Gilbert, J. B. (2012). Clear speech: Pronunciation and listening comprehension in North American English. New York: Cambridge University Press.


Clear Vowels (14)Edit


The explanation does not give specific information about the use of reduction in regards to linking, but instead gives a general overview. It states that the schwa is the most common vowel in English and "forms an immense barrier to listening comprehension for those students who have studied English through reading," and "is also a great barrier to literacy for those who have learned English through listening."

Is says that vowels change quality when reduced, and "reduced vowels tend to be not only short, but also very unclear." It states that this is hardest for students with mothertongues that don't reduce vowels such as Spanish and Japanese. 

Tip (17)Edit

It makes reference to connected speech here. It say suggests that teachers demonstrate the contrasted pronunciations of a and the when followed by a word starting with a vowel or consonant. It does not make reference to the different spelling of a/an versus the constant spelling ot the

Linking Edit

Overall explationEdit

Nearly every chapter has a nearly identical demonstration of how the sounds are used in linking. The only difference is the sound that is being discussed. Gilbert says that this isespecially helpful for students when their native language doesn't allow a word to begin or end with said sound. (38)

Linking vowels with an off-glide (Unit 4 pg 19 Word Stress and Vowel Clarity)Edit

/y/ Explanation (19)Edit

Starts with explanation of linking as a whole: Learners have difficulty identifying words in English, because in English most words run together. In this unit the book shows that fron alphabet vowels are linked with /y/ (superscript y). Suggests that teacher introduces this by writing "Hi, everyone" on the board and saying the phrases and then placing super script y between two words. 

/w/ Explanation (23)Edit

Back alphabet vowels (alphabet vowels produced towards the back of the mouth) are linked to other vowels by using /w/.

Linking Acivity Explanation (18)Edit

The teacher guide explains that limericks are used as an acivity (as seen referenced in the other notes) because they have controlled rhythm patterns and rhyming which helps students to recognize patterns.

De-Emphasizing Structure WordsEdit

Overview explanation (27)Edit

The de-emphasizing chapter of the book combines contractions and reductions which it acknowledges are two different categories. It tends to use de-emphasize to refer to either or both categories. It states that that purpose of de-emphasizing is to highlight content words and "dim" structure words. Gilbet also points out that this can be difficult for students because even though most languages have stressing most do not lessen the stress to show contrast to the same extent as English.

Gilbert explains that one of the challenges of teaching contractions and reductions is that students often think this is lazy English. She suggests that it is easier to introduce these concepts as "useful for listening comprehension," and let students know that they don't need to use them in speech.

These subjects appear in units 7 and above in the student's book.

Focus and Structure words (27-28)Edit

Explanation Edit

Gilbert explains that "English learner's main difficulty with focus is not in learning how to emphasize the focus word, put in learning how to de-emphasize other words." 

She suggests that teachers review pronouns and prepositions with students when introducing this topic. She also says that practicing reduction with students is important because these words are usually important but are hard to hear. 

Tip (28)Edit

Suggests (with advanced students) to explain why telegrams often used only content words. Give the students a paragraph and ask them to cut out the words that would not be needed in a telegram.

This tip does not give further explanation about effectiveness or how much explanation should be given to link it to what is being taught.

Music in English (28)Edit

Gilbert suggests using the tasks from unit 6 task B to demonstrate do and 'you are reduced to one syllable.' It says that this task will help put this in the students' long term memories but does not give any further explanation. 


Explanation (28)Edit

Gilbert says that contractions are one of the reasons that learners thinnk natives speak to fast. She says that they are usually made by an auxilary verb and structure word. She emphasizes that it is damaging for learners to not identify aux and pronouns when learning contractions, because it is not easy to recognize them when listening. 

Group work activity (28)Edit

One side of the room says one word (she). One says another (is). Teacher points to one than the other than together they contracted them (she's).

Silent H (29)Edit

In this section Gilbert gives the example of "Is he busy" to demonstrate how <h> is often made "silent" in English. She says that this "silencing" combined with the linking makes it difficult for learners to follow what is being said.  

Emphasizing Structure Words (34)Edit

Gilber believes that one of the reasons that students have difficulties accepting contractions is because they belive that they are lazy English. She suggests that if students are shown that structure words are emphasized through using their full form, the students will see how contrasts serves an importan purpose in showing contrast. She also suggests that one of the reasons that learners often neglect using structure words is because they are reduced in speech and therefore hard to hear. 

The book gives isolated activities in this section which demonstrate the forms of emphasized and de-emphasized structure words separately.