( ) .

( 10 )

  > > General Forum > Learning English Language with us

Learning English Language with us Learn to speak english with our free english lessons. Includes games, articles, and audio courses to help your English

Learning Better Speaking _ A Guide to Improving Your Spoken English

11-10-2009, 11:39 AM   #1 (permalink)

Angry Learning Better Speaking _ A Guide to Improving Your Spoken English


Learning Better Speaking _ A Guide to Improving Your Spoken English


Welcome to Better Speaking. This booklet is designed to help you overcome some of the most common problems which people face when they are learning to speak English.

Using extracts from the BBC World Service radio series, Better Speaking, we look at how you can become a more fluent speaker of English, and at some of the skills you need for effective communication.The topics we look at include

Becoming a confident speaker
Fluency or accuracy?
Finding the right words
Learning language in chunks
Showing where you are going
Keeping the listener interested
Being a supportive listener
Sounding natural

How to use this booklet

Each page looks at a different area related spoken English. On each page youll find

a short introduction to the topic which explains why this aspect of speaking is important.
an extract from one of the Better Speaking radio programmes related to the topic.
a reading and a language task to accompany the extract.
key tips to help you improve your speaking.
a task to help you practise what has been explained.

On the final page of the booklet, you will find a glossary of the terms which have been used to talk about Better Speaking.Words which are in bold and italics (like this) in the text can be found in the glossary.


Becoming a confident speaker

Confidence is a very important element in learning to speak a language. Many learners worry that they are going to make a mistake, or that the people listening will not understand them. How can you learn to relax when you want to speak English? First, look at a piece of real English - taken from an interview with tennis star Goran Ivanisevic just after he had won the Wimbledon tennis championship.

This was my dream, all my life and er you know to serve for the match, suddenly I have a match point out of
nowhere, you know I came here, nobody even talked about me and now Im holding this trophy.And its, its just
this support today is like er I mean I was er three times in the final but this, this is just unbelievable, this
is too good .

Question a) How does Goran feel about his win? Which words tell you this?
Question b) Look for the following words, sounds or phrases: er / you know / this is / its Why do you think he repeats these words?

When a spoken interview is written down, we can see that many of the sentences are not grammatically correct and that the speaker repeats words to give himself time to think about what he is saying. He also uses fillers like er -
which are not words but noises - to give himself more time.
Although the grammar in this extract is not always correct, we can understand Goran Ivanisevics message easily. If a message is given confidently, the listener wont worry about any mistakes.
But how can you sound more confident?

Practise often The more often you speak, the easier it becomes.Try to think of people you can talk to in English, or places in your town where English is spoken a lot.You need to put yourself in a position where you need to speak. How about joining a club, or going to a conversation class?
Relax and think about the message Its easy to become nervous if you only focus on grammar rules when you are speaking. But, as you see from Goran Ivanisevics interview, what you want to say is usually more important than how you say it! The key to relaxing when you are speaking is to talk about something which you find really
interesting. Speaking is easier when you have something to say, and you are enjoying the conversation.
Rehearse what you want to say If you are very nervous, try to practise saying what you want to say to yourself a few times. Planning and rehearsal can make your speaking more confident. Remember, however, that you need to think about the person who is listening to you - what are they likely to say in response?



Imagine you are joining a new club or class. How would you introduce yourself? What would you tell other people in the group about yourself? What would you like to know about them? Practise introducing yourself and asking questions about others.
If you have a friend who is learning English, or you are a member of an English Learning Circle, you could play this as a game. Everyone should choose a new identity - a new name, job, hobbies etc. Now introduce
yourselves and find out about each other.Who has the most interesting new identity?

Fluency or accuracy?

Speaking English fluently is a goal for many learners of English. Fluency means being able to communicate your ideas without having to stop and think too much about what you are saying. However, many learners also have the goal of spoken accuracy. Speaking accurately means that you speak without errors of grammar and vocabulary.Which is more important - and more difficult - for you? It might depend on how you have learnt English in the past. Here is Jinping from China, talking in Better Speaking.

I have learned English for almost 15 years. I have no problem with reading and listening but speaking has always been a problem for me because, when I was at school, we always focused on grammar, vocabulary and exams. Now I really want to improve my spoken English to a new level, to achieve that freedom in speaking in the near future. I would try anything to help me achieve this.
Question a) What does Jinping think is the cause of the problem? Do you agree? Question b) Do you have the same problem?

So, which is more important - fluency or accuracy? If, like Jinping, you have a very strong focus on accuracy -
on getting the grammar and vocabulary correct - you may find that you worry about making mistakes.This can make you shy about speaking in English and, as a result, your spoken fluency might not improve.This means that, although you know English well, you might not be able to have a conversation.
On the other hand, you may be someone who really likes to talk, and you are willing to try out language even though you make mistakes.This can help make you sound very fluent. However, if you make too many mistakes which you do not stop to correct, you can find that it is difficult to make others understand your ideas.
Speaking a language well requires both fluency and accuracy. So how can you make sure that you develop both?

Identify your learning style What kind of learner are you? Think about situations in which you have used English and how you felt about making mistakes. Is being correct when you speak the most important thing for you? Or do you always take risks, trying out new language even though it might not be correct? The first step towards improving your spoken English is recognising what is easy for you - and then working on what is difficult.
Focus on one area at a time When you speak English, do you notice any mistakes which you make quite often?
Maybe you make mistakes with tenses, or with question forms? Or do you sound slow - as if you are always
searching for words and correct grammar? Next time you speak with your friends, try to work on the problem you
have noticed. If its fluency, try to focus on making sure your friend understands what youve said, not on avoiding
mistakes. If you have a problem with tenses, try to correct yourself only when you make a tense error - dont think
about other mistakes. By choosing an area to work on, you can help yourself overcome problems.
Vary your practice If you are a member of an English club or Learning Circle, make sure you vary the types of activities you do so that you get practice both in fluency and in accuracy. Discussions are good fluency activities, as long as you dont stop each time a mistake is made!


Being aware of fluency and accuracy

Take a cassette recorder and record a conversation with a friend - dont worry, no-one else is going to hear it! Two or three minutes of recording is all you need.When youve finished, listen to yourselves again. Can you identify - and correct - any errors? How fluent did you sound? Make this a regular feature of your practice. The more you record yourselves, the more confident and natural sounding you will become.

Finding the right words

We all know how important vocabulary is when we are learning a language. finding the exact word for the idea you
want to express is important for becoming a fluent, confident speaker. It is not unusual for learners of English to feel
that they dont know enough words. Here, in an extract from Better Speaking, Ngoc from Vietnam tells us how
she feels.

One of my problems is my spoken English. Sometimes I try to say something but I dont know the word so I feel um a bit confused and I stop because I dont know how to say it or to say what I want to say. So I feel less confident in speaking and I stop myself from speaking sometimes.
Question a) What does Ngoc do if she cannot find the word she needs? Do you do the same thing? Question b) What advice would you give to Ngoc to help her overcome this problem?

As Ngoc says, not having a wide vocabulary can have a serious effect on your confidence as a speaker. But how can you become more confident even if you dont know a lot of words.The first thing to do is to think of what you do in your own language.When speaking in our own language, we often forget the word we need, or have problems finding the precise word for an idea we want to express.This doesnt make us less confident - we simply find other ways to express what we want to say.
So how can you do this in English?

