Stress Simplified

Speak with the Natural Rhythm and Melody of English Through Word and Sentence Stress and Thought Groups
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Let's get started! I'm so excited to welcome you to Stress Simplified.

Welcome to Stress Simplified!
4 mins
Why Stress Matters - An Overview of Stress in American English
10 mins
How to Make Practicing Stress Part of Your Life
4 mins
Get Feedback and Answers to Your Questions
4 mins
Two Ways to Approach Practicing Stress
4 mins
How to Track Your Progress on Your Own
4 mins
Download the Stress Simplified Guidebook with Complete Transcripts
9.54 MB
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Introduction to Word Stress
Introduction to Word Stress
3 mins
Understand Pitch in English and Practice Pitch Variation
4 mins
Exploring Pitch with Steps and Slides
6 mins
How to Use Volume to Create Word Stress with Louder Syllables
2 mins
Exploring Your Volume to Understand How Pitch and Volume Work Together
3 mins
Why the Length of Stressed Syllables is So Important
3 mins
Practical Exercises to Help You Learn and Remember Word Stress Patterns
5 mins
Producing Natural-Sounding Syllables
Now that you’ve had some time to get comfortable with the basics of word stress, I want to focus your attention on the details.

As we discussed in the Introduction to Word Stress, the essential elements of stress are making one syllable longer, louder, and higher in pitch.

When you joined this program, you were probably producing at least one of these consistently.

In my experience, most people struggle the most with lengthening stressed syllables, so I want you to pay extra attention to how l-o-n-g you hold stressed syllables.

I suggest holding them until it feels a little bit uncomfortable or awkward. 😮

When you’re practicing, you’ll notice how long they feel.

But when you’re speaking with other people, you’ll naturally speed up a little bit so the long syllables will sound just right.

If you’re new to the accent reduction process, I encourage you to take it easy on yourself at first.

When you work through the stress pattern exercises, just focus on syllable length, volume, and pitch.

Make stressed syllables l-o-n-g-e-r, LOUDER, and higher in pitch. Exaggerate. Drill these three elements into your memory by listening to and repeating the practice exercises.

If you’re ready for more of a challenge, let’s move on to talking about the details.

Producing Natural-Sounding Syllables


To reduce your accent, you want to make sure you’re producing syllables the way native speakers do.

In the next section, Producing Natural-Sounding Syllables, we’ll explore some of the elements that give English its distinctive sound and rhythm.

First, let’s examine the differences between stressed, unstressed, and reduced syllables.

So far, we’ve discussed stressed syllables, but the contrast between stressed and unstressed/reduced syllables is what creates the natural rhythm of English.

Stressed syllables are super clear and crisp, unstressed syllables are still clear but less distinct, and reduced syllables are crunched or squashed.

To sound more natural, you want to pay special attention to the vowel sounds on stressed syllables.

Making a syllable longer actually gives your mouth time to move through all of the different shapes created by English consonants and vowels!

In particular, you want to pay attention to what I call vowel shaping, or the way our mouths move when producing long vowel sounds.

We actually add an extra sound at the end which changes the sound of the vowel, called an off-glide.

Watch the full lesson for a complete explanation because you really do need to see it - and hear it - to believe understand it. 😉

The first step is simply to increase your awareness of this extra shape at the end of your vowels.

As you move forward, you’re going to use this shape to create transitions between syllables.

The shape of your mouth creates a noticeable change in pitch and volume.

Think of your pitch and volume sliding up to a stressed syllable and sliding down to an unstressed or reduced syllable.

Picture the volume control on a stereo or even a dimmer switch for a lamp or ceiling light. 🎚️

This transition is subtle and can take some time to master.

If you feel like you sound a little choppy, robotic, or staccato when speaking English, you’re probably not creating this gliding or sliding transition between syllables.

Like I said, your job right now is simply to become more aware of it as you practice stress patterns and listen to native speakers.

As you progress through the practice exercises, I’ll remind you to pay even more attention to vowel shaping and how to use your pitch to link syllables.

Last but not least, I want to emphasize a key point that is central to reducing your accent: pay attention to one- and two-syllable words!

Even though these words are short and easy to say, they should still be stressed.

