Wadjasay? American English Pronunciation Practice

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Lessons to help you understand and speak normal-speed American English.

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Season 3 - Introduction
Mar 28 2022
Season 3 - Introduction
Season 3 Introduction    [Need to translate this? Try DeepL]In season 3, I will focus on special lessons for beginners including total beginners. The most important thing to do as a beginning language student is to listen. If you are unhappy with your English pronunciation, you need to listen. If you want to sound like a native speaker, you need to listen.Listen, listen, listen. Before you try to imitate my accent, listen to it. Listen a lot and listen closely and carefully. Try to hear every sound. DO NOT try to speak at first. Just listen.When you have the sounds in your ears and in your brain, then try to copy me. DO NOT read the words. English spelling is NOT phonetic. Reading will NOT help. I'll say it again: Reading will NOT help. Listen, memorize the sounds, and then practice with the recordings. Let me tell you a story. Today is Sunday, March 27, 2022. On Friday—two days ago—I decided to see if I could learn the sounds of Russian. (I am not planning to learn to speak Russian. I’m too old and I don’t have the time. But can an old guy like me learn to pronounce some Russian words correctly? That was and is my question.)So I found a helpful Russian man and asked him if he would record a short Russian proverb for me to try and learn. This is the proverb:  У страха глаза велики. (Literally it means something like “Fear has big eyes.” It is used, I think, when a person tries something new and he or she is afraid in the beginning. Then after starting, she realizes that it was not so difficult after all. Like a first swimming lesson. Or a first language lesson!)I listened to the recording of this proverb about 500 times before I started to try to repeat. On the second day, I checked my pronunciation with a different Russian speaker and she said, “Yes, I understand you! Good!” Since then I have started working on two more proverbs. I am finding that it is already getting easier. NOT easy, but easier.So if I, almost 74 years old, can in one day’s practice memorize and repeat a Russian proverb (note: I have never ever studied Russian before!), then you can do the same with English. But remember, it all starts with LISTENING.Listen carefully. Listen a lot. Now go practice with Season 3, Lesson 1. Enjoy!Intro & Outro Music: La Pompe Du Trompe by Shane Ivers -
When "-ed" is pronounced "ID" - past tense of regular verbs
Jul 31 2022
When "-ed" is pronounced "ID" - past tense of regular verbs
Past tense of regular verbs: possibility no. 1.There are three “rules” or sound patterns which determine how we pronounce the past tense of regular English verbs. In this podcast, we’ll practice with the first situation, where the final SOUND of the infinitive is /t/ or /d/. For example, “accept” ends with a /t/ sound, and “guard” ends with a /d/ sound.In this situation the past tense of the verbs is pronounced “ID”. Let me repeat that. If the final SOUND (not letter) of the infinitive is /t/ or /d/, you add the sound “ID” to the verb.Now let’s practice:1) [accept]: I was accepted by Harvard University.  2) [count]: The greedy king counted his money again and again.3) [decide]: Jose decided to visit his mother.4) [invite]: She invited me to her birthday party.5) [plant]: I planted ten trees in front of my house.6) [rent]: She rented a new apartment.7) [waste]: He wasted his time watching videos.8) [need]: My dog needed a bath.9) [shout]: The policeman shouted at me.10) [pretend]: He pretended to speak Spanish.11) The trash collector collected the trash.12) [divide]: We divided the pizza into four equal parts.13) [present]: I presented my passport to the airport security guard.14) [end]: The class ended early.15) [arrest]: The police arrested my neighbor last week.Follow on Telegram for more info and my Tandem class and discussion schedule: & Outro Music: La Pompe Du Trompe by Shane Ivers -
Please listen to this podcast.
Jul 15 2022
Please listen to this podcast.
