Anthony Robbins' Quote: The secrets to native-like English in a few pears of wisdom.
Anthony Robbins is a powerful speaker no doubt about it. There's no one better to listen to to learn the sound features of native English than Anthony Robbins. We have already looked at the features of native English in Steve Jobs' and Oprah Winfrey's quotes to help you work towards sounding more like native speakers. I have shown you and demonstrated to you that you can find these 7 keys to native English even in short sentences spoken naturally. Now, we're going to take a slightly different approach. We're going to borrow Anthony Robbins' quote and this time only focus on intonation or the aspects related to it. We're not going to include IPA intensively this time or list every consonant and vowel in the quote, but rather help you identify the short and long vowels responsible for and usually contribute to much of the rhythm, speed and music of the English language.
This page will mainly be helpful for those of you who believe you have a good command of the English language, you can speak fluently, you know the words, you know the grammar, and you're even clear enough for most native speakers. However, you might get the feeling that you don't sound interesting when you speak English. You feel there's just simply a big gap between how you sound and how native speakers sound. You probably find it hard to follow native speakers on TV. You still rely on subtitles to follow the actors. Most importantly, you're not happy about the fact that you sound monotone, you sound like a robot! So, what this page will do for you is walk you through 4 ESSENTIAL STEPS to transform your English from Robot English to Human English. Here's the quote and a video of Anthony Robbins saying it.
STEP 1 - SHORT VOWELS AND LONG VOWELS
The first thing we're going to have to do is find which vowels sound longer and shorter. In the image below, you're going to see short blue lines under the short vowels and longer red lines under the long vowels, BUT...bear in mind that many of the vowels underlined with blue strokes are actually long vowels that have been REDUCED due to speed and rhythm. You're also going to see this IPA symbol /ə/, called the schwa sound, it's known to be the shortest and quickest sound in the English language. It's every learner's nightmare because it's hard to find and difficult to hear. Another thing you need to know, there's even a shorter version of the schwa sound. It's just a smaller version of the same symbol and finally this symbol /ɚ/ which is basically /ə/ + /r/ joined together. Okay then, play the film, listen to the quote and look at the image. Listen very carefully and focus on the red and blue strokes.
STEP 2 - SENTENCE STRESS
Well, I assume you're done with the vowels. Now you can see that it's not possible for this man to sound the way he does by pronounce all the vowels at equal length. Some vowels are way longer than others. But even if you pronounce every vowel perfectly, there will still be something missing. It's still not going to sound right. It'll sound much better but not quite there yet. Step 2 is stress. Now, remember. Not only the long vowels are stressed, but also the short ones. The schwa sounds are NEVER stressed (look, I can think of some pain-in-the-butt exceptions but you don't need this headache at the moment). Stressing is like placing the beat on the sound, it doesn't mean that you stretch it or make it longer, it just means that you make it louder, you make it carry a beat. Okay, take a look at the image below now. The stressed vowels (and obviously the syllables containing those vowels) are highlighted with the yellow circles. Now, listen again to the same quote from Anthony Robbins and focus on the stressed parts of the text along with the short and long vowels including the schwa sound.
STEP 3 - VOICE PITCH
Right. How did you go? Pretty tough isn't it? Yeah yeah I know, but seriously, not impossible. I'm making it super easy for you by saving your ears the trouble of finding all these sound patterns. Trust me, it is even so hard for teachers to recognize those patterns. Now that you've gone over the sentence stress, your pronunciation of that text should be much better. But, unfortunately, you're not done yet. Step 3 is where most learners fail. As a matter of fact, there are some native speakers often told they sound monotone (make you sleepy or bored listening to them) because of their...VOICE PITCH. I can't stress that enough. Do not confuse voice pitch with volume. I can be whispering with a high pitch. Got it? So what is it then? Have you ever seen a singer or a musician singing or just going through the DO-RE-MI-FA SO basic solfege (by sound) notes while moving up the pitch higher? That's pitch. So when we speak, we change our pitch for so many reasons mainly to express feelings, emotions and attitudes or evoke a certain feeling in others. We also use pitch to give our words another dimension such as in sarcasm. Read about pitch more HERE. So there it is. Practice it along with the other features and pay attention to the corners that I highlighted for you. Listen, the actual pitch height is not as important as the actual pitch shift. We have different voices and you are probably not going to have the same voice as Robbins' (not many people do), but it doesn't matter. What matters is that you DO change your pitch when indicated. Just follow the lines.
STEP 4 - CONNECTED SPEECH
It hurts doesn't it? If I'm giving you a headache, I'm really sorry but it just means it's working. So you've got to keep at it. Okay, so your pronunciation now should be shockingly better, if you're following the instructions right, you're already on cloud nine (very happy). It feels great doesn't it? Yeah but I hate to be a buzz killer, but it ain't over yet. I'm sure you've been struggling with speed. Anthony Robbins is a fast speaker. You must be wondering now "how does he do it? How does he manage to say all that in like hardly 13 seconds (without the pauses)? Of course it's mainly the vowels reduction process and all the schwa sounds but there's another extremely important thing that enables you to travel through the words as fast as he did, and that's connected speech. What happens is that we join the words with each other whenever it's possible. Sometimes, we even omit (delete) certain sounds or change others to make it possible for our mouth muscles to pronounce all these words smoothly. The only sound I want to draw your attention to is this sign /ʔ/, called the glottal stop. The reason I wanted to mention it is because it's really hard for learners to pick up. Don't think too much about it, all you need to know now is that you shouldn't pronounce the /t/ here, just block the sound before it sharply and the result will be the glottal stop. The rest of the stuff should be pretty straightforward and self-explanatory, feel free to read more about it HERE. Good luck with the final step.
If you have practiced, practiced and practiced using Anthony Robbins' quote, your English should already be at the next level and if you haven't, oh well, let's hope one day you'll fall off your bed, knock your head only to wake up in the morning as wise as Anthony Robbins and with perfect English!