English Rhythm. It’s a Stress Timed Language so Let’s Beatbox

Learn the secret of English rhythm in this video lesson. English is a stress timed language so the way we pronounce words changes when they’re in a sentence. We stress the words that carry the meaning and de-stress the rest. This video explains how English rhythm works and has some great ways to practice and improve your pronunciation. It also has some of the world’s best beatboxers to help you get the English rhythm.

Bootz and Katz, bootz and katz, bootz and katz.
What are you saying?
Boots and cats. I’m beatboxing for today’s lesson. Remember?
Oh.
Can we video it now?
Oh, um. No, I’m busy now. Sorry, gotta go.
Well later then, right?

OK guys. Today’s lesson is on the rhythm of English and luckily we have some help. We have here Inertia. We have Premsy. We have Omni. Fantastic! English is a stress timed language.

One. Two. Three. Four. One. Two. Three. Four. One and two and three and four. One and then two and then three and then four. One and then a two and then a three and then a four.

The rhythm of English is different from many other languages. In this lesson you’ll learn how, and you’ll learn some fun ways to improve your listening and your pronunciation.
Most languages in the world count beats with syllables. But not English. Look what happens here.

One two three four
One and then a two and then a three and then a four.

Notice I’m saying more words the second time but the rhythm stays the same. In English, we stress the words that carry the most meaning and we de-stress the words that don’t.

I’ve done it.
Done what?
I’ve written a computer programme that can say anything in English.
Really? It can speak clearly?
I think so. We’re gonna be millionaires.
Wow! Show me.
Tell me what to make it say.
When I’m a millionaire, I’m gonna travel the world. When-I-am-a-mil-li-on-aire-I-am-go-ing-to-tra-vel-the-world.
Are you sure it’s English?
It didn’t sound like English, did it?
No.
I don’t understand. It said every syllable clearly.
I think that’s the problem

In most languages, when you want to be clear, you pronounce every syllable fully. But if you do that in English you could confuse your listeners.

We’re expecting you to stress the words that carry, the most meaning, and de-stress the rest.

Here’s an example. Do you remember when Jay said this? Which word did he stress?

I’ve done it.

Notice he said ‘done’ longer, louder and higher in pitch. He stressed it. What about this sentence?

We’re going to be millionaires.

The important word for understanding the meaning here is millionaires. So it gets the stress.
OK, now let’s look at de-stressing and we’ll play a game. I’m going to say some words and you have to work out what words I’m saying. Ready? andthena andthena andthena
Did you get them? Do you know what I’m saying Jay? And he’s a native speaker! OK, here they are in a sentence. One and then a two and then three and then a four. Andthena andthena
OK, here are some more words. Ready? That’sthe, that’sthe, that’s the. Did you get them? Here they are in a sentence.
I think that’s the problem.
That’sthe. That’s the problem. So the sounds of words change a lot when they’re in a sentence.

Words get stressed or de-stressed. Words that carry the most meaning get stressed. Little grammar words usually don’t get stressed.

Now something you should know. There is no language which is always syllable timed or always stress timed. Languages are always a mixture. But they lean one way or another and English is generally stress-timed.
We just think that way. We look for a beat and we expect to hear important words for meaning on the beat. And it’s like music because the beat can change. If the beat stayed the same, we’d all be poets.

Jay, you need to put these socks in the wash.
But they’re black.
So?
Black socks never get dirty, the longer you wear them the blacker they get
Sometimes I think I should wash them, but something inside me keeps saying not yet, not yet, not yet.
Black socks never get dirty, the longer you wear them the blacker they get
Sometimes I think I should wash them, but something inside me keeps saying not yet.
Black socks never get dirty, the longer you wear them the blacker they get
Sometimes I think I should wash them, but something inside me keeps saying not yet.

So how can you learn to stress time in English? Poetry is great. And songs too and raps are terrific. So find some rhymes, and find some songs and clap and sing along. It’s going to be great for your pronunciation and your listening too.
And another thing that’s great for your English is watching our videos. Make sure you subscribe to our channel.

Bootz and katz, bootz and katz. Bye guys. Thank you so much. Who was that?
Oh nobody.
Are we going to shoot the video now?
Oh we’ve already shot it.
Really?
Yeah, the lesson’s finished. Bye everyone. See you all next week.
But I can beatbox. Boots and katz, boots and Katz

English rhythm is a very important aspect of pronunciation but it’s not the only one. Click here to see more of our pronunciation videos.
The beatboxers in this video are famous in the beatbox world. You can check out more of their work at BeatBox TV.

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