The verb "to listen" is almost always followed by "to". See (and listen to) the examples below:1) Listen to me!2) Please listen to your father.3) What are you listening to?4) I’m listening to a podcast.5) What is Sally doing? She’s listening to the news.6) You’re a famous person so people will listen to you.7) When I listen to Russian, I don’t understand anything.8) My children like to listen to fairy tales.9) He always listens to music when he’s out for a walk.10) Calm down, take a deep breath, and listen to me.11) Stop talking and listen to the other people in this group.12) If you listen to me, I’ll listen to you.13) What did I do yesterday? I read a book in English and listened to music.14) Had I been listening more carefully, I would have heard you opening the door.15) I wish you would listen to me when I talk to you.16) When I’m studying a foreign language, I often close my eyes so I can listen more carefully to the sounds.===================================But now and then you don't need the "to". For example: 17) Okay everybody. Listen up and I’ll tell you the rules of this game. [Teachers will often say "Listen up!" to get a group of children to stop talking and start listening.]18) My mother likes to listen in on my private phone conversations.19) Another word for listening in on is eavesdrop. “I put my ear to the door and eavesdropped on my parents’ conversation.” [You could also say "I listened to my parents' conversation.]20) The coach told the team to listen up. As soon as everyone was quiet, he gave them some last-minute instructions.Follow on Telegram for more info and my Tandem class and discussion schedule: & Outro Music: La Pompe Du Trompe by Shane Ivers -
Before, until, and while
Jul 6 2022
Before, until, and while
Before vs. Until vs. WhileExamples:1) Let’s go for a walk before lunch. [What should we do today?]2) We walked until noon and then we ate lunch. 3) I cleaned the apartment before my mother arrived.4) I cleaned the house until my mother came.5) Call me before 11pm.6) I waited for his call until 11pm. 7) Eat a good dinner before you have dessert. 8) We don’t eat dessert until we finish dinner. 9) He has to finish the project before he can go on vacation.10) Until the project is completed, he can’t leave town.11) Wait until I finish reading this page.12) Before I read my book, I have to finish my homework. Or: I have to finish my homework before I read my book.13) We stopped driving before sunset.14) He drove until it got dark.15) We visited Italy until the end of July and then flew back to Denver.16) Before we flew to Rome, we spent a week visiting southern Germany.17) I finished reading my book before I went to sleep.18) He read and read until he couldn’t keep his eyes open any longer.19) She ran 10 miles before breakfast.20) I get up extra early every morning and study English until the sun rises.Summary: A happens before B. “I clean the kitchen before I go to bed.”A happens until B. “I’ll study German until you arrive.”“While” is used when two things are going on or happening at the same time. For example: I listen to the radio while I eat breakfast.21) I like to listen to music while I exercise.22) She sings while she washes dishes.23) I doodled while my professor talked about Russian history.24) Make hay while the sun shines.# 24 is a proverb.  Your homework is to look up its meaning on the internet.Link to my Telegram account for notifications of lessons on Tandem.Intro & Outro Music: La Pompe Du Trompe by Shane Ivers -
I'll play it by ear.
Jun 26 2022
I'll play it by ear.
To play something by ear has two meanings. One is the musical meaning: when you play a song by ear, it means you play the song without any sheet music, so you’re not looking at the notes. You know the song, it’s in your head, so you can play it without needing to look at written music.The second meaning of “play it by ear” means to do something without much practice or preparation. If you give a speech to two hundred people and all you bring to the speech are a few notes, then you are ready to “play it by ear”, to give the speech knowing only the general outline of what you plan to say. In essence you are confident in your ability to speak extemporaneously, making up the speech as you go.     “To wing it” means the same thing as play it by ear:  to proceed without much preparation.John: “Did you study for the exam?” Mary: “No, I’m going to wing it.” So Mary feels confident enough to take the exam without studying.Podcast Text. The conversation repeats three times. The “Listen and Repeat” section follows after.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          When you prepare a speech, do you write everything down in advance?—Yes. I write the speech, then I read it aloud to myself. Then I revise it till I’m happy. What about you?My approach is the opposite. I just write down the points I want to make, and then I play it by ear.— You’re kidding! You just stand up in front of an audience and wing it?Yep. I like to improvise.Link to my Telegram account for notifications of lessons on Tandem.Intro & Outro Music: La Pompe Du Trompe by Shane Ivers -
Read and Look Up - A technique to improve speaking fluency
Jun 14 2022
Read and Look Up - A technique to improve speaking fluency
