Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Today, we're going to talk about music. The music of language of English and how native speakers listen to it. The stress, the up-down shape is the anchor for me when I'm listening, and it gives me that familiar structure. Everything that I hear fits within this structure of stress. Tom's going to teach you how to identify what native speakers identify when they're listening to English, and how to use that to your advantage to be more easily understood when you're speaking English. Who's Tom? He's a standout teacher in Rachel's English academy, he coaches students every day, and I have seen and heard the amazing progress that students can make when working with him. First, he's going to talk about the music of English and then he's going to use some clips from movies to illustrate what he's teaching you. I know. I know. I know. I know. Hi! I'm Tom Kelly, a Rachel's English teacher with Rachel's English academy. I work with students all over the world, and there's one thing that I think really helps students speak more like native speakers, and it has nothing to do with actually speaking. It comes before speaking, and it's all about listening. In order to speak like a native speaker, you really want to be able to listen like a native speaker. And that's what this video is all about. Let's get started. So what does it mean to listen like a native speaker? Well, the first thing we want to think about is the fact that English is a stress timed language. So what does that mean? It means that our syllables are going to be different lengths from one another. Now, we're gonna have stressed syllables which are the longer syllables, and we're going to have unstressed syllables which are shorter. I'm going to pop in for a minute to try something new. We have a sponsor for this video, the good people at skillshare. Now, I know you already do a lot of online learning and you know that the internet can connect you to experts in any field anywhere in the world. I myself do a lot of learning online. Skillshare is a site where you can take classes in anything: from writing, to photography, to building a business. You can learn with their website or use their app. I, myself, am really interested in growing food. So that's the first thing I searched for and I found some great classes. Yeah, I'm probably going to take that gelato making class too. Follow this link or the link in the video description for your own code to get two months free. Check them out, let's thank them for supporting this channel. If you find a course you like, let me know in the video comments below. Okay, let's get back to the lesson. Here's how I like to think about stressed and unstressed syllables. Unstressed syllables are quicker, they're flatter in vocal pitch, they use less energy. Often that means they don't use as much movement from your articulators, your jaw, your tongue, your lips. And they can be just a little less clear often than stressed syllables. Alright, so that leaves stressed syllables. What are they? They're longer, they have more energy, they use more movement from the articulators, they're clearer. And I think, probably, the most important part of a stressed syllable is the curve in the pitch of the voice. Rachel calls this the shape of stress. It's an up and down musical curve in the voice that happens on stressed syllables in American English. So those stressed syllables with that up-down shape, those are my anchors, and that's what gives me a familiar structure when I'm listening to English. So great! We know that stress syllables are longer, they have this musical element with this up-and-down curve in the voice, and that unstressed syllables are quicker, and flatter in vocal pitch. Now what? Well now, I have to tell you that syllables are more important than words when it comes to spoken American English. Now, what does that mean? When you are reading English and you're looking at all the words on a page, the words are very important. It's the words that are giving you that information and you need them to be spaced out in order to read more easily. Well, when we speak English, we don't really worry about any of those breaks in between words, do we? We kind of mash everything together into one long word. Yes, I was just working on a video on this topic! When you read, the unit that you focus on is a word but when you're listening or speaking, the unit isn't the word, it's a thought group. And a thought group is any collection of words between breaks when speaking. It can be really short, you can have a one-word thought group, like 'hi!' or it can be much longer, a very long sentence with no breaks. or it can be much longer, a very long sentence with no breaks. For example... Let's take the phrase: I'll see you later. I'll see you later. How many words are in there? I'll see you later. There's four words. I'll see you later. But when we speak it: I'll see you later. I'll see you later. I'll see you later. There's really only sounds, like there's one word. So the syllables, these stressed syllables are the important part. That's what we want to bring out in our sentences, in our phrases, so that our listeners can understand us, and that's what native speakers are listening for. They're listening for the stressed syllables. Now, I'll see you later. How can we tell what the stressed syllables are? I'll see you later. I'll see you later. What did we say about stressed syllables? They have that up-and-down curve in the pitch of the voice. How many up-and-down curves in my voice do you hear? I'll see you later. I'll see you later. I'll see you later. Two. See, la--, those are the important syllables. Those are the stressed syllables in the content words in that phrase. I'll see you later. I'll see you later. Now, another thing