I was teaching a TOEIC listening lesson today, and one of the students was having difficulty identifying the words she had heard.
She heard /mænɪz/ but she didn’t know what it meant. ‘What is a /mænɪz/?’ she thought. She couldn’t distinguish any separate words from the combined sounds she heard. I asked her how she might spell /mænɪz/, and she wrote ‘manis’. I then asked her if she could see any words she knew there. She said ‘man’ and ‘is’ which was the correct answer.
The reason for the difficulty is that natural English pronunciation links words together because it makes it easier for us to say. Try it – Try saying ‘man’, finishing the word completely, and then saying ‘is’. You may find yourself saying something more like /mæn(ə)/ /ɪz/. Now, if you try to link them together you will find the end sound of ‘man’, the /n/, naturally begins the word ‘is’ because the first sound of ‘is’, /ɪ/, is what I call a soft sound, a vowel sound. So, we naturally say ‘ma nis’, /mæ nɪz/ . Get it?
Once she understood this, and practised the linked pronunciation, she was well away ( meaning that she progressed well )and heard it clearly every time.
Find a text in English (or use this blog post if you want!) and see if you can notice where the linked sounds are. Remember that if a word ends in a hard consonant sound and the next word begins with a soft vowel sound, they will naturally link. Look at this as an example:
What + on + earth + is + a … = /wɒ tɒ nɜːr θɪ zə/