Secret #6: Get the Rhythm

Secret #6: Get the Rhythm

Learning to understanding the rhythm of English is the big game changer.  Without getting too technical English has a different rhythm than most other languages: a fact that isn’t always taught in English Language Schools.

If you try to superimpose the rhythms of your mother tongue on English it will be hard for others to understand you because you’re not placing the emphasis where it is normally expected.

English rhythm is less regular than other languages.  Most languages: Chinese, Italian, French, Spanish, Hindi, Malay and so on a fairly phonetic.  The rhythm is regular and based on the distance between syllables.  Linguists call this machine gun rhythm.  English on the other hand is less phonetic and bases stress on the distance between the words that carry meaning. Linguists call this Morse code rhythm.

The important or content words carry the meaning of a sentence and are emphasised. The other words are called function words are there to hold the sentence together. These are contracted and de-stressed.


Look for the important content words in a sentence and emphasise those.

The difficulty for people coming to English from other languages is that the words that carry stress: the content words can vary depending on what meaning the speaker wants to focus on.

The easiest place to start is with a form of poetry called a Limerick.  Here the content words fall on the beat.

Have a go with this Limerick.  You may not find it as easy as it looks.

The words in between the stressed words, the grey words, have to be squeezed into the time space available.  You have to make them a bit smaller and almost skip over them.

We go into using Limericks and finding the rhythm in more detail in the paid version of the course. Of course you can find plenty of Limericks on the Internet if you want to have a go yourself.

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