American Intonation – what they don’t teach you in school

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You know this woman…
a non-native speaker just like you, but something about the way she speaks makes her sound so fluent, natural and effortless?
But you don’t know what it is that makes her sound that way?

Or when you watch a TED talk, and there’s something so powerful and captivating about the way he talks… Something that moves you, but you don’t know exactly what you need to do to get there?

I believe that this missing link is intonation.

Intonation is the melody, the inner ‘feel', the secret rhythm of the language.
It’s the attitude, the humor, the emotions.

Intonation is a tool to convey a thought,
it’s the ability to distinguish between the important and the unimportant.
Understanding intonation helps you understand native-speakers better,
Because let’s face it, there are no subtitles in real life.

In this video I will talk about the most important elements of American intonation:
Melody (no, it’s not that they’re fake. It’s the melody.)
Stress (what’s important and what you shouldn't stress over)
Rhythm (the reason why we think all Americans mumble)

Click to watch : American Intonation – What They Don't Teach You in School.

Liked it? Join the conversation!

Let me know in the comments below what is the most challenging element for you, and how you are planning to work on it.

Don’t forget to tell us where you’re from and what your native tongue is!

Much love,

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55 Comments on “American Intonation – what they don’t teach you in school”

  1. I understand all words that you’ve said.but can’t understand the meaning.what’s the solution?
    My country is nepal.
    My aim is to learn english thorughly and earn much more money through you tube like you.

    Thank you

  2. Hi Hadar,
    Great video about intonation!
    For some reason intonation and stressing
    words are very challenging for me.
    Please help!

  3. Hello Hadar, thanks you so much for the great job you’re doing for the non-native English speakers!! 👏

    I am from South Sudan and my native language is Nuer.

    Personally, my English speaking challenge ranges from the distinction of “p”vs.”f” and “b” vs.”v” among other pronunciation shortcomings in English despite much effort exerted sometimes.

    So, how well shall I be able to effectively and effortlessly tackle such challenges?


  4. Hi Hadar,
    I am from Lima, Peru.
    I love your videos. Thank you so much.
    I am learning a lot from your videos,
    best regards,

  5. Thanks a lot Hadar,
    I’m Emmanuel from Côte d’Ivoire in Africa and my native language is French.
    I love your videos and tips, they help me.

    It’s not easy to learn a foreign language when you haven’t people to talk with, but with yours tips and videos I trust I shall be a potent English speaker

    I’m so glad to receive your mails

  6. Hi. I am Mahfuj from Bangladesh. my native language is Bengali.Your vedios are too much helpful. My problem is to practice with someone and I have no one.anyway thanks.

  7. Hi Hadar, I’m from Sounth of e. Thanks for find you in ALL_EAR_ENGLISH. I loved you, your explanation and everythink you send me. My English is in progress … it’s my second language besides Portugues but I speak Spanish too and when I was child I learned a lot France (but I lost everything).

  8. Thanks Hadar. I’m Buddika from Sri Lanka. Your every videos are very valuable for me and I love those very well. My main problem is it is difficult to understand listening and speaking some words and centense patterns. Any way I think this video will be very support me to improve it. Other thing is. There is no body to practice speaking with me. Any way thank you again.

    1. Thanks! Hadar
      I m Swar from India .
      Your all videos r too good & to supportive .
      My problem is there is no one to speak with me .
      How I improve my barrers in english .
      I need someone to speak with me
      Any way Thanks one again

  9. Hi Hadar!
    Originally I am from Ukraine. 18 months ago I immigrated to Canada. My biggest problem is speaking long sentences with proper intonation.
    I am so happy to find your channel. You’ve answered a lot of my questions and confirmed that I was going in the right direction with my English. My goal is to get rid of my accent. Thank you for being there for us!

  10. Hie Hadar .My name is Reward and i come from Zimbabwe.Zimbabwe is a country that is found in the Southern part of Africa.My native language is Shona and English is a second language.I have challenges with intonation .I would like to work on the rhythm and the American accent in general .Thank you.Reward

  11. Hadar, Your analysis of each sentences melody, stress and rhythm was brilliant. As a New Yorker, who was born and raised in THE CITY, and grew-up on “the Island,” was tempted to diagram the sentences you decrypted for us to reflect my “unique” New York accent. My more advanced English language students can often understand me when I speak “full New Yorker” which shows they are learning the language within a language. As you demonstrated during the video, sentences like, “What are you going to do” or “The glass is on the table” could have meaning that only a forensic linguist could unravel. I look forward to your next videos. Danny