Explain what you mean Dont worry if you cant find the exact word you are searching for. Instead, try
to explain what you mean.This is known as paraphrasing and is an important skill.You can give a short definition -
for example, if you forget the word envelope, you might say the thing you put a letter in before you post it. Or you can give a description. So, instead of elephant you could say a big, grey animal with large ears.They live in Africa. You can even use your hands to demonstrate the meaning.
Start your sentence again If you simply stop when you reach a word you dont know, the person who is listening to you will just stop listening. Remember that what you are saying is important to you and to them.To give yourself
more time to think of a word or definition, go back to the beginning of your sentence and start again. Its not unusual to hear native speakers of English say What was I saying? before repeating what theyve said. Remember - try to
give yourself time to think.
Ask for help If you get stuck and really cant think of the word you need, why not ask the person listening for help? You could say I cant think of the word I need.Together, you and your listener might be able to find the words for the idea you want to express.Working together with the person who is listening will make life easier for you -
and give you both a chance to practise speaking and listening.


Explaining what you mean

Look at the words and phrases below.Try to think of a definition or explanation for each word or phrase.

Then try them out on some friends - can they identify the word or phrase from your explanation?

a radio series speaking fluently vocabulary

bread I feel confused dictionary

Learning language in chunks

When you listen to BBC World Service radio, there are probably phrases or groups of words which you hear
together all the time. For example, when announcers begin talking about a programme which is about to start, they
usually say Coming up next is. In this situation,coming up next is a chunk of language - a phrase or group of
words which you hear together all the time. But why are chunks important for better speaking? First of all, have a
look at an extract from an interview with Icelandic singer, Bjork, talking about her albums Debut and Post.

Ive always thought of Debut and Post as twins.Theyre sort of before and after I learned to do things well.And I think
that after this Ill move on to different sorts of things. But the concept with Debut and Post was that they were the
week in the life of a normal person and all the ups and downs you have - all the things you cant plan. So thats what
Debut and Post represent - that you cant plan your life and youre not supposed to. Just live life to the full and take it
as it comes.

Question a) What are the ideas which link Bjorks albums Debut and Post?
Question b) Look at the groups of words which are underlined. Can you paraphrase them?

As you can see from Bjorks interview, she is very comfortable speaking in English, although this is not her first
language. Most importantly, she uses the types of phrases or groups of words which make her sound natural.
When learning English, its very important to notice how words are often heard together. For example, Bjork says
shell do different sorts of things. In this context,sorts means the same as types - but we would not usually say
different types of things.This linking together of words is called collocation. So, we can say that sorts of collocates with things. There are no clear rules for making collocations but, by listening to English a lot, you will begin to hear which words are usually found together.
Very often, you will hear whole phrases which are repeated often within a single situation.You can see examples in Bjorks interview - take it as it comes and live life to the full are examples of phrases that have a fixed meaning. We understand the meaning of the phrase from the context in which we heard it, not by analysing each word.
These fixed phrases or chunks are useful because, when we use them, we do not need to build each sentence word by word. By learning and using useful chunks of language you can begin to sound more fluent.
Here are some ideas to help you with chunks of language.

Listen out for fixed phrases Are there any phrases which are repeated a lot in your favourite programmes? How do the presenters introduce new stories, or end the programme? When they talk to guests, how do they introduce them or say goodbye? By focusing on phrases rather than individual words, you can begin to build your store of language chunks.This can help you become more fluent because you will not need to think about each individual word in the sentence.

Record collocations When you are putting new vocabulary in your notebook, remember to think about any
important collocating words. For example, if you have learned the verb to depend, dont forget that it is almost always
followed by the preposition on. So, in your notebook, write to depend on.You will find that many nouns have strong
collocating adjectives (e.g. heavy smoker) or verbs (do your homework) and verbs can have collocating prepositions,
like depend on! If you are buying a new dictionary, check to see that it contains information on collocations.


Collocation game

How many things can you do with the radio? Set yourself a time limit of two minutes to think of as many verbs as you can which we often hear before the words the radio.

You can find a list in the Answer key on page 9 - but you may have some more!

You can try this game with a friend. One of you must choose a noun, and the other must think of as many adjectives or verbs which are often used with that noun.

Showing where you are going

Have you ever listened to a presentation, lecture or talk in English? Did you find it easy or difficult to understand? One thing which is important to consider when you are speaking in English is how you are going to show the
listeners what is important in your talk, and places where they dont need to concentrate so much.We call this
signposting - showing how the information is relevant to the talk - and it is an important feature of spoken English. But how do you recognise signposting? First, read this extract from an interview with Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the
owner of the easyJet airline company. Stelios is Greek but lives in Britain.

Why did I start easyJet in London? Well, first of all, I know the language. It would have been impossible to run an
airline in the UK without speaking English - that would have been a serious limitation to my ability to communicate with my customers. In fact, people ask me Why didnt you start the business in Greece? but one of the things I say is that Greece is too small. On the other hand, France and Germany are big markets, but the only language I could speak was English so I had to come to London!

Question a) Find two reasons why Stelios started his business in London.
Question b) Find two phrases which mean I am going to give you a piece of information.There are more pieces, but this one is important.

As you can see, Stelios uses some fixed phrases to show how his talk is going to continue. He introduces a list of new
information with phrases like First of all This means we know he has more to say later. Phrases like One thing I say
is show us that what he is going to say is important - he has chosen to emphasise this point.And when he wants
to make a contrast between the Greek and French markets, he uses the phrase on the other hand. By putting these
phrases before the important information, he makes the listener aware that he is going to make an important point.
So, how can you signpost your talk effectively?

Listen out for signposting How do your favourite BBC World Service presenters show where the programme is going next? Listen out for the phrases which they use for signposting in your favourite programmes. Becoming aware of how other speakers signpost their talks will help you to do the same.

Plan what you are going to say If you are going to give a talk or presentation, plan the stages in your talk.
When you introduce a new idea, show the listener by using phrases like Let me tell you about or, like Stelios,
you could start your talk with a question which you then answer. If you are going to give a list of points, how are you going to show the listener that they link together? Think of phrases such as first of all,another thing is .
And how are you going to finish? Perhaps you could say in conclusion or to finish off. Use your plan as a map through your talk, showing how things link together.

Ask a friend to follow your plan If you are speaking in your English club or Learning Circle, ask one of your
friends to note down phrases they notice you using to signpost your talk. Did they notice all the important points? Getting feedback like this from friends is one good way of finding out how effective your speaking is.


Preparing a talk

To do this task, you need to be a member of a Learning Circle or you need to gather some friends together to listen to you.

Prepare a short talk (no more than four or five minutes). Make a plan like the one suggested above, and think
about the phrases you are going to use to show where your talk is going. DONT write your talk out in full and read it aloud - try to work from notes only.

After the talk, ask one of your friends to give you feedback (as mentioned above). How successful was your talk?

Keeping the listener interested

What is the secret of being an interesting speaker? When you speak English, how can you make sure that the person you are speaking to really wants to listen? Here is Richard Hallows, talking about a speech made by Kofi Anan,
Secretary General of the United Nations.

He is a really effective speaker of English. He really knows how to involve the listener, to make us want to listen
through the language he chooses. For example, he avoids using the same words all the time. Sometimes he uses
alternative words - so, for example, in one sentence he says human beings and in the next humanity.And he interacts with the listener, asking us all to do something. So he says Try to imagine what life is like, and we all start to think. All of this helps to involve the listener - to make us want to listen.

