Learners of English face a myriad of problems as they learn clear pronunciation. A sure sign of novice speakers are when they pause too often or have irregular intonation patterns, often manifested utterances such as, 1). “Are-you-going-to-the-movies-with-your-friends tomorrow?” or 2). “ARE YOU GOING TO THE MOVIES WITH YOUR FRIENDS TOMORROW?” In the first example, the speaker is pausing after every word, whereas in the second example, the speaker is equally stressing each word.
If you have any of these rhythm pattern problems when speaking English, TOEFL iBT human raters will give you a lower score on your six speaking tasks. Therefore, becoming more proficient in this area will help you to speak more naturally during the TOEFL iBT and during conversations with native speakers.
Unfortunately, it is hard to make significant improvements, for different language patterns have different rhythm patterns. Additionally, if you have a limited mastery of vowels, consonants, syllable division, and word stress, you are guaranteed to have problems with sentence rhythm.
“What do I do,” you ask “about solving this problem?” First, remember that you cannot learn algebra before basic mathematics. In other words, you will not be able to acquire proficiency in sentence rhythm unless you have already mastered basic pronunciation patterns of English: vowels, consonants, syllable division, and word stress. Therefore, make sure your basic pronunciation skills are proficient before tackling sentence rhythm. Second, do your best not too pause after every word and not to equally emphasize every word you speak. Third, you will need to speak English several hours a day for several months so that you can become more natural sounding, so you should find opportunities to speak English. Finally, it might be necessary to consult with a language specialist to make a pronunciation profile of your speech so you can see what your strengths and weaknesses are.
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