Read and look up.  Part One:“Read and look up” is a technique for improving your foreign language speaking and reading. It is easy to do. Here is how.1) First, choose a text. It’s okay if the text contains a few new vocabulary words, but not so many that you can’t understand the overall meaning.2) If possible, print the text so you can mark on it.3) Divide the longer sentences into parts. Here is a sample sentence without divisions.—— It was a lovely day so I decided to take my dog for a walk in the park. ——Here is the same sentence divided into logical phrases. (I’ve labeled the parts a, b, c, and d.(a) It was a lovely day / (b) so I decided / (c) to take my dog / (d) for a walk in the park.Now read part (a) SILENTLY to yourself. Then look away from the page (or cover it) and say “It was a lovely day”.  If you forget one of the words, look at it again, read it silently again, and then look up and say the phrase out loud. Repeat this with phrases b, c, and d. If the text is easy for you, it should sound like this:Once you can recite each part easily, do it again with fewer divisions. SILENTLY read a, for example, then b+c, and then part d. Remember, when you speak out loud, you are NOT looking at the text. You are reciting or repeating the text from memory.It was a lovely day / so I decided to take my dog / for a walk in the park. And finally, read the whole sentence silently, take a breath (!) and see if you can recite the whole sentence without looking at it. If not, practice it again in parts and then try the whole sentence one more time. It should sound like this:  This technique can not only improve your speaking, it can also help you memorize phrases, sentences, or even entire paragraphs. Also it is okay to try dividing the sentence in different places. Choose divisions that sound good and work as small parts of the sentence.Part Two:Here’s some text from a biology book you can use to practice the Read and look up technique. If you are a beginner, start by practicing with just a few sentences. If you are a more advanced speaker, work with as much of the text as you like. Listen to me read it first, and look up the definitions of any words that are unfamiliar. Take your time. Don’t rush. This is not a race—it’s practicing your pronunciation, comprehension,  and fluency. After you have practiced for a while, listen to me again. And remember—do NOT read the text aloud. Read silently, look up or cover the text, and then say the phrase or sentence aloud.Intro to Cells:“Close your eyes and picture a brick wall. What is the wall's basic building block? It is a single brick. Like a brick wall, cells are the building blocks that make up your body.Your body has many kinds of cells, each specialized for a specific purpose. Just as we use a variety of materials to build a home, the human body is constructed from many cell types. For example, epithelial cells protect the body's surface and cover the organs and body cavities within. Bone cells help to support and protect the body. Immune system cells fight invading bacteria. Additionally, blood and blood cells carry nutrients and oxygen throughout the body while removing carbon dioxide. Each of these cell types plays a vital role during the body's growth, development, and day-to-day maintenance. In spite of their enormous variety, however, cells from all organisms—even ones as diverse as bacteria, onion, and human—share certain fundamental characteristics.”[Link to my Telegram account for notifications of lessons on Tandem.]The above biology text is from this source:Authors: Samantha Fowler, Rebecca Roush, James WisePublisher/website: OpenStaxIntro & Outro Music: La Pompe Du Trompe by Shane Ivers -
Dictation: Sheila at the supermarket
Jun 12 2022
Dictation: Sheila at the supermarket
This dictation is three paragraphs long. It is repeated three times. Instructions:Step One: Listen to the paragraphs as many times as you like. The  more you listen, the easier it will be to write down each sentence.Step Two: Listen again, but stop after each sentence and try to repeat it to yourself. If you can repeat it, go ahead and write it down. Don’t worry about spelling right now. Just try to record the text as best you can. Skip lines so you can easily go back and make changes later.Step Three: Listen again, correcting as you go. When you’ve written as much as you can, listen one more time and read silently along with the podcast. If there are words you didn’t capture, leave an empty space with brackets like this:  [                   ] so you can fill it in later.Step Four: Put away the dictation for a day or two, and then review it again. Listen to the podcast and see if you recognize any words that you missed last time.Step Five: All done? See the note at the bottom of the page. The transcript link has the dictation text.Grammar note: All the verbs in this little story are in the simple present tense. If you like, try rewriting the text in the simple past. It would start with: “I had a friend named Sheila…”----------------------------------Okay, IF and ONLY if you have done the dictation, you may look at the transcript (link above) and correct your work. Thanks!Intro & Outro Music: La Pompe Du Trompe by Shane Ivers -
Phrasal "to pick up" - Part 2
Jun 3 2022
Phrasal "to pick up" - Part 2
13) There are some guys on Tandem who are only trying to pick up girls. [meet, bring home for sex]14) He was picked up by the police. They questioned him for hours. [found and taken to the police station]15) Marion picked up some food on her way home. [got some food]16) My mother is a great cook. Everything I know about cooking I picked up from her. [learned]17) Where did you get that terrible cold?     I must have picked it up at work. Everyone there is coughing and sneezing. [got]18) He fell down at the beginning of the race, but he picked himself up and kept on running. [stood up]19) My dog has a keen sense of smell. He can pick up the scent of an animal and track it all day. [find and recognize]20) Where did you pick up that strange idea? [get]------------------------------------------------------21) What time should I pick you up?        6:30 pm. I’ll be waiting in front of the hotel.22) Can you pick up this suitcase?    No! Is it full of books?    Not books—gold bars.    Yeah, and I’m the Queen of England.23) Where did you learn Spanish?    I picked it up when I was living in Colombia.24) How’s business?    Terrible. I hope it picks up soon or we’re finished.25) What a mess! Can I help you pick up the toys?    That would be wonderful. Thanks.26) What should we have for dinner tonight?    I don’t know. I’ll pick something up on my way home.27) Are you sick? You look terrible.    I think I picked up a cold at work.Intro & Outro Music: La Pompe Du Trompe by Shane Ivers -