Question a) What are the two techniques which Richard mentions for keeping the listener involved?
Question b) Think about someone who you enjoy listening to. How do they keep you involved as a listener?

When we are learning to speak a new language, we often focus on the accuracy of what we are saying.We think
about what we are saying, making sure we choose words and grammar to express our ideas precisely. However, as a speaker, its also important to think about how your listener feels. If what you say is dull, or if the listener does not have a chance to become involved, then she or he may stop listening.

So how can you make sure that you can keep your listeners attention?

Vary your vocabulary As Richard says, effective speakers usually use a variety of words for the same idea.When
speaking English, its important to avoid repeating the same words too often - this can make what you say sound very boring.To help you vary your vocabulary, try to make space in your vocabulary notebook for synonyms - that is, words which have the same meaning.

Plan what you want to say If you are a member of an English club or Learning Circle where you have regular
discussions in English, or if you have business meetings or academic study in English, its important to think about the topics you are going to discuss before the discussions begin. Simply take a few minutes to remind yourself of all the words you know about this topic - you could brainstorm vocabulary with a colleague or other club members.
Then, when the discussion starts, you will have a stock of words ready to use.
Involve your listeners As Richard says, the most effective speakers find ways to keep their listeners involved. The easiest way to do this is to ask questions - dont worry, the listeners dont actually need to answer.
But questions such as Have you thought of?,Do you know about? asked before you tell your story will get the listeners to think about the topic, and to be more interested in what you have to say.


Keeping the listener involved

Listen to your favourite BBC World Service Programme. If possible, record the programme.

The first time you listen, take notice of all the things which the presenter says to keep you, the listener,
interested. How many questions does he or she use? Are there any phrases she or he uses more than once?

The second time you listen, note down all the alternative words which are used to express a main idea.
For example, if you are listening to a programme about education, you might listen for all the words used to describe students.

Being a supportive listener

As we saw on page 3, the person who is listening in a conversation can help the speaker a lot.When we have a
conversation, we usually speak for some of the time and listen for some of the time. But it is important to remember when listening that you have an important part to play in making sure the speakers message is clear. Have a look at this extract from Better Speaking in which teacher Richard Hallows is talking to presenter Callum Robertson
about how to sound natural when you speak.

Richard: Rather than having a silence when speaking, you might say erm. I do this quite a lot.This helps you sound natural, [Callum: uh-huh] and keeps the listener listening. Callum: Right. So its not bad English?
Richard: Not at all. Its very natural and makes you sound and feel more confident. Callum: Oh, I see.And confidence is very important, isnt it?

Question a) In Richards opinion, what can make you sound more natural when you speak English?
Question b) Callum understands and agrees with Richard. Find three words, phrases or noises which tell
you this.

In this extract, we see Callum helping the conversation by showing that he is interested in what Richard is saying,
showing that he understands and, by using questions, making sure that Richard has the opportunity to say some more
if he wants to. His questions are really summaries of what Richard has said - this shows he has been listening -
and, because they are in the form of a question, they are used as an invitation for Richard to say some more about
the subject.

By being an active listener, he helps Richard make his points clearly and makes sure that the conversation is
successful. It is very important to remember, however, that this type of active listening can be different in different cultures. In Britain, it is important to look at the person who is talking and to show you understand and that you are interested.You can nod your head up and down, or use noises such as uh-huh (meaning yes) or words such as
really? to show interest and surprise.
So what are the most important things to do to be an effective listener?

Recognise how you listen in your own language Are there words, phrases or noises which are used in your language to show interest and understanding? How often do you use them? Do you usually make eye contact with the person who is speaking? Try to identify how you become an active listener in your own language. Do you do similar things to Callum?
Show you are interested As we said on page 1, one very important element in fluent, confident speech is being interested in what is being said.Try to make sure you take an active interest when you are listening.Think of at least one question you can ask the speaker to show you have been listening.

Ask for clarification Sometimes a speaker can say something which you dont understand, or which isnt really
clear. Practise asking for clarification - that is, asking the speaker to make their meaning clearer. For example, if the speaker says he or she is feeling exhausted and you are not sure of the meaning, you can ask Im sorry, Im not sure what you mean. How do you feel? Remember, the responsibility for making sure that the conversation is successful is always shared between the speaker and the listener!


Focusing on the listener

When you next listen to an interview on BBC World Service radio, try to focus on what the listener does.
The job of the interviewer is to make sure that the interviewee wants to speak.This means that you will hear the interviewer doing lots of active listening to encourage the interviewee to say more.Try to make a note of the type of things the interviewer says - do you say similar things in your own language?

Sounding natural

For many people who are learning to speak English, pronunciation is a problem.There may be sounds in English which you dont have in your own language and which are difficult for you to recognise and to say.You may have had difficulty making yourself understood, even though your vocabulary and grammar are good. So how important is pronunciation -
and what should you do about it? Here is Richard Hallows from Better Speaking with a suggestion.

Theres a very interesting theory that if you want to improve your pronunciation, you should choose one person you
want to sound like, and you basically copy that person.You copy the way they speak, the rhythm of their language and your pronunciation will change to be more like that person.Try to choose one person you want to sound like - maybe from the radio - and focus on them.
Question a) Try to summarise Richards idea and tell a friend about it.
Question b) What do you think? Who would you like to sound like?

Pronunciation is often a difficult area for students and teachers. Improving your pronunciation in English involves many
things.You need to think about the stress in words and sentences.This means thinking which syllables you need to put
emphasis on in order to make your meaning clear.You also need to think about intonation.The music of British
English, for example, may sound strange to you - and how does your intonation sound to speakers of other languages?
We use intonation to show how we feel about the subject were talking about - but intonation differs across
languages.There are also problem sounds which you may recognise in English, but which are difficult for you to say.

One final, but very important, area to think about is how you feel about your pronunciation. If people understand
you easily, you may feel satisfied that it is OK. However, you may want to sound different. Many people want to sound more like native speakers, and Richards tip above can help you if this is your ambition.The most important things to consider when thinking about pronunciation are:
a)Can people understand what Im saying easily?
b)Do I feel comfortable and confident when I speak?
So how can you work on your pronunciation and still feel confident?

Notice the stress When you learn a new word, always try to notice which syllable is stressed. For example, in the word dictionary, the syllable dic- is the one which carries most emphasis. Getting the stress right is very important. If you put the stress on the wrong syllable, listeners may not be able to understand you.
Getting the rhythm right Just as words have stressed syllables, so sentences have stressed words.When speaking in English, try to think which words are the most important in showing the meaning of what you want to say.
These are the words which are likely to carry most emphasis.The result of this type of stress is that some of
the other words in the sentence almost disappear.This means that, when you listen to English

you can hear the speaker jump from one important word to the next.
To practise identifying stress in sentences, listen to a short extract spoken by your favourite BBC World Service presenter. Can you identify which words she or he stresses?
Speed and fluency arent the same Many students of English think that native speakers talk very quickly, and try to do the same. However, the speed you hear is the effect of the type of stress weve spoken about above. If you find that your listeners are having some difficulty understanding you, it could be because you are speaking too quickly. Try to slow down a little and concentrate on stressing the meaning-carrying words in your sentence.


