English Pronunciation: 20 VOWEL-SOUNDS IN 20 Minutes

https://unsplash.com/photos/1YmRIhxjvns

New Zealand fur seal,  “All my words are vowel sounds!!”   Photo by Karen Lau on Unsplash.com

Back by popular demand is a lesson I did four years ago. Follow my instructions, practise regularly, and your pronunciation will improve. The practice is necessary as you are training your mouth to make new, different movements. It is physical practice like learning to surf or drive a car.

The students who were in my class (from Asia, Europe and South America) were all able to produce the 20 Vowel Sounds during the lesson. However, if they didn’t practise after the lesson, they would have forgotten most of it because the practice also retrains your brain. It is important for this new information to be stored in your long-term memory and this can only happen with repetition and revision.

When you watch television, repeat phrases or words you hear. This is an easy, convenient way to practise and check your progress. Press PAUSE and repeat difficult sounds until you are satisfied with your pronunciation.

Are you ready? In just 20 minutes you will learn the 20 English Vowel Sounds.

For a clear picture of the English File Phonetic Chart, click here and for practice exercises, click here.

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Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Beginner (Level 1), Elementary (Level 2), Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Pronunciation Videos, Speaking & Pronunciation, Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Videos | Tagged | Leave a comment

This is why he plants every day

Vocabulary in Chunks

Prudential

Assam Province, India –  read more HERE

assam

maps of india

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Posted in Children, Elementary (Level 2), Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Pre-Intermediate (Level 3) | Leave a comment

Descriptive Language & Persuasive devices – Advanced & Proficiency Level Students

In a post published April 26, 2015, I recommended A guide to understanding persuasive language, provided by the University of New South Wales, Australia. This guide provided excellent advice on developing writing and speaking skills.

Unfortunately, this link is no longer available, but don’t despair! I have found a well-written, concise guide on Literary Techniques by the BBC which focuses on how to use descriptive language techniques effectively. Click on the picture below for the link.

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Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Cambridge, IELTS, Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Writing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

A song with Collocations and Idioms

https://unsplash.com/photos/-Xv7k95vOFA

                          Making friends                                      Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash.com

Photo by Bùi Thanh Tâm on Unsplash

        This university graduate has high hopes.           Photo by Bùi Thanh Tâm on Unsplash.com

The English language is full of collocations and idioms.

By collocations, I mean words that naturally go together like high hopes,heavy rain, and ‘make friends. We don’t say ‘tall hopes’, ‘huge rain‘ or ‘produce friends‘. 

Idioms are expressions whose meaning cannot be predicted by the words in the expression; for example, to kick the bucket which means ‘to die’; and to be under the weather(‘to feel sick’).

Today, I’m focusing on a song which contains numerous collocations and idioms. This means that you can enjoy fabulous music and improve your English vocabulary at the same time. Too easy!

Have a look below at the lyrics to the song High Hopes by Panic! At the Disco. 

The collocations are shown in pink and the idioms are blue. Sometimes, it’s not clear whether a group of words is a collocation or an idiom. Don’t worry. Think of them all as expressions that need to be remembered as a fixed chunk. The idioms are linked to an online idioms dictionary. As always, you can listen to the song on YouTube. Click here for the official video. Click here for the video with lyrics. 

Song: High Hopes by Panic! At the Disco. 

[Chorus]
Had to have high high hopes for a living;
Shooting for the stars when I couldn’t make a killing.
Didn’t have a dime but I always had a vision;
Always had high high hopes.
Had to have high high hopes for a living;
Didn’t know how but I always had a feeling
I was *gonna be that one in a million; (*going to)
Always had high high hopes.

https://genius.com/Panic-at-the-disco-high-hopes-lyrics

Brendon Urie

[Verse 1]
Mama said                             
Fulfill the prophecy.
Be something greater.
Go make a legacy.
Manifest destiny.”
Back in the days,
We wanted everything.

Mama said
“Burn your biographies.
Rewrite your history.
Light up your wildest dreams,
Museum victories.”
Everyday,
We wanted everything.

[Pre-Chorus]
Mama said
“Don’t give up; it’s a little complicated.

All tied up, no more love and I hate to see you waiting.”

[Chorus]

[Verse 2]
Mama said
“It’s uphill for oddities,
The stranger crusaders
*Ain’t ever **wannabes.  (*aren’t / **want-to-be)

http://alterock.net/brendon-urie-panic-at-the-disco-high-hopes/

“No matter how hard your dreams seem, keep going. You might even have to climb up the side of a building in downtown LA, but it’ll all be worth it at the top.
Stay up on that rise … ” Brendon Urie

The weird and the novelties
Don’t ever change.”
We wanted everything.