to think about that proves again that syllables are more important than words is that a four-word phrase can take the exact same amount of time that it takes a four syllable word to say. What did I just say? Four words will take just as long to say as one word? Yes! Because it's the syllables that are important. Let's take an example like: vulnerable, vulnerable. There's four syllables in that word: vulnerable. How many stressed syllables do you hear? Vulnerable. Vulnerable. Just one, right? That first syllable has that up-and-down quality in the voice. Vul-- vulnerable. Vulnerable. Now, let's take a phrase: give it to me. Give it to me. Four words, each word is one syllable, so four syllables in that phrase. Give it to me. Give it to me. Again, can you hear the up-and-down quality in one of those words? Give it to me. Give, give it to me. So we have the first word, the first syllable, stressed. Give, give it to me. Vulnerable. Vulnerable. Give it to me. They both have the exact same music and they both take the exact same amount of time to say. Once you know the music and rhythm pattern of a phrase or word like that, all of a sudden, you can speak the music of a bunch of different phrases and words. Let's look at a few of them. Confession. Confession. I love it. I love it. I'll have one. I'll have one. Uhh-- Uhh-- Do you hear that it's the same music under all of these phrases and words? He did it. He did it. I know that. I know that. Uhh-- Productive. Productive. Uhh-- Let's listen to all of them right in a row. Confession. I love it. I'll have one. He did it. I know that. Productive. Uhh-- uhh-- It's all the same music. Listen for that stressed syllable in phrases and words and that's what you want to begin imitating, once you've started to hear it. Now, what's awesome is there is so much material out there that you can listen to to get a sense for the musicality, to begin listening in this way, to begin listening like a native speaker. So rachel actually made a video about how to use youglish.Com to practice your pronunciation. This is a great tool to use to begin listening like a native speaker so that you can imitate with more precision and clarity and native speaker quality. But let's go ahead and take a little bit of time here to listen to some tv and film clips and see if we can hear the music, hear the rhythm, hear the important stressed syllables. The phrase is: I know. I know. How many stressed syllables do you hear? I know. Just one. Know, right? All of them are going to say the exact same musical rhythm pattern here. Now, everyone is completely unique, they may shift exactly the way that they're expressing themselves with these words, but the rhythm, that's stressed syllable, that up down quality in the voice, that musical quality is there for all of them. Let's listen again. How about this phrase? How many stressed syllables do you hear? You're the best. You're the best. I just hear that up and down curve in the voice on: best, best. So that's our stressed syllable, that's the important syllable. You're the best. You're the best. Are you starting to hear that music? Awesome! So now, let's make it a little bit more complicated. Let's go to some longer sentences. In this first clip, let's listen for where are the stressed syllables? What are the syllables that have that up-and-down curve in the voice? Everything happens for a reason. Everything happens for a reason. Did you hear it? I heard three. Everything happens for a reason. Uuhh-- uuhh-- you want to listen for that music. Where are the important syllables? One thing that can be really useful is listening to a sentence, a phrase, a word three, four times in a row and you begin to hear the music underneath the words. Let's listen to this one three times in a row. Everything happens for a reason. Everything happens for a reason. Everything happens for a reason. Uhh-- everything happens for a reason. Are you beginning to hear it? Let's go to another sentence. Uhh-- Uhh-- Do you hear that? He refused to believe in coincidence. Three stressed syllables, all connected into one long word, but those three syllables give us the meaning and the music. He refused to believe in coincidence. Let's try one more. Find a happy place. Uuhh-- uuhh-- hopefully, you're beginning to hear that music underneath the American English being spoken. And once you begin to hear it and really listen for it, you'll be able to imitate it with a lot more precision, and you'll sound much more like a native speaker, the more music you can bring in to your English. This week take some time when you're listening to a podcast or watching a show or movie in American English to think about the music of what you're hearing. Remember how tom was taking sentences and breaking them down into uuhh, just the melody on a single sound, no words. Listen to what you're hearing as you're listening to that podcast and think about: what would this phrase sound like if I just set it on 'uh', if I took out all the words? Uuhh-- Again, there is so much material out there to practice with. I really recommend using youglish.Com. It's a great resource to practice the words and phrases that you want to be able to say. Alright, that's everything for this video. Thank you so much for watching and thank you so much for using Rachel's English. Huge thanks to tom for making this video. You know, tom actually spends a lot more time with students these days than I do. A lot of my time goes towards making videos for my youtube channel or running my online school. Tom is actually working with students every day, coaching them, helping them improve and because of that, I really value his opinion when it comes down to what works and what helps students. Alright guys, thanks for studying with me and tom. That's it and thanks so much for using Rachel's English.