Finding a speaking model

Who would you like to sound like? Try to find a model of pronunciation which you like.This could be someone you know, or it could be someone you listen to on the radio.When you find your model, try to listen carefully to how he or she speaks. If you can record him or her, you can even talk along with the recording.What do you think - is this making a difference to your pronunciation?

Answer key

1 Becoming a confident speaker.
a. Goran Ivanisevic is very happy. He uses phrases
such as this was my dream,this is unbelievable, this is too good.

2 Fluency or accuracy?
a. Jinping thinks that too much emphasis was put
on written English and grammar when she was
at school. She didnt have much opportunity
to speak.

3 Finding the right words
a. Ngoc stops speaking when she cannot find the
words she needs. Because she cannot say what she wants to, she becomes less confident, and so she speaks less.

4 Learning language in chunks
a. Bjorks albums Debut and Post were both about a
week in the life of a normal person. One important thing about this is that life cannot be planned.
b. the ups and downs are all of the positive and
negative things which happen to you.
When you live life to the full you do as much as you can and you enjoy everything you do.
If you take life as it comes, you dont make plans. You accept what happens each day, even if it is not enjoyable.

switch on / turn on / break / switch off / turn off / fix / turn up / turn down the radio

5 Showing where you are going
a. He speaks English.The Greek market is too small
for his business.
b. First of all . One thing I say is .

6 Keeping the listener interested
a. Try to avoid using the same words all the time.
Ask your listener to do something.

7 Being a supportive listener
a. Avoiding silences in conversation, using noises
such as erm.
b. Callum says uh-huh,right and Oh, I see to show
he understands and agrees with Richard.

8 Sounding natural
a. To improve your pronunciation, try to find one
person whose way of speaking you like.Try to copy the way that person speaks.

Listen out for Better Speaking on BBC World Service radio.


Here is a list of some of the terms we use when we talk
about speaking.You will find all of these terms used in this booklet.

filler (noun) a word, phrase or noise we use to
give ourselves time to think of what
we want to say.Erm,umm and
hmm are very common fillers
in British English.

fluency in speech this refers to the speakers ability to
continue a conversation without too
much hesitation. Complete fluency
involves being able to communicate
appropriately in a given situation
without making errors.
fluency: noun
fluent speech: adjective
speaking fluently: adverb

accuracy in speech this refers to the speakers ability
to talk without making errors.
To be completely fluent, you need
a high level of accuracy.
accuracy: noun
accurate speech: adjective
speaking accurately: adverb

to paraphrase (verb) to repeat the meaning of something
without using the original words.
By paraphrasing - saying what you
mean but using different words -
you can often avoid needing to use
unknown vocabulary.

a chunk (noun) words which are often repeated
together in a set order so that they
become fixed.We hear different
chunks in different situations. In the
question Do you usually tune in to
the BBC?,tune in to the BBC is a
chunk which you will often hear on
the radio.

to collocate (verb) words which are often found
together in a particular order
are said by language experts to
collocate. So, in Britain,fish and
chips is a common collocation -
but not chips and fish. Collocations
are a very common feature of
English, and there are no set rules
for them.
collocation: noun

British Broadcasting Corporation 2003

signposting (noun) this refers to the phrases which the
speaker uses to show where he or
she is going in the conversation.
For example, phrases such as
Let me begin with,First of all
and One of the most important
things shows that the speaker is
probably going to make more than
one point.

feedback (noun) if you ask someone for feedback on
a talk, you are asking for his or her
honest reactions to what was said.
You want to know what went well
and what was not so successful.

to brainstorm (verb) to spend a short time gathering
ideas or vocabulary related to one
theme.When you brainstorm ideas,
usually with other people, you think
quickly and in a very focused way.

to clarify (verb) to clarify is to make things clear and
understandable.You might ask for
clarification in a conversation if you
did not understand what the
speaker said.
clarification: noun

stress (noun) the emphasis in a word, phrase or
sentence.Word stress is important
because there are many words
which sound similar, except for their
stress - for example,a record
(noun) and to record (verb). Stress
in sentences or phrases is
important because changing the
stress can alter the meaning.
For example:
I like the radio (not the TV).
I like the radio (but my brother

intonation (noun) we usually say that this is the music
of the language. It involves changes
in pitch (does your voice start high
or low?) and direction (does your
voice go up or down?) as well as
in stress.


11-10-2009, 11:41 AM   #2 (permalink)

Think about how you spend your time, and try to maximise the opportunities you have to speak English:

Social life
If you spend your social life with a friend or a partner who is a native English speaker, you will improve your speaking skills faster.
Try to become involved in your local community. You can go to social events where you can meet other people.
When you are by yourself, you can use the telephone, voice mail or video conferencing to speak to people.

If you are studying in the UK, try to find accommodation which is shared with native English speakers.

Try to find a job in which you will need to speak English.

Choose a school or class in which there are not too many people who speak the same language as you.


Make an English-speaking friend is a good way to improve your English while enjoying yourself at the same time. It is not always easy for foreign students to make British friends, however. Many British people do not talk much to people they don't know (strangers). Many people create a group (known as a circle) of close friends and usually meet people who are introduced by one of those friends. This can make it difficult at first for a foreign student to make friends in the UK (it is also difficult for a British person who moves to a new area of the country). This doesn't mean that people are unfriendly, just that they are conservative about making a friend. Be patient, and don't assume that the person doesn't like you. Once you have made a friend, that friendship will often be a very warm one and may last for life.

Even if your friend is not a native English speaker, you will still learn a lot by talking to each other in English. If you are in the UK, try to avoid making friends only with people of your own nationality, or agree to speak in English when you meet.

You will not make any British friends unless you meet British people! If you do not meet many in your daily life, try attending some social events.

Offering a personal language exchange can be a good way of making a friend who is interested in your culture, and learning English too. You offer to meet a British person regularly, and when you meet you speak in English for half of the time and in your own language for the other half of the time. If you are living in the UK and there is a university in your town, contact its language department and find out if you can leave an advertisement there for an exchange with one of its students. You could also advertise for such a partner in a local newspaper or free ads paper, or ask to put an advertisement on a noticeboard in your local library or newsagent's window. If you are living outside the UK, place an advertisement in a newspaper of magazine used by the English-speaking community there.

HOST is a voluntary organisation which arranges short stays with British families for international students at universities or colleges in the UK: http://www.hostuk.org.

Some universities organise their own International Student Friendship scheme, in which overseas students are given the chance to stay for a weekend with local families.

You will have more chances to speak to native English speakers if you try to get involved in the British community in some way.

Events connected with your culture

If you are not in the UK, ask your local office of the British Council about social events in your country involving local British people.
In the UK, you may want to ask the cultural section of your London embassy about events or societies for people interested in your country, culture or language.
You may find details of clubs in newsletters aimed at your nationality.
You can also try to use an internet search engine such as http://www.google.co.uk. Enter both nationalities or countries in the search together with a word such as club or society. Note that you may want to try using Anglo instead of British/English (you can specify Scottish, Welsh or Irish if you wish to limit yourself to these countries). Clubs are often referred to as, for example, Anglo-Japanese, Anglo-Brazilian, Anglo-German societies (the Anglo- part is always placed first).
Sometimes there are clubs or events for people speaking a certain language or coming from a certain region of the world (for example, the Africa Centre in London: http://www.africacentre.org.uk).

