Students often say that pronunciation is one of the most difficult language aspects to learn and improve; the complex relationship between sound and spelling in English can be particularly frustrating.
In addition to studying the technical details of pronunciation (such as how to articulate each sound, where to place stress and how to link words together), using rhymes can be a fun way to help you develop your pronunciation and achieve natural-sounding rhythm and intonation.
Here are 3 types of rhyme that you might want to use in your own practice:
A limerick is a funny 5-line poem with the following rhyming pattern: AABBA. Here are a couple of examples:
There was young man from Crewe
whose mates were incredibly few.
So he tried to make friends
with some sheep, pigs and hens,
and ended up falling in love with a ewe.
There was a young woman called Helen
who tried to hide in a giant green melon.
She called 999 having got stuck
And the police couldn’t believe their luck –
It turns out she was a wanted felon.
- Tongue twisters
These can help you better articulate difficult sounds or confusing words. Try saying them out loud over and over again, slowly at first but getting faster and faster. Here’s an example to practise some words which are often mixed up:
I thought the exam was tough even though I had been
thorough when looking through my notes.
through (like ‘shoe’)
thought (like ‘sport’)
tough (like ‘huff’)
thorough (like ‘borough’)
though (like ‘go’)
Chants are great way to help you develop natural-sounding rhythm:
These are the
Why did you
Peter was in
English is a stress-timed language: the time it takes to say a sentence depends on the number of stressed syllables – not the total number of syllables – and those that are not stressed are said very quickly.
Try saying the sentences above out loud. Each one should take the same amount of time to say since they all have the same number of stressed syllables (3).
Now you’ve had some practice, how about making up your own rhymes? Think about which words or sounds you want to improve and try writing your own limerick, tongue twister or chant. You might also find it useful to record yourself reading the rhymes and play them back to listen out for how you can improve your performance.