Because we prefer clear, simple vocabulary in English, you’ll be using short words all the time. Don't forget to make them longer, louder, and higher in pitch.

For practice, please review the first seven stress pattern exercises. They include many short words, so you can start practicing with them if you haven’t already!

In the next two sections, we'll talk about stress patterns in more depth.

But remember, you can start practicing with them now!

You are training your ear to hear these patterns and your mouth to produce them.

You don’t need to fully understand why these patterns exist in order to practice with them.

Spend at least ten minutes a day listening to the practice exercises and repeating them.

If you’re commuting on the subway and you can’t speak out loud, you can actually say the words in your head. 🎧

The more time you can dedicate to practicing, the sooner you will hear results!
Understanding the Differences Between Stressed, Unstressed, and Reduced Syllables
5 mins
How Word Stress Can Help You Produce Natural-Sounding Vowels
2 mins
Understanding Vowel Shaping and Off-Glides for Clear Stress and a Natural Accent
5 mins
Practice Long Vowels and Diphthongs in American English
7 mins
How to Vary Your Pitch and Link Syllables to Reduce Choppiness in Your Speech
4 mins
Why You Need to Pay Extra Attention to One and Two Syllable Words
2 mins
Why You Need to Exercise Your Mouth and Practice These Shapes
2 mins
Stretch Your Mouth & Jaw to Improve How You Say Long Vowels and Diphthongs
4 mins
Work on Word Stress Patterns
Over the past couple of weeks, we've walked through all of the elements that give English its distinctive rhythm.

You have made huge progress: you understand the importance of making syllables longer, louder, and higher in pitch and you know that certain syllables are stressed and others are unstressed or even reduced.

You've even discovered a few secrets of accent reduction: you learned how to shape your vowels, how to slide your pitch to sound more like a native speaker, and how to link syllables together using your mouth.

Phew! That's a lot! 😅


Before we get started on the next section, I want to remind you to be patient with yourself.

Effortlessly combining all of these elements into a natural-sounding accent takes practice.

That's why we're going to talk all about identifying stress patterns and learning predictable patterns that will help simplify the process.

As we move through the practice exercises and drills, I'll remind you to check in and reflect on how you're using your mouth.

I think you'll be pleasantly surprised to discover that this does become easier day after day. 

Remember, we're training your ear to hear and listen for these patterns and stretching your mouth and vocal cords so that you can produce them!

So let's dive in! 

Identifying Stress Patterns

In the section Work on Stress Patterns, I guide you to identify and practice stress patterns in words you use at work and in your daily life.

(Accent reduction is much more effective if you can connect what you're learning with the words you are most likely to say.)

When you come across a new word, be sure to note down the word stress pattern first!

(Remember, you're listening for the syllable that is longer, louder, and higher in pitch.👂)

As you get started working on your word stress, keep these three tips in mind:

  • Associate new words (or words you're learning to say correctly) with words you're confident that you're stressing correctly. This makes them easier to remember.
  • Learn words in chunks. Words don't usually appear in isolation, so to sound more like a native speaker, you want to pay attention to the words around it. This will help you identify stress patterns in phrases, longer chunks, and even in sentences.
  • Study words by category. Choose a category of words (I've chosen personality vocabulary, but you might choose words related to food, exercise, children, hobbies, or your favorite TV show) and note down the stress patterns for all of those words.

And how do you even know what the stress pattern is for a particular word?

Well, you can listen for it, but you'll probably feel more confident if you look it up in a dictionary. 📖

Watch the lesson on How to Identity Word Stress in Online Dictionaries for a detailed tutorial on what you need to be looking for.

As I describe in Keeping Stress Simple, I encourage you to focus on the primary stress in every word.

This will help you speak more clearly and ensure native speakers understand you.

