Thursday, June 25, 2009

Word Stress Video

Enjoy this complete video  from Accent Master on how to stress the correct syllable of multi-syllabic words.  An important feature of accent reduction for ESL learners.

Lynn Founder of
Accent Master

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Here I am once again tackling intonation!   This is because it is one of the best ways to be a clear communicator. My clients at Accent Master find practice is the key to mastering this feature of accent reduction.  I think that many people are fearful of using this skill. Perhaps they are lacking confidence. But there is an expression that you must "fake it, until you make it!"

Simply put just go out and do it until you feel more comfortable and natural. The full story and lesson is under podcast on the left-hand column. Simple click the white bar and you can listen to a great podcast on intonation and how to use it well!

Lynn Founder of
Accent Master

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Can can't

The way I determine my topics is by what is happening when I am working with clients at Accent Master. So what is happening now with our accent reduction clients? Can and can't.

These two little words can add up to confusion in conversational English. . Often ESL speakers can't hear the difference and misunderstand American English speakers, and of course when using these words themselves can and can't end up sounding exactly alike.

One issue is that when you say "can" or "can't in isolation, and not in connected speech they do indeed sound very much alike. However things change for a number of reasons when these words are used in connected speech.

We are so positive! This means that we as listeners are expecting the affirmative. We are waiting to hear "can". This being so, can in a sentence is not stressed, in fact it is de-stressed. Meaning that we say it quickly and with a slight reduction of the vowel. This makes can sound more like "Ken" in connected speech.

On the other hand any negative in a sentence (no, not, don't and can't) need to be stressed so your listener will pick up on the fact that their expected yes, is really a no.

So in the sentence I can go with you. You would really say I ken go with you.

Now change it a bit to I CAN'T go with you." Now the stress is falling on 'can't'.

The trick in understanding and using can and can't is in the vowel. A short reduced "a" means that you "can" and longer bolder "a" means you "can't".

It is not obvious, because if you look at the two words you assume it will be the "t" that holds the key to the difference in the word, but it is really the vowel!

Practice saying sentences with 'can' and 'cant" using these rules.  Try to incorporate these words into your speech today.

Lynn founder of
Accent Master