pronunciation english poem

I made this short poem especially for Chinese students who talk with a specific rhythm of speaking that can interfere with learning pronunciation in English. This happens because replacing English sounds with similar Chinese sounds allows the toungue to slip naturally through the words when the correct English sound requires a pause in the flow. For instance the Chinese 'W' is 'oow-ah' or 'oow' (5 in Chinese) but the English 'W' is 'wah' - correctly pronounced the English 'W' forces a mouth movement that requires a pause in the sound, for instance going from 'when' to 'we', 'when we' needs us to either have a light hiatus between the words - or we extend the 'N' sound while the mouth shape changes ready to form the 'W'. These pauses and letter sounds that we extend (along with stretched vowels) are at the base of the English speaking rythm.


Nursery rhymes are simple poetry that we use to help teach our own children language and so this is a well established method for learning speech.

The idea is that we can learn an easily remembered poem or rhyme, and then correct the speaking of it until the student can recite it with good pronunciation. This then is a model in the student's head that can be called on for reference at any time, or practiced at any time. Training the unconcious, automatic, part of our mind to change a language sound is harder than learning and using a new sound and can only be done with a bit of hard work and by conciously using the new sound in speech. I combine this with a few easy sentences (for instance) containing only 'W' 'V' and 'TH' each sentence, for parctice that sound, then I mix the three sounds into one sentece and ask students to practice all four sentences regulary.

Learn Chinese or English as a second language in China

The English blah-de-blah-de-blah-blah-blah rhythm forces the correct use of words spoken together and those spoken separated from each other.

The idea comes from working with advanced speakers who want to improve their already good pronunciation, and speakers with problems with pronunciation.

For very advanced students who may be already studying some English literature I sometimes use Robert Frost's A Silken Tent - I have another hub here that is a short easy 'how to read it'.

Frost writes language as it is normally spoken which makes much of his poetry very suitable for this kind of work.

I am still working on this short poem - it needs to change a few words to have at least one or more of the normal pronunciation problems, W & V, L & N, SH & TH within it somewhere, any suggestions gratefully received.

English speaking has two feet

Talking in a special beat

Chinese chit-chat sings a little song

English feels more like strolling all along

Like a small-child learning to walk

It takes two steps, then pauses to talk


Others need to stay sep a rated

Keeping the rhythm of an English beat

Makes pronunciation clear and sweet

<..... >... <........ >..<... >.... _

English speaking has two feet

Talking in a special beat


Chinese chit-chat sings a little song

<.......>... _ ...<........>...<........>..<...>._

English feels more like strolling all along

Using this poem in the classroom for lower levels of English speakingI have found it better to remove the two lines:

Like a small-child learning to walk

It takes two steps, then pauses to talk

This makes the poem shorter and so less onerous to remember. I leave it in for higher levels and use the comma break to reinforce and explain the use of punctuation in oral English. I do this by asking for a single syllable length silent 'break' for a comma and two silent 'breaks' for a full-stop, or period. Chinese punctuation separates idea blocks in a different way than the English language and it helps to teach how, in English, one 'idea' is attached to another, or a 'sub-idea' nested within the main one.


open minded and paying attention
open minded and paying attention
For what we are about to receive
For what we are about to receive

Comments 31 comments

valeriebelew profile image

valeriebelew 6 years ago from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA

You can toss this one in the garbage if need be. I like the idea; have never spoken an asian language but would like to learn. (: v

Sa`ge profile image

Sa`ge 6 years ago from Barefoot Island

interesting and informative, something needed to learn. ~aloha~

Awful Poet profile image

Awful Poet 6 years ago from The Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) (m-M)_0 = 18.41, or 48 kpc (~157,000

Very Intresting.

Linda Myshrall 6 years ago

So interesting...

My nephew has one parent who speaks English as a first language and another parent who learned Chinese first, then English as a second language. My nephew is just beginning to speak, and he hears both languages frequently, so I imagine his learning process involves resolving this very thing.

Great concept,


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa

I like the idea of this very much. Don't have too much knowledge of Chinese but I think this method could be adapted to the teaching of people who speak other languages as well. The people of South Africa have 11 official languages to cope with and so learning each other's languages is rather important. This techinique could assist, I think.

Love and peace


Ben Evans profile image

Ben Evans 6 years ago

It is a nice concept and this has a nifty cadence.

alternate poet profile image

alternate poet 6 years ago Author

Thanks for all the comments - I have tried it and something is happening, if that something turns out to be it working I will update :)

writer45 profile image

writer45 6 years ago from Fargo, North Dakota

Very original thinking and good use of couplets. I speak English, French and German and would be interested in how your technique would deal with those languages... if it is designed for other tongues.

Keep writing.

alternate poet profile image

alternate poet 6 years ago Author

Writer45 - I think it would work fine for anybody of any language learning English - I would think the two lines that demonstrate the Chinese rhythm agains the English could be re-written in teh learners language rhythm.

gulnazahmad profile image

gulnazahmad 6 years ago from Pakistan

so rhythmical and musical, I enjoyed reading it......... singing it I mean:)

Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 6 years ago from Maui and Arizona

How light and imaginative. I am guessing that you are a teacher of English to speakers of other languages. TESOL is the name of the program here at the BYU Hawaii Campus. If I had that a job like that, I think I would never retire.

Great use for a poem.

