Want to sound like a native speaker of English?

Want to sound like a native speaker of English?

Here are some top tips on mastering connected speech in British Received Pronunciation from your accent reduction coach

Clients who have decided to work on improving their English pronunciation often tell me that they want to pronounce English like a native speaker. So, “how do you sound like an English native speaker”? It takes a lot of effort and practice. 

What clients usually mean when they say that they want to sound like a native is that they have noticed British native speakers using particular speech patterns, and they want to replicate those speech patterns in an effort to fit in when they are living and working in the UK.
One of the best ways to imitate native British speakers is to learn the aspect of pronunciation called connected speech. 

What is connected speech and why use it to learn a British English accent like RP?

You may have been taught to pronounce every English word carefully, without blending sounds or joining words together. Or, it may be that your native language is rather choppy, with small breaks between words. British English native speakers don’t take breaks between their words in relaxed speech. Instead, the speech sounds bump into each other, and sometimes change or get added or deleted in context. This is what we call connected speech. 

It is very important to learn connected speech if you are seeking to improve your English pronunciation for life in the UK. By imitating the connected speech processes used by native British speakers, you can make your speech sound less choppy, more fluid, and more British.

How can you learn connected speech in British pronunciation?

The best way to learn connected speech is to take an English pronunciation course and purchase an English phonology book that goes through each aspect of connected speech in detail, with practical exercises. 

Here, we’ll give you a taster of a few connected speech techniques that you can use to sound like a native English speaker. 

Five key techniques to master connected speech in British English

1. Linking

When British native speakers articulate sequences of vowels, we do not introduce breaks between vowels. Instead, we add a little “y’” sound, a little “r” sound, or a little “w” sound depending on which vowel we are articulating. Spread vowels like /i/ join onto vowels with a little helping “y’” sound. /ɔː/ and /ɑː/  join onto vowels with a little helping “r” sound, and rounded vowels like /u/ join onto vowels with a little helping “w” sound.

Example: How are you: /haʊ‿w‿ə juː/

2. Catenation

You may have noticed that British native speakers take the final consonant on the word and join it up to the next vowel when they speak in a natural, relaxed way.

Example: It always is /ɪt‿ɔːlweɪ‿zɪz/

When you begin to learn English pronunciation, this is a very important technique to employ from the start. This is especially true if you want to sound like a native English speaker of British English.

3. Partially unreleased plosives

Normally, plosive consonants like /p/, /t/, /k/, /b/, /d/, and /g/ have three phases: an approach phase, a hold phase, and a release phase, meaning that you feel a little puff of air coming out at the end of the consonant. However, when two plosive consonants appear next to each other, only the second consonant gets released.

Example: It does /ɪt‿dʌz/

4. Blending in British English Pronunciation

When we have two of the sounds next to each other, we don’t break them apart. Instead, we make one long sound!

Example: Pen name /pen‿neɪm/

5. Assimilation in British English Pronunciation

Lots of different types of assimilation can be found among native speakers of British English.

One particularly fun example is when a word ends with a /t/ and the next word begins with a “y”, transcribed /j/. In this case, the /t/ and the /j/ blend to make a /tʃ/.

Example: Can’t you /kɑːntʃu/

Enjoy these new techniques and discover how impressed your colleagues will be with your native-like pronunciation when you’ve completed the training (which comes with LIVE Zoom workshops).