One key feature of good spoken English is using the correct syllable stress.
That’s because in spoken American English one syllable is each word is stressed. The vowel in the stressed syllable is lengthened → and pronounced with a higher pitch.☝
Spoken French does not employ syllable stress in this way. French syllables are evenly stressed until you reach the last syllable in a phrase or thought group. The last word in a phrase or thought group will often be stressed.
Given that using the correct syllable stress is key to clear spoken English, how can you learn to use it?
This is an excellent question….and one that my accent reduction clients ask me all the time! ☆
There are rules (or patterns) you can use to determine which syllable to stress in American English words.
Here are the two “rules” that my clients find easy to remember:
1. 90% of two syllable nouns are stressed on the first syllable (STU-dənt, NOTEbook, COF-fee)
2. 60% of two syllable verbs are stressed on the second syllable (rə-TURN, də-LAY, əf-FEND)
The vowel sound in unstressed syllables is frequently reduced to schwa /ǝ/. This is our reduced vowel sound.
I teach you many other syllable stress rules in my iBook, Fundamentals of the American Accent. If you have an iPad and you’ve never taken an accent reduction course before, this will be an excellent introduction to the concepts of:
- syllable stress
- sentence stress
and much more!
Click on the VIEW button below to see what else you will learn in this interactive guide to speaking clear American English. This iBook is available in France!
Tags: accent reduction for french speakers, Accent Reduction Techniques, american accent ipad, american english pronunciation ipad, learn american accent, Schwa Vowel Sound, Syllable stress