Practice with "to be used to"
May 3 2022
Practice with "to be used to"
This podcast will be doing double duty.*  First, it's another regular podcast to help you learn how to use "to be used to". If you practice all these examples, you should have a good feeling for when and how to use this form. Second, I'll be using this podcast along with a couple of Tandem classes, so that Tandem users can practice the lesson before   the class. We'll see how it goes.To be used to  = to be accustomed to1 I'm used to doing that.2 She's used to working a lot.3 Our dog is not used to us yet.4 I can't get used to her accent.5 I'm not used to so much homework.6 He's used to traveling for his job.7 Now that I'm used to my job I like it.8 Robert is used to helping his parents.9 John is used to eating a big breakfast10 I'm used to drinking water with dinner.11 In the army he got used to taking orders.12 Mary is used to running 5 km every morning.13 We are used to cooking for a lot of people.14 She's used to taking a shower every morning.15 She is used to practicing piano twice a day.16 Charlie is used to going to the gym after work.17 Medical students are used to working all night.18 Are you used to the cold weather where you live?19 I'm getting used to studying English all the time.20 He is used to watching TV for hours every evening.21 Olympic athletes are used to training all the time.22 I'm used to sleeping at least seven hours every night.23 My wife is used to my bad habits. And I'm used to hers.*24 How can I get used to the terrible food in this country?25 My dog Ollie is used to going for a walk every afternoon.26 My wife is French. She's used to drinking wine with dinner.27 I used to play a lot of basketball when I was in high school.28 His wife is a doctor. He's used to staying home with the kids.29 We have a vegetable garden so I'm used to eating fresh vegetables.30 He's used to speaking English now. All his co-workers are Americans.31 Now that we have a baby we're used to getting by on very little sleep.*32 Now I'm living in Britain and I can't get used to the way people speak.33 In school my language teacher was American so that's the accent I got used to.*34 I grew up in the country. I can't get used to how noisy it is here in New York.35 I'm the youngest of seven children so I'm used to wearing hand-me-down clothes.36 After you've lived in Paris for a year you'll be used to speaking French all the time.[Note: to get used to is the process of becoming used to something. "He's getting used to his new job," for example. Or "I got used to his accent after a few weeks."* To do double duty means to do the work of two people, or to do two jobs.Intro & Outro Music: La Pompe Du Trompe by Shane Ivers -
Pure Listening #1: the vowel sounds in hit vs. heat
Apr 19 2022
Pure Listening #1: the vowel sounds in hit vs. heat
This podcast is the first in a series of what I will call pure listening. I will not show you the written text. Why? Because English spelling is terrible. It’s a distraction. It interferes with close listening. If you are ever to learn the sounds of English, you need to listen a lot and listen carefully.Remember this:  when babies are learning their native language, they do NOT learn by reading. They listen and then, slowly, they begin to speak. Listening comes first. Thousands of hours of listening. Don’t worry if you don’t know all the words in this podcast. IT DOESN’T MATTER! This is not a podcast to teach you vocabulary. It is a podcast to help you correctly hear and distinguish the vowel sounds in “hit” and “heat”. (In IPA: /ɪ/ or /i/).Please note that I am NOT talking about the sounds that “letters” make. Please forget that idea. Letters don’t “make” sounds. They represent sounds and in English they represent them very poorly. (I was recently reminded that the the numbers “one” and “two” are perfect examples of how poorly English language represents spoken English. Pretend these are words in French or Spanish or German and read them aloud. A disaster!) So let me say it again: this podcast is to help you listen and hear. It has nothing at all to do with writing or spelling English. It has everything to do with improving your hearing and then, later, your pronunciation.Instructions:1) Listen to all of the podcast. Just listen—don’t try to repeat. Listen closely to the examples. Do not worry about the meanings of the words. If you recognize them, that’s fine but if you don’t, it doesn’t matter. Your job is to get these sounds into your brain by repeated listening. Before you can pronounce the sounds, you have to have an accurate memory of them. Then, and only then, can you begin to train your mouth and lips and tongue to produce them.2)  After you have listened ten times or fifty times or a thousand times to this podcast, go to the next podcast which will give you a chance to listen and repeat. If you are not sure of your pronunciation, come back to this podcast and listen some more. I have never met a language learner who said, “Oh, I listened too much.” Or “I listened too carefully.” It is easy to listen too little. It is impossible to listen too much.Let me end this long introduction with an example of careful listening. I was having a conversation with my friend Juan in Colombia and he suddenly stopped me and said, “You said that as one word!”  “Said what?” I asked.  “Met her,” he replied. “You didn’t say ‘You met her yesterday’, you said ‘You meder yesterday.”And Juan was quite correct. We write “You met her.” But in  normal speed English, I say “meder’. The ’t’ sound becomes a ‘d’ sound and the ‘h’ in ‘her’ is dropped  [repeat example several times]Now that’s careful listening.Let’s begin. Remember, this is a listening podcast. The next podcast will give you a chance to listen and repeat.Intro & Outro Music: La Pompe Du Trompe by Shane Ivers -