How can you get to advanced English listening level?
This is the stage where you can easily understand fast spoken English – even if you don’t understand every word. At this level, you can understand conversations in films and TV shows, as well as everyday conversations with native English speakers.
To get to this level, there are five areas of English pronunciation that you’ll need to understand (even if you don’t use them yourself).
Read on for examples and to hear the audio.
Linking between consonants and vowels
We often link the final consonant of one word to the beginning vowel of the next word. We do this to avoid stopping between words. For example:
We also link inside words, linking from a consonant to a vowel sound. This helps you pronounce longer words (especially those formed by suffixes) more easily. For example:
unintentional (from ‘n’ to ‘i’)
disability (form ‘s’ to ‘a’)
maladjusted (from ‘l’ to ‘a’)
Linking happens almost automatically as you go from one sound to another. Listen to the audio to hear these examples, and then try them yourself.
Contractions in English pronunciation
Two words can shorten or ‘contract’ to one word. This often happens with grammatical words such as auxiliaries. For example:
I have = I’ve
had / would = ‘d (I’d like …)
is / has = ‘s (She’s gone)
are = ‘re (We’re going)
I want to = I wanna
She’s going to go = She’s gonna go
But contractions can also be more complex, especially in questions. Here are some examples:
What‘re they doing?
Who‘ll be at the wedding?
Who‘re you going with?
Why‘s she going?
They can also occur in hypothetical situations (with modal auxiliaries) and in perfect tense forms. Here are some examples:
You couldn’t have done that = You couldn‘t’ve done that
He might have seen her = He might‘ve seen her
You should have been there = You should‘ve been there
If you’d left earlier, you would have got the train = If you’d left earlier, you’d’ve got the train
Listen to the audio and try the examples.
Assimilation of sounds in pronunciation
This is when sounds at the ends of words change as they move to the next word. Here are some examples.
tʃ and dʒ (‘tch’ and ‘dj’ sounds)
If one word ends in a /t/ is followed by a /j/, the two sounds merge to make a tʃ sound.
Can’t you…? = “Ca:n tchu…?
Don’t you …? = ‘Don tchu…?
When a /d/ is followed by a /j/, the two sounds merge to make a /dʒ/
Did you know? = “Didʒ u: …?
Other sound changes after /t/ and /d/
If the word after starts with a p, b, k or g sound the ‘t’ and ‘d’ merges. For example:
board pen = “boarp_pen”
sweet biscuit = “sweep biscuit
suitcase = “suk case”
good grief = “goog grief”
Sound changes after /n/
The final ‘n’ becomes a ‘m’ sound before a word starting with /p/ and /b/. For example:
hand bag = “ham bag”
green place = “greem place”
It also changes into a /ɳ/ sound before /k/ or /g/
“She’s been_going out a lot.
Listen to the audio and try them yourself.
Elision in pronunciation
This means that sounds disappear to improve the flow of the sentence, and also to make some words easier to say. Here are some examples:
Elision of /t/ and /d/
The /t/ or /d/ often disappears before another consonant sound.
It’s about ten o’clock = “it’s abou_ten o’clock”
I made two decisions = ‘I ma_two decisions”
Elision of /h/
The ‘h’ sound often disappears in pronouns or auxiliaries in fast speech:
She told him = “She told_im”
He has left = “He_as left” (This can also be shortened to “He’s left”. See ‘Contractions’ above.)
Elision of /l/
The /l/ sound often disappears after the ɔ: sound:
almost = “a_most”
already = “a_ready”
“also = “a_so”
Elision of /d/ and /v/ before ‘and’ and ‘of’
The final /d/ of ‘and’ can disappear if the next word starts with a consonant.
For example: come and go = “come_n go”
In phrases with “of”, the final /v/ can disappear before consonants:
a box of chocolates = “a box_uh chocolates”
Elision of vowel sounds
The schwa sound can disappear in unstressed syllables. For example:
vegetable = veg’table
comfortable = cumf’table
But vowels can also disappear before /r/, /l/ and /n/:
history = hist’ry
factory = fact’ry
family = fam’ly
happening = happ’ning
Listen to the audio and try these examples of elision!
Intrusion in pronunciation
This is where we add sounds – especially a ‘y’, ‘r’ or ‘w’ between vowel sounds.
Adding /j/ (a “y” sound)
This happens when a word ends in /i:/ or /j/ and the following sound is a vowel:
She is = “she_yis”
I am = “I_yam”
The ‘r’ sound generally isn’t pronounced at the end of a word, but if the following word begins with a vowel, it is pronounced. For example:
fair enough = “fair_enough”
You can also hear a /r/ sound between two vowel sounds:
law and order = “law_rand order”
If a word ends in /u:/ or an “oh” sound and the following sound is a vowel sound, we often add a /w/:
go away = “go_waway”
you are = “yu_wa
Listen to the audio and try the examples yourself.
Advanced English Pronunciation Course
When your English pronunciation improves, your English listening also improves, because you know why and how sounds change in fast English.
In Advanced English Pronunciation In 30 Days, I show you how to say all the sounds in English. You also get a learning plan based on your first language, and my feedback and suggestions on your pronunciation.
This course is for you if you want to speak more clearly and avoid the biggest pronunciation mistakes.