    1. I like this video because you explain very clear the importance of rhythm and intonation. These skills are difficult for me. Is the imitation and repetition the way to get it?
      I am Spanish. For me are difficult the follow sounds: S, SH( as in she’s), ZH( as in pleasure) , DZ( as in ages)K and hard G(as in again, ago)
      Thanks so much

  12. Oo.. Its just fun to learn American accent from you,Hardar .Somehow on earth you’ve got a wittle sis,who’s a great GREAT fan of yours.. btw I’m from lndia and my mother tongue is Bengali …. I’ve learned English since when I was in kindergarten so I can write english well but when it comes to speaking”ohno” , everything goes blank….However its with your help I have improved alot in pronounciation but when it comes to intonation I’m little struggling with it …
    The thing is that (Ah…how um gonna express!!) ,When I’m recording my speech its sound too slow… But a good news is ,I have started to understand what the native speakers are telling without seeing through subtitles…
    Thanks a bunch,

  13. Hi Hadar,
    Thank you for sharing this video. I’m from the Philippines. I am struggling with everything. I cannot express myself because usually I tend to think first the negative way. I cannot formulate words right away coz I’m still searching in my brain what will be the right word to speak. There’s a tendency my brain will froze for a nano seconds before I can put up words. I’m looking forward to learn from you. I believe I will a natural speaker like you soon.
    Thank you

  14. Hi Hadar!
    I’m from India and my native tongue is Malayalam. I recently moved to the US and felt the necessity to learn the accent.
    I have to say, your videos are much more customized than any other tutors which makes it a lot helpful.
    In this video, I haven’t gotten the clarity btween rythm and melody. Kindly help me out.

  15. Hi dear, I´ve just started to watch your videos, and they are fantastic.
    I loved them. I lived for some years in the UK, so I would like to learn the American accent as well.
    My name is Eneida Medeiros, I live in Brazil my native language is Brazilian Portuguese-
    I am working as a freelance translator and I would like to transcript and transcribing.
    So your videos are super valuable for me, Thanks so much. Eneida

  16. Thanks hadar. I loved the way u teach.
    My name is deepa and I’m from India and my mother tongue is malayalam.
    Even though I can write and speak in English I really don’t have a proper acent to my speech.. I really want to improve my accent so that I can deliver more.. Plz help mee

  17. Thanks hadar. I loved the way u teach.. I’m from India and even though I can write and speak in English I really don’t have a proper acent to my speech.. I really want to improve my accent so that I can deliver more.. Plz help mee

  18. Thank you Hadar for this lesson ?
    I’m from Ukraine and my native language is Ukrainian.
    My problem is speaking English with pitch and melody.

  19. Hi Hadar!
    Firstly I’d like to say thank you for your grateful and amazing job!
    So far I understood about Rhythm, Melodie and Intonation, but I always struggle with vowel sounds in the words like “father”, “mother”, “cat”…etc. I can hier that “a” sound in the word “father” a little bit longer than in “mother” but I hardly can distinguish these sounds in quick speech and I always tend to say “a” sound that rings pretty the same in all these words((…Help me!))

  20. Thanks Hadar! Your site and videos are just great! I’m from Spain and my mother tongue is Spanish, I speak also Catalan as a native speaker, so maybe that helps me a little bit. I don’t underestand quite well the difference between rhythm and melody. Thanks a lot!

  21. Hi Hadar

    My mother tongue is Hindi and I am from India and I am facing the problem of words pronunciation like S Sh & Z J can you plz tell me how can I reduce this problem.


  22. Hii, I’m Nazrin. I’m from Azerbaijan. My native tongue is Azerbaijani. My problem is speaking fluently and remembering words during the conversation. By the way thanks for master video,Hadar)

  23. Hi! My name is Maria , I’m from Aguascalientes México, my mother tongue is Spanish, I’ve been studying English for a year , but my opportunity area is speak skills, I think this help me to feel confident when I speak thank you!

  24. Hi. What are the differences of intonation between the American and the British ? Please advise. Thank you.

  25. Namaste(Indian greeting word) Hadar
    first of all. Thanks for your hard work for teaching . I am from India . My native language is Hindi ,most spoken in India . In Indian dialect stop consonants are not available therefore I face problems in these consonants. I enjoy listening to you .

