Sounds British - Word Stress

Pronunciation | Humour | Vocabulary | Speaking


No matter how good your English grammar and vocabulary may be, if your pronunciation is so bad that nobody can understand a word you say, then your English won't be much good as a means of communication. You might be good at grammar, have a broad vocabulary, and be able to explain all the aspects and tenses of English, but it's not much good if you can't be understood when you speak. I have designed these Activities to help you to improve your pronunciation, as well as other areas of your English.


These English Activities are built around English jokes. The jokes may be old or new; they may be very funny or just amusing. The language of the joke is explored, and you will begin to understand a very important aspect of the English language - humour. Many students of English, be they students of English as a second language or of English as a foreign language, find it very difficult to "get" English jokes. British humour has a strong satirical element aimed at showing the absurdity of everyday life. A lot of English humour depends on cultural knowledge and the themes commonly include the British class system, wit, innuendo, to boost subjects and puns, self-deprecation, sarcasm, and insults. As well as this, English humour is often delivered in a deadpan way or is considered by many to be insensitive. A particular aspect of British English humour is the humour of the macabre, were topics that are usually treated seriously are treated in a very humorous or satirical way.


Did you know that there are over 600,000 words in English? That's a lot of words, and far more than any human being could ever manage to learn. Even Shakespeare only used around 55,000 different words in all of his works. Mind you, he did actually invent quite a few of them. To get a good mastery of English, you do need to expand your vocabulary as much as possible. The more words you know, the better your English will be. The Activities here will help you to quickly develop your vocabulary.


It's not easy to teaching speaking skills remotely through a website, however good the site is. To really practice your speaking skills, you need someone to speak to who can correct your mistakes as you go. The Activities here will go some way to helping you to improve your speaking skills by helping you to mirror the speech you hear in the lesson. In this way, you can notice how your speech differs from that in the Activities and, by recording your own speech, you can adjust your pronunciation to more accurately match that in the Activities.

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Learn about and practice syllables and word stress. In this Pronunciation Activation Pack, we are going to practice hearing the correct stress in English words. First, we will practice counting the syllables in words. Then, we will practice hearing where the main stress is in words. Finally, we will look at a comedy sketch which shows what happens when you mispronounce English words. Sounds British - Word Stress

English has an underlying rhythm which arises from the stress patterns of each word. Most English words have one main stress. Some longer words have a secondary stress, too. Getting the stress right is one of the most important keys to getting the rhythm of English and to sounding like a British English Speaker. The word Britlish has two syllables: Brit and lish. If we put the stress on the wrong syllable, we can be easily misunderstood. Imagine you are a doctor, and you tell a nurse to give the patient thirteen milligrams of a medicine. Nurse, give the patient thirteen milligrams of the medicine. Yes, doctor, I’ll give the patient thirty milligrams of the medicine. The result could be fatal, yet the misunderstanding comes down to the different stress patterns of the two numbers. Thirteen / ˌθɜː.ˈtiːn / Thirty / ˈθɜː.ti / If you can’t hear the stress in English words, you will have problems understanding and being understood. So, every English word has one main stress and one main stress only. Long words, however, can also have a secondary stress. Take the word pronunciation for instance. It has 5 syllables and 5 syllables make for a long word. pronunciation / prə.ˌnʌn.sɪ.ˈeɪʃ.n̩ / The . marks show the syllable boundaries. The ˌ before the syllable shows where the secondary stress falls. The ˈ before the syllable shows where the main stress falls. You can see from the words Britlish / ˈbrɪt.lɪʃ / and pronunciation / prə.ˌnʌn.sɪ.ˈeɪʃ.n̩ / that a syllable in English is either stressed or it is not stressed.

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