In my 20-day Fast Speech Challenge, I ended up spending the most editing time on Day 17: Dropping the T. In fact, I pulled the original video and reloaded it after adding some clarification and new examples.
Can you easily explain why we lose the T in center and Internet in fast speech? I noted the N-T combo, but it goes beyond that. At first, I focused on stressed syllables (CEN-ter and IN-ter-net), but then I thought of international and sentimental and realized I’d have to get into secondary stress, so then I called attention to the following unstressed syllable. That simplified matters: we can drop the T after N and before an unstressed vowel sound. CEN(t)er/ IN(t)ernet/ in(t)erNAtional/ sen(t)iMEN(t)al
When else do have a choice of keeping a T or dropping it? In my opening example, I used often. Later I mentioned T as a middle consonant, as in concepts and just thinking.
The confusing thing is that in some words the T is always silent, so we write it, but drop it in our pronunciation. If you want to see how familiar your students are with silent and dropped Ts, try using my Twenty Questions_handout. You might use the list as a listen-repeat exercise before actually pairing up for Q&A. You can model either slow, careful pronunciation or faster, more relaxed pronunciation.