Home / English Lessons / Pronunciation + Listening Practice | Ep. 4

Pronunciation + Listening Practice | Ep. 4

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This lesson is part 4 in the Pronunciation + Listening Practice Series:

Noticing how native English speakers transform their speech is one of the keys to improving your listening skills, as well as your own pronunciation.

Let’s analyze the music of English in the following sentence:

“All I can say is that my life has changed.”

1) “All I”

In English, we connect our speech so that our words flow into one another. Here, we do not stop between the two words and take a breath to say “All__I”, but we say the [l] in “all” at the beginning of “I”.

  • “all I”

It’s important for speakers (especially Thai and Chinese) to pull their lips back into a smile position for the “I” [ɑiy] vowel sound.

  • “all I”

2) “I can” 

In English, we de-stress function words that serve mostly a grammatical purpose in the sentence and don’t carry much meaning. Here, “can” is a function word that is said quickly and more relaxed.

So, instead of saying a clear “can”, you would say “kin”:

  • “I can” [ɑiy kɪn]

3) “say”

“Say” is a content word — a main verb that carries meaning in the sentence — so we say it nice and clearly. This is because the burden is on the English speaker to be very clear; we do not want the listener to have to work too hard to understand our sentence.

Remember to pull those lips back to pronounce the [ey] vowel sound.

iy vowel sound lips back lm ee2

  •  “say”

4) “is that my life”

In this phrase, the focus word, which carries the most meaning and significance, is “life”, so it will get the most stress (meaning it’s said longer, louder and higher in pitch than the other words).

Because we connect speech in English, we do not stop between words to take a breath or complete each sound. Simply connect each word.

  • “is that my life”

5) “life has”

To pronounce the [ɑiy] vowel sound in “life”, pull your lips back into a smile position.

iy vowel sound lips back lm ee2

  • “life”

Native English speakers also tend to delete the “h” in certain function words, to add music to their speech. They also de-stress function words, so, here:

  • “has” –> [ɪz]
  • “life has” –> [lɑiyfɪz]

6) “changed”

“Changed” is a content word that carries meaning in the sentence, so we will say it nice and clearly. Additionally, we never de-stress the last word in a sentence, so even if it was a function word, we wouldn’t de-stress it.

Because the sound before the “-ed” ending, a [dʒ] sound, is a voiced consonant, meaning our vocal chords vibrate when we say it, the “-ed” ending will also be a voiced sound, a [d].

“Changed” has a lot of consonant sounds to say at once, so don’t worry too much about saying it perfectly. Just get a slight [d] at the end.

  • “changed”

Got it?

Let’s practice.

Listen and Repeat

  • “All I can say is that my life has changed.” 

Notice how my pitch goes up on stressed words and how my intonation goes down at the end of the statement.

  • “All I can say is that my life has changed.”

Remember, learning and practicing pronunciation rules isn’t just about trying to speak more clearly — and it’s never about trying to sound perfect. Learning how native speakers speak can help you improve your listening skills and communicate more effectively.

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