  26. Hadar !!! Lessons are incredible! They are understanding and really helpful especially for me. English is not about only grammars, it’s also about a music of the language. Since now I have had all bricks to build a really beautiful speech in English that will be heard and listened to. Thank you a lot ❤️❤️❤️

  27. Hi Hadar! You are an amazing teacher! I am an American from Virginia and have been studying Spanish for years, and even tho I wasn’t looking for English lessons, I came across your video and found a lot of helpful tips for learning ANY language! Keep up the good work and thank you!

  28. Thanks Hadar!
    I’ve been studying English for many years, but became fluent is a dream… I come from Brasil and we have a very musical language, but also very diferent of English and I strugle to understand natives and talk confidently…
    Best regards!

  29. I am from Ghana, west Africa and my native language is Twi. I am currently living in USA and love your videos. Thank you so much!

  30. omg Hadar!where have you been? I’m from Mexico city but I’ve been living here in Texas for more the two decades. I’m ashamed of me because I been procrastinating and don’t put a lot of effort into learning English my mother language is Spanish. I’m impressed by your hard work and how you easily pass as a native American. I feel so inspired and now I know I can do it. Thank you so very much for your great lessons and for sure I’m going to follow your channels. best wishes.

    1. Hi Hadar!
      I’m from Brazil and my mother tongue is portuguese. Melody is a problem to me.
      Thanks for your help 🙂

  31. Hi!
    I am Argentinian and my major problem is how to pronounce the “O”
    Thanks for uploading your video, I am already improving with my TH and R sounds

  32. I am from Haiti and I am struggling with pronunciation, most of the time when I have conversations with other people whenever I pronounce a word it seems like they don’t understand then I have to repeat it over and over again or sometimes I choose a synonym to make them understand about what I want to say. You can imagine how shameful I can feel in such a situation that’s the reason why I want to work on my pronunciation to get it off this situation. Thank you, teacher Hadar for your peace of advice, they are very useful for learners English.

  33. Thanks Hadar.
    I’m from Brazil, . My mother tongue is
    Portuguese. Your lesson are have been greatly helpful for me.. Thank you so much

  34. Hi, I’m from Argentina and my mother tongue is Spanish. I know the theory of which words to stress and which don’t (as you very well explained in your video) but I still have problems to put that into practice. When I say a word with a specific tone (high rise, low rise, etc) in discourse I generally run out of air, so my fluency “breaks”? How can improve that?
    Please continue uploading videos about stress (may each type of stress), melody and rythm because it’s very useful and there is little research on these topics.
    Congratulations for your work and thanks for sharing.

  35. Dear Hadar,

    Thank you for your work. My name is Olga, I’m from Ukraine. My native languages are Russian and Ukrainian. Firstly, watching your videos I didn’t suspect at all that you weren’t an American. That’s impressive. You inspired me to keep practicing.

  36. Hello Hadar.
    Thank you for you explain, i’m from Colombia, i speack spanish, in this moment in doing a Exchange in Usa but really my english is so bad, i can’t understand anithyng the people tell me. But i try yo listen whit attention your video and i guess i understand the essence of the message.
    I loved it.

  37. Hi Hadar. I love to watch your video. My native language is spanish. I have never pay to much attention to my pronunciation and now I have realized that it is hard for people to understand me
    I believe that intonation is so important
    Thank you for helping me to improve my English.

  38. thank you very much Hadar!!! I am from Argentina, I speak spanish. .
    I am a musician and part of the rhythm and melody that you explain to me are familiar to me and help me to understand better. I think the Word Stress is what costs me a little more, to realize when and how to pronounce them.
    You really know to teach. I love the way you do it, very clearly and easier. It shows that you love what you do. Best Regards

  39. Thank you, Hadar. I enjoy watching your videos. You are very creative and energetic. I was born in the U.S.A., but my mom took me to El Salvador when I was a baby, I came back to the U.S.A when I was twenty. I started going to ESL classes two months after I came, but I use to speak and watch TV in Spanish for almost two years, until I finally got the courage to start talking small sentences with a 8 yrs old cousin. I have a heavy accent and I do not like it, specially when people ask where are you from? and they say you have a strong accent. I want to become fluent and sound softer.

  40. Thank you very much, Hadar.
    This Master video makes a lot of sense to me. I lived in USA over a decade and I understand clear how intonation works now. I moved back to Mexico 8 years ago and I believe your way to teach is the way I always wanted.
    I repeat everyday for 1 hour what I listen, feeling more capable and confident. Please, keep the wonderful work!!

  41. Thanks Hadar.
    I’m from Senegal, West Africa. My mother tongue is Wolf, one of several languages spoken is senegal. I’ve been living in dubai since 2012. My biggest problem is to understand intonation when listening.

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