Remember, we're trying to simplify the process - you don't want to get distracted by all the details that just aren't necessary right now.
Get Started Working on Your Word Stress
3 mins
How to Identify Word Stress with Online Dictionaries
10 mins
Keeping Stress Simple - Primary and Secondary Stress
5 mins
Practice Vowel Sounds and Stressed Syllables
Practice Vowel Sounds and Stressed Syllables
6 mins
Stress Simplified - Practice Vowel Sounds and Stressed Syllables.pdf
3.59 MB
Creating Contrast Between Stressed and Unstressed and Reduced Syllables
21 mins
/eɪ/ as in day
13 mins
/i/ as in meet
13 mins
/aɪ/ as in light
14 mins
/oʊ/ as in road
16 mins
/u/ as in food
14 mins
/aʊ/ as in now
13 mins
/ɔɪ/ as in toy
8 mins
/æ/ as in fast
14 mins
/ɛ/ as in red
12 mins
/ɪ/ as in kid
11 mins
/ɑ/ as in stop
11 mins
/ɑ/ as in stop - New England Variation
12 mins
/ɔ/ as in dog
14 mins
/ʌ/ as in luck
12 mins
/ʊ/ as in good
7 mins
/ɜr/ as in learn
10 mins
More Resources for Pronouncing Sounds in American English
Learning and Practicing Stress Patterns
Learning and Practicing Predictable Stress Patterns

Many non-native speakers find the rhythm of English a bit baffling because there don't seem to be any simple rules for the way words are stressed.

This isn't exactly true, but I understand that it can feel that way. 😉

In Stress Simplified, we focus on the predictable stress patterns you can practice.

Because words with these patterns are so common in professional and academic environments (as well as your everyday interactions), practicing them will get you using word stress more consistently.

By drilling these patterns, you'll do powerful work to train your ear and your mouth.

And after a month of exercises, you'll find it much easier to hear the stressed syllable in words that don't follow these patterns.

In this section, I walk you through the stress patterns you'll learn in this program. (This is particularly helpful for visual learners who would like to see the patterns to remember them. 👀)

But you don't have to watch the workshops to keep moving forward with the drills!

This week, I encourage you to work through practice exercises 8-15 and continue making momentum.

Even five minutes a day can add up to noticeable results, and you're aiming for these small but significant wins right now.

