August 31, 2013

Getting the Right Flow to Spoken English

Thought groups are groups of phrases in sentences or statements that are "naturally" grouped together while speaking. Every language has them. Thought groups bring a pace and a flow to a language. It helps to create it's "musical quality."

In the previous post introducing this topic, we reviewed a number of audio clippings with examples of the right and wrong way to form thought groups while speaking. When they are formed incorrectly, a speaker can sound as if they have a halting, jarring voice, are speaking too fast or too slow, and as if they are not speaking correct English. In fact, many may be speaking grammatically correct in English, but due to this pacing issue, the listener gets confused and 'thinks' the speaker does not know English, when, in fact this is not at all the case.

In this post, I'd like to share some more examples of pacing using this passage:
We need to create a shopping cart for our client by tomorrow. Typically, we assign only one person to complete this entire task, but as the client wants this by tomorrow, and it’s urgent, I will be assigning each of you a task to complete by tomorrow. Ram, please complete the “add to cart” details. Rona, your task is to finish “view/modify cart.” Sruthy, your responsibility is to finish the “shipping and payment details, while the order confirmation page is assigned to Shaji.

The first three audio clippings are said with correct pacing and thought groups. The last audio clip is stated in an incorrect thought group formation.

I challenge you to follow this process with this post:
  • Go to soundcloud.com. Record yourself saying this passage (without practice or hearing the below audio clippings.)
  • Write down the passage.
  • Listen to the audio clips below.
  • Place a slash ( / ) in the passage where ever you hear a pause.
  • In case you hear intonation or stress on particular words, underline those words.
  • Listen to the three correct passages and the one incorrect passage.
  • Mimic these audio clippings (at least the 'correct' ones)
  • Go back to soundcloud.com and resubmit another recording
  • Leave the before and after clip online. Send me the links. I'd be happy to embed your progress right into the blog!


Audio Clip 1:
This clip is spoken very slowly. A majority of Americans will never speak this slow. If they do, then there may be an unspoken message that, "You don't understand, so I have to slow down...."

Female Voice (your coach, Jennifer):



Male voice (can you pick out the tone differences?):



Audio Clip 2:
This clip is delivered in a medium speed. Most Americans probably speak faster than this.

Female Voice (your coach, Jennifer):


Male Voice:




Audio Clip 3:
There is something special in this clip. Can you recognize it? (This is with the correct thought group structure.)

Female Voice (your coach, Jennifer):


Male Voice:


Incorrect Audio Clip:
This audio clip has a slight jarring or halting quality as it is not fluid with the right thought groups or pacing. Are you able to hear the difference between this clip and the others with this same script? What is the difference in your opinion?


Thank you for spending your time on this website.

Related Posts:
Use Shadowing to Sound More Fluent
American English Listening Comprehension
Listen to the US Weather Report


Networkedblogs link: http://nblo.gs/OCCR6

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