Introduction to American Standard

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In order to learn American Standard, you want to learn:

  1. Correct pronunciation

2. Intonation

3. Linking, also called word connection, or liaison


Pronunciation

There are 44 English phonemes (or sounds).  Proper pronunciation of all of these sounds is important for the quality and understandability of your speech. Through specific detailed guidance and instruction of what the mouth (the lips, teeth, tongue, and palate) does to make these sounds (and a mirror so you see that you're doing it right), we will make sure you can say each sound clearly, and then reinforce the sound through word and sentence drills.

 

Intonation 

Intonation is the "music" of American English and without it, your speech is likely to sound short or choppy to listeners. We will do drills to reinforce your understanding of intonation. American native speakers use what is often called staircase intonation. Like notes in a musical scale, our pitch goes up on important points, and then works its way down as we speak. Much of the understanding of intonation comes from practice. We devote time to conversation to be certain you are able to come to an understanding of intonation using your own words.

 

Linking (Liaison or Word Connection)

Liaison is the manner in which we connect words in sentences. Like intonation, it is necessary to make your communication sound smooth. We will look at exactly how this is done in speech. Native speakers often say entire sentences with all of the words run together, never breaking the sound. We will look at sentences written out phonetically (as sounds) instead of as letters, to understand what the speech really sounds like. Many times it sounds quite different from how it is written.

Intonation and liaison will aid greatly in making your speech more efficient. Often times non-native speakers take too much time to say unimportant words, such as "a, the, of, from, to..."  They have learned well how to say the words clearly, but no teacher has ever explained to them how words are shortened in speech. We will look at how many words are reduced, so they can be said quickly, but without ever sounding rushed.

Informal conversation between us occurs at every lesson to be certain that our work is becoming integrated into your speaking. Students are encouraged to bring in samples of business-specific dialogues they may have. We also make sure to  paraphrase these dialogues so nothing will ever sound rehearsed, but will maintain a natural feel.