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Connected speech

Learn about using connected speech in the IELTS speaking test. Improve your band score in pronunciation.
student listening to another student looks slightly confused
© Macquarie University

In spoken English, words are not pronounced separately or in isolation. Instead, we connect sounds between words to sound more natural. This is known as connected speech.

This is one feature in which Ming Wei did not perform well in her first attempts. There are instances where she could have connected the sounds between words:

  • …they have a lot of things in it. She could have connected the words have_a_lot_of and things_in_it.

and also contracted sounds:

  • I do not cook much. Saying “I don’t cook much” would sound more natural.
  • I would like to cook. She could have said “I’d like to cook”.

However, her use of connected speech significantly improved in her second attempt when she used the following:

Connecting consonants with vowels: Connect the sound of the final consonant of a word to the sound of the vowel of the following word. The connected sound will seem like a new syllable in the second word. For example:

  • Let’s talk_about → Let’s takabout Audio

  • I had_an_assignment to finish → I hadanassignment to finish Audio

  • But_I think → BudI think Audio

  • They use_it for_entertainment → Theyusit forentertainment Audio

Connecting similar sounds: Connect two words when the first one ends in the same letter as the following word. For example:

• We need_data → We needata Audio

• Social_learning → Socialearning Audio

• Fish_shop → Fishop Audio

• First_stop → Firstop Audio

Making new sounds: When you connect the /t/ sound with the /j/ sound, it creates the new sound /tj/. When you connect the /d/ sound with the /j/ sound, it creates the new sound /dj/. For example:

• Last year → Lastjear Audio

• Nice to meet you → Nice to meetja Audio

• Did you call? → Didja call? Audio

• Would you mind? → Woudja mind? Audio

Dropping a sound: When the last consonant of a word has the sound of a /t/ or a /d/ and the following word starts with another consonant, drop the /t/ or /d/ sounds. For example:

• My next class → My nexclass Audio

• The most common mistake → The moscommon mistake Audio

• I used to work → I useto work Audio

Using contractions: When possible, contract auxiliary and modal verbs. For example:

• I would like → I’d like Audio

• It is not cold → It isn’t cold Audio

• We should have gone → We should’ve gone Audio

• It will not be easy → It won’t be easy Audio

Speaking practice

Go to this Padlet link and answer the same questions that Ming Wei answered about cooking. In your answers, try to include appropriate phrasal verbs and idiomatic expressions and consider connected speech. Remember to leave a comment for another participant.

© Macquarie University
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