You can find links to useful websites (including the British Council and your embassy) by selecting Country from the menu at the top of the screen and choosing your region and country.

There are also international societies, which do not limit themselves to people from one country of speakers of a certain language. These clubs are often run by university or college students who are interested in foreign cultures (you can often join these even if you are not a member of the university or college).
See Meetings for some international social meetings in London.
See Personal/Religion for details of some Christian groups in the UK which offer friendship to international students.
Some groups may also be listed on the Links page (select your country for a list of links that are relevant to people from your country).

General social events

As well as joining events connected with your culture, try to join other types of club or activity in which you may get a chance to speak with British people. Some examples are:
- local "meetup" groups: see http://www.meetup.com (for example, English as a Second Language meetups or those for people who are interested in your culture/language)
- a local club or youth club
- your local pub: see Britain/Food/Pubs
- a local gym, health club, sports team or walking club: see Life/Sport/Guide
- evening classes (adult education) at a local school: see school below
- a local orchestra (but you may need your own instrument)
- voluntary work: see Work/Job/Volunteer
- a local church
- clubs or activities organised by your university, college or embassy (for example, a film club or travel club)

Living with a British host family can be a good way of doing this, although the amount of contact you have varies a lot between different families, and sometimes the family may not be native speakers or may have an accent which you find difficult to understand, making conversation with them difficult. If you are sharing accommodation with people with the same native language as you, ask them if they will agree to speak English to you, at least most of the time.


ΪrǾή♕MĂή ; 11-12-2009 12:49 AM
11-12-2009, 12:51 AM   #3 (permalink)

Become a confident speaker

How to improve your English speaking skills, so that you can communicate more easily and effectively. These tips will help you to become a more confident speaker.

Practice where you can, when you can. Any practice is good - whether you speak to someone who is a native English speaker or not.

It's important to build your confidence. If possible, use simple sentence structure that you know is correct, so that you can concentrate on getting your message across.

Try to experiment with the English you know. Apply words and phrases you know to new situations. Native English speakers are more likely to correct you if you use the wrong word than if you use the wrong grammar. Experimenting with vocabulary is a really good way of getting feedback.

Try to respond to what people say to you. You can often get clues to what people think by looking at their body language. Respond to them in a natural way.

Try not to translate into and from your own language. This takes too much time and will make you more hesitant.

If you forget a word, do what native English speakers do all the time, and say things that 'fill' the conversation. This is better than remaining completely silent. Try using 'um', or 'er', if you forget the word.

Don't speak too fast! It's important to use a natural rhythm in speaking English, but if you speak too fast it will be difficult for people to understand you.

Try to relax when you speak, and you'll find that your mouth does most of the pronunciation work for you. When you speak English at normal speed, you'll discover that many of the pronunciation rules, such as word linking, happen automatically.

Final tips

- Try to become less hesitant and more confident.

- Don't be shy to speak - the more you do it, the more confident you'll become.

- Remember to be polite - use "please" and "thank you" if you ask someone to do something for you.

11-12-2009, 12:53 AM   #4 (permalink)

Here are some tips to help you improve your English pronunciation.

First of all, don't worry about not having a native-English accent. It's important to be able to speak clearly, so that people can understand you. However, it's almost impossible to sound exactly like a native English speaker if you are learning English as an adult in a non-English speaking country.

However, there are many things that you can do to improve your pronunciation and your speaking skills.

1. Listen to spoken English as often as possible.

Listen to how speakers pronounce various words and phrases and "model" your pronunciation on what you hear.

2. Learn the phonetic alphabet.

Use the phonetic alphabet page (at the beginning of most good dictionaries) as a guide to pronouncing new words.

3. Don't forget to learn the word stress of a new word.

Every English word has its own stress, or intonation. For example, the word "believe" has two syllables (be and lieve), but only the second syllable is stressed. We say be'lieve and not 'be lieve. Your dictionary will show the syllable stress by an apostrophe (') before the syllable to be stressed.

Word stress is important. In fact, it is more likely that someone misunderstands you because of wrong word stress than because of the wrong pronunciation of a sound.

4. Work out which sounds cause you most problems in English.

Depending on what your first language is, you may have problems with certain sounds. For example, French speakers have difficulties with "th"; speakers of Mandarin have difficulties with "r" or "l", and Arabic speakers have difficulties with "p" and "b".

5. Practise the sounds you find difficult.

A useful exercise is a "minimal pair" exercise. For example, if you have difficulty distinguishing between "p" and "b", try practising pairs of words which are the same except for the sound "p" and "b":

For example, "pair" and "bear"; "pond" and "bond"; "pie" and "buy" etc.

6. Be aware of intonation and sentence stress.

Not all words in a sentence have equal stress, and generally only the "information" words (nouns and verbs) are stressed.

'Where's the 'pen I 'gave you?

'Where's the 'red 'pen I 'gave you?

Where's the 'red and 'blue 'pen I 'gave you 'yesterday?

The unstressed words (such as "the", "I", "you" and "and") don't carry as much "weight" as the stressed words. They become much smaller in length, and are almost abbreviated. For example, "and" becomes "un".

Changing stress

Sentence stress isn't "fixed" like word stress. In fact, you can stress words that are normally unstressed in order to highlight different meanings.

For example:

I 'love you. (Love, rather than just like.)
'I love you. (With the stress on I to highlight that it's me rather than another person who loves you.)
I love 'you. (And nobody else.)


There are a couple of easy to remember rules about intonation. Usually our voices go up at the end of the sentence to show a question, and down at the end to show a statement.

Intonation is also important in "tag questions":

You know him, don't you? (With rising intonation on "don't you?" to show it's a question)
You know him, don't you. (With falling intonation on "don't you" to show it's a statement you expect the other person to agree with.)

7. Learn to recognise spelling patterns.

For example, "tion" on the end of a word is pronounced "shun", while "sion" can be pronounced "zhun". There are often many ways to pronounce a particular spelling pattern, but it certainly helps to know what the variations are. For example, the pattern "ough" can be pronounced "uff" as in "enough" and "tough", or "or" as in "ought" and "bought" or "oh" as in "although" and "dough".

8. Don't rush.

If you speak too fast, the danger is that you could skip over some words, fail to pronounce them completely, or mix them up. If you speak too slowly, you might end up sounding unnatural. But it's better to speak slowly and clearly than too quickly.

11-12-2009, 01:01 AM   #5 (permalink)
Many English students complain that they understand English, but don't feel confident enough to join a conversation. There are a number of reasons for this including:

* Students are trying to translate from their native language into English.
* Production "blocking" is occurring due to nervousness, lack of confidence, etc.
* The speaker is looking for a specific word, rather than using simple language to describe what is meant.
* There aren't enough conversation opportunities in or outside of class.
* Students aren't able to speak to peers (for example: mixed classes of adults and teenagers).
* Exam preparation focuses on grammar, vocabulary, etc. and leaves little time for active use.

Here are a number of resources, lesson plans, suggestion pages and more which will help you and your students improve English speaking skills in and outside of class.
American English Tips

Introduction: Standard American English Tips
Speaking English is not only about using proper grammar. To use English effectively, you need to understand the culture in which it is spoken. Here are a number of important tips to remember when speaking English in the United States.