Stay up on that rise.
Stay up on that rise.
Never come down.
Stay up on that rise.
Stay up on that rise.
Never come down.

[Pre-Chorus]

[Pre-Chorus 2]
They say it’s all been done but they haven’t seen the best of me,
So I’ve got one more run and it’s gonna be a sight to see.

[Chorus]

Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Songs, Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Vocabulary, Writing | Tagged , | 1 Comment

English Idioms in Pictures #7

Click on the picture below to find out the meaning of the idiom TIME FLIES. Once on the site,  you can click on Follow at the bottom of the page to receive more pictures and explanations of idioms FREE.

time flies

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Posted in Intermediate (Level 4), Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Vocabulary | Leave a comment

A Song with Past Simple Tense & Past Continuous Tense

* First, let’s look at the form (conjugation / spelling) of English verbs. They follow very simple patterns. English verb forms are much easier than many European languages like Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, and German. The Turkish language also has many more verb forms than English. 

There are patterns in every language which, if you can see, make it so much easier to learn a new language than you think. If you can read this post, you are ready to see and understand the patterns in English verbs. Congratulations! Read on!

 

PATTERNS in English verbs:

Regular verb  TO WAIT: wait, waits, waited, waiting – only 4 forms!

• ALL regular verbs have the same 4 forms.

 

Semi-regular verb TO CRY: cry, cries, cried, crying – only 4 forms!

• ALL semi-regular verbs ending in consonant + y have the same 4 forms.

Semi-regular verb TO FADE: fade, fades, faded, fading – only 4 forms!

• ALL semi-regular verbs ending in consonant + e have the same 4 forms.

 

Irregular verb TO KNOW: know, knows, knew, known, knowing – only 5 forms!

• ALL irregular verbs have at most 5 forms. Some have fewer:

For example, TO MEET: meet, meets, met, meeting 4 forms.

For example, TO CUT: cut, cuts, cutting – only 3 forms!

 

Of course, there is  an exception:   the verb TO BE.

English is no different. The verb TO BE is an exception in many languages.

Irregular verb TO BE: be, am, is, are, was, were, been, being8 forms. However, there is some good news: this is the only verb with more than 5 forms.

https://unsplash.com/photos/2vdkNvgbgno

TO BE or not TO BE                                        Photo by Carmen Peñaranda on Unsplash.com

Irregular verbs are often the same verbs in every language: BE, HAVE, DO, GO etc. This is because they are the old, original verbs that everyone used hundreds or thousands of   years ago and the spelling has not changed very much. Verbs like to type, to email, to text, to skype, are not irregular, are they? The good news is that all new verbs will be regular. The number of irregular verbs is limited. Once you learn them, that’s it. Also, even irregular verbs follow patterns. Every other verb is regular – only 4 forms. Easy peasy! All English verbs, regular and irregular use the same auxiliary verbs.

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* Next, let’s look at the form (spelling) of Past Simple and Past Continuous:

Past SimpleRegular verbs end in ‘ed’.  

  Base infinitive + ed: Romeo talked to Juliet’s dad.

All Past Simple verbs, regular and irregular:
     Did + not + Base infinitive: Juliet did not know what to think.
   Did + Base infinitive: Did Juliet meet Romeo in town?

 

Past Continuous verbs all end in ‘ing’.  They all need an auxiliary verb (to make a complete verb) depending on the person: was for I, he, she, and it; were for you, we, and they.

+    Was / were + Base infinitive + ing: Juliet was crying on the staircase.
      Was / were + not + Base infinitive + ing: They were not waiting for permission.
?     Was / were + Base infinitive + ing: What was she waiting for?

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* Finally, read my earlier post on Past Simple Tense & Past Continuous Tense.

It’s always useful to find a song that features the grammar that you are trying to understand and remember. The song Love Story by Taylor Swift is, as the name suggests, a story and like many stories, it uses a variety of tenses: past, present, and future. For this post, I’m going to focus on the use of Past Simple Tense (red) and Past Continuous Tense (green) in the song.

The story starts in the present when Juliet has a ‘flashback‘ and remembers how it all began:                                                                              http://wilsona2mediabchs.blogspot.com/2016/10/intertextuality-analysis-taylor-swift.html

 I close my eyes and the flashback starts:       
I’m standing there on a balcony in summer air.
See the lights, see the party, the ball gowns,
See you make your way through the crowd,
And say hello
.   

