Pronunciation Course | Phase I | Primary Stress, Schwa, and Consonant Sounds

In the second part of this chapter, we’ll be guessing the primary stressed syllable in each word. This is going to be the last of this simple phase I, thus why it’s the longest write-up of them all. After that, we’ll be going into phase II which is going to feature a lot more content.

  1. Canal
  2. Hotel
  3. Specific
  4. Distribute
  5. Afternoon
  6. Assumption
  7. Inidividual
  8. Biology

Remember use the forward slash for each word and enunciate it out loud.  Stress the first syllable, then second, third (if necessary) and fourth (if necessary). You should then be able to auto-correct yourself because you will notice that if you stress particular syllables within a word, it wouldn’t make sense at all.

In words with more than one syllable, pay special attention to the vowel sound in the stressed syllable.  It is the most important vowel sound in the word.

Let me give you some examples.

Æ – near-front   – Cat

ɛ – near-front      – Let

ɪ – near-front       – it

ɑ – back              – hot

ʌ – back              – cup

List of different words with the sounds: factor, expensive, fantastic, method, custom, promise, respond, geology, instruction, resist, select, audit.

Schwa Sound

Vowel sounds in stress syllables are long and clear, but vowerl sounds in unstressed syllables are weak and unclear. They are usually reduced to the schwa sound, as in about.

  • Office
  • Official
  • Compete
  • Protection
  • Successful
  • Political

Consonant Sounds

Speling often provides clues to pronunciation of consonant sounds, but not always. Notice the different pronunciations for the letter g.

Gold = /g/ as in go.

General = /dz/ as in job

Beige /z/ as in measure


Write the symbol used in your dictionary for the underlined letter(s) in each set of words.  Then find the pronunciation guide in your dictionary and write the key word for each symbol.

                                                                                                Symbol                     Keyword

  1. Zero, lose, close, (verb), razor                                 /z/                                zoo
  2. Show, initiate, pressure, special
  3. Check, furniture, nature, situation
  4. Division, usually, Asia, beige,
  5. Joke, graduate, agent, schedule

Tip: Pronouncing Key words

Before a discussion or presentation, think about two or three key words you will need.  Be sure you can pronounce the words clearly.  Check a dictionary or ask someone who speaks English well to say the words for you.

The words will sound more natural if you ask the speaker to use them in sentences.  You can also ask speakers to record words and sentences you can hear and practice them over and over.

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