ps... Remember to use the Stress Simplified boot camp program to help keep you motivated to work through the practice exercises!
Introduction to Stress Patterns
2 mins
Guidelines for Stress Patterns
6 mins
Practice Pitch Steps & Stress Patterns in Two- and Three-Syllable Words
3 mins
Guidelines for Other Predictable Stress Patterns
7 mins
Stress Patterns in Word Families
22 mins
Guidelines for Word Partnerships
5 mins
30 Day Boot Camp
Master Stress Through a Daily Accent Reduction Practice
Stress Simplified Boot Camp: Create a Regular Accent Reduction Practice
3.53 MB
Introduction to the Stress Simplified Boot Camp
2 mins
Day 1
2 mins
Day 2
2 mins
Day 3
2 mins
Day 4
2 mins
Day 5
2 mins
Day 6
2 mins
Day 7
2 mins
Day 8
2 mins
Day 9
2 mins
Day 10
2 mins
Day 11
2 mins
Day 12
2 mins
Day 13
2 mins
Day 14
2 mins
Day 15
2 mins
Day 16
2 mins
Day 17
2 mins
Day 18
1 min
Day 19
1 min
Day 20
1 min
Day 21
1 min
Day 22
1 min
Day 23
2 mins
Day 24
1 min
Day 25
2 mins
Day 26
2 mins
Day 27
1 min
Day 28
1 min
Day 29
1 min
Day 30
2 mins
Create Your Own Vocabulary Lists for Stress Patterns
Master Stress Patterns: Practice Exercises
Stress Patterns with IPA Transcriptions
3.63 MB
Stress Pattern #1
5 mins
Stress Pattern #2
5 mins
Stress Pattern #3
5 mins
Stress Pattern #4
4 mins
Stress Pattern #5
7 mins
Stress Pattern #6
6 mins
Stress Pattern #7
4 mins
Stress Pattern #8
7 mins
Stress Pattern #9
5 mins
Stress Pattern #10
4 mins
Stress Pattern #11
8 mins
Stress Pattern #12
7 mins
Stress Pattern #13
7 mins
Stress Pattern #14
7 mins
Stress Pattern #15
7 mins
Stress Pattern #16
7 mins
Stress Pattern #17
6 mins
Stress Pattern #18
7 mins
Stress Pattern #19
4 mins
Stress Pattern #20
4 mins
Stress Pattern #21
3 mins
Stress Pattern #22
2 mins
Stress Pattern #23
7 mins
Stress Pattern #24
2 mins
Stress Pattern #25
4 mins
Stress Pattern #26
7 mins
Stress Pattern #27
5 mins
Stress Pattern #28
5 mins
Stress Pattern #29
6 mins
Stress Pattern #30
4 mins
Stress Pattern #31
15 mins
Stress Pattern #32
13 mins
Practice Exercise for Personality Vocabulary and Word Stress
7 mins
Bonus Video: 30 Words That Americans and Brits Stress Differently
15 mins
Bonus Video: How to Stress the 50 States of the United States of America
19 mins
How to Stress Words with Dropped, Disappearing, or Deleted Syllables
18 mins
Practice Exercise: Words with Dropped, Disappearing, or Deleted Syllables
8 mins
Sentence Stress
Introduction to Sentence Stress
1 min
Understanding Content and Function Words
14 mins
Reducing Function Words
16 mins
Weak Forms of Function Words
21 mins
Weak Forms at a Glance
160 KB
Create Contrast for the Natural Rhythm and Melody of English
11 mins
Focus on Lengthening Stressed Syllables to Sound More American
4 mins
Pitch Waves, Sentence Stress, and the Melody of English
1 min
Understanding Stress on Normal Sentences
6 mins
Shift Stress to Make Your Meaning Clear
12 mins
Connecting Sentence Stress and Intonation
11 mins
More Sentence Stress Practice
Practice Exercise: Understanding Content and Function Words
4 mins
Practice Exercise: Reducing Function Words
4 mins
Practice Exercise: Weak Forms of Function Words
17 mins
Practice Exercise: Understanding Stress in Normal Sentences
3 mins
Practice Exercise: Shift Stress to Make Your Meaning Clear
3 mins
Practice Exercise: Connecting Sentence Stress and Intonation
5 mins
How to Say Contractions with Sentence Stress
11 mins
Contractions and Sentence Stress Practice Exercises
8 mins
How to Say Phrasal Verbs with Sentence Stress
10 mins
Phrasal Verbs and Sentence Stress Practice Exercises
13 mins
Phrasal Verbs and Introduction to Linking
4 mins
How to Say Informal Contractions with Sentence Stress
15 mins
Thought Groups and Chunking
Understanding Sentence Stress and Thought Groups
7 mins
Thought Groups and Chunking
18 mins
Stress Patterns and Chunking in Numbers
25 mins
Practice Sentence Stress and Thought Groups
12 mins
How to Practice Sentence Stress and Thought Groups on Your Own
5 mins
Thought Groups Practice Exercise #1
7 mins
Thought Groups Practice Exercise #2
5 mins
Thought Groups Practice Exercise #3
7 mins
Thought Groups Practice Exercise #4
6 mins
Thought Groups Practice Exercise #5
7 mins
Thought Groups Practice Exercise #6
7 mins
Thought Groups Practice Exercise #7
5 mins
Advanced Stress
Adjusting the Length of Stressed Syllables
10 mins
Revisiting Different Levels of Stress in Words
12 mins
Adding Syllables to Words - Prefixes and Suffixes
15 mins
Advanced Stress in Phrases & Thought Groups
24 mins
Choose Which Word to Stress the Most in a Phrase
5 mins
Reflect On Your Progress

Now that you’ve come to the end of the Stress Simplified program, you want to take some time to celebrate your results! 


Because you’ve been working on improving your word and sentence stress gradually over the past few months, you may not be aware of the big strides you’ve actually made towards a more natural-sounding accent in English.

When you are so invested in the process, it can be challenging to “hear” how you sound objectively.

That’s why I asked you to reflect and record yourself at the beginning of the program. Before you dig out the recording, let’s take stock of how you feel right now.

This process can take between 30-60 minutes, so be sure to give yourself enough time to reflect on your accent.

You will also be asked to record yourself again so that you can measure your progress over the course of the program.

Please download the attached PDF worksheet and complete the reflection questions. 

You'll find the instructions to analyze your accent within the PDF guide as well! 😀
Test Your Mastery of Stress Patterns
38 mins
How to Measure Your Own Progress
2 mins
Measure Your Own Progress - Reflection Questions [PDF Guide]
188 KB
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