AEE 570: The Silence of the Letters

Silent letters in English

Today we’ll show you two patterns of silent letters in English that you can pick up on for more English success.

It’s best to learn pronunciation through mimicking and listening to native speakers as much as possible.

However, often there are patterns in the way that we pronounce certain letters and sounds.

When you spend time learning these you will start repeating the right sounds sooner.

We had a question from a listener:

“My biggest challenge is pronunciation. Often I say something and my coworkers ask me to repeat what I am saying. I feel stupid. I have four years of high school English including AP English and Comp 1 and 2 in college. I have been in the US for 7 years and feel like I shouldn’t be having trouble. When I first came my English wasn’t that great but by reading tons of books and improving my handwriting I got better but when it comes to pronunciation I have trouble in certain areas. It’s so challenging. Some letters are silent. Some words sound like they’re being rolled off their tongues. I hope you can help. I don’t want to keep feeling like I will always have trouble at work because of the way that I speak”

It’s not just you! A lot of our listeners are struggling with this.

You may have been at the top of your class in English back in your home country but you are still struggling being here in the US.

 

**Pro tips:

  • Try to envision a phrase and the way it’s spelled in your head when you hear it spoken and pay attention to the pronunciation as well as the way it is spelled.
  • Read a lot and write a lot. It’s not just speaking and listening skills that you need to get fluent. Find a book that you love and get into it! Read it every day. Try this book: In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick and you’ll learn about the culture of Nantucket in the 1800’s.
  • Listen to native speakers and create a culture of English around you. Watch TV shows in English. Practice your conversation. Listen to NPR on your radio. Have English around you. Be at home with English. One of the big problems is that we keep English as an academic subject in our minds. Stop doing that! Don’t separate yourself from the language. Live in English as much as you can.

 

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Pronunciation patterns for today:

  • “B” is not pronounced at the end of a word with an “M” before it: Climb, comb, crumb, debt, doubt, numb, subtle, thumb
  • “L” is not pronounced before certain letters like ‘K’ as in “chalk” and “folk” and “talk” or before the letter “F” like in “calf” or “half” or sometimes before “M” like in “salmon” or “psalm.”

 

Today start trying to identify how native speakers say these words.

If you really want to focus on these sounds get yourself a pronunciation specialist.

At the very least you should start listening to native speakers on a daily basis today!

Good luck and let us know your questions in the comments below.

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