General Points to Remember

* Most Americans only speak English: While it is true that more and more Americans speak Spanish, most Americans only speak English. Don't expect them to understand your native language.
* Americans have difficulties understanding foreign accents: Many Americans are not used to foreign accents. This requires patience from both of you!

Conversation Tips

* Speak about location: Americans love to talk about location. When speaking to a stranger, ask them where they are from and then make a connection with that place. For example: "Oh, I have a friend who studied in Los Angeles. He says it's a beautiful place to live." Most Americans will then willingly talk about their experiences living or visiting that particular city or area.
* Talk about work: Americans commonly ask "What do you do?". It's not considered impolite (as in some countries) and is a popular topic of discussion between strangers.
* Talk about sports: Americans love sports! However, they love American sports. When speaking about football, most Americans understand "American Football", not soccer.
* Be careful when expressing ideas about race, religion or other sensitive topics: The United States is a multi-cultural society. Especially in the last few years, Americans are trying very hard to be sensitive to other cultures and ideas. Talking about sensitive topics like religion or beliefs, is often avoided in order to be sure not to offend someone of a different belief system. This is often referred to as being "politically correct".

Addressing People

* Use last names with people you do not know: Address people using their title (Mr, Ms, Dr) and their last names.
* Always use "Ms" when addressing women: It is important to use "Ms" when addressing a woman. Only use "Mrs" when the woman has asked you to do so!
* Many Americans prefer first names: Americans often prefer using first names, even when dealing with people in very different positions. Americans will generally say, "Call me Tom." and then expect you to remain on a first name basis.
* Americans prefer informal: In general, Americans prefer informal greetings and using first names or nicknames when speaking with colleagues and acquaintances.

Public Behavior

* Always shake hands: Americans shake hands when greeting each other. This is true for both men and women. Other forms of greeting such as kissing on the cheeks, etc., is generally not appreciated.
* Look your partner in the eye: Americans look each other in the eyes when they are speaking as a way of showing that they are sincere.
* Don't hold hands: Same sex friends do not usually hold hands or put their arms around each other in public in the United States.
* Smoking is Out!!: Smoking, even in public places, is strongly disapproved of by most Americans in the modern United States.

Intonation and Stress - Key to Understanding and Being Understood

Say this sentence aloud and count how many seconds it takes.

The beautiful Mountain appeared transfixed in the distance.

Time required? Probably about 5 seconds. Now, try speaking this sentence aloud.

He can come on Sundays as long as he doesn't have to do any homework in the evening.

Time required? Probably about 5 seconds.

Wait a minute the first sentence is much shorter than the second sentence!

The beautiful Mountain appeared transfixed in the distance
He can come on Sundays as long as he doesn't have to do any homework in the evening

You are only partially right!

This simple exercise makes a very important point about how we speak and use English. Namely, English is considered a stressed language while many other languages are considered syllabic. What does that mean? It means that, in English, we give stress to certain words while other words are quickly spoken (some students say eaten!). In other languages, such as French or Italian, each syllable receives equal importance (there is stress, but each syllable has its own length).

Many speakers of syllabic languages don't understand why we quickly speak, or swallow, a number of words in a sentence. In syllabic languages each syllable has equal importance, and therefore equal time is needed. English however, spends more time on specific stressed words while quickly gliding over the other, less important, words.

Let's look at a simple example: the modal verb "can". When we use the positive form of "can" we quickly glide over the can and it is hardly pronounced.

They can come on Friday . (stressed words underlined)

On the other hand, when we use the negative form "can't" we tend to stress the fact that it is the negative form by also stressing "can't".

They can't come on Friday .

As you can see from the above example the sentence, "They can't come on Friday" is longer than "They can come on Friday" because both the modal "can't" and the verb "come" are stressed.

So, what does this mean for my speaking skills?

Well, first of all, you need to understand which words we generally stress and which we do not stress. Basically, stress words are considered CONTENT WORDSsuch as

* Nouns e.g. kitchen, Peter
* (most) principal verbs e.g. visit, construct
* Adjectives e.g. beautiful, interesting
* Adverbs e.g. often, carefully

Non-stressed words are considered FUNCTION WORDSsuch as

* Determiners e.g. the, a, some, a few
* Auxiliary verbs e.g. don't, am, can, were
* Prepositions e.g. before, next to, opposite
* Conjunctions e.g. but, while, as
* Pronouns e.g. they, she, us

Let's return to the beginning example to demonstrate how this affects speech.

The beautifu l Mountain appeared transfixe d in the distance . (14 syllables)

He can come on Sunday s as long as he doesn't have to do any homework in the evening . (22 syllables)

Even though the second sentence is approximately 30% longer than the first, the sentences take the same time to speak. This is because there are 5 stressedwords in each sentence. From this example, you can see that you needn't worry about pronouncing every word clearly to be understood (we native speakers certainly don't). You should however, concentrate on pronouncing the stressed words clearly.

Now, do some listening comprehension or go speak to your native English speaking friends and listen to how we concentrate on the stressed words rather than giving importance to each syllable. You will soon find that you can understand and communicate more because you begin to listen for (and use in speaking) stressed words. All those words that you thought you didn't understand are really not crucial for understanding the sense or making yourself understood. Stressed words are the key to excellent pronunciation and understanding of English.

I hope this short introduction to the importance of stress in English will help you to improve your understanding and speaking skills.

Pronunciation: Changing Meaning through Word Stress

When you are speaking English the words you stress can change the underlying meaning of a sentence. Let's take a look at the following sentence:

I don't think he should get the job.

This simple sentence can have many levels of meaning based on the word you stress. Consider the meaning of the following sentences with the stressed word in bold. Read each sentence aloud and give a strong stress to the word in bold:

I don't think he should get the job.
Meaning: Somebody else thinks he should get the job.

I don't think he should get the job.
Meaning: It's not true that I think he should get the job.

I don't think he should get that job.
Meaning: That's not really what I mean. OR I'm not sure he'll get that job.

I don't think he should get that job.
Meaning: Somebody else should get that job.

I don't think he should get that job.
Meaning: In my opinion it's wrong that he's going to get that job.

I don't think he should get that job.
Meaning: He should have to earn (be worthy of, work hard for) that job.

I don't think he should get that job.
Meaning: He should get another job.

I don't think he should get that job.
Meaning: Maybe he should get something else instead.

As you can see, there are many different ways this sentence can be understood. The important point to remember is that the true meaning of the sentence is also expressed through the stressed word or words.

Here is an exercise to help you develop the art of correct word stress. Take the following sentence:

I said she might consider a new haircut.

Say the sentence aloud using the stress word marked in bold. Once you have spoken the sentence a few times, match the sentence version to the meaning below. You will find the answers to this quiz on the following page.

1. I said she might consider a new haircut.
2. I said she might consider a new haircut.
3. I said she might consider a new haircut.
4. I said she might consider a new haircut.
5. I said she might consider a new haircut.
6. I said she might consider a new haircut.
7. I said she might consider a new haircut.

* Not just a haircut.
* It's a possibility.
* It was my idea.
* Not something else.
* Don't you understand me?
* Not another person.
* She should think about it. it's a good idea.

Exercise: Write out a number of sentences. Read each of them stressing a different word each time you read them. Notice how the meaning changes depending on which word you stress. Don't be afraid to exaggerate the stress, in English we often use this device to add meaning to a sentence. It's very possible that when you think you are exaggerating, it will sound quite natural to native speakers.

