12:21 am

    Hi Jill, You might have missed an "f" before "or" in the sentence of "Thanks or watching!". Thanks, Albert

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    Great work…..I will use the teaching but just simplify……you go girl!

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    Very nice lesson thanks so much

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    great videos. You should have million subscribers.

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  • Reply Anupam Sen October 4, 2017 at 3:44 am

    Jill diamond,you are a awesome teacher . I am a Indian and I love join your class. I love you my elder sister.

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    Very well

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    thanks to you teacher Jill

  • Reply Adnan Touma December 24, 2017 at 8:45 am

    you are agreat teacher.. I'm from Iraq ..please write what do you study in subtitle

  • Reply Planeta Rodi January 18, 2018 at 5:59 am

    Ms. Jill Diamond you do an excellent job. Rhythm and contrast are two important components in American English conversation and understanding. I have learned a lot watching your videos. I am a Spanish speaker. When I was in school I learned grammar but not pronunciation and rhythm. I have watched tons of videos in YouTube and yours are the best in my own humble opinion. Blessings.

  • Reply vidal alonso real silva January 19, 2018 at 3:55 am

    thanks teacher Jim. You're great. I improve my english listen to you

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    hi your student from india, I am going to participate in TOEIC SPEAKING and WRITTING exam on this week… your lessons are very informative and useful… thank you

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    I am really very impressed with way of teaching english pranounciation.

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    mam I request you please.. I know English very much but my pronunciation is not good, so make more motivate about pronunciation very well….iam also subscriber you….

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    thanks mam …your motivation is helps me a lot ……

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  • Reply Rabee Motar December 1, 2018 at 4:49 pm

    You look like president who dressed people when the country under dangerous
    Thank you my good teacher
    Rabee from Iraq 🇮🇶

  • Reply Rafael Rosas February 19, 2019 at 1:48 am

    Unfortunately this guy had a bad enunciation and pronunciation… maybe some phonetics classes before going with Jill would work better.

  • Reply Emir Duratovic April 20, 2019 at 12:54 pm

    Jill only You can fix my intonation

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    I'm from Myanmar. I love your teaching style. Thanks

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