Introduction: Getting Acquainted with Accent from Accent Activities: Pronunciation Supplement to Speaking: Oral Language Skills for Real-Life Communication, pages 1-12. Accent Acquisition Principle = The “Step System of American English
Who It’s For: Intermediate & Beyond American-English Teachers, Helpers, & Learners Looking to Acquire a Clear Native-Sounding Accent Overall
Why It’s Useful: Most Audio & Text materials intended to produce comprehensible oral English focus on its elements one by one: production of its vowel & consonant sounds, syllable-stress, linking, pausing, and the like. The features that contribute most to clear speech, however, tend to be Phrase & Sentence Focus, intentional Rhythm, and Intonation. These are the components of the “Step System of American Speech Music,” a methodical plan first put forward by “accent coaches” for actors, public speakers, and others who want to acquire certain ways of speaking for specific purposes. Here’s explanation of the system—with visual text practice that learners can use to get acquainted with one another.
What You’ll Do:
 Read and think about the “Step System of American English.” If there’s interest, look up its concepts in articles about products like Breaking the Accent Barrier or The Sound & Style of American English (by Dr. David Alan Stern) or on other websites.
 Use visual notation—CAPITAL LETTERS for emphasis, ÷ Vertical Lines÷ for pausing, amount of spacing for timing, and up or down arrows for intonation—to read aloud passages on Four Basic Features of Clear Speech: Thought-Group Focus, Generally Even Rhythm, Timing & Pausing, and Intonation. In Exercise 1, practice the Jump Up, Step Down Pattern with graphic illustrations of ten groups of common Information Questions & Short Answers used in initial “small talk.” Do the same with the sentence patterns in Exercise 2: Glide Instead of Step Down.
 The Download ends with ten patterned Speakers A & B Exchanges on five typical “Topics for Social Conversation” (Names, Background, Family & Friends, Studies & Work, Interests). Inserting your own real information, practice these as many times as you want—in order to get better acquainted with the Accent Acquisition Principle as well as one another.