Answers to the word stress exercise:

1. I said she might consider a new haircut.
It was my idea.
2. I said she might consider a new haircut.
Don't you understand me?
3. I said she might consider a new haircut.
Not another person.
4. I said she might consider a new haircut.
It's a possibility.
5. I said she might consider a new haircut.
She should think about it. it's a good idea.
6. I said she might consider a new haircut.
Not just a haircut.
7. I said she might consider a new haircut.
Not something else.

11-12-2009, 01:04 AM   #6 (permalink)

See More About:

* phonetic symbols
* ipa
* improving pronunciation

Reference Guide to Phonetic Symbols

As you probably know, phonetic symbols are a great help when it comes to learning to pronounce English words correctly. Any time you open a dictionary, you can find the correct pronunciation of words you don't know by looking at the phonetic pronunciation that follows the word. Unfortunately, learning the phonetic alphabet is not always the easiest thing to do.

This week's feature includes a phonetic chart with the majority of basic sounds in English. In English, as you certainly know, many words can have the same pronunciation but be written differently with different meanings. For example "to, two, and too" which all have the phonetic transcription /tu/. Sometimes, words can be written similarly but have different pronunciations as in the "ough" combinations thought, though, bough, and through. Another factor in pronunciation is the how the word is stressed. Understanding the phonetic alphabet can greatly simplify the learning process, especially for students who do not have the opportunity to work with a teacher.

Following the chart is an example of a text that has been transcribed in to phonetics. Notice how the text, as it would be spoken, differs from how each word might be transcribed individually. This is principally due to two factors; elision and unstressed syllables. I will discuss these two factors in an upcoming feature. For now, becoming familiar with the phonetic alphabet is plenty

phonetic chart

example text This text is the following:

There is a police message for motorists in the Barnet area of London. A lorry has shed its load at the Apex Corner roundabout on the A1. You are asked to avoid the area as much as possible. South-bound traffic will be diverted for the next two hours. That is the end of the message.

As you can see, the phonetic alphabet seems like another language entirely, however, with patience, it can serve you well in improving your pronunciation.

11-12-2009, 01:06 AM   #7 (permalink)

Differences Between American and British English

While there are certainly many more varieties of English, American and British English are the two varieties that are taught in most ESL/EFL programs. Generally, it is agreed that no one version is "correct" however, there are certainly preferences in use. The most important rule of thumb is to try to be consistent in your usage. If you decide that you want to use American English spellings then be consistent in your spelling (i.e. The color of the orange is also its flavour - color is American spelling and flavour is British), this is of course not always easy - or possible. The following guide is meant to point out the principal differences between these two varieties of English.

Use of the Present Perfect

In British English the present perfect is used to express an action that has occurred in the recent past that has an effect on the present moment. For example:

I've lost my key. Can you help me look for it?
In American English the following is also possible:
I lost my key. Can you help me look for it?

In British English the above would be considered incorrect. However, both forms are generally accepted in standard American English. Other differences involving the use of the present perfect in British English and simple past in American English include already, just and yet.

British English:

I've just had lunch
I've already seen that film
Have you finished your homework yet?

American English:

I just had lunch OR I've just had lunch
I've already seen that film OR I already saw that film.
Have your finished your homework yet? OR Did you finish your homework yet?


There are two forms to express possession in English. Have or Have got

Do you have a car?
Have you got a car?
He hasn't got any friends.
He doesn't have any friends.
She has a beautiful new home.
She's got a beautiful new home.

While both forms are correct (and accepted in both British and American English), have got (have you got, he hasn't got, etc.) is generally the preferred form in British English while most speakers of American English employ the have (do you have, he doesn't have etc.)

The Verb Get

The past participle of the verb get is gotten in American English. Example He's gotten much better at playing tennis. British English - He's got much better at playing tennis.


Probably the major differences between British and American English lies in the choice of vocabulary. Some words mean different things in the two varieties for example:

Mean: (American English - angry, bad humored, British English - not generous, tight fisted)

Rubber: (American English - condom, British English - tool used to erase pencil markings)

There are many more examples (too many for me to list here). If there is a difference in usage, your dictionary will note the different meanings in its definition of the term. Many vocabulary items are also used in one form and not in the other. One of the best examples of this is the terminology used for automobiles.

* American English - hood
British English - bonnet

* American English - trunk
British English - boot

* American English - truck
British English - lorry

Once again, your dictionary should list whether the term is used in British English or American English.

For a more complete list of the vocabulary differences between British and American English use this British vs. American English vocabulary tool.


There are also a few differences in preposition use including the following:

* American English - on the weekend
British English - at the weekend

* American English - on a team
British English - in a team

* American English - please write me soon
British English - please write to me soon

Past Simple/Past Participles

The following verbs have two acceptable forms of the past simple/past participle in both American and British English, however, the irregular form is generally more common in British English (the first form of the two) and the regular form is more common to American English.

* Burn
Burnt OR burned

* Dream
dreamt OR dreamed

* Lean
leant OR leaned

* Learn
learnt OR learned

* Smell
smelt OR smelled

* Spell
spelt OR spelled

* Spill
spilt OR spilled

spoilt OR spoiled


Here are some general differences between British and American spellings:

Words ending in -or (American) -our (British) color, colour, humor, humour, flavor, flavour etc.
Words ending in -ize (American) -ise (British) recognize, recognise, patronize, patronise etc.

The best way to make sure that you are being consistent in your spelling is to use the spell check on your word processor (if you are using the computer of course) and choose which variety of English you would like. As you can see, there are really very few differences between standard British English and standard American English. However, the largest difference is probably that of the choice of vocabulary and pronunciation.

11-12-2009, 01:08 AM   #8 (permalink)

A Reference Glossary to Pronunciation Terms and Terminology

There is a host of terms and jargon used when speaking about pronunciation. Many teacher training courses require a thorough knowledge of these concepts and terms. Here is a glossary giving descriptions and explanations of the most common terminology used in this field of study.


plosive followed immediately by a fricative


variations on a phoneme


tip or blade of tongue against the gum just behind the upper teeth

articulation of a plosive

Approach- as the articulating organs come together, hold-as they stay together, release-as the separate and allow the blocked air to escape


The release of a plosive not immediately followed by voicing for a vowel, a voiceless escape of breath (example voiceless plosives as in p, t, k)


variances in phonemic pronunciation in connected speech
d followed by p, b or m is bilabial assimilation followed k or g is velar assimilation also t and n are possible assimilants as they are alveolar (known as de-alveolar assimilation)


tongue in back of mouth for articulation


lips pressed together


front line of tongue


tongue in central part of the mouth for articulation

centering dipthongs

dipthong with vowel sound made by opening

clear L

used before vowels and j


vowel sound with tongue close to palate

closing dipthongs

dipthong with second vowel phoneme made by closure


groups of consonants, when preceding consonant is voiceless, the whole cluster is usually voiceless, and vice versa


assimilation that eliminates phonemes

complementary Distribution

The differences in allophones for any given phoneme which are predictable (such as k being different based on the placement of the vowel)

contextual elision

elided and unelided forms both can be heard example last month in colloquial speech