The tense changes to the past and the events of the day when she fell in love with her Romeo:   

 Little did I know that you were Romeo.
You were throwing pebbles
And my daddy said “Stay away from Juliet”,
And I was crying on the staircase
Begging you “Please, don’t go”.
     
                                                                                             

http://wilsona2mediabchs.blogspot.com/2016/10/intertextuality-analysis-taylor-swift.html

I was crying on the staircase, begging you “Please don’t go”.

 Past Continuous Tense is the logical tense to use when you want to describe actions or states which were in progress (continuing, happening) at the same time as something else or during a specific time in the past.

When Juliet’s daddy told Romeo to stay away from her, (at the same time):

Juliet was standing on the staircase.

Romeo was throwing pebbles

When the above photo of Juliet was taken, (at a specific time):

Juliet was crying.

Juliet was begging Romeo not to go.

On the outskirts of town

 I got tired of waiting,
Wondering if you were ever coming around.
My faith in you was fading
When I met you on the outskirts of town.

At the same time as her faith in him was fading: 

 Romeo surprised her when he met her on the outskirts of town.

Past Continuous Tense describes real life. Life does not happen one action after another; there are always multiple things going on at the same time. We need the correct language to accurately connect and report all this activity. 

If we just use Past Simple Tense, we just have a series of photos.

If we use Past Simple Tense and Past Continuous Tense, we have a movie! Watch the video below and see what I mean. 

For practice exercises, click here.

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Posted in Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Songs | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Look up an English word; learn it forever.

I have found a wonderful website that will help you remember vocabulary! 

(I wish there were similar websites in French and Italian for me. Alas!) 

I could write a lot of detail here but it would be quicker for you to go straight to the website and see for yourself.  Click here to meet your new vocabulary friend.

Α – Ω   Α – Ω   Α – Ω   Α – Ω   Α – Ω   Α – Ω   Α – Ω  

Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Cambridge, IELTS, Intermediate (Level 4), Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Vocabulary, Writing | Tagged | 1 Comment

How to speak so that people want to listen

Would you like to be able to speak so that people want to listen to what you have to say? Would you like to feel more confident when you have something important to say?

If you have a spare ten minutes, listen to Julian Treasure on TED Talks explaining how to improve the way you speak. Julian points out not only how to fine-tune what you are saying but how you say it. He also provides easy warm-up voice exercises to help you prepare for an important speech and sound your best. Julian speaks very clearly. However, click on the subtitles if necessary.

Click here to see the video. 

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Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Speaking & Pronunciation, Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Videos | Tagged , | 1 Comment

How to Say Thank You in Business English: 20 Phrases for Any Situation

FluentU Business English Blog

by 

How to Say Thank You in Business English: 20 Phrases for Any Situation

A helping hand from a business partner.

complaint from your customer.

An invitation to a global conference.

What do these have in common?

That’s right!

They’re all situations that could use a note of thanks.

According to Chron, when you send a thank-you note to someone, it shows that you value your business relationship with them.

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Continue reading

Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Intermediate (Level 4), Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Writing | Tagged | 1 Comment

Improve your English with Poetry

On June 30, 2018, I published a post: A Song with Dynamic Adjectives. I wanted to show you how effective a clever choice of English adjectives can be. I chose The logical Song by Supertramp

Awesome song-writers are really awesome poets. They can express a wealth of emotion, drama, and life experience in just a few verses. Music adds a further dimension. The Logical Song is an excellent example. The language is so ‘dynamic’, it almost jumps off the page! 

Today, to give you another example of beautiful English expression, I would like to share a classic poem with you. Funeral Blues by W. H. Auden is very different from The Logical Song. The language is very simple but powerful. In just sixteen lines, the poet perfectly describes the grief felt by the death of a loved one. 

Funeral Blues by W. H. Auden is a masterpiece.  The complete poem is included below. To fully appreciate poetry, it is best heard read aloud. I first heard this poem in the film, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and I won’t forget how it made me feel. It was brilliantly recited by the Scottish actor John Hannah. 

Click on the picture below to listen to the poem Funeral Blues recited by  John Hannah in the movie video, subtitles included. 

Funeral Blues

Stop all the clocks; cut off the telephone.
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone.
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin; let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message ‘He is Dead’.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves;
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one.
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ 

Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Reading, Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Writing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment