If you want to know how to learn spoken English, you incorporate spoken English into your routine you have to learn English. Your first lessons should be pronunciation or how words are spoken. Thereafter, all your lessons should have a pronunciation component incorporated in them.
If you don’t learn how to pronounce words first then you will increase the probability of forming bad pronunciation habits. The word computer has three syllables; com, pu and ter. English being a stressed language means that one of these three syllables is stressed more than the other two.
In Thailand, many students pronounce computer incorrectly. The third syllable, incorrectly, is stressed; com-pu-TER. When these students pronounce computer, they sound like they have a French accent. The important thing to take from this is that they sound like they have an accent. They do not sound like native English speakers. Native English speakers do not say com-pu-TER, they say com-PU-ter.
When we say, “He has an accent,” we are saying, he is accentuating or stressing the word syllables differently than a native speaker does. If you want to know how to learn spoken English, you need to understand which syllable of a word is stressed.
There are word stress rules you should learn. Don’t use word stress rules as the final word on any pronunciation because there are many exceptions to rules in English but they should be learned in order to understand that there are rules. In addition, English is a dynamic language and is constantly changing. As well, American and British English pronunciation differs dramatically. In American English, they say ad-ver-TISE-ment and in British English, they say ad-VERT-is-ment.
One rule is there is only one stress for any word. There is what is called secondary stresses, but secondary stresses are less stressed than the primary stress. The word pronunciation has a primary stress and a secondary stress. The syllables are pro, nun, ci, a and tion. The primary stress is ‘a’ and the secondary is ‘nun’; pro-nun-ci-A-tion. It is more important to know the primary stress than the secondary. If the main primary stress is wrong, then you have already have failed in pronouncing the word correctly.
Another word stress rule is only vowels are stressed and not consonants. In the word computer, we stress PU, but in reality we are stressing the ‘U’, if you were to say, com-pU-ter you would sound more ‘native’.
Two syllable nouns usually have the first syllable stressed. Two syllable verbs usually have the second syllable stressed.
PRE-sent (noun) and pre-SENT (verb)
CON-tent (noun) and con-TENT (verb)
He will present her with a present for her birthday.
He will pre-SENT her with a PRE-sent for her birthday.
He was content with the web content.
He was con-TENT with the web CON-tent.
Two syllable adjectives are usually stressed on the first syllable. He is a happy person. He is a HAP-py person.
Words that end in ‘ic’ or ‘tion’ or ‘sion’ have the accent on the syllable before the ‘ic’, ‘tion’ or ‘sion’. We can see from the earlier example; pronunciation, that the ‘A’ or the syllable prior or before the ‘tion’ is the stressed syllable, pro-nun-ci-A-tion.
Words that end in ‘cy’, ‘ty’, ‘phy’, ‘gy’ or ‘al’ are not accented on the previous syllable but two syllables prior or before (third last syllable) the ‘cy’, ‘ty’, ‘phy’, ‘gy’ or ‘al’.
Pho-TO-gra-phy, na-tion-AL-i-ty, e-lec-TRI-ci-ty, e-LEC-tric-al and so-ci-OL-o-gy all follow the above rules.
For compound words we stress the first syllable, for compound verbs we stress the first syllable of the second word as we do for compound adjectives. Some examples are WA-ter-mel-lon, Un-der-STAND-ing and ov-er-FLOW-ing respectively.
Don’t work if you can’t speak fast, it’s better to speak properly more than speaking quickly. It is better to speak slowly and worry about fluency later.
If you can remember those rules you won’t necessarily become a native English speaker, but how to learn spoken English will be easier and make a bit more sense for you. Once you understand stress and pronunciation you can focus on vocabulary like know synonyms or an antonym for benefit.