Two phonemes are contrastive by listing minimal pairs distinguished by the contrast being illustrated

dark l

used before consonants and before w and before a pause


using the tongue against teeth


after voiceless plosives voiced consonants become devoiced


outward direction of air

ejective consonant

consonant using egressive pharyngeal air stream


when a phoneme is dropped in pronunciation as in Christmas, and listen


high fall and low fall marked by asterisk respectively at top or bottom


plosives, affricates and fricatives strong articulation

free Variation

Choice between allophones is free in certain contexts without any apparent system


narrowing of passage above tongue


tongue in highest part of the mouth for articulation

glottal plosive

vocal folds blocking the passage of air, also glottal stop


space between the vocal folds

historical elision

dropped historically no question of inclusion Christmas, listen


word pronounced the same but spelled differently


ingressive pharyngeal air-stream


direction of air movement inwards


consonant between vowels


lip rounding occurring at the same time as some other more important articulation


lower lip with upper teeth


blockage on the side

lateral Approach

from l phoneme sides of tongue have to rise to block air for the plosive

lateral Release

with l phoneme sides of tongue must drop to produce l after plosive


plosives, affricates and fricatives weak articulation


lips playing a role in producing certain vowels and other sounds


way of articulation


evident, lowered soft palate to allow air through

nasal approach

with plosives an approach consists solely in the rising of the soft palate

nasal release

with plosives when the release consists solely in the movement of the soft palate

non-Audible Release

When the release of the first plosive in an overlapping plosive sequence is not audible as it is masked by the second closure


vowel sound with tongue farther away from palate

oral egressive

reverse click

oral ingressive

air flowing inwards from the mouth, click

ordinary approach

tongue tip rises to produce plosive

ordinary approach/release

Since the opposite of nasal is ORAl and the opposite of lateral is MEDIAN, the "ordinary" approach/release, characterizing for example the d in eddy is properly termed MEDIAL ORAL (This stuff is great!) ;-)

overlapping plosive consonants

In a sequence of plosives with different places of articulation (grabbed it), release of first plosive articulation does not occur until after the approach phase of the second


air set in motion holding the vocal folds together and using air above

pharyngeal eggressive


pharyngeal ingressive



place of articulation


complete blocking of the air-stream


sound in which air-stream is entirely blocked for a short time, p,b,t,d,k,g

plosive theory

with plosives described in a chart as first part of >-< scheme > being approach - being hold and < being release


air set in motion in the lungs

pulmonic egressive

egressive pronunciation from the lungs, ordinary speech

pulmonic ingressive

in-breathing speech


Differing positions of the body of the tongue


high rise or low rise marked by asterisk respectively at top or bottom

rise followed by unstressed syllables

The rise is spread out over the whole

roll or trill

rapid series of closures and openings


Received Pronunciation or SBS


Southern British Standard or Received Pronunciation

secondary articulation

a secondary occurrence such as labialization, palatalization, velarization accompanying a more important primary articulation

soft palate

valve that controls the entry of air from the throat (pharynx) into the nose


given accent

strong form

see weak form

syllabic consonants

sounds which are rather longer than usual and have syllable making function like vowels, examples: '-l' and '-n'


tip of tongue


without accent


raised back of tongue against soft palate

vocal Folds

in the larynx, behind the adam's apple


vibrating glottis

voiced implosive

voiced ingressive


glottis wide open, non-vibrating glottis


voiced or voiceless

voicing diagram

diagram showing when a word is voiced and unvoiced in its phonemes i.e. sit = |--|"""|--|

voicing, place, manner

standard manner of expressing sound (i.e. voiced velar fricative)

weak form

used with articles, prepositions etc. to differentiate from strong form with different phoneme

11-12-2009, 01:10 AM   #9 (permalink)

Pronunciation Help?

One of our community, Kevin Pfeiffer, was kind enough to forward this amusing and half-serious poem to me this last week. I think it is a wonderful, if exasperating, pronunciation exercise. As Kevin writes, "Now I know why ESL students (and we as teachers) are expected to know the Phonetics chart!"

By the way, I will be the first to admit that I have my problems getting through the poem! ;-)

In VERBATIM; THE LANGUAGE QUARTERLY, for Autumn 1989, pages 8-10, there is a letter from a man in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. Mr. Jacob de Jager says he was born in Holland in 1923 and received his education through senior high school in that country. As he studied English, he and others were required to learn by heart for recitation a poem called "The Chaos." He says the poem is by an English teacher named G. Nolst Trenit in the city of Haarlem.

Trenit wrote articles under the pen name CHARIVARIOUS and a little booklet entitled "Drop Your English Accent," in which the poem appeared.


Once you've learned to correctly pronounce every word in the following poem, you will be speaking English better than 90% of the native English speakers in the world. If you find it tough going, do not despair, you are not alone.

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.

Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it's written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.

Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.

Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation's OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.

Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.

Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Foeffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.

Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.

Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.

Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.

Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.

Pronunciation -- think of Psyche!
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won't it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It's a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.

Finally, which rhymes with enough --
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!

11-12-2009, 01:12 AM   #10 (permalink)
Teaching Conversational Skills - Tips and Strategies

When employing role-plays, debates, topic discussions, etc., I have noticed that some students are often timid in expressing their viewpoints. This seems due to a number of reasons:

* Students don't have an opinion on the subject
* Students have an opinion, but are worried about what the other students might say or think
* Students have an opinion, but don't feel they can say exactly what they mean
* Students begin giving their opinion, but want to state it in the same eloquent manner that they are capable of in their native language
* Other, more actively participating students, feel confident in their opinions and express them eloquently making the less confident students more timid

Pragmatically, conversation lessons and exercises are intended to improve conversational skills. For this reason, I find it helpful to first focus on building skills by eliminating some of the barriers that might be in the way of production. Having been assigned roles, opinions and points of view that they do not necessarily share, students are freed from having to express their own opinions. Therefore, they can focus on expressing themselves well in English. In this way, students tend to concentrate more on production skills, and less on factual content. They also are less likely to insist on literal translations from their mother tongue.

Implementing this approach can begin slowly by providing students with short role plays using cue cards. Once students become comfortable with target structures and representing differing points of view, classes can move onto more elaborated exercises such as debates and group decision making activities. This approach bears fruit especially when debating opposing points of view. By representing opposing points of view, students' imagination are activated by trying to focus on all the various points that an opposing stand on any given issue may take. As students inherently do not agree with the view they represent, they are freed from having to invest emotionally in the statements they make. More importantly, from a pragmatic point of view, students tend to focus more on correct function and structure when they do not become too emotionally involved in what they are saying.

Of course, this is not to say that students should not express their own opinions. After all, when students go out into the "real" world they will want to say what they mean. However, taking out the personal investment factor can help students first become more confident in using English. Once this confidence is gained, students - especially timid students - will be more self-assured when expressing their own points of view.


« | »

The Key To Excellent Speaking English ❣МⒶЯⒾАМ❣ Learning English Language with us 136 02-07-2012 01:24 AM
A learning guide to English - a very useful booklet for learners ΪrǾή♕MĂή Learning English Language with us 11 10-13-2011 10:31 PM
+[ English Learning Guide ]+ Learning English Language with us 9 10-21-2008 08:42 PM
learning English a3000z Learning English Language with us 1 01-29-2005 07:35 AM

08:21 AM

- - -

Powered by vBulletin® Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd. TranZ By Almuhajir
Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.0
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103