Sa`ge profile image

Sa`ge 6 years ago from Barefoot Island

I can remember as a child reciting many nursery rhymes in school as well as cute short songs, this was and intrinsic part of our daily studies, maybe this was used as a way to get us to speak proper English rather then the pigin (Hwn+other languages+half pronounced English words) we predominantly spoke at the time. I must say it worked quiet well. Most of us from that era do have a better grasp on the English language then those who did not or do not have the same type of training. You are a great teach :) ~aloha~

Joy56 profile image

Joy56 6 years ago

this is so happening, i think that is the right word, it's different, it is good, and thought provoking thankyou, Just what hub pages is all about.,

Mystique1957 profile image

Mystique1957 6 years ago from Caracas-Venezuela

Interesting approach, my brother poet...

I like the cadence and the easy to follow rhyme! It´s wonderful how you concern yourself with helping others.

Rated up, funny and beautiful!

Warmest hugs and infinite heavenly blessings,


ralwus 6 years ago

Well, sometimes I go crazy with it and am all over the place. I don't think the foreigners can keep up and sometimes even the English speaking people. LOL

SilverGenes 6 years ago

This is a very interesting approach. I have worked with many Chinese speaking people who are faced with the problem of 'pacing' in English and you just may have found the answer :)

Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

You put some nice together so nicely! Great job!

Pratonix profile image

Pratonix 6 years ago from Asia

Those five couplets are really good. I notice your 4th couplet doesn't have rhyme, but you can try a longer metre.

It reminds me of how I changed the rhyme and rhythm in my Nonsense Poem on 'Muddlehorses', which I've put up on this site.

always exploring profile image

always exploring 6 years ago from Southern Illinois

Poems are my passion,i have so much to learn.

Thank You

Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada

Language is a form of music, with each dialect with it's own cadence. Learning music and math are proven to help learn languages that are not the mother tongue. Once one learns the cadence, one can begin to hear the subtle inflections in tone. This ability separates those who want to learn a language and those who can speak it fluently like it is their mother tongue. You are on the right path!! :)

Daniel J. Neumann profile image

Daniel J. Neumann 6 years ago from Harrisburg, Pa

Ah, English. A German/Latin hybrid that has evolved into a purely analytic form of communication.

I like what you're doing here. I'd recommend changing "It-speaks-some-words-all-together" to something more like "Forty-year-olds struggle to keep it together" or something hyphenated that actually would be said in one long string.

Obviously, I haven't put nearly as much time into it, but I think that revision would polish what's already a great poem.

Thanks for sharing,


alternate poet profile image

alternate poet 6 years ago Author

Thanks everyone for your supportive comments.

Daniel, your suggestion does not 'flow' altogether in a way that uses any rule; forty year olds works, but in speaking " olds struggle " there is a pause between the two words as we have to speak the ending S and beginning S separately or "struggle" does not pronounce properly, which is the point of the poem, the same applies to " it together " we need to 'hang' between the two T's to keep the words separately pronounced. Also 'forty year olds' has no relevance while speaks some words all together - is what the poem is about. Thanks for you input, all constructive criticism helps us to htink more about our stuff.

rembrandz profile image

rembrandz 6 years ago from Dubai Media City

Brilliant portrayal! Very creative and very insightful!

Thank you I love it!

Steele Fields profile image

Steele Fields 6 years ago from drexel hill,pa

Maybe for the fourth couplet you could try :

It -speaks-some-words-all-together

other should remain un-tethered...


Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 6 years ago from United States

I love this. So mindful and observant.

alternate poet profile image

alternate poet 6 years ago Author

Thanks rembrandz and Tom Rubenoff!

Steele Fields, yes that would work ok, I find that the words naturally remain separated when pronounced properly - and this continues on into the word separated which becomes pronounced sep-a-ra-ted, try it :) I then encourage this separation in the teaching which puts the 'weight' of memory about separated words on the separated word separated :D

Christopher Price profile image

Christopher Price 6 years ago from Vermont, USA

Alternate Poet,

I have a number of poems here on hubpages that I wrote as lyrics to songs I am still trying to set to music, and a couple that are prose poems with no rhyming pattern.

If any of these would be of any use to you please let me know.

Your quest for language learning aids fascinates me and I would be most proud to be of any assistance.

BTW, is your avatar a self portrait by El Grecko? Looks familiar.


alternate poet profile image

alternate poet 6 years ago Author

Hi Christopher Price - been and looked at your stuff and it is col like music :) I have a theory growing about learning aids and this poem is part of a set of stuff. The general idea is to provide simple rhythms, rhyme for memory aid and short. Most second language teaching is top heavy with grammar and workd crunching to expand vocabulary, rightly so - but communication seems to have fallen by the wayside in the process. All of the stuff in my current set is and will be about meaning with the learning pronunciation to increase the everday 'talking' the language being learned.

Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 5 years ago

Very nice. I needed to see this one again. I had to hit the funny button with the others. I like the way you put this together. Thank you!

banty angom 5 years ago

really it was nice n great job....

TicksProfessional profile image

TicksProfessional 5 years ago from Lucknow India

I read English online and otherwise and it always helps in improving things but there's no one out there to help me improve my pronunciation. While reading poetry, understanding rhyme and meter is the most difficult part for me. This is because of insufficient exposure to good spoken English.

Great hub. Up and useful!

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