B2 · Listening

Tree Change Dolls

Sonia never imagined that her hobby was going to go viral!

B2 · Listening

Sociopath goes to job interview

Do this really funny listening activity from a Tracey Ullman Show  on the topic of Crime and Punishment. Enjoy!!!

phonetics

/id/ /d/ or /t/ in regular past verbs?

Thinking_chimp

One of the typical problems learners of English frequently come across is how to pronounce the endings in regular past English verbs. When I mean regular I mean all the ones that end in -ed/d like ‘walk>walked’, ‘study>studied’. There are actually some simple rules that ¬†will help students get this right almost all the times.

Rule number one: careful not to pronounce the final -ed

It is very unusual to pronounce an ‘e’ before a ‘d’ in a past simple tense unless the consonant before the final -ed ends in either a ‘t’ or a ‘d’ (we’ll see this in a minute). So the past sound of final -ed in a verb like ‘designed’ would sound like ¬†/d…™ ‘zaind/ and not¬† /d…™ ‘zained/.

Rule number two: pronouncing the final -ed and making it sound like an /id/

Verbs that end in a ‘d’ or ‘t’ do sound the final -e. Why? Because if you don’t sound it, you won’t be able to distinguish the difference between a present and a past tense. See this for yourself by saying the following ¬†verbs without pronouncing the ‘e’.

  • start > started */sta:t/
  • depart> departed */depa:t/
  • exceed> exceeded */ek’si:d/

Was it easy? Could you hear the difference between the present and ¬†past? Actually, these verbs ¬†should sound /sta:tid, dipa:tid, ek’si:did/.

You may have noticed that what actually comes out of your mouth isn’t exactly an -ed sound. Instead of this, you get an /id/. Well, this is basically because when people pronounce the final /d/, it is in the upper part of their mouths which is almost the same place as where the /i/ is pronounced. If you really want to make your final -ed sound like an -ed and not an -id, you’d have to sort of stop in the middle of the word, lower your tongue and focus really hard on it, which looks and sounds quite strange (and if you don’t believe me, try doing this in the mirror and see what you look like. Ha, ha, ha!!!).

Rule number three.¬†Getting your ‘ts’ right

Pronouncing a /t/ instead of a /d/ isn’t a matter of choice. Rather it is due to the final sound in the word. ¬†If the final sound in the verb happens to be an unvoiced consonant like a ‘k’ or a ‘p’ or a ‘sh’, for instance, you’re are going to get that very English /t/ sound whether you like it or not. If you happen to get a ‘d’ sound instead, it probably means that you’re pronouncing the -e ¬†which isn’t correct.

So, with verbs like ‘walk’, work, flap, burp, ¬†should sound /w…Ē: kt, w…ú:kt, fl√¶pt, b…ú:pt/ when saying them in the simple past.

Lets do some listening activities to grasp the ideas we’ve just explained.

  • Not making the -e sound in all verbs that do not have a ‘t’ or ‘d’ ending. And, not making that -ed sound like a ‘t’ because the last sound is voiced (meaning that the vocal chords are vibrating).

glue> glued Р listen> listened Рcry>cried Рhug>hugged Рcurve>curved

  • When we MUST pronounce the -e in past tenses. TIP: when the last consonant is either ‘t’ or ‘d’. Listen to these verbs in the present tense and try to guess how they would sound in the past simple.

start Рwaste Рflirt Рimitate Рaffect Рimport 

  • Last one! Now the ‘t’ sound. This happens when the last sound of the verb is silent (no vibration of vocal chords). We have quite a few and we can’t always trust writing as some of you will already know that English sounds don’t always correspond to the written form of a word.

Try to figure out what these words would sound like in the past simple before you listen to the audio.

finish – flash – cup – laugh – wash – watch – ice – hack – work – walk

B1 · Listening

Funny gags about posh English

Why should learning a language mean getting stressed and not having fun? Come on! Who ever said that stuff about ¬†‘one has to suffer to reach an aim’? Not meaning by this that a certain amount of effort shouldn’t be invested in whatever we want to do if we want to make progress, but if you enjoy what you’re doing, you are always going to do much better and consequently, learn much more.

Here are some funny gags on posh English people for you to practise your listening skill. Enjoy!

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A2 · B1 · culture · Listening

Songs about Holidays

It’s almost time for holidays. Yes, school breaks up and students can relax their neurons a bit. While for others, summer means a lot of work hours and, er… tons and tons of ¬†stress. Because if you live by the Mediterranean Sea, you must already know how crowded with tourist we can get and of course, that means that while some people can enjoy a lovely fortnight lolling on the sandy beaches getting a really nice tan and sipping up cool drinks, others fret about how they are going to cope with long shifts, look after their kids and survive until the tourist season ends. But don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. It’s just one of those things…

Here are some songs about holidays. They were hits when they were released even though you will probably not know them and they may seem a little bit peculiar to you now in the 21st century (or at least to me, when I saw that huge red double-decker driving around France eh!!!???).

Anyway, I think the songs have pretty catchy tunes and words to them, and that you’ll enjoy at least one of them. Good practice and good holidays!

First one coming up for beginners. Scorpions 1979 hit ‘Holiday’.

scorpions

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Second coming up for A2 and low B1. Wow! A real golden oldie from 1963. Cliff Richard and the Shadows called this one, Summer holidays and it was one of the soundtracks for a film with the same name. Children frequently sing this song at schools when they are going to break up for the summer holidays and it is also ‘one of those songs you pest your parents or friends with when driving long distances and you want to kill boredom (yeah, sort of like the Spanish song ‘En el auto de pap√° ‘). If after the video you find out why the driver is served sandwiches twice, you might want to share that bit of information, because I just can’t work it out.

By the way, according to laws concerning cyclist’s safety, Cliff Richard ¬†would have got a hefty fine had he been driving like that nowadays.

Cliff_Richard

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Number 3… Madonna’s ‘Holiday’ released in 1983. You can get up and dance if you feel like it ( or not if you don’t, its up to you) ūüėČ

Madonna

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